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. I’ve done nearly 600 of them now over the last 11 years. So if this is new to you, and you’d like to check out some of the previous ones, go to bat gap comm bat gap and look under the past interviews menu where you’ll see them all organized in several different ways. This program is made possible through the support of appreciative listeners and viewers. So if you appreciate it and would like to help support it, there’s a PayPal button on every page of the website. And there’s also a page of other ways of doing it if you don’t want to deal with PayPal. My guest today is Rabbi Rabbi Rami Shapiro. I’ll just read his bio here. Rabbi Rami is a Jewish practitioner of perennial wisdom. He’s an award winning author of over 36 books on religion and spirituality. He received rabbinical ordination from the Hebrew Union College Jewish Institute of Religion, and holds a PhD in religion from Union graduate school. A rabbinic chaplain with the US Air Force for three years a congregational Rabbi for 20. And a professor of religious studies for 10. Rabbi Rami currently co directs the one river Foundation is a contributing editor, spirituality and health magazine, and hosts the magazines by weekly podcast, essential conversations with Rabbi Rami. And today we’re going to do a little bit of an experiment because as those of you who listen to the show regularly know, I usually spend a lot of hours during the week before an interview, listening to the person’s talks and interviews and stuff and reading their book or books. But Robert Romney said this, he said, I prefer we simply have a conversation that isn’t pre scripted. I don’t want Rick to read anything, even though he’s written a zillion books, nor am I at all interested in talking about what I’ve already written. But if he just trusts us to have a conversation about what he is interested in, I think that will be more valuable. So that’s what we’re gonna do. And as Rabbi Romney said to me a few minutes ago, it’s Larry King style, he did a show every night, he didn’t have time to prepare much for all these interviews. And he actually wanted to know as little about the person as his audience possibly knew, so that he would ask the sort of questions they would ask. And I think that Rabbi Rami and I, and most of you watching this, are all interested in many of the same things. So I don’t think we’re gonna have a problem with this. Although I did cheat Rabbi Rami, I just looked at your website about an hour ago, and went through those interesting points about on perennial wisdom on Judaism on Divine Mother on recovery on holy rascals and copied that stuff down. So if I get desperate, I’ll look at those. So good to see you. And good to meet you. And thanks for doing this.
RABBI RAMI: Oh, thanks for having me. Rick. It’s nice to be here.
RICK: Um, so I think it’s typically we start interviews by just getting to know the person a little bit so people know who it is they’re listening to, and how it is that he knows what you know what he’s talking about. So why don’t you give us an overview of your background?
RABBI RAMI: Yeah, let me start by saying you should never assume people know what they’re doing.
RICK: Well, it’s relative,
RABBI RAMI: especially if they talk for a living which is what I Yeah. But the basic background is I grew up in a modern Orthodox Jewish Home, which I found essentially meaningless to my life
RICK: and for those of us who are not Jewish what is Orthodox me not the guys with the long sideburns? No, somewhere in between.
RABBI RAMI: That’s more extreme than more extreme than then my parents, but you know, we kept a kosher home I still keep a kosher home. You know, we did we did most of the rituals. But we had no there’s nothing behind them. There was no spirituality. There was no really not no meaning to it other than you’re a Jew. This is what Jews do. So this is what you’re gonna do. And you I lived that way most of my life. I grew up there. So, until I was in high school when two of my teachers in my junior year of high school they are, I guess it was my sophomore year. And in the summer, they went to India, they got a grant to study what they called Asian civilization. And when they came back, my last two years of high school were steeped in taking electives with them on Hinduism, Buddhism, Confucianism and Taoism. And that stuff really spoke to me, because what they taught was that the ritual, what they taught was the philosophy and I was just interested in that stuff. So I moved out of orthodoxy as quickly as possible, and moved into Buddhism. I wanted to be a Zen Buddhist, that was my ultimate goal, studied philosophy studied religion, Jewish Buddhist in college. And then as I was preparing to graduate and go to graduate school to get my credential to be a Buddhist studies professor, my Zen master just chooses Zaki Roshi cornered me at a retreat literally backed me into a against a wall. And he told me that university graduate school would ruin Buddhism for me, and that if I really wanted to understand Buddhism, I should move in to the monastery, he his monastery was Mount Baldy outside of Los Angeles, move there learn Japanese because his English was poor. And study Zen on the cushion rather than, you know, in the classroom. And I knew I’ve been there, I’d visited the place, I was not interested. If I’m going to a monastery, it has to have, you know, hot and cold running water showers and flush toilets. And that’s, that’s like minimum for me. So I knew I wasn’t going to do that. But I didn’t know what to say. And I just blurted out, literally, without any, you know, preconceived expectation, I was going to do this, I just blurted out, Roshi, I can’t do that I’m going to become a rabbi. And then he said, Oh, the rabbi be Zen. I said, Okay, I’ll be a Zen rabbi, because back. And that’s sort of how it went. He was right about graduate school, it was terrible. In Buddhist studies, I switched to Judaic Studies, very quickly, within the first semester, and then went on to take my interest in Hinduism and Buddhism and mysticisms in general, and use that as the lens through which I reengaged, with, with Judaism, both as a philosophy and as a practice,
RICK: it’s great. I noticed behind you there you have Jesus on the cross, you have some Arabic thing, you have an own symbol, you have some kind of a little scroll up in one corner. I can’t see who that other guy is. But you definitely have most most of the bases.
RABBI RAMI: Right? A lot of a lot of the symbolism, but it’s actually marry on the cross Oh, no, because it’s, it’s a gift I was given. Last, I was in Israel leading an interfaith pilgrimage. And we saw this Crucifix with Mary on the cross, holding Jesus. And it really spoke to me as the Crucified mother, being, you know, in more than the Crucified sign, I think, you know, outside of Christian context, we’ve crucified a mother, we’ve killed the mother, and we’re waiting. I think we’re living at a time when she’s resurrecting. And it’s going to be what the Hindus call the Kali Yuga is going to be a time of absolute collapse of human civilization. And as a way of preparing ourselves cleansing ourselves for a rebirth. Well, you just gave
RICK: me goosebumps. I’m feeling chills all over, because this resonates very deeply with me. And let’s divert right into this discussion. So perhaps first, elaborate on, elaborate on what you’re just saying what it means, what the Crucified mother really means. And then I’ll have plenty of questions.
RABBI RAMI: Yeah, I mean, we went from course I’m romanticizing, you know, prehistory here, but we meant we went from a matriarchal society, nature honoring society, a mother honoring society, both mothers, actual mothers, physical, you know, biological mothers, but also the mother as our archetype of reality. And we probably would, the onset of agriculture, maybe but we everything shifted to patriarchal religion and, and Judaism is, you know, at the pinnacle of patriarchy, as is Christianity and Islam, but we move to this patriarchal and parochial kind of religion. And that has brought us economic logical devastation that’s brought us pandemics. I think that, that when you look at what’s going on, not just climate change, but you know, which brings on these, and I just heard it again, someone said, Oh, the storm of the sanctuary. No, it was the storm of the sanctuary. 20 years ago, now we’ve got a new storm of the century. It’s a storm, a mighty, massive, unpredictable, unprecedented storm, maybe every I don’t know, really, every few decades. The same thing with
RICK: even more often every year, we have storms of the century. Yeah. Right. Okay.
RABBI RAMI: So, you know, and fires and all this stuff. The earth is trying to shake us off. Yeah, you know, it’s like, we’re like kudzu, and she’s got to get, you know, get the numbers down. So it’s a more manageable thing. But all of this, I think, is because we’ve lost that wisdom of the mother of the Divine Mother, you know, in, in those union archetypal terms, and that wisdom is the wisdom of interconnectedness, the wisdom of interdependence, the wisdom of cooperation, mutuality, all those things are in patriarchal religions, but they’re just not emphasized. And that devolution and to patriarchy is, I think, the root cause of nine 90% of our problems, I’d say, and that the solution is going to be a radical shift, but it’s not going to be it’s not going to be comfortable, it’s not going to be graceful, it’s not going to be slow. It’s going to be it’s going to be entailed the collapse of the norms that, that we have lived by for centuries. And the question we have to ask ourselves is, are we going to collapse mindfully? Or mindlessly? Are we going to collapse compassionately or cruelly? And are we going to collapse? You know, with it with a sense of grace, or just a sense of horror. And I think it’s all about her cruelty and mindlessness. That’s what it looks like to me. But it doesn’t have to be that way. But that’s, that’s, I think that’s what we’re where we’re at at the moment. And
RICK: do you know who that’s not
RABBI RAMI: the way to go?
RICK: Do you know who Dwayne Elgin is? I know that, yeah. I can reach it. Here. I just started reading his book called choosing Earth. And I’ve, I’ve interviewed him before, and I’ll be interviewing him again. But um,
RICK: he, he’s saying basically what you’re saying, but he, he lays out three scenarios. One could be complete collapse, which we don’t really recover from in the foreseeable future, just a sort of a hellscape on Earth, another could be a complete collapse. That’s followed by a sort of a Chinese style AI dominated, you know, authoritarian society. And the third could be complete collapse, followed by a sort of a restructuring and resurgence into a very bright kind of a heaven on earth kind of age. And, you know, he kind of he, obviously, we would all prefer the third one. And he’s, I don’t know if he’s placing bets on one or the other. But he said, if we play our cards, right, we could end up with option three, it’s not too late for that to be possible. Any thoughts on that?
RABBI RAMI: Well, I agree. I don’t and I agree that if we play our cards, right, we can get the third option? I don’t know. Because I haven’t read that book. But so I don’t know what it means to play our cards right. But if you asked me, you know, what would be part of playing our cards right? It would be for individuals to take on kind of spiritual practice that would, in Jewish terms and Hebrew terms, they talk about being of two minds one is mostly in the Cotonou narrow mind, ego mind egoic mind where it’s us against them and me against you. And you know, I’m apart from nature, and God and everything else. And the other is called Mophie, into God loot spacious mind, where I’m a part of the whole and spiritual practices. Every religion has them and I’m not talking about form of liturgical, go to church, go to Moscow to Temple go to synagogue. I’m talking about meditative practices, though it doesn’t always have to be silent, sitting cross legged on a mat, but contemplative practices that allow you that allow the egoic mind to drop of its own accord and for you to experience something greater. That direct experience of the of the vastness to which of which we are apart. I think that has got to be part of the mix. And if it is, I think that shifts us from, you know, to the to that more ideal third scenario that he lays out?
RICK: I absolutely agree. And, you know, I mean, people who are concerned about climate change and all that, they’ll be saying things like, well, we’ve got to get off of fossil fuels, and we need to get electric cars, and we need to get more when turbines and all that stuff, which is true. And some of them will say, you know, we need to change our way of thinking we need to be less selfish and short sighted and so on. And that, of course, is also true, but not too many bring in the element of how we achieve that. And I think it’s exactly what you just said that enough, people have to sort of shift into what we might call cosmic consciousness or a universal awareness or, or what, you know, just being sort of living their lives in tune with divine intelligence. And then when enough people do that, then collective consciousness will shift in a big way. And that is the most pivotal or fundamental or influential level at which change could occur. Although all the other levels of change are also necessary, the technological stuff and everything,
RABBI RAMI: right? Yeah. Yeah, no, I totally agree. I don’t think it’s an either or. It’s a both and yes, exactly.
