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Rick Archer: Welcome to Buddha at the Gas Pump. Buddha at the Gas Pump is an ongoing series of interviews with spiritually Awakening people. I’ve done about 415 of them now. And if this is new to you, and you’d like to see previous ones, then please go to the past interviews menu on batgap.com, where you’ll see all the past ones organized in four or five different ways. This program is made possible by the support of appreciative listeners and viewers. So if you appreciate it and feel like supporting it, there’s a Donate button on the site. My guest today is Raphael Kushner. Raphael is a leading voice in the world of emotional connection and present moment awareness. He has shared his unique approach to personal and professional development with millions of readers in Oh, The Oprah Magazine, Belief Net Spirituality and Health Psychology Today and the Huffington Post. He is the author of six books, lectures worldwide and as a faculty member of the Esalen Institute, and the Kripalu center for yoga and health. In addition, he coaches individuals and couples as well as organizations and their teams. Raphael’s own heart was opened by an experience of profound grief. We’ll be talking about that, I’m sure. So welcome, Raphael, good to have you.
Raphael Cushnir: Thank you so much. It’s really a great pleasure to be with you.
Rick Archer: You’re welcome. I’ve been aware of Rob fail for a number of years because he had a great interview series called teaching what we need to learn. And I downloaded all of those, and I’ve listened to a bunch of them over the years. It’s funny, you and I were talking before the interview about how I’ve done so many of these and I’ve made and you were saying that, you know, maybe you maybe I guess you’re referring to meat to us both needing to branch out into other aspects of this whole general topic in order not to kind of get repetitive. And when I was thinking about this interview during the week, I happened serendipitously to be chatting with a friend in England named Phil Escott, whom I’ve interviewed, and just kind of out of the blue. I’ll just tell you a bit about Phil for a moment. He, he’s a professional drummer, and he suffered from really severe arthritis to the point where he couldn’t drummer do much of anything anymore. And he ended up healing himself. And so just out of the blue, he said to me, I suspect it’s down to not addressing emotional issues, which is very common in meditators. He’s a longtime meditator, so a lot of issues go unresolved. Pushing down emotions is a classic disease, cause I saw it in myself when I was healing up. For two years, I obsessed about diet, thinking it was all about that. After all, I was a meditator, I had great yogic abilities, I didn’t need some bloody nonsense from Byron, Katie, or to stop, start tapping my forehead or letting go of childhood traumas, that’s for bored housewives. How arrogant I was, it was exactly what I needed. And when I did address them, it was a bit of a miracle. Ignoring this as a classic meditator mistake, I think, to their very great cost as their bodies age. So I thought that was really apropos as we could maybe lead into this interview, because most of my audience, I think, are people who’ve been on the spiritual path for a long time, and might not immediately recognize the relevancy of a discussion about emotions to their desire for spiritual awakening.
Raphael Cushnir: Yeah, that’s a beautiful lead in, I’m really glad you read that. And he’s got a great way of expressing himself and that perspective. And, you know, by way of response, what I would say is that when I first went through my awakening experience, and then began teaching, I was invited to hold Satsang and a number of different places. And I did it for a while, and then I backed away for a couple of reasons. One of them is is that I just couldn’t get with the format of sitting even this much about other people. And it felt like, since even there’s a there’s a circle, but I’m the focus and that broadcast that there’s someplace I’ve gotten to or something about what I have to share that’s missing from the people who are surrounding me. And of course, that’s the opposite of the message that I wanted to impart. But even more than that, in a satsang context, often you’re whisked in and you’re whisked out. And from my perspective, whenever I saw anybody being whisked. I was really interested in what happened before and after the thoughts on not during have thoughts on? And so what I, when I decided not to be a teacher in that particular way, the question was, what’s my place? What’s the niche? Where do I focus. And what I saw is something akin to what your friend described. And that is that, whether we are very far along the path, so to speak, or just beginners, the place where we all as humans get tripped up in our awareness, and our awakening process is in the emotional realm, because we are humans, and that’s how we’re made. And so when we bypass or short shrift that round, it’s always counterproductive. And when we tune into it just a little bit more fully, there’s always something wonderful to be found there. And for me, I kind of wrap that up by saying that emotions are the nexus between self and spirit. And that’s true for me. And it’s true for the people that I, you know, work with and share with. So it’s not that somehow I deify emotions, it’s just that I noticed that when we turn toward them, we always open in ourselves and to spirit. And when we turn away from them, we always shut down.
Rick Archer: You probably know Marianna Kaplan. I do very well, yeah, she’s been on BatGap for a couple of times. And also in a panel discussion I did. And she said that a lot of spiritual teachers confide in her I don’t know whether personally or professionally, but she’s had a lot of talks with a lot of teachers. And she said, You wouldn’t believe all the stuff that people whom others might deify to a degree, are actually going through in their personal lives.
Raphael Cushnir: Yeah, I mean, I think, in this regard, I remember hearing a Chinese proverb, courtesy of Robert Bly, many years ago, he said, the bigger the front, the bigger the back. And it originally, I think that was meant towards political leaders. But I think it’s true for all of us, especially people who proclaim to be teachers. So there is a lot of fronting, that goes on. Once at a bookstore where I was doing a book tour, the events manager told me in her experience, there really two kinds of presenters who come through one kind of presenter is the one where it makes total sense to you that he or she is the one who wrote that book. And then the other, the other group, you can’t even believe for a minute, by the way, they’re acting that they actually were the ones who wrote that book with that message. And so for me, I took that proverb. And I thought, well, how do you get around that? What do you do if it’s always true that the bigger the front, the bigger the back, if you have something big and beautiful to share. And so what I thought about it was you make a circle, and in a circle, there’s no front, and there’s no back and everything is included. So when I work with individuals or groups, or when I do interviews like this, it’s always my mission to just include everything. And when I noticed that there’s something I’m holding back from including, I know, that’s where I want to pay attention because there’s some treasure there in the sharing.
Rick Archer: Well run this note of teachers and so on, of course, we’re not going to name names. It’s there, there have been so many instances of scandals, you know, of teachers screwing up and, and having problems of various kinds sexual financial, you know, behavioral abusive type behaviors and things. And it’s a it’s a puzzlement for a lot of people. It sometimes it completely disillusioned spiritual seekers and knocks them off the path entirely. And other times, it’s just something that, you know, traumatizes people that they really can’t figure out, you know, the discrepancy between the suppose and state of awakening that this or that teacher has attained and the fact that they still got so many issues and problems in their behavior. So I don’t know, if you want just dwell on that a little bit more, address that a little bit more.
Raphael Cushnir: Sure. This is one of my absolute favorite topics. Fortunately, I have to tell you that one of my great friends and mentors in the world is a guy named Josh Baron. And Josh used to have a nonprofit organization called sorting it out, which was to help people transition out of organizations that had become cultic or abusive. And he himself had been at a monastery and had had that happen. So he was, you know, counseling from his own experience. But the reason I mentioned Josh is because back in the, I guess, the late 80s, and the 90s. When I was first opening to these different teachers that are so renowned, I would find a new favorite teacher and I would say what about so and so, and he would say, oh, yeah, ask him why he slashed his sister’s two Like, like he always had the dirt. Yeah. And so on the one hand, you know, maybe that made me a little bit too cynical. But the skepticism I always appreciated. And what I learned for myself through Josh, and my own experience is that spiritual power. And even sometimes spiritual insight is not necessarily commensurate with an integrated whole being. So a person can, you know, put his or her finger on your forehead or with a feather and give you Shakti pot. And a tremendous amount of Kundalini energy just for example, may flow through you. And that’s real, that’s its own thing, that person is tapped into a dial, you know, a station on the dial of cosmic energy. But that it’s not like you get that kind of power, or you get tapped into that kind of energy. Because you’ve earned it through your personal growth and healing. It happens in many different ways. And so that’s why when I said the bigger the front, the bigger the back, I want any spiritual teacher, who I’m going to listen to learn from just absorb, I want to hear from that person, how they have done their own inner work, what challenges they’ve had, how they opened to what’s been difficult for them to open to, and that that’s what increases my trust and my interest in what they have to share. And I’ll go even one step further, which is to say most teachers, myself included, we have our spiel, right, the thing that we’ve, we’ve perfected over time we’ve memorized for how to talk about us even how to talk about what led to the teaching that you’re doing today. And whenever I hear myself or anybody else, do that in a rote way. I just think, tell me more. I need to know more. I need to feel the flash, I need to feel the uncertainty. I need to feel the humaneness in you otherwise, that I’m going to assume that you’re fronting.
Rick Archer: Hmm, I think one kind of problem that these the famous teachers at least, and maybe even the the not so famous ones get into is they get wrapped up in their own image, you know, they they gain a certain public persona, and they can’t just let their hair down whether or not they have here and sort of like be ordinary Joe, you know, because it would disillusion their followers or something, you know, they’ve kind of painted themselves into a corner in that respect.
Raphael Cushnir: Yes, absolutely. And then stop teaching, right? Because if you’re if you’re attached to your image, I mean, we all are a little bit because we’re ego it we can’t avoid that the ego is our operating system, we can’t transcend it. As long as we’re here on the earth, we can only expand it become more skillful in relating to it. But if you’re trapped by your own image, or your need to promote an image the way that you just described, then it pretty much poisons everything that you have to share.
Rick Archer: Yeah. Well, some teachers did that. Whether voluntarily or compulsorily, you know, Andrew Cohen, Ahmet Desai and others and, you know, then eventually hit the reset button and said, Okay, well, I’m going to start again, but I’ve learned my lessons. And that remains to be seen. Others, I think, you know, it’s, there’s such a momentum built up around who they are and what they do, and like, you know, something like Swami Muktananda II, it’s hard for them to just walk away and say, I’m going to stop now I have to do some work on myself. They’re just caught up in this huge event that has been created.
Raphael Cushnir: Well, I’m, you know, I’m not here to tell any individual what to do, you know, a teacher, for example. But I feel like, what you represent, and hopefully what I represent is a really authentic offering to the people who are listening or watching this. And, for me, what I want to share with with those folks, is to trust your own intuition and to trust your own heart, when you’re listening to teachers when you’re feeling their energy. Because maybe they can’t walk away, maybe that’s just their karmic path, and that’s left to them. But we have the choice to see when I’m really open when I’m connected to the flow of energy in my own body, and therefore I’m also connected to what’s going on around me. Do I feel something genuine in that person? Do I feel something humble in that person and not like a false humility but to have they somehow been brought low in their lives and and can you feel what has worked on them and through them through that process? And if you do sense that you’ll go toward that person. And if you don’t just question it, not necessarily, you know, draw a negative conclusion. But be careful around that. I think that’s the most important thing.
Rick Archer: Yeah. So I’m just so far conducting this interview by the seat of my pants, just whatever. We’re following a trail here, which is, I think it’s kind of interesting. But if I, if some thought comes to your mind that I’m not asking, and you feel like getting into something, just go ahead and start talking about it. But meanwhile, I have more questions along these lines. Well, one is that, you know, some of the Eastern teachers, of course, were raised in a very different culture, often in ashrams, and they didn’t have the human interaction and trials and tribulations and so on, that someone in a family setting might have had, and then they come to the west, and all of a sudden, they’re confronted by such a different culture with such different temptations and so on. And I guess it It begs the question about blind spots, and whether, you know, how high level of consciousness can one actually attain, and yet still have all sorts of, you know, shadows in the closet that one hasn’t had to confront. One would think that, that, you know, brilliant illumination would be a solvent that would sort of, or not use that metaphor, but there’d be there would be a light that would shine into every dark nook and cranny and and root these things out. But unfortunately, that really doesn’t seem to be the case.
