Rick Archer: Welcome to Buddha at the Gas Pump. My name is Rick Archer. Buddha at the Gas Pump is an ongoing series of interviews or conversations with spiritually awakening people. We have done well over 500 of them now. And if this is new to you, and you’d like to check out previous ones, please go to bat gap comm bat gap and look under the past interviews menu. This program is made possible through the support of appreciative listeners and viewers. So if you appreciate it and would like to help support it, there’s a PayPal button on every page of the website. My guest today is Ravi Ravindra. Welcome, Ravi.
Ravi Ravindra: Thank you very much, Rick.
Rick Archer: I’ve been getting to know Ravi over the past week, listening to many hours of his various interviews and talks and I really feel like I’ve learned a lot. Whether I retained it or not is another matter but, but I really enjoyed imbibing his wisdom. Read a brief little bio here. Ravi wrote, “I am proud to be born in India as a Hindu, but I will be sad if I die merely a Hindu. I became convinced very early in life that all boundaries are artificially created and tend to hinder the growth of the spirit. I ended up studying at a post doctoral level of physics, philosophy and religion at various universities, and later teaching as a professor in these fields, wishing to correspond to the transformational teachings of several great spiritual luminaries, especially Krishna, Buddha, Christ and Patanjali, as well as great present day masters such as Krishnamurti and Gurdjieff. I am interested in the actual journey of self transformation, and experiencing the inevitable shifts of focus of energy along the way.”
Ravi has written a number of books, including The Yoga of the Christ, which was published in the US as The Gospel of John in the Light of Indian Mysticism; a commentary on the Bhagavad Gita; a commentary on Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras; and a book entitled The Pilgrim Soul a guide to the sacred to the sacred transcending world religions. And Ravi, of course, I know this, but the audience doesn’t, you spent quite a lot of time with Krishna Morty, from over maybe a 20 year period or something like that, and had a lot of conversations with him. And also, he was a big influence in your life. So I thought we might start by, you know, we have all kinds of topics we want to discuss here. But it’s good to get to know a little bit more about the person. So maybe you could just tell us a little bit about your personal history, whatever you consider relevant to the nature of the discussion we’ll be having.
Ravi Ravindra: I would be happy to tell you that, I was probably a teenager, when I first encountered a book by Vivekananda, Until that time, you know what happens in every country, for every person—the same will be probably true for you. We look at our own culture microscopically, and at other cultures telescopically, by which I mean now, specifically, anybody growing up here in Canada, is quite aware of all the terrible things many ministers and priests in different religions have done, but they think all the great spiritual gurus in India are very elevated. But growing up in India, it’s just the other way around. So as a kid, I was actually a member of the Communist Party in India. Our program was how to get rid of these priests? What we could see was that they were just getting fatter, getting, more money from poor people who are not very literate, convincing them if they give money, they’ll go to heaven, that kind of thing. But then, for me, a very major change took place when I read this book by Vivekananda. Specifically, one remark of his struck me very much, which was that religion is not for the weak, it is for the strong. And I remember being very struck by this because what I had so far seen or the poor or weak people who were eager to welcome these wandering priests or ministers or the equivalent. We don’t call them priests and ministers—there are different words for them. But anybody who has been to India, they would see many of these people. I’m talking about a long time ago. I’m now almost 82 years old, so many things have changed in India, especially in the urban areas there has been a lot of influence from the Western world. Many of these things are a little different now. But still, but Vivekanada changed my attitude. He specifically says that going to the temples and all these rituals are at a very low level of spiritual practice. And gradually, I began to be clear that spiritual practice is hardly the thing being encouraged by religions. Now many years later, I would say that religions have done more harm to spiritual practice than anything else. They just want people to believe something and to keep imitating it or reciting something. And that gets you to Heaven, rather than searching for the actual practice. The fundamental aspect of any spiritual practice, is a need for a radical transformation of whatever I am. Because if there is one common lesson—you can read any scripture, and in fact, I often invite my friends or audiences, if they know any exception, to please help me. Basing it on whatever I have read, there is the one common feature of all scriptures, and the teachings of all the sages, that as long as I remain the way I am, I cannot come to the truth, or to God or to the Real or Absolute, whatever word people want to use. These are just labels. If the Buddha could not describe what Nirvana is and Christ could not describe what God is, how do I know what God is. A radical transformation of every searcher is the call of any serious teaching, I feel this is what is required. And that is not such an easy thing. But many of you, I’m assuming many people in your audience have a Judeo-Christian background, so I might end up occasionally giving references or quotations from the Abrahamic traditions, rather than from the Indian tradition, although I’m happy to do that. In India I would do it the other way around. For example, Nicodemus visits Christ and asks him, “How can one reach the kingdom of God? “ The response of Christ is that as radical a
Ravi Ravindra transformation is required as to be born again, born of the Spirit, born from above. So this is the call of practically all serious spiritual teachings, a radical reorientation of our whole being. Vivekananda wasn’t specifically using this kind of terminology, but it began to strike me then.