RICK: And that the that shift in consciousness will actually help those who are developing better technologies and all it’ll kind of enliven the field of, I think intelligence or creativity, and steer things in the right direction, because a lot of times our technological advances tend to turn out to be retreats, you know, we we there are unintended consequences from them. And just because our thinking hasn’t been comprehensive, or deep enough, or guided enough, yeah.
RABBI RAMI: And, and also an agenda, he doesn’t have a fourth alternative, I can think of a fourth alternative to the three you mentioned. And that is for the very wealthy, to get off the planet, and go set up some, you know, utopian society for themselves. And there’ll be two classes, the super wealthy who get to go and then the people who do all the work that they will bring with them, you know, to sustain them. I think a lot of people not a lot, I wouldn’t know the number but that whole Singularity Movement, the post human movement, the off planet movement, let’s get to Mars, let’s terraform Mars, rather than I mean, we should work on the earth. Yeah. And I don’t, I don’t. The idea of escape is not necessarily one that I value, though. Almost every religion has its escapism. scenario, right. There’s a heaven. After there’s a life after this life and another dimension, another plane, it’s so much better there. You know, it’s all about getting out if you’re transcendence can be a drug, or an addiction. And I think one of the shifts that happens when we move from the patriarchal, masculine paradigm to the matriarchal, divine feminine paradigm is you move from this transcendence to eminence. But ultimately, you realize that both terms are incomplete, without each is incomplete without the other because there is no, up or down, there’s just this infinite. I think you called it the divine intelligence, or whatever you want to call it. This is this infinite happening to translate the Jewish word for God, the YHVH, the unpronounceable name for God from the comes from the verb to be. So there’s just this infinite being not a supreme being not a personal being, but just being itself or happening itself. That includes imminence and transcendence, and contemplative practice put you help you realize that you are an expression of that the way a wave is an expression of the ocean. And then the work you do on the environment, then then the work you do politically and economically and socially is all it becomes non dual and nonzero. In other words, it’s always win win when you realize you can’t win, unless everybody wins.
RICK: Yeah, I have a good friend who instructed Elon Musk in meditation, and they were, I don’t know if he still practices it, but they were chatting with each other and talking about what they’d like to achieve. And my friend said, I’d like to get more people in Africa meditating. Elon Musk said I want to colonize Mars
RABBI RAMI: so I want to ask you a question. Because we’re talking about meditation and over your it looks to me over your right shoulder is somebody’s picture of Arma
RICK: you know, so called hugging Saint
RABBI RAMI: Yeah, hugging Saint Yeah. It looked like her but I wasn’t 100% Sure, yeah. Yeah. Yeah. So I mean that that’s just another example of what the mother paradigm was all about, you know, rather than, and I don’t mean to insult my friends who are into different traditions, but rather than than, you know, bowing down and touching the feet of the guru or the SWAMI, and you know, I’ve had this done to me in India, they told me this is not about you, it’s just the customer. I get all that. But to be hugged by this woman who channels the divine so exquisitely. It’s it’s much better. It’s your this is, I’ve never done it. So have you met? Oh, yeah.
RICK: scenar. Aside from the pandemic, we’ve seen her every year for about 20 years. Quite a bit. You’ve
RABBI RAMI: been you’ve, you’ve been hugged many times. Yeah. Right. So tell me if I’m wrong, because I’m No, I’m just romanticizing. But from what I’ve read, and heard from people who have done it, that you feel yourself in wrapped by the Divine, yes. And it’s a kind of surrendering to her holding you. Yeah, that fair? It
RICK: is, there’s something very profound going on, I’ve seen, you know, in addition to my own experience, where there I’ve watched others for hours on end, as as the program progresses, and I’ve seen big, tough football player types come up there and just break down in tears, you know. And my subjective experience of it, is that she just embodies vastness. And just, and so when I, you know, have that experience of Darshan, whether I kind of there’s a, what’s the word and entrainment and I become vast also, more more clearly than may have already been experiencing. And I also feel that she has a deep insight into I’ve had instances where I’ve come up and in the 32nd, or one minute encounter I have with her since there are 1000s of people in line. She taps right into something knows exactly what’s going on to the says a word or two or does a word or two and it changes my life. Like, you know, she’s kind of sitting at the master switchboard. All she has to do is tweak a few little knobs and things change in a big way. So it’s been a powerful engine on my train.
RABBI RAMI: I envy you I went to two quick Alma stories. I went to hear her in Nashville. I spent hours I
RICK: don’t know she ever went to Nashville. I didn’t know that she didn’t know. So I spent
RABBI RAMI: hours listening, you know, and waiting for her to come out. And and then this woman comes out. And she gives a talk. And then she leaves. And I said to some of the preset the temple where this was happening. I said, Wait, what about the hugging? And they said, wrong? Oh, yeah.
RICK: I just means mother. There’s lots of
RABBI RAMI: I got I got this read the advertising. But there was a this is a long time ago, a reporter from NPR, who went to see her somewhere. And she was very skeptical. I mean, this is you know, she’s interviewing people in line. And now this is silly. And she was really, I don’t know if snarky is the right word. But she was very, very skeptical. But she went through it. And so it was her turn, and the mic is on. She goes up and she gets this hug and you hear her go, Oh, my God. And something happened. It was it was so unrehearsed and I was gonna say spontaneous, but that’s redundant. It was so spontaneous, that it couldn’t have been faked. You know, it was just an authentic response to what she just experienced. And I think, then I’ll stop on this track. But I think though, again, never been hugged by her. That the kind of contemplative practice I’m talking about takes you to the same experience, where you feel the vastness as you as you put it, and you feel surrendered. To that vastness or to the Divine depends on how you want to, you know, language it, but you feel surrendered to that in such a way that you realize your own oceanic nature, your own vastness, you realize you are a part of and never apart from this dynamic, whole. And that changes everything. In our relationships to one another and our relationships to a planet to nature, everything changes that way I think people need and it’s impossible probably, but people need the experience, not just reading about in a book, not just hearing it over NPR, but they need the experience of this surrendered transformation order to know how to engage the world in the way I’m suggesting It needs to be engaged. So
RICK: I don’t think it’s impossible. It’s entirely possible. And if all I ever did was seomra, once a year or something like that, that would not be adequate for me. You know, I, I’ve had a regular practice for over 50 years, involving hours a day. And it’s been very rewarding. So, you know, I just think this spiritual evolution business is kind of a lifelong project. And you know, if you can find an effective practice and stick with it, it will be a life well lived, it will have a profound cumulative effect.
RABBI RAMI: So can you tell us what you do? Well, yeah,
RICK: I learned TM when I was 18, in 1968. And I was teacher of it for many years. And these days, I’m making this a short story that went on many long courses, six months here, and six weeks there, and so on, and then started doing Arma and 99. And eventually got a mantra for from her, which I use TM style a couple hours a day to three hours a day, on a regular basis.
RABBI RAMI: Yeah, I think I think mantra practice is really vital. And I’m assuming Well, I don’t know, tell us, are you sitting? Are you levitating?
RICK: Nope, I got lead my pants, I’m just sitting there. But um, but from day one, for me, it had a huge effect, learning to meditate changed my life, I was a high school dropout getting involved in all kinds of difficulties and problems. And, you know, within a month or two, I was back in school and got a job and, you know, just turned me around. And so you know, I met that that relates to something you said a few minutes ago as transcendence as an escape. I think some people can use it as an escape, perhaps. But I see it more like, you know, you when you go to the bank to withdraw some money, it’s not an escape, it’s a preparation to go back to the market. And then you have some money in your pockets. And you can spend them on Yeah, that’s yeah, so meditation kind of charges your batteries, and then you get back into activity. The Gita says Yoga is a skill and action, it sets you up for more successful life in the world.
RABBI RAMI: Yeah, yeah, I totally agree with that. I don’t know if people are familiar with the 10. Ox herding pictures. Most people are Zen Buddhism. So you know, the, the, the eighth one, if I remember them, right, the eighth one is just the end. So it’s blank, that the person is gone. You know that that In The Heart Sutra, got a got a power, I got a power, Sam got a bowtie spa had gone gone, gone beyond even the idea of gone. And then the ninth one is nature returns, there’s a sense of nature coming back. And then the 10th. One is the seeker now, having experienced this great greater reality of which the seeker is a part comes back, very large, very powerful, and comes back into the village as the village elder, the sage, the you know, whatever. And if you want to call it and it is it’s it’s
RICK: but he’s riding the ox, which means that he is kind of a master he’s established as in the transcendent and yet engaged in, in the activity to write.
RABBI RAMI: Yeah, I actually have to look at I don’t think he’s writing the oxygen or I think the ox has been internally maybe, right. And he’s just coming back into the village. But the idea is the same that the, the, the difference between transcendence and imminence is now gone. He’s fully alive, fully aware. And now he’s just in the world. However the world presents itself to to her or him.
RICK: Yeah. There’s another verse in The Gita where, well, there’s one verse where Krishna says to Arjuna transcend be without the three gunas. And then a few verses later, he says, the stablished in yoga, are established in being perform action, you know, so it’s just the same point over again, that it’s, yeah, sometimes meditation has a reputation for being a escapist kind of thing. Like, you know, what are you gonna do about the world, you know, you’re just selfish to sit there with your eyes closed. People said that to me when I first learned, but like getting a good night’s sleep, or many things we do to prepare for activity. It’s a it’s a preparation, you know, it makes him more effective and activity, and a more fulfilled human being.
RABBI RAMI: Yeah, I mean, I think so. I agree with you. I think that when people are engaged in very important social justice issues, environmental justice, I mean, there’s so many things that need to be addressed. And they come at those without and this is obviously my bias, but without a spiritual grounding. And by that I mean, ongoing practice. I think it becomes a First of all, it’s very draining, I think. And second of all becomes very egoic. I’ve got the answer, or my group has got the answer, and we’re gonna do it our way, as opposed to the humility that comes with spiritual practice that allows you to engage the world more powerfully. But not more violently, I guess you might. Yeah.
RICK: And, and that in this humility is, it’s that’s a delicate thing, too, because I’ve met many spiritual practitioners that I’ve probably been one myself at times, who were not very humble, and who did think that their way was the best or, you know, gave other people a hard time but what they were doing and, you know, kind of adopted this holier than thou attitude. So I think that they’re kind of on the spiritual path. There’s this balancing act of integration and purification and stabilization and growth, and kind of all you’re juggling all these balls. But humility is an important one. And I think also discrimination or discernment is important one, because it’s, it’s sometimes easy to get caught up on, on tangents caught up in tangents, and kind of go off the track.
RABBI RAMI: Yeah. And, and sometimes it’s, you know, with all the right intention, you’ve had an experience, and you go, Oh, my God, this has changed my life. You need to do, right. It’ll change your Yeah. And you know, and it’s, it’s done with the right intention, but maybe with the wrong energy. And, and that comes with practice. That, that take that, it just takes a bit of time to get to that place of being convinced that there is a way there is a transformation, there is a capacity for transformation, and not to assume there’s only one way to get there. Yeah.