Raphael Cushnir: Yeah, you know, in my life, I’ve been blown away a few times by pieces of information. The first one, I think, was when I was in high school, and I found out back then, in the 70s, that 10,000 people starved to death of hunger or related causes every day. Wow. And it’s more now. But back then, you know, my whole world stopped, I thought, what does that say about us as people? And I was, you know, maybe 15. So I was pretty black and white. But at that time, I thought, you know, what, the world needs to stop, like, no more football games, no more going out to dinner, feed these people, and then we can get back to our enjoyable pursuits. And and, you know, I know that it’s much more nuanced a question than that. But there’s some part of me that still believes that, like, how do we walk around saying that it’s okay, how do we walk around saying that we’re based on love and kindness and compassion, when you know, hunger still exists in poverty to such an incredible degree. This may be one, the second time that I came across a piece of information that just blew my mind, it really set me back for a while, was when that same mentor of mine, Josh Marin, who I mentioned to you earlier, who had been a Tibetan meditator, and a follow follower of some of the most profound teachers, from Tibet for many years, told me that, for all of the vaunted way that we speak about the Tibetan teachers on those practices, and those lineages that you were just responding that you were just sharing about, in the basement of many of those most famous monasteries, were torture chambers. Because the competition for patronage was so high in those monasteries, that often there were spies, and there were people trying to tear one monastery down and build another up. And that sounded so preposterous, and so egregious. I took me a while to integrate that. But in the integration of that, it comes back to the very thing that you’re mentioning, is that somehow the way we’re made, we can access, profound spiritual energy and realization, while leaving in the shadows. What’s uncooked those blind spots that you described. And that’s why I was so moved when I learned about Spirit Rock in California and Jack Kornfield, and his Buddhist teachings because he basically went out there and said, spirituality without psychotherapy, is not trustable it’s not enough. psychotherapy, without spirituality, same thing, not enough. So for me, finally, I was able to come to peace in that with which wasn’t saying, you know, that I was going to vilify or judge or criticize any particular person or tradition, but rather what I was gonna say is that the sign of someone whose guidance feels really deeply true. And heart based, is somebody who’s doing both. They’re doing their psychological work, and they’re doing their spiritual work. And that’s true of a teacher as well as anyone on the path.
Rick Archer: It’s interesting, it kind of in a way parallels the, the meaning of spirituality and modern Science such as quantum physics and how people are finding parallels between the two traditions and, and they’re able to enrich one another and out of their mingling or out of their collaboration, something greater comes reminds me of that. You feel that the psychotherapy has to be formal? And in a sense, are there ways that people can kind of do it on their own? Or?
Raphael Cushnir: You know, that I love how you pose the two sides of that question? Because the first part, my own, you know, response is? No, it doesn’t have to be formal, there are many different ways to move through the opening and the healing of your wounds and your psyche. But the second part you said, is that, could they do it on their own? And to that my answer would be absolutely not. I’ve never met anyone, myself included, who can see their own blind spots, and who can enter into a relationship with themselves, that’s vulnerable and difficult and challenging. While not relating to another in that process. We need someone to hold the space for us, we need someone to reflect an unconditional acceptance, to allow us to go to those places where our shame or our pain is too great. And, you know, I was one of those people for sure. In my early 20s, because I was whippersnappers. You know, I had always solved my own problems until life started kicking me in the butt and I couldn’t solve my own problems. But for such a long time, I would say, you know, why do I need a therapist, you know, I have good friends that can talk, they can show me my stuff, or, or I could do this on my own. But it was only when I got, you know, truly humbled and broken open, that I realized what I’m sharing now, that again, anybody who, from a place of ego, self perception feels like they can see their own blind spots. That’s just proof of way more blind spots than they even imagine. Are there?
Rick Archer: Yeah. But I guess, does it have to be a professional, like, I’ve been married for 30 years. And when I first got married, it was like, pie in the face, you know, confrontation with blind spots? Because I’d been like, you know, completely different lifestyle, monastic lifestyle for 15 years before that, and so much stuff had been sort of denied or ignored, or, you know, whatever. So, I mean, so kind of personal relationship, do it, or does it really have to be professional?
Raphael Cushnir: Well, first of all, I always like to make it very clear that I don’t think I have all the answers and I’m a whatever works guy. And relationships certainly is an amazing teacher. I know. The Buddhist couples counselor, Bruce Tift. Have you had him on your show? So Bruce tip, you know, he came through the the same lineage as Pema children, I’m forgetting you’ll remember the teacher Trungpa. Yeah. Well, there was alcoholism, there was a lot more than that to gather, because Reggie Ray came from that tradition, and many other teachers who’ve brought forth really incredible pieces for us. But But yes, there were shadows. There were great challenges. But Bruce says, you know, I’ve been married for whatever, 30 years, something like you, and he says, you know, there’s not a single day that this woman doesn’t confound me and disappoint me and irritate me in some way. So it’s absolutely true, that relationship can be an amazing teacher. The way I think about that is that we’re all as humans, sandpaper facing outward. And when we have a friendship, you know, maybe our sandpaper is like this most of the time. But when we get into intimate relationship, our sandpaper has to do this. Yeah. So it’s going to reveal what otherwise won’t be revealed. But coming back to the question that you’re bringing up, it’s not that someone has to be professional. It’s not that they have to have a certain training or licensure. It’s their ability to hold and reflect and engage without getting triggered. Because the minute that whoever it is your wife, your husband, your boyfriend, your girlfriend, we’re just your friend, as soon as you share something with them in your own vulnerable and humble truth, that they don’t approve of that they’re not comfortable in their own self, then the safety of the container is completely gone. And what happens next is not trustable. So I would say rather than, you know, getting hung up on the particular schooling or, you know, particular direct healing direction or modality that somebody is sharing, it’s much more helpful to really check in and see how full and deep enrich that container is that they can share with you
Rick Archer: Good answer. Okay, let’s get back to you a little bit. And I’m sure we’re going to branch off into more discussions like this. You mentioned in your bio, something about an experience of profound grief. And then a little bit later in your notes, I noticed something really floored you and it triggered, triggered an awakening, and you referred a little while ago to your awakening. So do you mind saying what this thing was that, that hit you so hard, and what the nature of that Awakening was?
Raphael Cushnir: No, I don’t mind at all. And I’ve been writing about this for the first time in like 20 years. So it’s very, you know, present in me. And what I want to do is to honor this discussion that we’re having, and also to honor your overall offering, and the relative breath of wisdom of your community, if they’ve been with you for 400, some odd, you know, or even, even just a bunch of those. I want to give you the, maybe the simple short version, and then let’s expand into the broader version. So, you know, the basic story is, is that, you know, my marriage and my profession fell apart at the same time, and I was in a, in a dark night of the soul. And the details kind of don’t matter. But the dark night of the soul for most people is that whatever you’ve been using to get through, to get back on your feet, those things aren’t working anymore. So you’re really helpless, you’re in the dark, and you don’t know how you’re going to get out of this hole that you’re in. And some of my mentors at the time, shared with me an idea that, you know, on the one hand, it makes total sense. And also it’s like radical and impossible at the same time. They said, why don’t you do nothing? To try to change the way you feel? Instead, why don’t you turn towards the experience that you’re having the pain and just be with it? And, you know, other people at the time, were saying things like, it’s good to keep busy. Yeah, I just knew that distraction wasn’t the road for me,
Rick Archer: like George Bush said after 911 Go shopping.
Raphael Cushnir: Yeah, and even even, I think yesterday, Donald Trump was in Houston or Louisiana, somewhere on after talking to the people out there at the center, where they were homeless, they’ve been robbed of everything. He said, have a good time, everyone. There’s an allergy to pain. There’s an allergy, for lots of reasons, even evolutionary, I believe, you know why we do that it’s not Bush’s fault, or Trump’s part. It’s hardwired until we rewire. Maybe we’ll get to that later. But the main point is that in a very bumbling and imperfect way, I just decided to commit to that approach. So every time I noticed that I was turning away from my pain, I would just reel myself back in. And I did this without knowing you know how long I needed to do it, or where it was gonna take me. But it felt authentic, and therefore the best possible option. And so about six months after that happened, I was challenged. To go even deeper in my acceptance. I had to that the path that I was on included, staying open to the possibility of the woman who I love to had betrayed me with an affair and who was going into a hellish addiction cycle. I was choosing not to leave out of pain, I believed that there would come a time if necessary, when, from a place of peaceful presence. I knew it was time to go, which was against all the advice I was getting, you know, people were telling me left and right. There’s no marriage to save, you know, you’re living in an illusion. And I wasn’t in an illusion, I just wanted to leave in peace, if that’s what was going to happen. So there was a time when, you know, I came to see that it’s not just that I had to endure this choice. But I actually had to champion like I saw, I’m doing this because it’s who I am. It’s not about whatever happens lived up. I’m saying to myself, that I choose my family, that I want to stay connected, I want to stay present. I want to stay open in myself and between myself and those in my family through it all. So when I made that deeper, like permanent Yes, to this whole situation, not to the choices of what I would do along the way, but to the experience of this turmoil and chaos and pain that I was still in Shortly after that, I was sitting on my meditation bench. And I had the quote, opening the awakening. When I share about it publicly up until now, I talk about the heart opening, because that’s what matters. Ultimately, there’s lots of, well, first of all, everybody comes to their own heart opening in their own way. So I tried to make it really clear, it’s not about you know, as they say, In Buddhism, fireworks. It’s not about how it happened to me. Some people come to a gradual opening of the heart that’s even imperceptible on a daily basis. And in some ways that’s more helpful because they don’t have to overturn their entire life and start from scratch trying to figure out who to be in the world. But for me, it wasn’t. And that powerful explosion did start and end and center in an opening of the heart. But it was also a lot more wild and crazy and chaotic than that. That’s the part I haven’t talked about until now. And that’s the part I’m writing my memoir about.
Rick Archer: Can you give us a sneak peek? I mean, talk about it some?
Raphael Cushnir: Sure. Yeah. And you know, there’s a, you might know that people at Brown University who have been doing the research project around people who have difficult or challenging or unusual experiences in meditation, Does that ring a bell?
Rick Archer: I may have heard about it. But that topic interests me a lot. So let’s talk about that as part of what you’re going to say here.