Of course, as you know, in India, perhaps this is true actually everywhere, if you are considered a smart student, you go into that kind of study where you can get a good job. And in India, it’s even more so because the population is very large, therefore, competition is naturally very large. We used to even joke about it, if you get into a good institution, maybe your dowry will go up. This is a very Indian kind of thing.
Rick Archer: How does that work? It’s alien to our culture.
Ravi Ravindra: I know it is alien to your culture, but in general, when a young man marries a young woman, generally (although nowadays, by the way, it is outlawed in India but it still carries on) the bride’s parents will give what is called a dowry.
Rick Archer: Uh huh. So they have to cough up the money.
Ravi Ravindra: That’s right. So, at that time, the first institution called the Indian Institute of Technology, very much assisted by some people at MIT and other places was just started in 1953 or 54, or something like that. And I had graduated from school in 1956. And to get into that institution was really regarded that if you are a good student that’s what you aim for. Literally hundreds of thousands of people apply and very few people are taken. I actually am not trying to be smart by saying this but I honestly do not believe that I am running my life. There seems to be all kinds of forces at play. Why should I get into that institution? I still don’t actually understand. I was myself surprised and everybody else around me was surprised. But in fact, that institution was so highly regarded that our first prime minister Nehru made this comment. “These institutions of technology are the temples of the new India.” India had just become independent in 1947, not very far ahead of this period that I’m talking about. And there was a very strong emphasis that we needed to work towards science and technology to improve the country’s economic situation. First of all, since you are an American citizen, I should tell you this. On one occasion, actually, a young professor from MIT happened to be there visiting us and we were going on a field trip. And this is very Indian, even on a field trip, you have cooks going with you, can you believe this? And we had three or four jeeps, some graduate students, and of course, professors, and drivers as no professor is driving, no student is driving. In one Jeep, somehow something went wrong, it stopped. And so everybody is just standing around, and the driver is going to try to phone somebody for some mechanic to come from somewhere. This character from MIT, he just takes his jacket off, goes under the Jeep, and I have no idea what he actually did. But the Jeep started. I remember saying to myself, I’m going to go to USA because something in me was really impressed. Now I should also tell you, as a young man, and probably even now, most Indians think Canada is just part of the USA. It is part of North American, so I thought going to USA really meant going to Canada also. And I decided that I was going to come to USA.
I was very fortunate. I may have told you this— I had a fellowship from MIT, and a fellowship from Caltech, California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, and a Commonwealth scholarship from Canada. And the only time I have really spent literally sleepless nights was with the problem of how to decide between these. And anybody I asked, just got mad at me. You know, it’s a champagne problem. And they were, rather than trying to help me, annoyed with me. So nobody, neither my professors nor any of my fellow graduate students helped. But finally, I decided to come to Canada largely because of the very well known geophysicist Tuzo Wilson. In Canada, they have even named a mountain after him. He was very responsible for accepting the continental drift theory in the western world. It was actually proposed in USSR earlier, but it took some time for it to be accepted there. So largely because of him, I decided to come to Canada to the University of Toronto.
There is a remark in a very ancient text in India which says that when a person is born, he owes some debt right from birth—debt to the devas, meaning the gods, who are not just outside, they’re also inside us, but also the debt to the sages, debt to the ancestors and debt to the society. These are the four debts which you are born with. And I remember asking myself are the sages for me only those born in India? Why is Einstein not a sage for me? And specifically, why is Christ not a sage for me? What debt do I owe them? Coming from India, people used to think this sort of thing is a little weird because they imagine that Indian sages are the ones I should be honoring. It is true that the very ancient text is Indian, Shathapatha Brahman.