RICK: I’m often saying God is not a one trick pony. And, you know, sometimes when I’ve had when I’ve been confronted by religious fundamentalists say, I find myself spinning to discuss astronomy. Because if you consider the vastness of the universe, and the probability of life throughout the universe, and, and so on, you know, trillions of inhabited planets, probably, although that’s a little hard to reconcile, if you think the universe is 6000 years old, but you know, it’s like, probably a good percentage of those planets, or the inhabited planets probably all have some sort of spiritual traditions and religions and so on. And I wonder what percentage of those think that theirs is the only way? You know, or theirs is the best? Probably many of them. So, it’s just absurd when you expand it out that far, to think that about anything on our planet being exclusive or unique or? Yeah,
RABBI RAMI: I mean, that the flip side is, I mean, you don’t have to go off world and make the point. You know, I mean, I just, you know, Rami by myself, think that I forget how many was a 2 billion Christians on the planet, who believe that, you know, Jesus is the only son of God as opposed to all life being a child of the Divine. Millions of people who take the the phrase from John, where Jesus says, I am the Way, the Truth and the Life and no one comes to the Father except through me. Billions of evil belief take that literally. And I say to them wrong. Yeah. So much for humility, right? No, no, you’re missing the point. I was once in Israel is a long story, which I won’t bore you with. But I was once confronted by this Anglican priest, who said to me, the I don’t know if you know this term that CS Lewis is try lemma.
RICK: I’ve read CS Lewis, but I don’t remember that term. So this is something
RABBI RAMI: he came up with when he was doing the BBC radio shows during World War Two. And he said that trilemma means that you only have three options in the situation he sets you up with. So he says, When Jesus says, I am the Way, the Truth and the Life, no one comes to the Father except through me. Is he a liar? Is he a lunatic? Or is he Lord, and in CS Lewis is mine. No one would call Jesus a liar or a lunatic so that ah, you must say that he’s Lord. I was in Israel, at this Anglican center, and this priest came over and she tossed that at me, she knew I was a rabbi. And she said, So which is it? Is he a liar, a lunatic or Lord? And I said, I reject the trilemma. There’s a fourth option. And to her credit, she’d never thought about it. She said, really? What is it? And I said, Jesus is a God realized mistake. that when he is saying, I am, he is referring to the I am revealed in Exodus, the the singular subject that is all reality. And he’s saying I am is the WAY, the TRUTH and the LIFE, and no one comes to the I am except through the I Am consciousness, which she embodied. Anyone can do that. I mean, there’s practice involved, but she had never thought of it. And again to regret it, she said, Well, I have to think about that. So it’s, like I said, you know, the top of the show, you know, I looked at Judaism through the lens of mysticism, and I look at all religions through that lens. And then when I am when I do that, I end up with what’s called the perennial wisdom that says, the I Am consciousness is the WAY the TRUTH and the LIFE and everyone has access to that, because everyone is an expression of that.
RICK: Yeah. And it’s closer than your breath. You know, I mean, it’s right here it permeates it prevents every Rumi
RABBI RAMI: says this closer God’s closer than your jugular.
RICK: Yeah. So and so that’s encouraging, because it means that it’s not far removed from us. And in fact, nothing could be closer. And so it should be the easiest thing to tap into, really, if we, if you just sort of have the trick on how to tap in.
RABBI RAMI: Right. I mean, it’s Hindu, the Punisher ad saying, you know, Tom, I see you are it, you know, and that’s why it’s so hard to get because he tried to get it as if it weren’t you. And that false sense of separation is, is the problem.
RICK: Yeah. It’s good. There’s also a verse in The Gita, which says, no effort is lost, and no obstacle exists. Even a little of this Dharma removes great fear. So any step that you take in that direction, it bears fruit to whatever, yeah. And once in fact, one thing I’ve often encountered is, in interviewing people, mostly, they, they reach a certain point in their life, where they just either get desperate or fed up, or just the yearning gets so strong, and they just say, please, you know, help me, I hope I gotta find this thing. And as soon as there’s that sincere in treaty, that sincere intention, stuff happens, you know, the, through the most interesting coincidences, sometimes just that something comes to them that they can begin progressing with. So, and a lot of teachers say that actually, the, the desire for God or the desire for realization is the most fundamental technique of all.
RABBI RAMI: Yeah, I think that, you know, when when you reach that point, it’s what we call in recovery, you know, hitting rock bottom. And at that point, you’re just surrendered. And there’s no, all you can do is say, you know, it’s what Annie Lamott says, there’s three kinds of prayer. Help, thanks. And wow, so you have that moment. And everything shifts for you if if you let it, it’s, it’s, it’s all about living with what the Chinese call way, a way that non coercive action. So you’re doing but you’re not doing from the ego, you’re not doing to get power. You’re not You’re just doing because in the moment, this is what needs to be done. Yeah. And, you know, it, it’s, it’s what Krishna Murty calls choiceless awareness, you just sort of know this to be to be true.
RICK: Yep. It’s Row Row, row, your boat gently down the stream, you’re just you are rowing a bit, you’re just sort of, you know, steering this way. And that’s slightly so that your boat doesn’t go off into the rocks or branches. But the stream is really the thing that’s propelling the boat, you’re just kind of making sort of subtle adjustments like you do with a steering wheel when you’re going down the highway.
RABBI RAMI: Right? But you can get self driving car. That’s true. That goes that
RICK: you can actually go to sleep while it’s driving. And people have been seen doing that. Alright, we’re doing good here. We’re, we’re on a roll. And at any point during this conversation, just if any thought comes to mind and you want to talk about it, just launch into it. You don’t have to wait for me to ask something.
RABBI RAMI: Well, let me just say that I mentioned perennial wisdom, and we didn’t define it. Yeah, good idea. Take a second to do this. So, perennial wisdom is a fourfold teaching at the heart, Mr. At the mystic heart of all religions, each religion will articulate it in its own way, but the points are basically the same. They’re very simple. Point number one is that every life is a manifesting of a singular or non dual aliveness. You call it God or dow or Mother Nature, you know, Brahman Dharmakaya I mean there’s, you know, there’s millions of names for this thing. But the language aside, it’s it’s a singularity is just this infinite happening. And you and I are happenings of that happening. That’s number one. Number two human beings have the innate capacity to awaken in within as this aliveness. Number three, when you awaken in within as this aliveness, you’re called to an ethical standard to live a certain ethical way. And in Judaism, we would say it’s, you know, the golden rule, perhaps or Christianity, I’d say it’s the golden rule. But something like that something that recognizes the mutuality and interdependence of all life, for the express purpose, again, to use biblical terms, to be a blessing to all the families of the earth. That’s Genesis 12, three. And the fourth one is awakening to this aliveness and living for the to be as a blessing to all the families of the earth, those two things comprise the highest calling of any human being. And again, I think you can find like, you can find in every religion, ways of articulating the same four points, but they’re always around there, they’re always the same points. And that’s to go back to where we are. In the very beginning. I think that the collapse of patriarchy slash parochialism is going to be the rebirth of the Divine or the Kinsey rebirth, he’s not dead. But you know, a real appreciation of the Divine Mother to divine feminine and perennial wisdom will be part of that shift.
RICK: Yeah, that’s good. I was just I just read an article last night about Swami Muktananda, and how later in his life, he had a couple strokes and heart attack and stuff and, and then his became behavior became very strange by even though he was still teaching and quite brilliant in some ways. But, you know, he began messing around with young ladies and so on. And I was corresponding with a friend of mine who used to be with him at that point was one of his sort of people helping him write his books and stuff. And she were thinking about it and talking about this idea of the correlation between ethical behavior, and enlightenment. And he may know Ken Wilber, his idea of the difference was he called lines of development. And I used to always think these lines of development were quite tightly correlated, and that to whatever extent consciousness awoke, there would be a corresponding awakening of ethical behavior and all, you know, intellect and heart and all the other faculties. But I’ve sort of had to conclude after all these years that the correlation is really quite loose. Unfortunately, do you have any thoughts on that?
RABBI RAMI: Well, I would say that it, it may be correlated, if in the following way, that I think I’m not quoting this, right. But in the Talmudic literature, in the rabbinic literature, somewhere, it says, you know, the greater the saint, the greater the shadow, that that, as you expand your consciousness, the shadow also expands. And the trick, if that’s the right word, is to take the the energy of the shadow side of our personality and channel it into something good, but you’re never going to become, you know, only good. And, and you can’t, you can’t make you can’t make mistakes, you can’t let the ego get get the better of you. It’s always part of the mix. So my own sense of it is because I’ve had a lot of teachers, and then I found out that lots of them haven’t lived up to the hype. I think you have to focus on the teaching and not attached to the teacher. And, yeah, but if the
RICK: teaching is really worth it, salt, shouldn’t the teacher reflect the effect efficacy of it
RABBI RAMI: is best the teacher can, but that doesn’t mean the teacher is ever going to be perfect. No, because of that ongoing shadow side. So so I don’t, I mean, I’ve had people try to excuse the behavior of their teacher when it’s really vile. I mean, I won’t give specifics, because I don’t want to insult anybody. But I was with a friend who was a disciple of a Buddhist, who was a raging alcoholic. And when he dragged him, Trumper Rinpoche, he often became violent. Yeah. And she talked, she was, she told this story, but she was at a retreat, and he was drunk, and he became violent. And he started to chase her around the room with a butcher knife, saying, I’m going to kill you. And she took it literally and ran for her life and gotten her car and drove away. And then I don’t know how long later but as she was driving away from the retreat, she realized, she said to herself, he was trying to show me my own mortality. So she drove back and sort of said, No, he wasn’t It wasn’t what it looked like. He was trying to show me my own mortality. Luckily for her, he had fallen asleep by the time she got Yeah, I get what you’re saying, you know, it’d be nice if people lived up to the teachings. I think everyone wrestles with it even gurus. So I think we have to be healthfully, skeptical, healthily skeptical of our of our teachers. Yeah. And not not expect the impossible, but not denigrate the teaching. Because the teacher can’t maybe can’t live up to Yeah,
RICK: well, first of all, I’m rather skeptical of her rationalization. Yeah. Yeah. And secondly, I would again, make the point that, you know, why do we engage in a teaching anyway? Well, we want some benefit from it, we want to become a better person, we want to become enlightened, we want to, you know, be more compassionate, or whatever the benefits of a teaching supposedly are. And I know that nobody’s perfect. We’re all works in progress, everyone who walks the earth, or has walked it. But again, you would expect a teacher to embody to be somewhat of an example of the value of the teaching. And if he isn’t, if it’s if it’s that extreme, as you’re saying, then you really have to question. Maybe he’s just, you know, he’s eloquent or whatever, he has a bright intellect or something. But the teaching doesn’t seem to have affected him that much, unless he unless he wasn’t even worse if he hadn’t been engaged in it. Well, that’s
RABBI RAMI: what I’m saying that you can still have respect for the teaching, even if not for the teacher. Do you remember Eugene Herrigel? No, he wrote a book called Zen and the Art of archery. Remember the book? Yes. And when I was in high school, that was, man, you had to read that even in college and Buddhist classes, everyone, oh, gotta read Herrigel. And it turns out that after he became, quote, unquote, enlightened, through his Zen archery studies, he went back to Germany in the 30s. And, you know, he became a Nazi. How can how can enlightened Buddhists become a Nazi? Yeah,
RICK: well, actually, many of the Nazis were really into Vedic religion, Vedic studies, I mean, I think it was gurbles, or one of those guys carried a Gita around that as pocket they, it’s possible to take a teaching and warp it to extreme degrees. I mean, look at how many people have been killed by in the name of Christianity or other religions, you know, huge number. Now look,
RABBI RAMI: look at it, you could just because you brought up the Gita, I mean, look at Hindu nationalism, where there’s, there’s, you know, priests, Hindu priests, preaching violence against Muslims, in the name of, you know, their Hinduism, or you get, you know, the some of these ultra orthodox right wing orthodox settlers in Israel, who in the name of Torah, which says, you know, love the stranger and don’t oppress, you know, the the powerless, and you have them, you know, sanctified are sanctioning all kinds of evil, visibly the Palestinians, so, yeah, I mean, it’s it, they’re, they’re humans. That’s the problem. That’s why if Elon Musk’s ever makes it to Mars, it’s still gonna suck after a while because he’s bringing human Yeah.