Raphael Cushnir: Yeah, yeah. So I, the reason I mentioned it is because I was put in touch with them. And I shared this story first in a kind of a clinical way. Because, you know, when people hear and read about spiritual awakening, and especially awakening that has to do that’s energetic, like Kundalini awakening Shakti, you can read in all kinds of books from 1000s of years old until yesterday, that, you know, Kundalini awakens in the spine, and then moves through the chakras until it reaches the Sushumna. And then either you know, it creates full enlightenment or it comes back in at rest in the heart, you know, there are all these maps. So the first thing that I would want to share a little bit more of is that those maps, for me, were ridiculous. Like, I either I had the energy of the cosmos by the tail, or it had me in its grips. And none of it made any sense. None of it was predictable, none of it followed any particular linear course, or any map or template, it was like, through that opening process, I was now connected up with and in the throes of all kinds of energy that is here all the time. But were screened from so that we can live so that we can eat so that we can, you know, care for our loved ones. But suddenly, I was, you know, raw, direct and immediate way, in the, you know, the fire and the flow of that. So my life, especially for the first years after that, but even to this day, to some degree looks behind the scenes, you know, anything but orderly, anything Placid? Yeah.
Rick Archer: Well, it’s interesting, I’m using your map metaphor, you know, take a map of the United States. And the obviously, the most direct way to get from New York to San Francisco is on it. But there are an infinite number of other routes you could take and combinations of different roads. So this whole Kundalini thing, I mean, you know, I don’t think any two people’s experience is going to be the same. And I often get people off and get in touch with me who are going through really intense stuff, sometimes completely incapacitated, they can’t work anymore. They can’t even leave the room sometimes. Because this thing is so powerful. So,
Raphael Cushnir: yeah, if I if I had lots and lots of money, one of the first things I would do would be to create a center somewhere Oh, god, there’s such a need for that, where people could go. And and people could hold their hands and say, you know, you’re not crazy. We can support you in all ways from conventional to the most, you know, esoteric. Yeah, but, but you can stay here for whether it’s a month or two months or three months or a year and not have to, you know, destroy the rest of your life to get through the most intense part of that kind of experience. Yeah,
Rick Archer: believe me really as a need for that, and sooner or later such a center is going to arise. I mean, there are people dealing with this kind of thing like Joan Harrigan has a place in Tennessee but she doesn’t like to take people who were in crisis. She just sort of likes to take advanced students who want to clear away the pathway and progress and Bonnie Greenwell also deals with people like that. And I actually hold category on BatGap for spiritual crisis and Kundalini and so on. But, um, but there really is nothing adequate that that somebody can I mean, a lot of these people, they don’t even know what the heck’s going on. They weren’t doing spiritual practices. One guy, I think, gives in the UK said, I just like to sit in the couch and have a beer and watch football, and all sudden, I’m going through this thing, you know, I couldn’t work anymore. And I didn’t know what it was. And I eventually found out it’s Kundalini. So there’s something happening in the world. Maybe it’s because there’s an upwelling and collective consciousness or something, and people are popping more and more. And we’re just we’re not even anywhere near being able to help all these people.
Raphael Cushnir: Yeah, everything that you said, I just say, you know, amen to and it can happen because you fall off a horse in a certain way. Yeah. It’s not a sign of spiritual progress. It’s not that you’ve been chosen in some way. It’s just that somehow, whether it’s through practice, or through accident, or some combination, a channel opened up on your dial of being that wasn’t there before. And what, what we don’t get, and here’s something I’m passionate about sharing with people, whether they’ve had any kind of surprising experience or not, because I don’t think it matters, I don’t think it’s something to to grasp at all. But we’re living in this kind of extraordinary chaos all of the time. But we’re just used to it. What I mean is that we don’t know how to digest our own food. We don’t know how to communicate with the 90 plus percent of cellular organisms in our body that don’t have our own genetic signature.
Rick Archer: Yeah. Not even human human. The, the microbiome Yeah,
Raphael Cushnir: we’re a host organism for all kinds of life forms that sometimes play nice and sometimes don’t
Rick Archer: do but the result without which we die. Yes, exactly.
Raphael Cushnir: The reason I’m bringing it up, is to say that nobody listening or watching this program is freaking out all day long, because there’s this chaotic inner world happening, that they don’t have any understanding of how to control, right, because since they’ve been born, they’ve just been customized to recognizing, that’s all just how it goes. So their ego structure isn’t really confronted and challenged by that, even though we could say it should be, right, like an ego that realizes it’s not in control of digestion is not a control of all these organisms that sometimes invade its body. You know, that would be cause for alarm for the ego that always wants to control and understand. Right, but because its usual, customary, it gets a pass. And, and what happens when we experience some kind of energetic opening for whatever reason, is that seems like it’s quote, not me. It’s not coming from the place of will, or perception that I’ve grown accustomed to as the the eye that travels through the world. And then what happens is that you’re now sharing your body mind with something that doesn’t feel like you. And that thing that you’re sharing your body mind with, also has a very willful quality. It’s not your own personal will, that you’ve grown up thinking is what guides you through the world. But it too, has a push has an impulse has a will to it. And at that point, everybody’s got to figure out, can I do it? Can I expand my consciousness? Can I stretch my ability of what’s real and true and possible, to include all of that mystery and all of that conflict in my everyday life? And I think that that’s the question and the challenge that everybody faces, whether they came to it by accident, or whether it was part of their path to begin with.
Rick Archer: Yeah. Nisargadatta said something along the lines of similar what you just said. He said, you know, how your digestion and your blood flow and your breathing and all that are completely automatic. You don’t have to attend to them. He said, That’s how my whole life is. And I think that if we, that one way of describing the attainment of enlightenment might be that the transition from a sense of individual authors and individual control to the experiential realization that the intelligence which governs the universe governs us in our entirety. And that, you know, there’s a sort of a balancing act of keeping your act together. And at the same time surrendering more and more to letting you know, as they’re set, as they say, in the Vedas, someplace, letting Brahman be the charioteer
Raphael Cushnir: get wasn’t. So I love how you put that. And, and, you know, amen to that as well. But just to add a little bit to it, you know, you mentioned Marianna Kaplan earlier. And, and she and some other people refer to what sometimes called The Art of Advaita, shuffle, right? The idea that once you get a grasp that you’re not separate, that it becomes kind of like, hey, you know, whatever, like, you become passive rather than more active, because you know, it’s all one anyway, you can’t change what’s happening, which is a temporary stop maybe on the evolutionary path. Because in this amazing, rich paradox, everything that you do you ultimately come to see as a co creation. You can’t let go and let God completely as they say, sometimes, like in the new thought movement, because the paradox is, is that the more that you open, yes, the more spirit moves through you, the more it animates, what you do, the more you feel like you’re, the wind is at your back, rather than you’re pushing the boulder up the mountain. And yet, if you advocate if you abdicate, excuse me, personal responsibility. If you don’t work your ass off, then Spirit also just says, like, hey, yeah, this isn’t this isn’t working, we we need both, we need you to give it your all to be the fullest expression of you that you are, and then at the same time to recognize that you’re not the author, as you were just saying, and when you can hold those two seemingly contradictory aspects of life, you know, inside of you at the same time. That’s when the magic happens.
Rick Archer: Yeah, well, there’s God helps those who help themselves. And there’s, there’s also trust in Allah, but tie up your camel.
Raphael Cushnir: Both both absolutely beautiful to remember.
Rick Archer: And I think, in my opinion, the advisor shuffle problem happens when people mistake an intellectual understanding for the actual experience. When I speak of somebody like Nisargadatta, he didn’t live whatever he lived by virtue of an intellectual understanding. You know, genuinely living in a higher state of consciousness doesn’t happen by virtue of kind of like getting a clearer understanding about it. And then maintaining that understanding in your mind throughout the day, it becomes as visceral and as natural and as spontaneous as breathing or his digestion, or anything else, something you wouldn’t think need even need to think about.
Raphael Cushnir: Right? And that’s why, you know, one of the best compliments I was ever given was when I was giving a talk at a conference. And I was really concerned about getting my message across and being very precise with my words and my ideas, so that people could really get the message. And then I asked someone who I cared about a lot afterwards, how did I do? Like, how did I do with the delivering of my message? And she said, something like this, dude, you could have been reading the phone book really doesn’t matter. It’s not the words that you’re even saying, you know, you’re standing up there. And if you’re doing your job, which in that case, gratefully, I think I was from what she said, there’s a heart emanation, there’s a connection, there’s an embodiment if if it’s true, you know, that, that is what’s actually coming across. That’s the communication. And so, so, yeah, that’s, I want I still want to get my talk, I still want the ideas to flow together, I still want to take people by the hand through what otherwise might be skipped over, you know, to their detriment. But But I think I took on what she was saying and recognize that if I’m connected to my heart, and if I’m meeting people in that space, you know, that’s really what matters.
Rick Archer: Yeah, that’s, that’s it. And that I think that kind of illustrates my point that if we talk of enlightenment or higher states of consciousness, and all that stuff, we’re talking of a genuine state of experience from which one speaks or act. And you can’t sort of intellectualize yourself into that and then try to be a teacher or something. It’ll be phony.
Raphael Cushnir: Right and, and just one more quick thing to add to that is that if you have that realization, and it happens to come along with strange or unusual, energetic phenomenon, you sought to figure out how to live you know, I remember reading Sylvia Borstein book I think it was the one that was called. That’s funny, you don’t look Buddhist. But, you know, she didn’t use words like Kundalini. But there was just a particular process where she talked about being in the supermarket. And her hand starts flapping like this. You know, she’s in the bread aisle, there’s people looking and watching. And she’s not choosing to move her hand, right? She’s just looking for whether she should get, you know, whole wheat awry. And suddenly this is happening. And no matter how much intellectual understanding that you have, no matter how much realization even that you have, you have to figure out what the hell do I do with my hand?
Rick Archer: Yeah, when I, when I first started having Kundalini stuff in about 1970, I was driving an ice cream truck. And if I sat, still, my head would start to go like this, you know, twitching. And, and like, if even in my ice cream truck, if I would come to a stop sign be still for a moment, it’s time to go. So and then it happened a lot when I was meditating and stuff. But um, I kind of understood that it was otherwise I probably would have gone to see a doctor and I would have been all freaked out. So understanding is an important part of it so that you don’t think that there’s something seriously wrong with you. Although in some cases, it might be good to go see a doctor because there might be something wrong, and you shouldn’t just write it off as Kundalini.
Raphael Cushnir: Yeah, I mean, I think that you’ve got to, you know, check out everything. Yeah. But the, I mean, we don’t have to talk endlessly about this particular aspect of things. But George forest in the yoga scholar, he died some years ago, I was fortunate to get a chance to talk to him during the middle of that whole process for me, and everyone else who I was going to was telling me do this do that. And the energy in me, whenever I tried to assert some kind of control over it, or some instruction that I was given to someone else, it would laugh at me, it would just say, yeah, yeah, try that. Right. Try that. Like, oh, well, you think you’re supposed to ground the energy and do Qi Gong, right. So then I would like focus and ground the energy that like, wow, you know, it only get bigger and bigger and bigger. But what George said to me, when I was fortunate to have a brief conversation with him by phone, he said, in my experience, in almost every case, this is a self governing process. And then everything that we do, to try to hasten it, or control, it only makes it last longer, and become more difficult. And that’s, I would say, from my experience, mostly true, it’s not 100% true, because at a certain point, you know, the energy wanted me to jump off a balcony, because it wanted up and out, it wanted to fly. And it didn’t know what it didn’t even know what a body was. So I couldn’t trust the energy in that moment. But in a more global sense, to recognize that I’m in this fire of transformation that has, as you suggested, before its own intelligence, and to recognize that I can’t let go of my own survival needs. But beyond that, you know, if I can let this move through me, it’s going to be more peaceful than if I keep trying to intervene.
Rick Archer: Yeah. What’s interesting in the literature, Kundalini is often referred to in the third person, you know, as a deity, as you know, she does this and she does that. And she, she wants to move this way. And she’s not going to rest until she purifies all your noddy’s and so on. So it’s kind of like this, this. It has that connotation of you’re not forget about any sense of control. There’s, there’s a powerful goddess moving through
Raphael Cushnir: it. Yeah. And also, it’s a relationship. And it’s really intimate. And those two wills that I described earlier, have to figure out how to dance together. Yeah, you know, I, prior to having that kind of energetic awakening, already, for a number of years, I’ve had a very serious case of chronic fatigue syndrome, which I still have, which really means we don’t know what’s going on. We have a collection of symptoms, and different people have different degrees of different symptoms. But I was, you know, I was struggling. And you know, I still have to deal with that every day. The reason I mentioned it is that when the mega watt spiritual energy channel opened up on my human dial, one of my first thoughts was, this is just going to totally kick the ass of my chronic fatigue syndrome, because how could you have so much energy moving through a body and have non restorative sleep and have to crash every day and feel shitty most of the time? But what I found is that in terms of that relationship, psyche just doesn’t, can’t just roll over and say Kundalini goddess, take me it by its very own nature has to assert itself. So much to my chagrin, I found like these two channels lived next to each other often independent of one another, and sometimes they would interact a little bit, but no such luck in terms of getting burned free of my chronic fatigue syndrome. It just still stayed right there through the process.
Rick Archer: That’s interesting, because sometimes you see teachers like Shama, for instance, who’s such an incredible Dynamo? And you think, well, it must just be that there’s this, you know, full Kundalini energy completely on restrain that is being channeled through this physiology, and that, how could you do what she does?
Raphael Cushnir: When I’m on in front of a group, or even in a session with an individual, people can barely even believe what I’m telling them about my energy, my physical energy? How do you how do you do what you do? How do you show up? You know, you don’t you seem, if anything, like abundantly Energize. And, and it, you know, what I would say to that is that, first of all, thank you. Second of all, it’s not something I’m doing, I wouldn’t take credit for it. But also, come see me at the break during the workshop, when maybe you’re going to the dance class at lunch, and I’m crashed in my room. And I’ve got to set the alarm so that I wake up 20 minutes before our next session, and Tapani to wake up my system faster. And this is the thing about you know, making a circle and including everything. I feel like if I were to only say to that person who says I know, it’s you, you can’t have chronic fatigue syndrome. If I only said to them, you know, thank you, I appreciate that beautiful reflection. And I didn’t tell him about what was happening when they weren’t watching. They get the wrong idea. So I don’t know. Omma. Personally, I don’t know anything you know, about her beyond what I’ve read. And you know, what a usual person would know. But unless or until I saw her by herself, offstage, I wouldn’t presume that what I’m feeling the energy that I’m getting from her onstage necessarily translates to when no one’s watching.
Rick Archer: Good point. Yeah. And we won’t go into a lot about Dama. But she definitely, you know, after sitting for 14 hours or something without even getting off the couch, and then she finally gets up to leave the hall. There’s often this feeling I get from her like, Okay, I’ve given you people I’m gonna give I’m out of here. Leave me alone. Let me go. Yeah. So I’m curious. This happened, I don’t know. 2030 years ago, this initial Kundalini awakening, right?
Raphael Cushnir: Yeah, it happened when I was 35. And I’m turning, I’m turning 57. This month, so 20
Rick Archer: years ago? Yeah. And do you feel like it’s pretty much been integrated? Or are you still kind of while riding the bucking bronco?
Raphael Cushnir: Both? Yeah. Because, you know, when you said before that you you had you enter that place of recognizing that you’re not the only author of your experience, and maybe not the primary author of your experience. I’m, I’m at peace with that. So if I’m working with you individually, either just the two of us are in front of a group at a workshop, or presentation. And suddenly, I start feeling an upwelling of energy, and it moves into my hands. And, and I feel like the energy is showing its healing quality, and it wants to do this, you know? And, and I would say to you, you know, is it okay, if I put my hand right here? And if you say, yes, we’ll go with it. Maybe years ago, I would have been worried about what everybody was gonna think. And is this really my message? And is this getting in the way of what’s applicable to everybody? Is it going to create a sense of specialness or separation, you know, yada, yada, nap now, it’s integrated enough to the point that, you know, I’ll just let my hand do its healing thing, and I’ll get out of the way. On the other hand, it’s still the bucking bronco, because I’ll wake up in the middle of the night, and words will be coming out of my mouth that I’m not choosing to speak. And if that’s
Rick Archer: English words are gibberish.
Raphael Cushnir: both Yeah. And I wouldn’t even say gibberish because sometimes it feels like it’s ancient language that I just don’t understand. Yeah. Um, or in intimate sexual connection. You know, I’ve learned that the energy itself leads in a way that’s so much more powerful and profound than where I would necessarily want to take it. So in, in many ways in life, if you saw me 24/7 Sometimes I would look like this, you know, nice, smart Jewish guy. Sometimes I’d look like this This wild crazy shaman who is chanting and yelling and stomping around like he’s in some kind of crazy trance. Sometimes I’d look like a loving healer. Sometimes I’d look like a counselor. And sometimes I just look like this ordinary guy loves to play basketball and play with his daughter. And so for me, it’s integrated in the sense that I’ve stretched big enough that those aspects of my being those stations on the dial that I mentioned, don’t have to compete with each other for supremacy. And they’re not freaked out there familiar enough with one another, that they all get along. But it’s not as if they’ve merged into like, one kind of unified energy that’s consistent throughout my life.
Rick Archer: That’s interesting. I don’t even comment on that, because I think it was a very complete statement regarding the intimate sexual connection thing. You know, sometimes people Well, traditionally, the sexual energy is correlated with Kundalini energy. And there are some people who deal with Kundalini that advocate celibacy like John Harrigan, for instance, if you, you know, wants you to be celebrated for going to her her treatment facility, and so on. So in your experience, if you don’t mind my asking, what’s How do you relate to that notion? Do you feel like sexual activity in any way lets the air out of the balloon or doesn’t? Is it not relevant or actually enhances things or what?
Raphael Cushnir: Well, again, I can only speak for me, right? And I don’t I don’t pretend to have the answer for everybody. But I think the question about celibacy to answer that, honestly, and most clearly, I’d have to ask to Celebes to celibacy. And the way that Joan has mentioned it mean, no sexual congress with another person? Or does it mean refraining from any kind of sexual expression of energy, like through masturbation or things like that?
Rick Archer: I think she, I think she would say no, not that either.
Raphael Cushnir: Okay, so. So that makes it easy for me to respond, which is that, in the first years, like, let’s say, four or five years, just to be able to live life, I needed to devote like four or five hours a day, to just letting the energy run, it was too big to hold in the container of me without that. And that could mean a lot of different things that could mean going up onto the roof of the building that I was working on in San Francisco, and letting just primal roars disappear into the cacophony of the city, you know, as opposed to, if I did it downstairs in my workspace, I would have been fired and committed. But similarly, if I’m just sitting on the cushion, and letting the energy run, because it just needs to do that, if it ran towards sexual expression, you know, so again, you know, the hand moves in the supermarket, it’s not choosing to move, if that same hand, that’s that I’m not choosing to move, if that same hand starts touching myself. In that moment, and believe me, I tried probably 1000 times. If in that moment, I were to say, No, we’re not doing that. Then the Shakti energy would be like, fuck you. Who do you think you are? We are doing that. And we’re gonna do that no matter when you can tie your hands behind your back. And we’re still doing that, and it will find a way to do it. So. So I would just say, for me, in my own experience, I could pray for it not to express that way I could ask for it. I could try. I could definitely choose to abstain from connection with other people. But to to stay in for myself, that would have been totally impossible.
Rick Archer: Okay. Well, it’s very honest and vulnerable of you to admit that, to say that. And so the whole notion of sublimation, which is sometimes discussed in these circles is not really relevant to your experience.
Raphael Cushnir: It sounds good. The ego likes that idea. But the energy was like universe is more powerful than that idea. And I would like to share also just as a follow up that sublimation you know, it’s an older term, it’s a kind of super ego term, in a way. But there’s another term that you’ll hear across the span of healers and apps, you know, whether they are acupuncturist or naturopaths, or spiritual teachers, and that’s the idea of integration. And I heard that, you know, and still do so much from so many different people. And that sounds nicer that sounds less controlling, you know, less super egoic. Let’s integrate everything because integration is let’s say an optimal state. But going back to what George first told me, you can prefer integration, you can even be as open as possible to it. But it’s not something that you can create by force of will. So I had to recognize in my own experience that it would integrate if and when and how it shows. And so, let alone sublimation, even integration, I had to let go.
Rick Archer: Okay, great. I listened to maybe five or six or seven of your emotional connection dialogues that you had with various people. And I was very impressed. I, I, you know, I’d be listening along and I think what how is he gonna deal with this and then you sort of very patiently, almost like a Sherlock Holmes typists step by step and I say, Okay, this is leading somewhere, and then you end up kind of getting right to the core of somebody’s issue. And, you know, whether it was overeating, or, you know, hoarding clutter, you know, that kind of obsession or different things. And I thought, well, I could never do that. Is that something that you kind of learned through academic study? Or do you feel like this Kundalini awakening gave you a gift or woken you a gift for being able to get to the core people just issues like that?
Raphael Cushnir: Well, first of all, thank you. I appreciate that. And I guess the best way to answer that story is a little bit roundabout. Because I don’t think that that was really a gift from Kundalini, or that awakening experience. Primarily, it will you know, that the real gift of that was the heart opening and the expansion of consciousness that we’ve talked a lot about. But back when I was a kid, even a teenager, I had a real I was I was a definitely mystically inclined and, and also really drawn to inner work. And I took a independent study psychology class, in summer school with a teacher who just happened to be a cool guy in the 70s. And who was willing to do that with me. And at that time, I read Gestalt therapy verbatim, by Fritz Perls. And for those who don’t know, Fritz Perls, was really at the beginning of the human potential movement in the United States. And the people who started the Esalen Institute in Big Sur, brought him over from Europe. And they built a house for him in his in the last years of his life. And I read the transcripts of him doing his process in Gestalt therapy verbatim. And I was blown away at where he got people to. And I also didn’t get it at all. I was like, I, I don’t know how he got from A to B. There’s some kind of voodoo, there’s some magic in what happened. Yeah. So then, and this is the part I thought would be interesting to share, people might like to hear this. So as they say, in the movies cut to, you know, 30 years later, 30 plus years later. I’m now a teacher at the Esalen Institute. And I’ve been invited to do something called the visiting teacher program where it’s kind of half vacation half, you do open sessions for long term residents for a week or so. And I’m given I’m housed in frets, which is the house that they built for Fritz Perls. Today, I’m staying in the place where he lived and did the sessions that I was mentioned to you that I read them 30 years prior. But as I’m checking in some wonderful person there says to me, you know, we have very early primitive videotapes of Fritz Perls, doing his hot seat work here in the room where you’re staying, would you like to check them out? So in this very weird kind of time, or B, experience, I sat in the room where those were happening, and watched a video of them happening, you know, 30 some odd years prior? I would say a couple things. One of them is is that the mystery was still there. Like it wasn’t like, Oh, now I get what he was doing. The other thing is, is that what looked completely different than any retreat center that you would go to on either coast or anywhere around the world, is that while he sat next to the person going through the experience, surrounded by you know, the 20 or 30 people in the room, the main difference between then and now and to him and us is that you could barely see anybody because of the cigarette smoke. Oh, right. The whole room was just completely suave in smoke. But, but what what you coming back to your original question? You were listening to me and in your own authentic experience, you were saying like, I couldn’t do that I didn’t quite know how, you know, he did that, how he drew that out of people, what I would say is that when anybody opens up to their own insight to their own healing capacity, there is a really profound, getting out of the way process. So I couldn’t I try sometimes to formulize what I do, I like to pass along some basic principles and practices to people to get the most out of their sessions. On the other hand, I have to honestly say, I get out of the way, and therefore, I can’t explain it to you. Yeah. And so what, what feels sort of hard to follow, as you’re experiencing it, in my version of it would probably be the same if I watched you in a session with somebody else doing your magic. So I think ultimately, it’s about learning how to trust learning how to open to your intuitive presence. And once you have that open, the rest of it happens through that co creative authorship that we were talking about earlier.