RICK: It already sucks on Mars. I wouldn’t wanna live there.
RABBI RAMI: Nice place to visit. Yeah.
RICK: Yeah. Don’t get don’t get stuck there like Matt Damon. Know, if you watch that movie.
RABBI RAMI: I’ll go with Arnold Schwarzenegger. And when he gets there and brings water back, I forgot what could Total Recall. But anyway,
RICK: let’s wrap up this point. But I think there’s a bit more we can squeeze out of it. Just totally resolved it. But don’t you? Well, you’re not here’s a way of going out. You know what you’re saying in the beginning about how spirituality deeps experiential spirituality on more of a mass scale might be the secret ingredient that could turn collapse into a brighter future eventually. And we talked about that quite a bit. So yeah, I agree. And, and that’s why I feel like, you know, spiritual teachers sort of behaving so badly. It kind of sabotages the project, you know, and it dissolutions the heck out of people.
RABBI RAMI: Yeah, I can’t disagree with that. But I still, I don’t want people to say, well, therefore I’m not going to meditate. Right? You know, I’m not I’m not doing that. The practice and the experience that you can gain from the practice is what matters to me and not so much the perfection of the teacher?
RICK: Oh, I agree. And you know, you, there was once a well known spiritual teacher who somebody asked him how many followers he has, and had, you know, apparently had hundreds of 1000s of them. And he said, I don’t have any followers, everyone follows their own experience their own benefits. And that’s the kind of way I see it. I don’t care. If every spiritual teacher that ever lived turned out to be a scoundrel, my own experience is enough to keep me going. Yeah, right. Yeah. All right. Well, we may loop back to this, but let’s keep moving here. So another section on your webpage was on Judaism, and a bunch of quotes and points about Judaism and the way you teach it? Do you want to say some things about that?
RABBI RAMI: Let’s you want to raise something specific. I mean, Judaism is my mother tongue. I think that when Judaism is read through a lens, you know, a mystical lens, a lens of non duality, I think it’s a very, very rich tradition. I think that when it’s read through a tribal lens, it’s, it’s not. It’s pretty silly, you know. So I have a new book coming out, hopefully next year, called Judaism without crazy. And the craziness for me, is the notion that there’s one God separate from the universe who created the universe, who chose the Jews from among all the peoples of the earth. That’s what we say every. Every time we read the Torah. Part of the blessing is Bahar Bonami call Amin that God chose us from among all the peoples to receive God’s one and only revelation of the Torah, because we don’t think the Gita is a rebel is revelatory. We don’t think the Holy Quran is revelatory. So God chose us to receive the Torah and gave us the deed to the promised land in perpetuity, regardless of who was there before we got there. Or who was there when we got back? I mean, that to me is crazy. I don’t I don’t That’s pure tribal? jingoism. That’s pure marketing. It’s I mean, every religion has it, right to say that Muhammad is the seal of the prophets, prophets, is a way of saying our prophets better than your prophet. So join us to say that Jesus is the only son of God is the same thing. Um, it’s all it’s all about marketing. And every religion is trying to market itself as the true faith because they on the surface, they don’t agree. I mean, you can’t, it can’t be that God has a son, and doesn’t have a son. Right? Because Islam and Judaism say, No, God doesn’t have kids. So it can’t You can’t have it both ways. So maybe all of those things are a bit crazy. And the mystics haven’t have it, right. So, I mean, Judaism is a tremendously rich tradition that tries to integrate what you were saying before, the transcendent, with the eminent and it doesn’t see. You know, it’s not, as in some Christianity’s, you know, faith alone, it’s faith and works. You know, it’s that your belief in the divine sends you into the world to be a holy being. So it’s something that I absolutely respect, when it’s not hanging from what I call, you know, the craziness. I mean, I keep a very Jewish life, you know, I observe the Sabbath, the Shabbat in my own way, I observe kosher in my own way, but it’s always my way, not the way my parents did it.
RICK: Yeah. For some reason, as you’re saying that I was reminded of when I think it might have been Voyager One went out pretty far in the solar system and took a photo of Earth from that perspective, and could see Earth is this little tiny dot. And Carl Sagan made some comment about how, you know, looking at that little dot and then considering that all of the bloodshed and the wars and the fighting over little tiny bits of territory on that little dot, you know, to dominate it for some little short blip of time in the vast scheme of things. Just the absurdity of that. And, yeah,
RABBI RAMI: I mean, there is a terminal absurdity to human thing, right. It’s just, it’s craziness. But when you’re talking about Voyager One, I thought you were talking about the first Star Trek movie. That’s my mind.
RICK: I remember that movie actually, the guy who started that lives in my town. forget his name, Voyager and kept saying Voyager. Now What do you suppose it is? Why is it that people become so myopic? Why is it become they become so narrow minded and focused? And you know, my ways the best way, you know, kind of a thing? What is it about human psychology that, because I doubt that the revered founders of any religion, we’re talking that way, although some of their words are interpreted to mean that kind of thing. But I, if I don’t think they could have been so small minded and yet have have had such an impact.
RABBI RAMI: Yeah, I mean, first of all, we don’t know what any of them said, if any of them, we don’t even know if they are really, right. storica figures, and we certainly don’t know what they said. But I think the reason why people are so myopic, is that people are frightened, I think fear is the motivator, we are so afraid of dying, that we want to have some GET OUT OF DEATH three card. And that’s what religions peddle, either it’s reincarnation, or, you know, some, some heaven realm that you can get to if you if you follow the rules properly, or you have the right beliefs, we’re always trying, I mean, that’s part of the addiction of transcendence. If it’s these other heavenly realms, or take it outside of normative religion, I mean, it you say, oh, you know, this life is like a school, or life as a school, when you go from grade to grade to grade, I mean, all of that is, in my mind, is simply a way of avoiding the fact that you die. Nobody wants to die. And we’re so afraid of what that is that we create systems that offer us promise us a get out of debt free card, and then you’re afraid that the system isn’t true. Right? So how do I prove my system is true and your system is wrong? Well, the standard way of doing it is to show that your God is false, and my God is true. And the only way to do that is for my god to kill your God. And the only way for my god to kill your God is for me to kill you. And so we have ongoing religion, religious wars, trying to prove who’s God is really God, in order to prove who’s got the true GET OUT OF DEATH free card, the way around all of that is to realize that in a sense, well, the ego job nice, sorry. It just does. Rami comes to an end, I guess took some, I think it’s called. Oh, I don’t recall. It’s one of those longevity, things you can do on the internet. And it says I’m going to die when I’m 91 which I think is an upgrade from an earlier longevity thing which had me dying and set at 77 which is only a few years, do
RICK: they so so whether you smoke and how your parents were and all that kind of stuff. Exactly. Yeah,
RABBI RAMI: exactly. So so. But I’m still gonna die. You know, my mom’s 92. Maybe I’ll make it that far. Maybe I won’t. But even if I do, eventually I’m going to die. And but I have no fear around that. Because what do you think happens when you die? It really depends on who you think you are now. And I think that I am simply God, Rami Ng, and your God Ric ng you know, and your two dogs. That’s God dogging dog. And so, so the extent to which I’m identified as Rami, in my own mind, that’s the extent to which I don’t want to die, or I fear death. But when I realized that’s not my truest self, and there is no death in that sense, you know, Ramiz gone, but my truest self, which isn’t separate from anything else is, you know, the wave returns to the ocean. But the ocean continues to wave. So that takes away the fear. And if there’s no fear, it’s hard to get people agitated enough within their religious system to want to kill other people.
RICK: I was listening to a guy the other day, and he was saying things like, Well, if you believe in reincarnation, then you’ll be in reincarnated. You’ll be reincarnated. If you don’t, you won’t. And he went on to half a dozen other things like that. If you believe it, then this and if you don’t believe it than that, and you know, the whole while I was thinking that, that’s like saying, If you believe the Earth is flat, okay, the earth is flat. But obviously, there’s an objective reality that really doesn’t care what we believe and that works the way it works and is the way it is regardless of whether or not we understand it. And so why couldn’t you know some of these beliefs about what happens when you die? Be like that maybe there really is reincarnation and it it happens, regardless of whether we think it does.
RABBI RAMI: Well, that’s true. I think the reason that I am not inclined to go in that direction, because, of course, the opposite could be true. No, it’s not reincarnation, it’s heaven in hell. And if you’re not the right kind of religious person, you’re going hell so so It doesn’t really help. But the reason I’m not drawn to that is because the people who speak to me the great saints and sages of humankind have all gone beyond this. I mean, I’m thinking about, you know, people like Ramana Maharshi. Who said, you know, they say, you know, don’t leave us when he was dying, don’t leave as a working you go. I mean, it’s just all this. So when you look at the great saints, whether it’s someone like Munster, our Hodge in Sufism, who said, I am truth, or Jesus, or, I mean, Abraham Abulafia, who said, Behold, I am God, and God is me. Or you know, I mean, you find this stuff in every religious tradition, the realization of your true nature being this oceanic reality, because all of those saints, across human history or throughout human history across human cultures seem to come to the same realization, I find it much more. I find it convincing, of course, you could say, but there are billions of people who think no, you know, that I personally am going to hell. I mean, I’ve been at seminars where I was singled out, and they were they were Christian seminars, where I was singled out as the only non Christian in the room and people said, you know, you’re gonna burn in hell for all eternity. And, you know, it doesn’t bother me, because it’s just something I do not believe in. It’s just so far from my, you know, what I consider to be a credible belief, but it is tremendously motivating. If you’re open to it. Because then you go, crap, I don’t want to burn for all eternity. How do I not burn? And this one seminar was a battle of the Protestant isms. And there were saying, Well, you don’t burn if you become a Southern Baptist and someone’s No, no, you got to be a Presbyterian. Like, how do you know? So I, you know what I told him when they said, What do you think? And I said, Well, I like Dante’s circles of hell. And I’m hoping to make it to the first circle, because that’s where all the cool people are Buddha and Plato, Lao Tzu, I want to hang out with them in the first circle of hell, it’s okay.
RICK: Did you ever watch emo Philips his skit about he, what he runs into a guy who’s about to jump off the Golden Gate Bridge, and they start having this conversation? You know what I’m talking about? No, it’s hilarious. You know, Dan, remind me and I’ll put that in the show notes on this. And you can watch it too. But very funny skit can’t can’t go into it right now. But, um, with regard to Ramana, Maharshi, and others that we could mention. You know, you’re saying earlier about sort of the both and perspective of things where it’s transcendent, and its imminent, or you know, its unmanifest. And its manifest and both, you know, dimensions, or all the dimensions have their significance. Well, you know, Rama said that his cow was the reincarnation of some woman who had served him devotedly earlier on, and the cow gotten lightened when she died. Or maybe it was the other way around the car. Now the car gotten I think there was a woman earlier.
RABBI RAMI: And they built a shrine for the Yeah,
RICK: Lakshmi the cow. So it’s not like he didn’t believe that reincarnation was a thing. And he actually often referred to it, but just that it wasn’t the ultimate thing. It’s what they call it Vedanta via the Harka. Satyam, the transactional reality. It’s still like, you know, a room full of pot, is it only clay but there are parts, you know, and you don’t deny the existence of the parts. That’s just sort of the relative output if
RABBI RAMI: you break apart, it’s not going to reincarnate as another pot.
RICK: True. But metaphor metaphors have their limitations. Yeah.
RABBI RAMI: No, I mean, my my. I mean, I appreciate what you’re saying. I think that even someone that to me is just an example of how even someone who is so awake as Ramana Maharshi still is a product of his culture. And this is, you know, this is what comes out. I mean, I’ve studied for the last couple of decades, I guess, with a student of his not not direct one generation removed. And
RICK: Michael James or something like that. No,
RABBI RAMI: no, no, somebody that no one’s ever heard of, he keeps way below the radar. He’s an Indian guy. Anyway, when he explains the stuff, you know, he explains it without the trappings of Indian culture. And so, you know, he looks at reincarnation as, I mean, the way the way the ocean continues to wave but it’s never the same way of coming back. The thing with reincarnation often is it’s just another it’s just another way of being addicted to ego, that this woman became back as a cow. Well, No, that makes no sense. Or the cow could become a woman. That means there’s something essential about the woman that came back as a cow, or as something essential about the cow, that becomes something else. There’s nothing essential except the, the non dual reality itself. So I have no problem with saying, you know, the ocean waves in, you know, without end, but no wave itself ever comes back. But then you say, Well, wait a minute, what about people who remember past lives? Well, I don’t have a problem with that. Because there’s only one living thing that’s the ocean of your life. That’s the divine reality of which you are apart. And if you are sensitive enough, and I’m not but if one is sensitive enough to tap into more of the oceanic, you can maybe you do have you know, Akashic records, karmic karmic memories of other things the ocean was doing the problem is, we then identify it with me. Oh, that was me. I mean, I’ve know a number of people who believe they were Cleopatra. I know nobody. I’m the Minister. I’m not making it up. And I know number of people who say I was I’m a reincarnation of Queen, Cleopatra. Nobody that I’ve ever met was ever reincarnation of the woman who had you know, who cleaned up? You know, when when Cleopatra took a dump in the bucket? No one was really I was the woman who took the bucket out and planned it no one was ever that reincarnation. So I think you have to be I think it’ll the ego is very powerful, very subtle, and can just weave itself into all of these different things. None of them speak to me. At the moment, when I’m dying, maybe then maybe then oh, no, I’m gonna come back. This is not done. I didn’t, you know, I didn’t, I didn’t do enough, I want to get more stuff.
RICK: Yeah, I’m gonna play with this a little bit more with you not not to win an argument or convince you of anything. But just to play with the idea because there’s some other wrinkles of it that you probably consider, but maybe we can hash them out. One is the whole near death experience and out of body experience phenomenon, you know, where people go out of body. I’ve spoken to many of them and experience something that they couldn’t possibly have known. And then they come back. And, you know, like, there’s this famous story where somebody was undergoing surgery, and they left the body. And they were the many stories where they hear what the surgeons are saying and what music they were playing in the room and all that. But then they actually there was one woman who saw red sneaker up on the roof of the hospital. And sure enough, somebody went up there later and found the sneaker. So if that those kinds of those kinds of stories suggests that there’s a subtler aspect to our makeup, which is not just the physical body. And go ahead, you’re about to say something. Yeah,
RABBI RAMI: no, I mean, I don’t I don’t disagree with those. I don’t challenge those experiences. Just like when you read Autobiography of a Yogi, I just recently reread it. When I read. When I read the first time, I was like, what are all these, you know, these cities, these powers that all these people, but I read it the second time, and I read it with a more hopefully a more mature mind. And what there’s a guy Cullen Wilson, who has this metaphor of an 88 key piano keyboard, and that most of us only play the keys in the center. Chopsticks, some of us. Yeah, right. But but some of us through near death experience through psychedelics through meditation, we can play more keys. And I would imagine that there are some people who can play the entire keyboard. And I think that when you die or if you have this near death kind of experience, you’re playing more of the keys you can I would I would go even farther than the two examples not only can you see things because your your perspective is is larger than just what’s you know, between your eyes or behind your eyes. I think that that you might even be able to perceive you know what, what might be considered the the enlightenment experience through through near death I was once corresponding with oh, gosh, his name just went out of my head but one of the major not moody but someone else. Near Death researcher. This is back in the 80s and 90s. Grayson, he was he was at Yale. I can’t remember my Gary Schwartz. Now or you can throw it off. Yeah, I can’t remember. I can’t remember the guys name. But anyway, I wrote him once. And I said, Here’s what people experienced during meditation because he was a scientist. He wasn’t interested in meditation. And then it sounds to me exactly what you’re describing a near death experience. And he wrote back and said, No, I think it’s the same thing. But you’re dropping, you know the limitations of the body mind and experiencing the full to mix my metaphors to experience the full ADA keys of human consciousness. So, yeah, I have, I have no problem with accepting any of that. And to take it back to the Autobiography of a Yogi is, I assume it’s possible to do things that look like magic to me, because I’m only playing a few keys, but that someone who can play the whole keyboard can do and I’m just mesmerized, I don’t understand how they do it. So I’m not limited, I hope to saying no to any of this stuff, right? My limitation comes when I imagine that when someone says to me, so I am other than the universe so that you know, the divine consciousness that I don’t have room in my experience for separation. Yeah,
RICK: no, neither do I. And, and I take all sorts of beliefs and ideas like this as hypotheses that are interesting to explore. Did Jesus walk on water? Okay, maybe he did, maybe can that be tested? Could we find somebody else who can walk on water, you know, and just because we can’t, doesn’t mean he didn’t do it. But you know, it’s nice picking that as one final example. So I’m really open to all this stuff. But nothing that happens is separate from oneness, and all kinds of things. And yet, in the same breath, all kinds of things happen. So if it’s true that when the gross physical body dies, the Annamaya Kosha, as they call it, there are still the subtler, cautious, subtler sheath left. All of that. It’s an appearance in oneness, but and it’s not separate from oneness, but we still living life involves engaging with appearances, even if we don’t take them as ultimately real.
RABBI RAMI: Yeah, right. I could, I could follow you in that dress,
RICK: right. And so that woman who saw the red sneaker on the roof of the hospital, and I could cite many other examples. How was she able to do that? Because her physical eyes were in a body that was being operated on under anesthesia, there must be some subtler mechanics of perception, which are independent of, or the grosser physical body. And, you know, so if that Yeah, yeah, go ahead.
RABBI RAMI: No, as I said, the question is, is consciousness a byproduct of the brain? Or is the brain simply a way of tuning into consciousness? What do you think about that? And I think the second Yeah, me too. Yeah. I think the brain is like a received like a radio and that the Yeah, right. And that the, you know, spiritual practices, and other things, simply help you fine tune the radio, so you get a, you know, you can reach a broader spectrum. Yeah.
RICK: And if the radio gets damaged, it doesn’t mean that the music isn’t still playing that other radios can pick it up. It’s just this particular radio. Yeah. Okay. But again, analogies have their limitations. And what we’re saying here is that, you know, in addition to the Universal Music, so to speak, the the electromagnetic field which radios detect, that’s that’s as far as that analogy goes, but what we’re saying here is that there could be a, a sort of a Jeeva, or a subtle essence, to our makeup that survives when the body dies. And that could therefore take on another body, and, and sort of near death, to me out of body experiences are an interesting bit of evidence for that. And then, you know, then we get into all kinds of you want to answer that phone or just or No, I
RABBI RAMI: should turn the phone. You want to do that you can do that. Actually, nobody calling
RICK: it’s just somebody trying to sell you a car insurance or something.
RABBI RAMI: No, it’s It’s something with my I can’t even get the phone off my phone. There it goes. Yeah. It’s something where you get these phantom rings. Aha. That is nobody somebody even registered. No, no, it’s not even there’s no phone about it. Some wacko fingered with and it happens all day long. Yeah, I can’t get it to stop it. So my only issue here would be does that subtle consciousness that takes on a new body? Is that Rick? You know, is that Rami? And I would say no, that that it wouldn’t be identified. But most people want it to be whatever their after life scenario is they want it to be recognizably them. I mean, when people say to me, you know, I’m going to die go to heaven. I’m going to see my grandparents. Well, that means that your grandparents are going to be recognizable to you and that you’re going to be recognizable. to them and that somehow, it’s the ego that goes, or when I’ve had people say to me, Well, you know, they’re going to hell because they do XY and Z. And then you say, well, is the soul that goes to hell is that the person that you’re, you know, is that the ego? And they said, no, no, it’s totally different. So Well, then why punish the soul? For what the ego? Yeah, good point. Right? I mean, it’s so this stuff gets very convoluted. It’s, I’m infinitely fascinated with it, I could talk about it all day long, but the work is, you know, playing as many of the keys as possible in order to make the world, you know, a more more holy, just compassionate place.
RICK: Yeah. Um, so we won’t talk about this particular point all day long, but perhaps a few more minutes? Well, just that, uh, here’s the point for you just that if we consider, you know, spiritual evolution to be sort of a vast spectrum of possibility, like you say, you know, we’re playing two or three keys, we want to be able to play 88 keys, chances are, we’re not going to be able to play all 88 keys in the in the span of one lifetime, but maybe we will double the number of keys we can play will go from four to eight or something. So, you know, it would seem that if this is true, that there is some essence to us that continues to evolve along that spectrum, that, you know, it’ll be good to have multiple opportunities to progress. You know, get to six
RABBI RAMI: for that. For that. Yeah. Whatever that essence. Yeah, right. I mean, that I would get that. Yeah. I mean, I, I’m not going to disagree with that. I mean, on what grounds so. But I don’t know if it’s true, that you can’t wake up in a single lifetime. I mean, maybe you say you, I think you can who do. Or you could argue people who do have had multiple lifetimes to get ready that too. Yeah. So so there’s there’s that but
RICK: Yogananda said in his autobiography that, um, I don’t know if that’s true or not, but he said that reincarnation was edited out of the Christian doctrine at the Council of Nicea. Because it was felt by them, whoever, that it, gave people too much sort of, will make them lazy, like, do whatever I want. And I’ll keep working on it next time around, they wanted them to focus in on being a good person right now. And
RABBI RAMI: well, like good person, they wanted them to focus focus in on following the rules and learning and being controlled by the powers of the, you know, the Nicene of the council. So yeah, right. I mean, Judaism too, has a reincarnation tradition. It’s not mainstream, but, but it also has, yeah. All right.