Rick Archer: Yeah. And we all have our talents, right. I mean, I watch Stephen Curry. And I think I couldn’t do that. I’m never gonna be able to do that. But it’s not my it’s not my thing.
Raphael Cushnir: Difference between you and me, since I’m such a basketball loving God, is that I go out and try to do what Steph Curry does never coming, you know, like even this close, right? But I try I imagine myself being able to do
Rick Archer: probably makes you a better basketball player. So this is a this is abrupt. An abrupt segue, but I understand there’s some significance to those baby shoes that you have hanging from your doorknob there.
Raphael Cushnir: What’s that about? Well, so, okay, so let’s, we were talking about transparency and full, sir. I tell you a couple things to answer that question. So the first thing is, is that we’re having this interview a week after the crazy awful flood in Houston in Louisiana. Well, through some strange circumstance. My house that I’m talking to you had a horrible flood. While I was way on vacation last week as well, in Portland, Oregon. Yeah, it wasn’t weather related. I play pipe broke or something. Yeah. So I came back from from vacation and found my home literally uninhabitable, and it needs to be mostly torn down and rebuilt. So I mean, a big sort of crisis state around that. But interestingly, your assistant supporter team member who checks out people’s JTO Jerry banksman. Yeah, yeah. Jerry to see, you know, is it light enough? Are they sitting in the right way? Where’s the camera? I met with him before the flood. So I’m not staying in the house right now. But I came back to the house to do the interview with you in the room that he approved.
Rick Archer: Nice. So
Raphael Cushnir: that’s, that’s one thing I want to share with the people an answer to your question. The other thing is, is that my daughter who’s nine years old, and who I’m super close to and adore, she told me prior to this interview that I had to change my shirt, because the shirt that I had chosen to wear for our interview was really hideous, as far as she said. And this one is passable. According to her not excellent. She’d have to pick it out, or she’d have to take me shopping for it to be excellent. So this shirt is courtesy of ARIA, my daughter, and then coming back around why I have the baby shoes on the on the door is first of all, those are my baby shoes. They don’t make those kind anymore. So those like when I was one year old, or something, you know, back like 1961. And I don’t know why or how my mom saved those. But when I saw them in a box, I grabbed them. Because for me, I think you know, we’re always being born a new in each moment. And so I want to represent that. But the other thing, maybe more important is that we we are always so much more vulnerable and fragile than we like to think whether it’s because of a flood or a pipe burst or just the triggers and challenges of emotional connection between people. So I keep those shoes there as a kind of reminder to me and anybody else who’s watching have that aspect of being.
Rick Archer: That’s nice. In fact, there was a quote here I wrote down from one of your articles. I think it said for decades, I’ve recognized that the wisest among us are always in their own view, absolute beginners, those who believe that they’re done with healing and self inquiry. are the least reliable teachers and companions on the path? So it’s nice here, so we’re always babies in some respect.
Raphael Cushnir: Yeah, and I think that, um, you know, we don’t always get to ask our teachers or authors, this kind of question one to one upfront. But if you do ever get to ask, I think you know that one of the best things to do is to ask a teacher, you, me, anybody, no matter how famous they are, or anonymous? What are you working with? Now? What’s what’s challenging for you? What are the places where you get hooked? And, you know, in my work with people, I always share the basic premise that there’s nothing wrong. It’s no problem. There’s nothing wrong with you. That’s the starting place. But where it feels like that’s not true. That’s the door we want to walk through. So when and when I when I think that something is wrong with me, or something that’s wrong with the world, or something is wrong with you? That’s not I think, something I’m trying to transcend at the door I want to go through. And and so I think to ask a teacher of that is to find out is that their worldview? Or do they feel they have somehow transcended that? For me, if somebody says that they’ve transcended that, I immediately, don’t trust I trust, the more somebody is willing to share that. And, and, you know, just a tiny anecdote. You mentioned that interview series, teaching what we need to learn that I did some years ago, one particular teacher who shall remain nameless, I worked so hard to get the vulnerable expression of what we’re talking about. And this teacher did an amazing job of coming through in a way that I hadn’t seen in any other interview. And I was so excited. And then afterwards, I got a call from this person’s office saying they want to redo it, ah, they didn’t represent what they offer well enough. And I was my response was, you know, what, there are 1000s of interviews that do that this is something beautiful and different. And your your people and newcomers to this work will be so overjoyed to hear this authentic expression. And they said, No, it’s in the contract, we can say, No, either do it again, or, you know, we’re not gonna let it not gonna let it put up. And I sat with that. And I sat with that. And it was challenging for me. And I ultimately thought that to do it, again, would have violated the very purpose of the series in its first place. So I decided to let it go. And I was I was heartbroken. I mean, I could I could be with it. It wasn’t my choice. You know, how this person responded. But I was heartbroken that that really full unique expression was available in the teacher, but somehow, ultimately wasn’t allowed to be shared.
Rick Archer: without identifying the teacher, obviously, how has their career gone since then?
Raphael Cushnir: Let’s just say that this person, and I’m also as you can see, I’m saying they to keep it as nice as possible. I think before the interview, great guns and after the interview, great guns. So it’s not a question of the value of the teacher or the teaching. But my perspective is that the teaching would be so enriched if there was this added degree of humanity and humility and vulnerability. Yeah. Well,
Rick Archer: I was curious, because I think sometimes, you know, what trips people up is their unwillingness to do that. And I wondered whether this guy, you know, the bigger they are, the harder they fall, I was wondering with this person or had reached a dead end, because of his or her refusal to sort of
Raphael Cushnir: open up in a way that I’m aware of.
Rick Archer: Yeah. Interesting. Yeah, I say in your book, whether, whenever you’re not willing to experience a particular emotion, your life is run by you’re resistant to that emotion, you make choices that are about avoiding the feeling rather than serving your best interests, emotional resistance, therefore, it’s the one thing holding you back, which is the title of your book, the one thing holding you back. And so I don’t know if this person was resisting emotions, but they certainly weren’t willing to admit that they had them or whatever it was that you got them to admit.
Raphael Cushnir: Yeah, and I really appreciate you reading that sentence, because that’s an encapsulation of the work that I do, you know, down to the core, I believe, through all of my own work and all the work that I’ve done with People that whenever we’re in resistance to anything, it’s because of how it makes us feel. Yeah. If it made us feel open and connected and loving and positive and blissful, there’d be no reason to resist it. So we resist things that feel bad. And therefore all of our resistance is emotional at the core I
Rick Archer: want to talk to, I want to talk more about the work that you do. But one thing though, comes to my mind is the question of capacity. And what I mean by that is, you know, I think some people have a greater inner strength and capacity to absorb to dissolve, the stuff that they’re confronted with, or that they find within themselves. Whereas with others, you know, that capacity might be very limited. So to take a simple analogy, if you had a cup of water, and you tried to dissolve a handful of mud in it, the cup really wouldn’t contain the mud very well, it would really don’t get up. But if you threw that same handful of mud in the ocean, it would just be gone. So some people are more kind of oceanic in their inner state and their inner capacity, and they can deal with something actually much bigger, that would, you know, totally, with with greater ease, then someone else with a smaller capacity could can deal with something rather small. So does that making sense? And how do you deal with that issue?
Raphael Cushnir: Well, I love that question. And we can talk about this all day. The first thing that comes to me to share is that the self is a container. Yeah. And you’re absolutely right, that the starting place of anybody’s process is recognizing how is that container? Is it big, is it small, in addition to what you were describing, about the relative size of the container, is also you know, how porous it is. Because while most of us are on a journey, to fall apart, you know, before we get made whole again, you know, to, to soften and to open the container to allow us to connect more with, you know, energy that’s all around us. And within us as well. You know, people talk about, you know, destroying or surrendering the ego. But as other teachers have said very wisely, you also have to have a strong ego, yeah, to surrender itself. So some people’s journey is to recognize I am the ocean, but that’s not helping me. Like I need to figure out how to curtail that oceanic quality of myself into something that can move and live and have a job and have relationships, etc. So not just size, which is really important. But also, you know, is the journey about cohering? Or is it about disintegrating? And where am I on that path? Those are really important elements to consider in working with anybody or supporting them in their process in a peaceful and a positive way. So that’s, that’s one huge piece.
Rick Archer: I just want to throw in there that is, I think some teachers their whole modus operandi is to break down people’s egos. And that could be exactly the wrong thing for certain people who are at a stage where they need to strengthen their ego.
Raphael Cushnir: Yes. And just to put an exclamation point on that. I think it comes from the Bhagavad Gita, although I’m not sure, the idea that the right strategy at the wrong moment or in the wrong situation, is the wrong strategy. Right. So So I feel that, you know, part of that getting out of the way that I described earlier means being willing to surrender your entire formula, whatever you’ve concocted, if, with a particular person, or in a particular moment, it’s not really what’s called for, that’s part of getting out of the way. And that’s something that I try my best to do, you know, ongoingly. But I believe just to add a little bit more to this discussion, that everything is about relationship and relationship to self relationship to others relationship to the world and relationship to spirit. And the fundamental relationship is Shiva and Shakti, or consciousness and energy. Always that to dance, and in any individual. How they do that dance is really important to consider to explore. You know, some people are very much in the awareness place like those meditators, you talked about who can hold tremendous amount of awareness but are emotionally stunted. Then there are other people who are in the flow of energy, you know, they’re yummy and they can dance and they can move and you can feel life energy moving through them, but they can’t contain it in their conscious justice. So coming back to this big, broad, wonderful topic that you brought up, what I would say is that part of the healing work for an individual, or also somebody who’s supporting another person or group is to recognize what does that look like? What is that dance between Shiva and Shakti? And what is the particular shift in that moment or circumstance that’s going to deepen and strengthen that relationship? So that’s within the subject of container is? How is energy related into consciousness? And how is consciousness related to energy? And that’s, from my perspective, the fundamental relationship of all existence?