RICK: Well, we pretty much exhausted this, this topic, but um, whatever it is, I find it interesting. I mean, the idea of understanding,
RABBI RAMI: I apologize for all the noises coming out of my neighborhood.
RICK: What’s that? The ice cream truck?
RABBI RAMI: That’s an ice cream truck coming by? Yeah, I used to drive by. Yeah, he comes by everyday never stops. No one ever buys ice cream. I think he must be dealing.
RICK: Yeah, I must be getting warmed on there to have an ice cream truck. We’re gonna have some snow and ice there too. But, um, in any case, what was I just about to say? I was saying something. Remember?
RABBI RAMI: It was another lifetime? Yeah.
RICK: Anyway, maybe, maybe it’ll come back if it’s important. But um, oh, I know, it was just just that, um, with all kinds of subjects like this. I mean, it’s fun to talk about them. And, and, and I don’t think it’s just sort of, you know, party conversation or sort of idle gossip, because I think that understanding how the universe works, is an important component or should be of spiritual development. And it’s certainly an emphasis in probably in your in your tradition, certainly in Vedanta, you know, Yana yoga, just sort of really sorting things out and getting a clearer understanding of things. And I’m sure there have been many, you know, Christians who’ve focused on understanding of course, these traditions have different understandings. But whatever. However, they go about it. It seems to me that we know we have an intellect, we have a heart, we have a mind we have these different components, and cultivating each of these faculties to do what it’s designed to do as fully as it can be done seems to be part of the holistic development that I would consider to be spiritual evolution.
RABBI RAMI: Yeah, I absolutely agree. I think that at minimum, you know, just in the embodied existence that I have, I mean, there’s five dimensions that I’m aware of, you know, body, heart, mind, soul, and spirit. And there may be subtle gradations within all of those. And I think that we need to develop practices on each of those dementia. You know, it’s it’s not enough to just sit on a cushion. There’s got to be a fit. And in the retreats that I that I run, when we used to do retreats, pre COVID, every morning, we started with Qi Gong. And we did metta loving kindness meditation every day. And we did mindfulness practice and self inquiry and study, we, we tried to work on all five dimensions over the course of every day of the retreat. But I think that some people are more inclined, well switch and switch metaphors to the to the four yogas you know, karma bhakti jhana. And, and so, so some people are more inclined to devotional practice. So there are there bhakti people, and some are more inclined, like IMT jhana, the more in the intellect. But I remember rom das said once that start where you are, but eventually, if you stick with it over a lifetime, they won’t all be equal, necessarily, but all four of them, all four categories of practice, you know, will will be manifested, you’ll manifest them in your life. When I first heard that I was much, much younger, I thought, now, I’m never going to be a bhakti person are never going to be you know, a karma yogi person. But he was right. I mean, if I listed them, Karma Yoga, Karma Yoga probably be on the bottom. Because I’m too lazy to do anything for other people. But no, you, you know, I would have I would have thought bhakti would have been something I could never do. But it’s now it’s, though it challenges my normal worldview. My my bhakti practices of devotion to the Divine Mother are central to my daily practice. And I never would have imagined that yeah,
RICK: all the great non dual masters from you know, Shankara Shankara said, the intellect imagines duality for the sake of devotion. And Rama was very devotional devote devoted to our nodular and Nisargadatta. You know, after the the main group would leave, he’d break out the symbols, and they’d have bhajans practice and Papaji was very devoted to Krishna. So all these guys had the devotional component, and no, you know, they would not have said, Oh, it’s all just one. And so, you know, devotion is is a delusional concession to, you know, or anything like that. They all consider them important.
RABBI RAMI: Yeah, I mean, I, when I started to move in that direction, I was adamantly opposed to what I was experiencing, because I was No, it’s just the non duality, you can’t have this thing. It’s this makes no sense. I was, I mean, I went to a number of teachers, so I won’t go into it, but try to get rid of the experience that I was having. And I was finally sitting with Andrew Harvey, once we were we had been teaching together in, in the Phoenix area, we were at the the Phoenix airport. And I said to him, I’m having all these experiences of the divine feminine. I’m seeing images and hearing voices and all this. And I said, you know, this violates my non dual theology. This is, you know, I don’t have room for this. And I won’t go into all the things he said. But in his delightfully loving, mocking way, he basically said, you don’t really, if you think there’s non duality and duality, you don’t understand non duality, that if it’s all the one reality, then it can manifest as Kali and Mary, and you know, hochma, Sophia, all these different characters I was experiencing, or Krishna or, you know, whoever, whoever happens to be. So he helped me get over my intellectual resistance to the experiences I was,
RICK: yeah, like I was saying earlier, you know, the heart is a faculty. And if you’re going to be undergoing holistic development, it’s bound to develop and you’re going to start, you know, having experiences in that that way. So hey, you just kind of like gave a little hint there to something they haven’t discussed, which is would you be willing to talk more about your, the experiences you’ve had? You know, like, you started experiencing these divine mother things, for instance, I mean, how did that manifest and what were what were your experiences? And, you know,
RABBI RAMI: yeah, well, I mean, there were a lot and it’ll get boring, but the give you some examples. So I first started having this kind of visual, because I’m more of an auditory person. But I started having these visualizations, not on purpose. But I was sitting in my home and I lived in Miami, Florida. I was reading the Herald Miami Herald newspaper, and they had this gorgeous I guess icon of the Virgin Mary, it was just this watercolor it was I couldn’t take my eyes off of it. And it really took up the, you know, above the fold, as we used to say, when you got a real paper newspaper, and I flip the paper over to see what gallery this was or what church this was in. And because I wanted to go see it, and it turns out, it was an oil slick on the side of a bank building in I think it’s Clearwater, Florida, and 1000s of people were making pilgrimage to it. It’s she’s called Our Lady of Clearwater. And I don’t like crowds. I wasn’t gonna go see it after reading that. But it was clear that this was not an oil slick that this was a, an appearance of the Divine, of the Divine Mother, as Mary. And then I started seeing her everywhere. And again, I wasn’t comfortable with it, but I couldn’t make it stop. And then I started having auditory experiences. And in Judaism, when the ancient rabbis would experience would hear the revelation, we hear the voice of God, they call it a bot, called bat Kol. And it literally means bought his daughter and call His voice, they heard the daughter’s voice even though they thought it was the revelation of God, and God for them was so steeped in masculine imagery. When they heard God they heard not Charlton, but or George Burns, you know, they heard a woman’s voice. And I started having the same thing though I identified it, as, you know, Kali or Mary, or in the Hebrew Bible tradition, clock, my lady wisdom that who appears in the eighth check. She’s mentioned a lot, but she speaks for herself. In Chapter Eight of Proverbs starting in verse 22. Anyway, I started having these auditory things, and she would say stuff to me. Some of it was personal about You’re so stupid, can’t you do this right for once, but, and that may have been my mother on speakerphone, it could have mixed it up from my mother to them. But one of the most moving ones and I’ll share this, I was leading this group, interfaith group, pilgrimage in the ISRAEL PALESTINE, and we were in Nazareth. And I’d never been there. I’d lived in Israel for a year at one time, a year and a half another time I’d been visiting many times never ever went to Nazareth for some reason. But Nazareth is called Mary’s town because that’s where she’s from Jesus of Nazareth. And I’m sitting by what’s called Miriam’s Well, or Mary’s, well, and it’s all stone, it’s closed off now. But that’s was the town well, and there’s a beautiful, but very old and very faded icon of Mary, attached to the stone. And I had this practice by then this is just a few years ago, I had this practice that whenever I was at a Catholic place where there were Mary statues, I would always do the devotional, you know, Hail Mary, full of grace, you know, practice. So that’s where I was in Nazareth. And I was just doing it like I always do Hail Mother, Hail Mary, full of grace, that
RABBI RAMI: the Lord is with you. Blessed are you among all women blesses the fruit of your womb, Jesus, Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners, now and into the moment are unto the moments of our death. So I was doing that because that’s something I just do. And then I heard this voice, this bot call in my head, but at least in my way, I understand it. Not it wasn’t my voice. And she said, Stop doing that. She said, That’s not your mantra. She didn’t say mantra, but that’s not your mantra. She said, recite this. And what I received was, so hochma is the Hebrew for Lady wisdom. So it’s hail hakama follows grace, the Divine is you blessed that are you and all women, and less it is the fruit of your womb, all being holy mother, or fount of wisdom, guide seekers now and into the moments of our death. And that’s become a daily practice for me since then, so it’s been years, but not that many years. So So those kinds of things happen to me, and it took me a long time to make peace with them. But with the help of Andrew Harvey sister, Jose Hobday, I don’t know if you know who she is. She’s deceased now, but Franciscan nun and a Native American Medicine Woman I mean, I had a lot of teachers around us, who helped me become comfortable with My experience. And now this devotional, you know, using mala beads and reciting them the hell, Hakeem, I think is a major part of my spiritual practice. So, you know, I’m hoping it’s not ego projection, you know, but I’m always willing to say you’re kidding yourself. But that’s not how I experienced it. So I’m not making any claims other than I’m taking my experience. Seriously.
RICK: Yeah, that’s great. And I think that seems like a healthy approach to it. So do you think that when you have when you had that experience, and it sounds like you’ve had a lot of different experiences? You said, I hope it’s not an ego projection? Do you think that there’s actually some kind of celestial being that is communing with you that is imparting some wisdom to you? Or communicate? You know, like that
RABBI RAMI: new out? You know, I don’t, I don’t, I think she is simply my access point. You know, she’s the archetype that for whatever reason speaks to me, if I want to experience the divine as I don’t know, I always say other but other, right. I mean, you said it really well before that, but I can’t quote you about these different. I mean, Ishwara, kind of things, these personal deities that people have so so I see her as, as my archetype or my icon for listening more deeply, or experiencing more deeply the greater reality of which we’re all apart. But I don’t think there’s separate beings out there floating around.
RICK: But would you regard humans as separate beings floating around? Or? I mean, if you make a concession to duality or to that veil Harka Satyam transactional truth? Are, are there billions of separate beings in the world even though ultimately, they’re
RABBI RAMI: from that from that transactional perspective? Yeah. But even even then, I know it, I think I know, at a higher level that, that you and I, it’s just God talking to God, you know, in that in that sense?
RICK: Yeah, both are true. Here’s, here’s one way of breaking it down. We could say on one level, nothing ever happened. Okay. And on another level, we could say, stuff is happening. But it’s all divine and perfect, just as it is. On the other level, we could say, stuff is happening. And there are problems to deal with there starving people over here and the disease over there, and all that kind of stuff. And I don’t think we need to sort of lock into one level to the exclusion of the others, I think we can sort of expand our scope to incorporate all three simultaneously. And so you can say paradoxical things in the same breath and be comfortable with both sides of the paradox. Yeah, I’m comfortable with that. Yeah. Okay. So, paradoxically, I would say that, yeah, of course, there are celestial beings and angels and all that kind of stuff. They have their realm of experience or existence, we have ours and and there actually, is some overlap so that we can commune with them, are they with us? And that doesn’t violate the ultimate essential oneness of things.
RABBI RAMI: Yeah, that’s, that’s the key that people realize it doesn’t violate the essential non duality. Yeah.
RICK: And the sort of the duality bit is kind of necessary for living life. Otherwise, you wouldn’t be able to put a spoon in your mouth.
RABBI RAMI: Yeah, right. Absolutely.
RICK: Yeah. In fact, there’s a well, I won’t go into it. But there’s a there’s a saying in Vedanta. Faint remains of ignorance. They concede that it’s ignorance, but they say you have to have it in order to actually live or function.
RABBI RAMI: Yeah, right. Right. Right. And it’s only ignorance from the absolute perspective, the relative perspective it makes total. Yeah,
RICK: exactly. Okay, good. So I think more than you want to say that, you know, over the course of your journey, that have been significant, interesting milestones, like, I just feel like that thing you just said about, you know, having some of these connections with with mother, Mary, or whoever that was, is fascinating. Have there been other things like that along the way? Because you just seem to have a certain sort of mystical dimension where, you know,
RABBI RAMI: yeah, I tell you something that just that happened a couple of years ago, I was sitting with my, my teacher, this Indian fellow from the Ramana, Maharshi tradition, and he’s in his late 80s. And we were just sitting and chatting. I mean, he doesn’t he doesn’t teach he doesn’t do workshops. He doesn’t do either. He just lives in a little townhouse and If you know about him, he’ll you can call him up. And you know, if he’s up to Hill, you can just come and hang with him. So, you know, I was in town and I, you know, asked to come and see him. So we’re just sitting in his living room. And we’re just chatting. And then and I’ve known him a long time. And he says to me, what’s your spiritual practice? I said, What do you mean, you know what my spiritual practice is? You know, I do self inquiry. And I asked the question, are you who am I? And he says, Are you? and I are, you know, that’s all he said, was, Are you? And then I wasn’t, but I wasn’t not. It was the weirdest thing. Rami was gone, but aware, and I’ve had experiences where you drop body mind, and there’s nothing, and then you come back. But this was not that. This was everything was still there. And yet it wasn’t. But I, but it wasn’t, you know, there was awareness, but there was no aware or something. I don’t know how to put it. But there was no language I couldn’t speak I, I wasn’t me. I was just aware of what was happening. And it went on for a while now, what a while means, I don’t know, because I had no sense of time. And then when it ended, I said, what happened? And he said, I’m tired. I need to go. So I don’t know what he you know, we never came back to it. I never talked to him again about it. But that was an experience very different than what I have with the Divine Mother. Because with the Divine Mother Rami is they’re having an experience, or listening or seeing or somehow interacting with this other dimension, or this this avatar from another dimension. Whereas in this, it was it was completely different. And there was just an incredible stillness. But I mean, I can’t say I was aware of everything, because there was no i there, there was just, I don’t there’s no language for it. I have no idea. But But to me, that seems like an afterthought. That seems like the flip side of what I was experiencing when I’m having these dialogues with the divine, the Divine Mother. So yeah, I mean, just you asked for another thing. So that’s just another another thing. Ultimately, though, it’s just back to sitting cross legged every morning, you know, oh, that was cool. I gotta go back to the the cushions.
RICK: Yeah, you can’t get hung up on these things. And I think it’s completely legitimate and probably normal to shift into different modes of functioning, I bet you even the great sages of antiquity did that there would be a time when it sort of depends on the circumstances and what you’re engaged in, you know, I mean, sometimes there needs to be a more manifest engagement, or maybe a more devotional engagement, or sometimes, you know, no engagement, you’re totally withdrawn. But But I think over time, these things tend to integrate more and more. So, you know, you can be driving down the street or jogging or something. And yet that sort of silent, nothing is happening. Nobody’s there. Dimension is lively. In the midst of I’m breathing heavily, because I’m jogging, you know, that all kind of integrates after a while.
RABBI RAMI: Yeah, jogging. I don’t have a problem with that happening while you’re jogging. while you’re driving. You should pull over. Know that? That’s a little Yeah, it’s, and it happens to people. Even without a specific practice. It does. Because I think, you know, I think we all have the entire ADA key keyboard, it’s in sometimes maybe you just fall in, through grace to playing, you know, parts that you never, you never even know existed. Yeah, I
RICK: have a friend who has been going through a stage recently, where once you drive, she has to avoid looking at the sky. Because if she looks at anything, that she slips into so much vastness, that she’s not even aware that she’s driving anymore, and she has the right boy to pull over. And so it’s a matter of integrating, because eventually that won’t happen. Yeah, yeah. Okay, so you also say in your notes that you’re recovering food addict, you seem to be doing pretty well in the recovery because you don’t look overweight to me. But you’re, you’re a compulsive Overeater and you’ve been clean for 13 years.
RABBI RAMI: Yeah, well, you’re not always when you when you when you when you have a food addiction. Sometimes it can be you know, bulimia, I mean don’t you don’t have to be obese. And even when your, your eating is okay, and your weight is okay, it’s the mentality around food. That’s just, you know, I still have the the, the triggers are still there. One of the things I learned during the last year of lockdown was now you can hear my dog. One of the things I learned during the last year of lockdown was that the attraction I had to certain restaurants that I would go to, and you couldn’t go. And I realized, wait, I was doing this addictively. I didn’t, didn’t even know I had an addiction. And I would say, oh, restaurants are fine, because they limit your portions. And I’ll you know, so it’s okay. But I lost 20 pounds in the last year, because I couldn’t go to these places that I was going and I wasn’t over eating at those places. But I was I was just eating poorly at those places. If that, if that makes sense. So I never say I’m, you know, I’m a recovering, you know, food addict. I’m not. I’m working at it day by day. But I would never say I’m really clean. Because the triggers are, are there. I mean, I know that there’s a bag of Fritos on the other side of this door. Mike, why? Because enjoy. Yeah, that, that is calling me with the same intensity as the Divine Mother. It’s, it’s another kind of bought coal. It’s interesting.
RICK: You know, being a food addict is different than being an alcoholic, because you can get rid of all the alcohol in your house and not go to bars or just go anywhere near alcohol. But you have to have food, you know, you can’t get rid of all the food and
RABBI RAMI: Right, right, I sometimes in 12 Step world, there’s, oh, you’re a food addict. That’s not as bad. I’m a drug addict. That’s the real that’s the real addiction, or I’m out, you know, they play Who’s Who’s the bigger addict, which is sort of egoic silliness. But, I mean, I have a lot of friends who are recovering alcoholics, and I wouldn’t change my addiction for there’s even though you say well, you just don’t go you don’t buy it. You don’t go there. mitts. It’s all it’s all madness to me. So I don’t I don’t say I don’t have a hierarchy of addictions.
RICK: Do you think people get addicted to things like food or anything else? Because there’s not enough internal fulfillment. And so outer cravings kind of get the upper hand?
RABBI RAMI: Well, I think that could be part of it. I think with food, because that’s the only one I really know. I’ve never literally have never had a drink. Even when you’re when you’re supposed to have wine with various holidays. I always used grape juice. So I’ve never had a drink. And I’ve never had experience I’ve had I smoked marijuana twice in high school. It just made me hungry. Yeah, so that was my only drug experience. But so just from my food experience, I know that there are a psychologic there’s a psychological dimension to it. That’s absolutely true. I would say it’s, you know, when I’m happy I want to eat when I’m sad I want to eat so there’s always that element to it. But there’s also not just speaking from food now there’s also the industrial food you know, the the business of food, where food is deliberately made with too much salt, sugar and fat in order to hook you. I mean that’s people are just evolutionarily designed to consume sharp salt, sugar and fat and knowing that it’s like when they would put tobacco you know, in cigarettes, and nicotine and cigarettes because they know it’s it’s gonna hook you and they knew it was addictive. The same thing with the food industry. So my thing I think is more on the salt part. But it doesn’t matter. I love all salt, sugar and fat things. So so it’s part part me part psychological part physiological and and part cultural or, or maybe, you know, economic because the industry is designed to hook me on. I mean, they even tell you when with Frito Lay’s potato chips you can’t eat just That’s true. Yeah, well, that’s their business model. And that’s my addiction problem. So I don’t eat any
RICK: remember that Alka Seltzer commercial? Remember, I can’t believe I ate the whole thing. Alright, enough about that topic. What’s this holy rascals business about here? Yeah,
RABBI RAMI: holy rascals. Those are people who have too much respect for religion. to leave it in the hands of marketing professionals. You know, those are people who see the craziness and religion but don’t want to throw the baby out with the bathwater. So, you know, I would say people like Ramana people are Nisargadatta, Maharaj, Rama, Krishna. I mean, Jesus would be a holy rascal he, you know, Jesus puts reforming Judaism, not creating Christianity. But you get someone even says, let’s say someone like either Rabbi Saul of Tarsus, or St. Paul, however you want to look at him, you know, he had some incredibly radical things to say that the church is buried, because it’s not conducive to that maintaining the hierarchy. When he says, there’s no Jew or Greek, slave or free, male and female in Christ Jesus, there goes the three major sociological divisions of his time and he said, No, when you’re apart, and people say that means the church, first of all, the church maintains those divisions up to this day. But I don’t think he’s talking about the church, I think he’s talking about Christ consciousness. And when you enter into that kind of I Am consciousness or whatever you want to call it, all those divisions fall away. I mean, that’s holy, rest. Galletti, teaching that stuff within the context of a tradition. So what I think we need is more holy rascals, people who will, even from within their tradition, I’m not saying you have to leave your tradition, but from within the tradition to find the great mystics, and teach that material. I mean, when when I go to, again, things change in the last year of COVID. But when I used to be invited to lots of different churches, I would talk about, let’s say, the gospel of Thomas, which now people at least have some sense that there is such a thing, but there was a time when people had no idea what that was. And
RICK: that’s from is that from the Dead Sea Scrolls.
RABBI RAMI: They got no Gnostic Gnostic Gospels, it’s technically not gnostic, I guess, but it’s one of the non Hammadi texts Nagamani, right? In the in the in the desert. And, you know, Jesus opens it up. The first it’s 114 sayings of Jesus. And the first one is, anyone who figures out what the hell I’m saying, won’t taste death. And in other words, here, come 100 Now 13 113 colon, that Jesus is teaching, that are integrated into the New Testament, the gospel of Thomas has no narrative, there’s no story because Jesus says execute, it says Why, but there Kawan Kawan like statements, and you’ve got to figure him out. When he’s, you know, when you can make the two, one and the male, like the female and the female, like the male, and you know, all those kinds of things, you know, when you can achieve that kind of yin Yan integration, then you experienced the kingdom of heaven? Well, you can’t build a church on that, you can build up a jhana Kawan, practice on something like that. So there are these wild characters, throughout human history, and now in different traditions and outside traditions. But these incredibly brilliant, wise, open hearted people who are bringing out a different way of understanding these conventional teachings that all of us have grown up with. That’s, that’s what I call the holy rascal.