Rick Archer: Yeah. Yeah. So this thing about the right teaching at the right time, the Gita may have said it one way, but Sly and the Family Stone said different strokes for different folks.
Raphael Cushnir: Yeah, in different moments, let’s say to
Rick Archer: Yeah, different times. But I guess, you know, one of the things I am thinking about this whole container metaphor is like you think of people with PTSD, who actually have suffered physiological damage in the form of stress is a form of physiological damage, chemical and structural, and it renders the nervous system weak, in a way, and unable to deal with things that, you know, ordinarily, one can deal with. So, I guess, in your work, you know, what do you do to help people strengthen the physiology, even if you think in those terms at all, or to you know, expand their container, make it more capable of, of dissolving the things that are that are stuck in one psyche and nervous system?
Raphael Cushnir: Yeah, so this is a moment where I’m gonna kind of roll up my sleeves, and we’ll have a little bit of Shop Talk, you know, kind of behind the scenes. Many, if not, most of the people that I work with are victims of some kind of significant trauma. So I’m really devoted to and sensitive to this issue that you’re describing. And also, there are many techniques that are well known out there to really support people in that process. So for instance, in Peter Levine’s work around trauma, as the creator of something called somatic experiencing, he talks about titration, the idea that you can only process a certain degree safely in any, in any given experience. So, you know, one thing that Peter Levine recommends is that when you bring your Shiva your consciousness, to an upset inside of your body, because that’s where the trauma lives, and maybe you can be with it for a few seconds, and then it becomes overwhelming. So, you know, what’s suggested in titration, is at that point, a skilled practitioner would ask the person to kind of back away to to now move out away from that traumatic place, and find someplace in your body, even if it’s just your big toe, that doesn’t feel swamped, where you could start to anchor back into a place of, you know, presence and wellness. And at that point, maybe you go back in you titrate, a little more, or maybe you don’t, maybe it’s complete for that day. So I’ve always really appreciated that. But I in my own work, I’ve, you know, hopefully added something positive to that, which is what I call working with a zoom lens of consciousness. Because many people, they say, there’s nothing, not even my big toe, that is safe in this in this trauma. And so those people often are challenged because on the one hand, they need to dissociate in order to feel like they can be here. But of course, by dissociating, they’re not really here. And I have clients who say, why would I want to come back into my body when it’s a place of horror and terror? So going back to the relationship between Shiva and Shakti energy and consciousness, what I’ve seen is that you can, first of all, zoom out with your conscious awareness. So even even if you don’t have a big toe, that feels okay, you can pull out into the room, pull out to the moon if you need to. And as long as you can still feel just the subtlest emanation of that original overwhelming trauma. You’re not dissociated, you’re taking care of yourself. You’re shifting the dance of Shiva and Shakti in a way that’s going to support your healing your wholeness simultaneously. You can also zoom in and this is a paradox of life in the universe that we understand them through like the use of an electron microscope. But also, meditators know this too, if they’ve followed a particular tradition, that when you zoom into the heart of something that feels like it’s on fire, it’s, it’s intolerable. The more you zoom into the center of it, the more you find space. So, zoom out, you create space, zoom in, you create a different kind of space, but sometimes an equally or even more powerful space. So in working with people and trauma, I’m often recognizing all that we’ve been exploring and supporting them in zooming in or out in whatever way and in whatever moment feels like the right approach for them.
Rick Archer: Cool. You know how I’ve heard it said that, thinking, as we ordinarily understand, it, is actually a subtler aspects of the sense of hearing like those little voices in our head that it’s the same sense as our ears, but it’s a subtler aspect of it. And you can imagine, visualizing would be a subtler aspect of the sense of seeing if you can picture a nice sunny beach with palm trees that you’re using your sense of sight, but it’s a subtler aspect of it, because you’re not using your physical eyes. In the same by the same. In the same vein, I’ve heard it said that emotions are a subtler aspect of the sense of touch. And I just wondered if you find that interesting, or if there’s anything that you want to comment on, along those lines?
Raphael Cushnir: Well, first, I just appreciate you sharing all of that, because it’s new to me, I hadn’t, I hadn’t heard that before. What comes to me to share about emotions and touch is that there are only three realms in which we can sense. There’s the external realm, there’s the realm of thought. And then there’s the internal realm, what we said what we can sense within our physical bodies. And we’re constantly with or without awareness, moving between those three realms, there is also a spiritual sensing, but we could think of that is kind of like the backdrop out of which these three realms that I’m describing, like a Venn diagram, and, you know, intersecting each other, those three realms are showing up. The reason that I mentioned that is because I would say that emotions would be like, inner touch. Yeah. And while some of those like, you know, thought and, and visualization that you described, might be subtler versions, I’m not even sure, I would say that the inner touch is more subtle, because when people do start to tune in, it’s like a landscape that was unfamiliar to them. If they usually tuned into the inner realm, when it wasn’t working, well, I’ve got a stomach ache, I’ve got a headache. But when they actually start recognizing that all emotions are physical, that all emotions arise, move, shift and depart from the physical body. Sometimes the ability to touch the emotional experience with a gentle and accepting and yielding awareness is as intense as palpable, even more so sometimes, than what you can touch outside of yourself.
Rick Archer: Yeah. When you think about, there’s so many varieties in the field of touch. I mean, there’s sandpaper, and there’s jello, jello, and there’s cactuses, and there’s hot stoves, and, and cold ice and a million different things that are so different from one another, that our our sense of touch enables, enables us to experience. And by the same in the same sense, there’s so many different emotions, I mean, in your book, you list a whole bunch of them, and positive and negative, all kinds of different things. And what you seem to come back to again, and again, is that these aren’t just sort of abstract mental things, in any sense, they, every emotion has its seat, in the physiology and in some physical sensation that can actually be identified.
Raphael Cushnir: Yeah, I actually tell people when they’re first getting used to this approach, that you don’t even need a name for what you’re feeling in order to serve your emotion successfully to a place of expanded presence. And that, in fact, looking for a name, pulls you away from the wave, and it often isn’t helpful. And plus those, those labels that we use are like lies of convenience. Because if you ask me how I’m feeling, and I say, sad, and then you say, Well, how do you know you’re sad? And you might notice, well, my chest is aching. But another time I might say that I’m sad, and you might still ask me, How do you know you’re sad? And I might say, I feel like I have a hole in my belly. So those are two actually very different experiences using your inner sensing. But we’re using for convenience, we’re using one label to describe them. So since we are so over Developed in our heads, what I’m asking people usually to do is to really drop the label to drop the idea of controlling their emotional experience, and actually going for the ride. And we don’t need words. But when I asked people to share words, I asked them to use individual descriptive words, not abstraction. So hot, spinning, blue. And those words help you stay on the wave, rather than abstract you back into something that’s conceptual.
Rick Archer: Okay, so we have maybe 20, or 30 minutes left, and I keep having this feeling like we haven’t really gotten in, I haven’t really given you an opportunity yet, to explain what your process is how you work with people, we sort of alluded to it and touched upon it, and then we come back to other things. So I want to give you an opportunity to, you know, this, you have this whole two by two times to process and there’s a lot of things you explained in your books, I want to give you an opportunity to really explain that to people so that you and I and then the audience will all feel satisfied at the end of this interview, they have really gotten a sense of everything you have to offer.
Raphael Cushnir: Sure, thank you, I really appreciate your presence in space and time to to address that. But the actually the good news is, I think that everything that I’m going to share now is implicit in everything that we’ve been sharing before. So now this is just a process of making it explicit. So the first thing to recognize is that, as we said, emotions are physical. They need to be felt, when they are felt the message that they’re sending, which is the physical sensation in your body, no longer needs to be there anymore. So the emotion dissipates and leaves you in a state of expanded presence, which is what we want. It’s if there’s a goal to this, even though it’s really a goal less process, that would be the goal to become more connected, more present, more peaceful, within the moment that you find yourself. So the first key explicit piece that we haven’t shared, is that the way you make that happen, is that you take is that you surf, I’ve even dropped the two by two process that you mentioned before and just talk about surfing, because there’s a lot about surfing in the ocean that’s very similar to surfing your emotions. But in the interest of time, I’ll just say is that you bring your awareness to the place in your body, that you are experiencing sensation. And that’s really important, because for those meditators who’ve learned for 25 years to let the movie pass, to stay out of it, they can’t use that approach to strong, healthy emotional connection, because you have to actually go to the wave. So you know, it could be in your belly, it could be in your thighs, it could be you know, on the tip of your head, but wherever you’re experiencing sensation, you go there. And then you stay connected to you let the wave lead your awareness, you follow it where it goes, maybe it moves all over your body, maybe it just pulses for a moment, whatever it does, you notice and allow you notice and allow. And through that process. If the emotion has needed your attention, you’ve given it so the emotion dissipates, as I described. But also, if you started and this is the second part I’m going to get to in a moment, if you started from a place of contraction, holding against that emotion. Then also through that process of surfing that I just described, that contraction will release and leave you in a state of expanded presence. So this very, very simple, but not easy, and also very deep practice, in a way is everything. Because it allows you to recognize and release your resistance because remember, all resistance is emotional. It allows you to recognize and release your resistance when it arises when you notice it as quickly and as efficiently as possible. In the process. You heal emotional wounds because truly as others have said feeling is healing. That’s all that healing is, is feeling something that you have kept at bay. And now you’ve said it can’t belong to you, you can mend it into your experience. So you heal the past. By riding this wave. You open to the most luscious presence by riding the wave. And then also you create the best possible future because now you’re creating out of acceptance, rather than resistance and creating out of resistance usually only creates more resistance, whereas creating out of acceptance can actually create a positive evolution towards whatever is your intention or your goal. So by this simple surfing practice, you heal the past, you open to the present, and you grow towards the best future.
Rick Archer: Is there one of your books in which you explain that so that people could actually learn it from the book or what?
Raphael Cushnir: Well, the textbook really for it is both the actual written book and the audio program from sounds true is called the one thing holding you back. It doesn’t use the surfing metaphor, but it’s does the trick. The later book in which I switch to the surfing metaphor is an easier book to read, it’s shorter, it has beautiful pictures, it’s more inspirational, that one is called surfing your inner sea. And that would be that would be like an easier place to start for people who don’t want to like dive in and, and get to the meat of it.
Rick Archer: Okay, so would you agree that, that our subjective experience and our physiology are very closely related to one another, you don’t have an exact subjective experience, whether emotional or mental, without there being some corresponding physiological activity in some part of the body. And so if you’re having emotions, which are subjective experiences, there’s got to be some physiological correlate. And what your process is doing is by enabling us to kind of bring the attention to the physiology rather than keeping it up in the emotional realm, we, we kind of get right to the point where that that emotion is being generated, and we actually facilitate physiological change. So as you know, which could actually probably be measured in terms of biochemistry, and so on, which actually kind of resolves the thing once and for all, or at least resolves a degree of it. And without that kind of process, we can get hung up perpetually in emotionally emotional realm and never really get to the, to the root of it.
Raphael Cushnir: Yes. And I think that although I’m not a consciousness philosopher, or somebody who you know, is really well versed in that, I’m really drawn to the idea that, you know, conscious human consciousness is wet, meaning that it arises out of the biological substrate, and it can’t be separated from it. Right, that the idea that somehow, you know, we could have artificial intelligence in our brain is up on a shelf in some, you know, science fiction way without a body. That doesn’t make any sense to me. Yeah, we live into and through our bodies. And the more our, our intellectual processes rooted in our bodies, the more there’s a wedding, body and consciousness, the more hole we are in the more sustainable our vision, for sure.
Rick Archer: Yeah, I will say a bit. If you hooked Ramana Maharshi, up to a sophisticated EEG machine, you would be kind of impressive, what you would see that if his consciousness were indeed radically different than than the norm, his physiology should be radically different in some way, if that can be if we have the wherewithal to measure it.
Raphael Cushnir: Yeah, yeah. And I just want to add one other thing, which is that we have such a bias against what we’re talking about right now deeply embedded in our culture. Um, you know, because because we’re cross wired evolutionarily. And what I mean by that, just to say briefly, is that emotions, as I’ve described, need to be felt. They’re generated primarily by the limbic system. But the primitive or reptilian brain actually can’t distinguish between an external threat like footsteps in a dark alley, and an internal threat, like grief, or despair. So our primitive brain actually thinks that our difficult and challenging emotions are going to kill us. And so when those emotions arise, instinctively, it shuts us down. So we’ve got one part of our brain is saying, feel this. And another part is saying, No way. We’re stuck. We’re screwed as a culture and let alone as individuals, as long as we don’t address that. The good news part of that is that the primitive brain as powerful as it is, knows that it’s not the whole show, and it doesn’t run everything. So when we say hold on, that despair that you’ve just balled up inside of us and tried to make unavailable, we want to go there, we want to just this one time, we want to see what’s happening. And then the primitive brain says, I don’t know if this is okay, but okay, for a second. You know, we touch that despair, or shame. We don’t die. And the primitive brain updates, and it continues to update over time. Oh, shame, not footsteps in a dark alley. Don’t have to shut down as long and as hard as we thought. So the brilliance of the human being is that that updating is possible and and shifts us into a more open state. But when I was saying before about how incredibly pervasive it is, here’s the example, the forefront of teaching, this new way of being in the world is what’s called Social and Emotional Learning SEL, so bless the people who are bringing that to kids in schools, etc. But even in that progressive world, there’s still the mental bias. So you can read the literature. And often what it says is, let’s help kids become aware of their emotions, so they can better manage their emotions. So, feel it so you can go right up here, again, top down. And in my experience, the best quote, management comes through the process of feeling. When you feel fully, and you heal in the way that I described earlier, you get the deepest insights, you get greater peace of mind, you get greater clarity and creativity. And this isn’t even just spiritual philosophy. Because Dan Siegel, the mindfulness neuroscientist, he talks about a circuit in the brain called the experiencing circuit, which I would call Shakti and the awareness circuit, which I would call Shiva. And he says that when those two comes together, they create what he calls integration, we could call that wholeness, we could call that a moment of enlightenment, not an endless stage of enlightened but a moment of enlightenment. So I’m sharing this because as powerful a tool of living and growing and healing, as this surfing is that I’m describing, we still even at the forefront, when we’re not careful, we’ll just drift right back up to the head, and out of the process that has so much treasure for us if we stay with it.
Rick Archer: Okay. So I want to give you more opportunity to talk about your process. So let’s say I’m out there listening to this, and I’m thinking, Okay, I don’t quite get, like, what would I actually do if I work with this guy? Or if I read his books, and then somehow put into practice what he advises? You know, what would be my daily routine? If I got upset with something at work? How would I deal with that? And, you know, if I have an eating disorder? How would it help me and give us some practical examples and just make the whole process a little bit more clear to people who might find this interesting?
Raphael Cushnir: So the first answer is that in doing this work, we follow the resistance, whereas you know, so you gave some examples, you know, guy has a problem with his boss at work. My job isn’t to help you come up with a strategy for how to deal with your boss, I believe that if we can recognize and release your resistance to whatever is triggering you and keeping you stuck and tight in the exchange, then your own natural intelligence in your own co creation with Spirit will lead you to the best possible strategy. But as long as you’re in resistance to some aspect of what’s going on, then you’re not going to be able to get there. So, you know, for that example, I would start to ask you, what about that exchange, that crisis that you’re experiencing at work? What is the most difficult for you, in this example, that you suggested of this guy at work something in his relationship in the tension, the challenge between, you know, he and his boss is created inside of him because it touches a feeling that he won’t or can’t feel, and that’s keeping him tight. And so our goal is to get him to a place of expanded presence. And so we, at first, our dialect might sound more traditional, tell me more about it, kind of thing. But eventually we’re going to get to what’s the feeling at the heart of the matter here. It could be shame, it could be grief, it could be longing, it could be invisibility, but something is being struck, that if he can find it with my or anyone else’s support, and ride through, if he can start to embrace and include that experience of despair, or unworthiness, then he’s not going to be acting from a contracted from a resistant place. So recognizing and releasing the resistance is what we do. And we do it through the process of this emotional internal surfing that you and I have been talking about. Take another quick example. You mentioned someone like with an eating disorder, right? So a person with an eating disorder, again, while it has physiological or mental aspects to it, is using the behavior to avoid certain feelings. And so whether it’s an at&t disorder or whether it’s alcoholism or porn addiction, you know, whatever compulsions that are involved, whatever strategies people have used to not feel, we try to reverse those. And so therefore, once you become intimate with the feeling, once you let it be a welcome part of you, you don’t have to like it. But you have to love it, you have to let it be a part of you, then what happens is you no longer need that coping mechanism, which comes with so many debilitating side effects like addictions do. One example I like to use that really makes this clear for people is a client I had who said that her neediness was destroying all of her romantic relationships. That was her self identification. So I asked her from the approach that we’ve been exploring today. I said, So would it be possible just for a little bit, for you to welcome in and start to experience more directly? What you’re calling neediness? And she said, Absolutely not. I would like to surgically remove that part of my being, because it’s the source of all my problems. And if I didn’t have it, I’d be fine. And I had to pause. Because that’s a strong belief. And like we said before, I don’t have all the answers, but I had a sense that we never grow by exclusion or excision. We grow by inclusion, and spaciousness like you and I were talking about before. So I tried to think what do I have to help her? Maybe see this. And I knew that she had come from a background and her family where her parents had really rejected and abandoned her. So all my last card to play was to say, is it possible for you to recognize just maybe, that relating to your neediness in the way you just described, is actually perpetuating and doing the same thing that your parents did, that you’re abandoning and rejecting this aspect of yourself by deciding that it’s the problem, and that it needs to be cast out. And because she, you know, never wanted to ever have anything to do with these parents who she had vilified, that gave her an opportunity to just pause. And look at it a little differently. And in that process for all of us, when we welcome in the aspect of ourselves, especially in a physiological feeling filled way that we’ve been talking about, we are in acting, wholeness, we are in those very moments of taking our attention and placing it on the part of ourselves that feels like it’s never going to get its needs met. What does that feel like? Where is that in your body? Don’t get caught in the verdicts and the ideas about it. But could you actually just go to the place where you’re feeling it, and let that be, and stay with it and see where it wants to take you. That’s the psychological and the spiritual treasure right there in that moment.
Rick Archer: One thought that came up while you’re speaking is that you know, you have quite a few of these emotional connection dialogues on your website. That’s where I got them to listen to others can go there and listen to them, too. Oh, and before I say that, somebody had sent in a message, how do you ask a question? If you want to ask a question, during the live interview, go to the upcoming interviews menu on batgap.com, which is under future interviews. And down the bottom of that page is a forum through which you can submit a question in any case. So I listened to a bunch of these emotional connection dialogues. And the thought, I kept wondering, that, wow, this is so insightful, and you’re really getting right, you’re really hitting the nail on the head. But then do you follow up with these people? I mean, do you if you were to check with everybody a year later? What do you think your track record is in terms of people really undergoing significant and lasting change?
Raphael Cushnir: Well, I love the you know, kind of evidence based approach that you’re bringing up I think that’s really valuable because we can all say I’ve got this great technique, but if it doesn’t really support people in their growth and transformation, then it was just just an idea. So one of the things that I tell people, whether they come to a workshop, or they have one session or five sessions with me, is I always say once you meet me, you can’t get rid of me. And, and hopefully this is a good thing. So what I tell them is, is that you know, what comes with the price of admission is that from now until the time I retire You can write to me at any time, I’m the only one who reads my emails. And you can say, you know, what about this or I’m stuck here or help, it’s not working. And if it’s something that I can respond to you by email, and do justice to, I will usually within a couple days. But if it’s something that feels more complex than that, I’ll ask the person can you get on Skype with me or zoom, or the phone even just for 10 or 15 minutes, no cost, and can we kind of maybe unravel that together. So because I’ve done that, over the course of like, the last 15 years, I’m in a lot more contact ongoingly with people that I might be if it was just a traditional therapy relationship, and they left therapy, and they moved on. So I’ll get people who I haven’t talked to you, I just had this happen yesterday. So when I hadn’t talked to you for like eight years, who says, hey, I want to do a refresher session, or there’s a new thing coming up. So that’s one way at least, that I personally, it’s not double blind or anything like that. But that’s how I personally see the way that changes happen and sustain. The other way is that, in addition to the workshops that I do, and the individual work, I have year long programs that I do, my most Renaud noun, renowned programs, so to speak, is called p four, which stands for presence, purpose, passion, and power. And I take a small group of people through a year’s worth of community that focuses on recognizing and releasing resistance in all of the aspects of our lives. The reason I’m mentioning this, is because at the end of the year, often some part of the group like let’s say, we start with 12. And we we do in person work, and also distance work. So people come from around the world and join these groups. So at the end of the year, let’s say we have 12, that year, maybe six people say we want to keep doing this work together. And sometimes they do it with me, sometimes without and sometimes I come and go with them. But the point here is that I’m working with groups now that I’ve worked with for five or six or seven years, and I’m in constant contact with them, we work together, we have a conference call every month at the least. And so in a way, we’re like an emotional connection family. And so I’ve seen incredible changes in lives through this process. But also, because we’ve talked about transparency and vulnerability here. I want to be really clear, I’ve also seen people continue to struggle. I’ve seen people who sometimes wonder, have they gotten anywhere? Or I think I know a lot more. And I have more tools now. But I’m still subjected to some of the same darknesses that grabbed me. And that brought me to you in the first place. So this brings us maybe to a deeper answer to the question, which is, it’s not about fixing, it’s not about changing. It is about including, so that even if somebody is still stuck in their stuff, to have a place where they’re welcome, as they are in that adds that not needing to be different, creates a value that, you know, moves me. And that, you know, clearly moves them enough to continue in the community. So most of us don’t come from a family of origin like that. Most of us don’t have a community that’s based on mutual supportive, acceptance and presence. And so that’s what I love. That’s why I do this. That’s why I want to keep doing this. And why wish we could, you know, make it worldwide, not just based on me, but just continue to grow these communities of emotional connection and support. Through that time, I don’t say to someone, you know, drop your naturopath don’t go to see gone Michi you know, whatever. I mean, whatever works as a part of your whole, like, Bring it on, right? But the point is, if you don’t say you’re done with us, because we haven’t helped you, we’re not gonna say we’re done with you, because you still have depression, or anxiety, or something like that. In essence, we’re all living with our stuff. And hopefully what we do is we grow in greater ease and peace and acceptance with our stuff. And that’s what I would say is what I see consistently comes through this work. And what I see consistently shows up in the people that I work with, over time in these different ways that I’ve described. Yeah,
Rick Archer: and there’s a lot of stuff you know, most of us have a lot and you’re not going to clear it out in a weekend seminar or something. You know, Thank you. Well, I guess I read a quote like that. But it’s really a lifelong process. I mean, are we ever done? You know?