RICK: Yeah, it seems to me that most, you know, great mystics, like Jesus and others, you know, in their time, very few people understood them. But they certainly made an impact, you know, so they really got the ball rolling. And then once the ball was rolling, certain administrative mindset type people moved in to kind of organize it, you know, that old joke about God and the devil walking along the road, and God picks something up and puts it in his pocket. And the devil says, what was that? And God said, Oh, that’s just the truth. And the devil said, Don’t give it to me. I’ll organize it for you. So yeah, so they do seem to be these different sort of personality types, you know, and some and administer marshy Mahesh Yogi used to call them the second rate minds, the administrators even though he needed them.
RABBI RAMI: Yeah, there’s a place for them, but it shouldn’t be at the top of the spiritual food chain. Yeah, yeah. And then some of them are like people. I love Alan Watts. You know, when I was an undergraduate, my Buddhism professor, who was really my, my mentor, he took me aside once and he said, What do you want to do with all of this? What’s your goal, your career goal? And I said to him, I want to be the Jewish Alan Watts. And he said, Alan Watts. No, that’s crap. That’s what I want to be the Jewish Alan Watts. So Alan Watts was a holy Rascal, I think, but very brilliant. And serious. practitioner. Was he a practitioner?
RICK: I heard that he just talked the talk really well but didn’t
RABBI RAMI: Your practice? No, I think he practice. I mean, you know, maybe not? Well, I mean, I don’t know enough about him to say he had a specific tradition. I don’t I don’t remember him writing about that. But But I think he did. He did practice I think he was very engaged in Chinese Calligraphy is a practice and he worked with some with some powerful Gary Snyder, other powerful practitioners. So I think I think he had a practice, but it may not have been a brand name. Yeah.
RICK: One more point I want to make about the whole thing with the administrators and all is that, you know, they take over, but then they find, they feel threatened by the mystics. You know, because the Mystics are always going to be rocking the boat, and you know, getting to the inner meaning of things and, and so, you know, they end up killing them, or banishing them or, or something like that, and so that you very quickly end up with the kind of outer shell of religion but no, no remnants really, of what the, the founder of it was, was teaching or saying, seems to yeah,
RABBI RAMI: there’s a there’s a tradition in Judaism called the Law, Ahmed VUB. Nick means 36. That says, this comes from a guy named Rabbi by a 1600 years ago, he taught that there are always 36 people alive on the planet, who are awake to the divine feminine, he used the word jiffy, now the divine feminine, and then doing this work of being a blessing. And in his time, he meant 36, though not 35, not 37. It’s changed over the centuries. But there always is 36 people, and he called them Saudi Keemstar name hidden saints. And he said, they have to be hidden, because if they’re outed, they get into big trouble. And Martin Buber had this theory that Jesus was one of the 36 and that he was outed, like because he always says to people, and he does America, don’t tell him. You know, his mother says, fix the wine problem. He says, ma it’s not my dog. Let’s just keep this below the radar. Because what happens is what happened they like you said, you know, they kill people like that. My sewer I’ll Hodge the guy who said I’ll Hawkeye em truth. The Sufi they killed him. Yeah, I
RICK: think they dismembered him or something.
RABBI RAMI: Yeah. So, you know, it’s, the work has to be done below the surface. But you
RICK: know, where we started out our conversation talking about how the times are such that there’s going to be a big collapse. And who and you suggested it might happen rather quickly. And we talked about how, perhaps an upsurge in spirituality, which does seem to be happening in the world will be the, the saving grace, and it will enable things to kind of turn around eventually, and we’ll end up in a better world. But maybe we’re see what you think about this, maybe we’re going to evolve into a time where dead religions that have lost their inner juice, don’t dominate the planet, and that mystics become more normal and more predominant more, you know, in the majority, and that we could have a real sort of experience based spirituality become predominant in the world. I think there’s a chance
RABBI RAMI: I have no idea but I certainly would love to see that happen. I you know, you see that religions are the brand name religions. Their members are, they’re leaking members. Yeah. I, I forgot another statistics. But but it’s been very rapid in many Christian churches, certainly in synagogues, because they the, the outer form has no juice, like you said, and people are looking for something more than that. So yeah, I think but they don’t go quietly into that night into the night, right? They go kicking and screaming and fighting. So the same thing, maybe with political parties, the same thing with, you know, lots of things that people do, we’re gonna turn to the darkest, most violent way of having this collapse happen. But yeah, I think that the Mystics are the threat to the establishment, and hope of the rest.
RICK: Yeah. There’s one thing that if I don’t ask you about it, it’s gonna bug me later. Because I thought, well, that’s very interesting. And but then we moved on to other things. And that was the thing you were saying about how the greater the saint, the greater the shadow? And explain that a little bit more. I mean, Jesus was a great saint, for instance. So what was his great shadow, or Ramadan or any of these others? I mean, go ahead. Yeah, I
RABBI RAMI: don’t I mean, I can’t tell you. If I can talk about God. Just a little bit. I mean, you know, Jesus curses the tree for not bearing fruit off season. Yeah. You know, Jesus says to the Samaritan woman who’s asking for, for help, he calls her, you know, he’s not going to what? He’s basically calls her a dog. And then she says, but even dogs get to scraps off the person’s table. I mean, he had he, he had some of the built in cultural biases of the Jews of his time. So So you could say that was that was his shadow, so
RICK: perhaps no worse than the typical Jew of his time? So, I mean, it’s not like, you know, Mother Teresa also has her Hitler side or something like that. It seems that people become predominantly good as they rise,
RABBI RAMI: I think. Yeah. I mean, I just, I don’t want to have a whole philosophical discussion on it. I don’t have a thought out that way. But what I was getting at is that that consciousness is not you know, it has its, its Yin side and its young side and, and there’s a balance and a flow and that the, the, the, the greater when, you know, when I stand with the greater the saint, the greater the capacity for sending, it’s because their consciousness is so great. And so the the pole of the negative I think, is also very strong on on these people, but most of them are, I don’t know about most, let me not say that. But people that I like, like Rama, they’ve managed to channel that energy into something positive, but they still have a body, they still have a psyche, they still have, you know, the these desires that they can work with, maybe sublimate, though I’m not sure that’s the way to go. But to at least channel them in the right direction of being a blessing. But it’s not like they don’t have a dark side. It’s not I don’t think that’s possible. I think that everyone has a shadow, and that a lot of the spiritual work has to be to embrace your shadow. I’ll give you just an abstract idea here but in in the Book of Leviticus, in chapter 19, verse 18, you know love your neighbor as yourself. In the Hebrew it’s they are hafta le re F comm Oka via hafta You shall love. Let re aka your neighbor come Oka as yourself. The Hebrew Bible is in the scroll version, not the printed ones you pick up in a store, but the original scroll texts, they have no vowels. And so you read value breathed vowels into the consonants. And in the Jewish tradition, you can breathe, you have the standard vowels, and then you can breathe other things if it brings out additional meanings. So there’s a rabbi in the 19th century 1800s Reb Nachman of Breslov, who said, you can read via hafta Luria comm aka Love your neighbor as yourself. But you could also read it by a hafta, lo Ra, CA, CA Mocha, which means love your evil, as yourself. And he said, unless you can embrace your own shadow side didn’t use shadow, he said evil, young comes picture later. But unless you can embrace your own dark side, you’re going to project that onto other people. So my thought was, is that the more light you experience, the more aware you are of the darkness that you have as well. And that you can bring that darker energy into the light in service to the light. But you don’t really wipe out the dark energy when you think you’re free from the dark. Is when you’re probably the most dangerous. Yeah, you would be
RICK: a few thought you were free and clear. But perhaps we kind of purify our darkness. I mean, it’s not like Rama was tempted to do horrible things all day long and had to fight with it. He just sat there and radiated and marinated in bliss.
RABBI RAMI: Yeah, I’m not saying that it’s a fight. It could just be you know, you just you just naturally are channeling that energy. But and maybe there are exceptions. I have no idea. I think it’s just dangerous to imagine. Well, like we were saying before about the Buddhist teacher, that he had no dark side. Therefore, he wasn’t trying to kill me with a butcher. Yeah.
RICK: When he was dying of his alcoholic excesses and was all sorts of delirious people were claiming that he was having visions, you know that they were some kind of spiritual thing. But you know, he was really just his brain was fried.
RABBI RAMI: Right. Well, you’re, you’re trying to salvage your story. Yeah.
RICK: But anyway, that’s an interesting point. We’ll wrap it up in a minute. This It’s maybe worthy of, you know, another conversation some time, or certainly something we can all think about how I mean, you know, spiritual development is said to be a process of kind of increasing the light, but perhaps it that illuminates, you know, dusty corners and, you know, hidden things that had been hidden from us. And, you know, there’s that saying of, what is it that say? I forget blind spots, of course, you know, people, everybody has their blind spots. And I kind of have always assumed that the spiritual process is a matter of not only illuminating, illuminating them and having to sort of stare at them, like this ugly mess in the corner of the room all the time. But you know, being able to clean up the mess because we now see it, and then thereby thereafter being free of the mess because it’s been cleaned up. And maybe there will always be new messes to clean up.
RABBI RAMI: Yeah, that’s what I’m saying. So, so well, you’re calling cleaning up. I’m talking about channeling that energy? Yeah. In the other direction. Yeah.
RICK: purifying it. Yeah. Yeah. All right. Good. Well, is there any, are there any mysteries of of life that we haven’t resolved today? Got it all nailed. Is there anything you’d like to say in conclusion?
RABBI RAMI: No, I think we covered it in anything, I would say probably because open another conversation get me going again. Right.
RICK: Great. Well, I’ve really enjoyed this. I don’t think I’m gonna stick to this policy of not knowing anything about the person because I really do like, you know, I enjoy this, you know, spending my time walking in the woods and getting to know the person while listening to their talks or whatever. But it was it worked with you.
RABBI RAMI: Well, I’m glad it worked. Yeah. Good. All right. Thank you for having me on. Rick. This is a lot.
RICK: Yeah, it really was. And so thanks to those who’ve been listening or watching, and I forget who my guest is next week. I think it’s a lady named she is Cherie me who had a near death experience. And the week after that is father Richard Rohr. So that’d be great. Cynthia Bourgeault said, How’d you get him? Are you Oprah or something? So now I’ve just really persistent.
RABBI RAMI: Have you had Cynthia? Yeah, a couple times,
RICK: including recently. Yeah.
RABBI RAMI: I love I love it. Yeah, she’s
RICK: great. So thanks for those to those who have been listening or watching visit the website, where I’ll have links to various things such as some of Ramiz books, and to his website and his other account. He has a couple of links here. And while you’re there, you know if you want to, excuse me sign up for the podcast or anything else. Just explore the menus and we’ll see what’s there. We’ll see you next time. Thank you, Rami.
RABBI RAMI: Thank you, Rick. Have a
RICK: good whatever. Stay away from the Fritos.
RABBI RAMI: Yeah, good. Now I’m gonna go Yeah,
RICK: no, no, not. Already. He’ll talk to you later. All right. Thanks.