Raphael Cushnir: Well, I think I think that, you know, there’s another whole chapter in this, but I’ll try to condense it. I’m sure that in many of the interviews that you’ve done, and certainly in your own wisdom, you’ve come to recognize that there’s a problem with seeking. I mean, I said, there’s no problem before. But in a way, there’s a problem with seeking because it tells you that there’s something wrong with where you are, there’s some place that you’re meant to be that you’re meant to arrive at that you haven’t gotten to yet. And of course, that keeps you from the fullest acceptance and embrace of yourself and the experience of this moment. So in a way, all the work, even the work that you’re describing, that never gets done, as we continue working on ourselves, is always leading back to here. And now. And this and, and so, the word, once we stopped seeking and thinking that we’re missing something is always about, first of all, what right now is asking to be included. So we have that phrase, which I know, you know, well. And this to write what’s here, right now, this flood, I just experienced what is here for me to embrace around this flood. I don’t like it, I wish it didn’t happen. But what’s here for me that I can open to that I’m not fully open to. So deepening in places that I have already begun to deepen in my expression in my opening in my wholeness. And then also new places that show up. But all of that is not to say like I’m getting, I’m getting better and better. And I’m moving deeper, deeper towards some goal, it all ends up still, every single moment, coming right back to the gift. That’s, that’s here and now. And so for me, what I find is the signature of people who recognize what you’re describing is that they’re freer, they’re more supple. They’ve got more channels on the dial. So they’ll shout it out, they’ll dance it out, they’ll chant it out, they’ll sit in silence, some people come to me sometimes, and all we do is gaze for an hour, and they say, Oh, that’s beautiful. That’s exactly what I needed. So we open, we expand, we include, and then we’re always challenged in the moment by what we haven’t yet brought in. And so that becomes the sacred journey. As opposed to, I’m getting better. I’m going farther, I’m closer to something.
Rick Archer: For me, the seeking thing is one of those both and paradoxes where you’re right here, and this is the only place you ever gonna be. And on the other hand, there’s no end to refinement and deepening of wisdom and all that stuff. It’s like there’s no in compatibility between both of those perspectives.
Raphael Cushnir: Yes, yes. And using you know, your thought about that. I would say that the maybe the key, the signature quality of people who are walking this path in an exquisite way, is curiosity. Yeah, that’s the Yeah, because you know, in my book, setting your heart on fire, there are seven invitations to liberate your life. And the second invitation is question everything. And what I describe it there is that an answer is done. It’s finished, it’s complete. It’s kind of dead on arrival, whereas a question engages us for what more is present. In my first version of this emotional connection, I created something called the Living the questions process, which was based on the real quote about living in the questions. And the first question is, what is happening right now? And the second question is, can you be with it? And that’s really all there is. And I refine that to focus on the body and emotions, because that’s where usually the answer is no, I can’t or I won’t, as yet be with it. But living the questions is a way to stay alive and fresh and ultimately, curious. So again, for myself, and then also for teachers, or authors or people who I’m inspired by, what I’m looking for is that curiosity, and people who are alive and curiosity are always going to be growing and expanding just by their very nature.
Rick Archer: Yeah. I think sometimes when teachers come down too hard on the seeking thing, people who feel they don’t really feel satisfied, they feel I kind of am seeking I don’t this isn’t good enough. I do want more I’m searching I’m looking, there must be something wrong with me because this teacher says just give up the search I shouldn’t be seeking. So I think you have to kind of acknowledge that that’s a legitimate phase. But there may also come a time when this this that kind of knowing emptiness drops off and you feel content and you don’t feel like you’re seeking any longer. But then I think Curiosity can kick in even stronger than before.
Raphael Cushnir: Yes, it. So let me give you a really interesting example of that, that combines the embodiment piece we’ve been talking about and also connects to the wild spiritual awakening piece that we talked about earlier today, when I was in some confusion and trouble with the energies because they were chaotic. One person said to me, around the subject of is this Okay, should I be trying to cast it out? What is this entity? What is this energy? She said, the best thing that I can tell you is that in any moment, you need to ask, whatever you’re facing. You know, are you here for my highest good? If you are, you’re welcome. And if not, you can’t stay. And another version of that is to say, what opens your heart? What allows you to connect and love more. And that’s always what you can trust. And so when it comes to curiosity, we can be endlessly curious in a way that’s dry and riddle, that’s not helpful. And we could also think there’s something wrong with our seeking, as you describe, because we’re getting the message in a way that’s not helpful. So as far as where how to move, how to dance with one’s curiosity, is to ask, you know, what lights you up? What opens your heart? Follow that. And you’ll always be okay. Yeah. And I think that one of the things that I’ve always loved as a guidepost around that is, even though I come from a Jewish tradition, I love the symbol of the cross. And the idea of, as above, so below, as within, so without, what I love, especially about it is that the nexus of those two beams on the cross is the heart. And, and anything that feels like it’s coming from the heart, is trustable. And the heart combines everything good about the body, everything good about grounding, everything good about what’s transcendent. You know, sometimes people call the marriage of transcendence, and imminence, you know, to be completely here, and also recognize everything that’s out there. That’s the beauty. So, so what bringing, taking that kind of lofty talking and making it very practical, again, I think curiosity is key, but also following, once you start releasing your resistance, following your energy following where your heart draws you to connect. And I think that you could, that’s where you can always trust.
Rick Archer: Yeah, beautiful. That would also be a good point to end on. But here’s what I want to do in the next five minutes. I want to ask one question from a listener that came in. And because this, we only got one today. And I also want to just sort of ask you a couple of practical questions like, you know, how do people get in touch with you? And And when’s your next one year program starting? And then we’ll wrap it up? So this is the question that came in from Anne Marie Fitzgerald, from Corral de tierra California. How would you explain in the language of Shakti Shiva, the technique you describe to heal parts of the self that seek integration?
Raphael Cushnir: Let me let me see how I can be helpful with that. Well, if something is seeking integration, it’s because it hasn’t yet been welcomed. So let’s say a person says it’s about shame, or it’s about abuse that happened to me and the wounding there, or the PTSD we were talking about before we bring a we talked about Shiva before, as awareness and how necessary that is, but it’s also important to include what we didn’t talk about, which is the quality of awareness, we want it to be soft, and spacious, and gentle. And, and then also clear. So we bring those qualities to our awareness to the Shiva to the place inside of ourselves that feels broken, or hurting or excluded. And that process of bringing it close, holding the space staying present, is the beginning. Then there’s another aspect to it. I have a blog on my website where I talk about something I call strong arms, soft heart, which is where we hold those difficult or painful or tantruming parts of ourselves. But we also while sharing empathy while letting them know we’re there. We also give them a boundary that they can work with. I’m not going to let you hurt yourself or anybody else. And so that’s a quality of the Enlightened Shiva awareness as well. So it may take some time It may take repeated encounters. But the more that hurting or broken or resistant part of me, starts to lean into and test that awareness, the more that it experiences the strong arms on the soft heart combination together. That’s where the healing magic happens. Great.
Rick Archer: Well, that’s a good answer. And you’re, you know, I’ve covered a lot of stuff in this interview. And I feel like we could go on another two hours and probably, you know, break fresh ground. But I think this has given people a good taste of who you are and what you have to offer. And I think people are really going to enjoy watching this interview. So if they want to get in touch, they just go to Krishna calm and
Raphael Cushnir: yeah, see you sh and ir.com. Luckily, not like the current White House, resident. And, yeah, so all my stuff is there, all the books, there’s even under work with Raphael, there’s an extensive page about the p four program that you just described, the next iteration of the program will begin at the end of January in 2018. And people are more than welcome to look at all the videos and the audios about the program, read up on it, and then email me if they’re interested. I’d be happy to talk to people about that. And then my workshop schedule will be up soon for 2018. How to work with me individually, all that stuff. Is there at Krishna calm. Great.
Rick Archer: Okay, well, thanks for I feel. Really appreciate your time. It’s been a lot of fun. Yeah, I’ve loved it. Yeah. Every one of these interviews for me, it’s like opening up? Well, it’s like I’m a 10 year old kid opening a Christmas present or something like, Oh, this is exciting a new sled? Or have I said that
Raphael Cushnir: before? You know, but I just want to share with you as a quick reflection, one of the people in my community who loves your work and as you know, listened to dozens and dozens and dozens of your interviews, told me that, you know, she said, What I liked so much about him is that he’s playful and curious, and excited and enthusiastic. So I really appreciated that as well. I feel like it was easy for me to include as much in as much depth as I wanted to, because you have this quality of like full engagement, and also kind of a balanced, neutral space. And those two things together, you know, just, you know, make it like when you said you could talk for two more hours. I could too I probably have to pee a few times. But other than
Rick Archer: right with you? Yeah, well, you know, we send out like headsets and or microphones and webcams and all to our guests. Maybe we should send it on catheters. And
Raphael Cushnir: I hope not, maybe that Burt Reynolds used in the movie semi tough called the I think it’s called the Fisherman’s Friend or, you know, June, do you know what I’m talking about? No. Was
Rick Archer: it some kind of Skype or something? No, it’s
Raphael Cushnir: in the movie. Semi tough. There’s a scene about so they didn’t call it asked, you know, right there.
Rick Archer: Oh, yeah. You couldn’t leave the room to go pee, they
Raphael Cushnir: wouldn’t let up. So his girlfriend, Jill Clayburgh, I think you know, forces him to go. And he’s like, Yeah, I’ll do it, honey, because he wants it to be really giving. And then he’s looking at everybody else who’s totally swarming around. And then you hear the audio, because he’s got like a funnel inside his needs, like a holding tank in his boots. He’s like, whatever, you got to say, I’m all good. Fine. If you send one of those that would work?
Rick Archer: Yeah, well, we’ll have to work on that. Okay, so let me just make a couple of wrap up points. You’re even listening to one in a series of ongoing interviews. There. As I mentioned the beginning, there are 415 of them now. And hopefully, there’ll be at least as many more as we continue to do this over the years. If you’d like to be notified each one each time a new one is posted, you can either subscribe on YouTube, and you’ll get an email from YouTube. Or you can subscribe on our website. And we’ll send out an email once a week when a new ad is posted. Or you can do both. There are also some other things to explore on the site such as the the fact that this is an audio podcast, there’s links to sign up for that on the menu and just explore the other menus on the site. You know, it’s pretty simple, you’ll see everything we have to offer. So thanks for listening or watching. Next week, I’ll be interviewing Dean Raiden, who is the chief scientist at the Institute of Noetic Sciences. And I was one of my favorite speakers at the science and non duality conference. So we’ll see you then. And thanks again. Raphael. Yeah, thank you so much and fun. So everybody, take care. See you next time.