When I came to Canada it was really a revolution in my life. Because here people behave differently— they claim to be Christians, just as people in India would claim to be Hindus. These are just words as far as I could begin to understand but I never doubted that every country is very much influenced by its religion. So I wished to know something about Christianity. I decided to go to church every Sunday. But since I was a graduate student in physics, you can imagine how my fellow graduate students responded to my going to church. Really great scientists like Einstein or Newton, they are very spiritually oriented people, but others are simply doing science. One of the cliches is that religion has nothing to do with science and science can disprove all this. You see, it’s a very strange kind of idea. In any case, they used to make fun of me, going to church. But one day, I over heard one of the students speak to another one quietly, saying “Well, he’s from India” so that meant I could be weird.
In fact, This has happened several times in my hearing. Just because I’m from India, I have a certain permission to be weird.
Rick Archer: That’s great. Well, let’s go ahead
Ravi Ravindra: Gradually, I realized that what the priests or ministers here were saying also doesn’t carry in their being what they’re talking about. I was very struck by many of the mystical teachings of Christ Himself. And also, there are some very standard texts, for example, The Cloud of Unknowing, or The Theologia Germanica. Most of my so called Christian friends have never even heard of these books. This is the reason I ended up writing about the Gospel of John, which I actually never thought that I would. Whenever I spoke to my Christian friends, they would say, well, that’s not in the gospel. So I would show it to them. This was the reason why that book got published. I wasn’t trying to write it for publishing it. So that’s how I ended up being interested both in spirituality and science. Every human being I have ever met is actually interested in both these areas, so I don’t understand what the contradiction is in people’s minds.
Rick Archer: I want to pick up on a few of the things you mentioned. One is about belief. You know, my sense is that the great sages Christ and all the rest, didn’t really care if you believed what they said, they wanted you to experience what they experienced. And they had to tell you about it in order to inspire you to aspire to experience it yourself. I could believe that the food in a restaurant is really good. And I could starve to death, believing that but going in and actually having the food would be a completely different thing.
Ravi Ravindra: I agree with you that, in fact, we don’t need to be even against belief or faith. Because in fact, actually, the root of the word, belief is pistis, in Latin, from which we also get the word epistemology, the theory of knowledge. Wherever in the world, whenever the person says, or a disciple says to Christ, “Lord, I believe” what they’re actually saying is, “Lord, I see, Lord, I recognize”, but then a few sentences later, they no longer see. So it’s actually very much to do with seeing something. But even at the very ordinary level, I don’t think we need to be against belief. If I really believe let us say that the Buddha was enlightened. Why wouldn’t I bother to try to practice what he’s teaching?
Rick Archer: So it’s like a first step, you know, you have to believe that there’s a possibility of some benefit there. And then if you really believe it’s like a hypothesis. In science, you think, “Okay, this might be viable. Maybe I’ll spend my time studying this, because I think I might get some results”.
Ravi Ravindra: Yes, yes. I agree. We don’t need to be against belief, but we need to stay with it. Was Christ the Son of God? And if I believe this, then I will be saved. To me. That is that’s not the sort of belief that’s going to help anybody.
Rick Archer: Another thing is the point that you made about Vivekananda saying religion is not for the weak, but is for the strong. He was obviously defining religion a little differently than it was commonly being defined. And I’m reminded of another version in The Gita where Krishna says whatever people offer by way of devotion or worship or anything else, at whatever level, he would accept that.
Ravi Ravindra: “as long as they worship wholeheartedly, I will bless them”. Krishna says,
Rick Archer: I know that you’re very appreciative of many levels of development. People have to start somewhere, but you don’t want to get stuck at some level where you’re merely spending your whole life believing things that you can’t ultimately experience.
Ravi Ravindra: This is the reason I’m saying there is no reason to be against belief or faith or anything that can help. For example, one could even say, just reading a book isn’t going to take me to Heaven. But there is no harm in reading a book, if it indicates something that I might try to practice, or it might be listening to. Ultimately, no teacher is going to take me to Heaven. It always has to be my own journey. But listening to some teachers can help me. So there’s no reason to be against this was one of the things which I generally did not actually agree with Krishnamurti, he somehow ended up as if he were against teaching or teachers.
Rick Archer: He did have that bias, didn’t he? A friend of mine met Maharishi Mahesh Yogi on an aeroplane one time. And Krishnamurti and Maharishi sat together for a while and afterwards my friend ran into him when they’re in the airport lounge or something, He was really kind of annoyed because he hated the whole guru scene, you know, and there was very much a guru scene around Maharishi.
Ravi Ravindra: So it is around Krishnamurti as well as in the Christian foundation, it is inevitable. It happens everywhere. Because the Krishnamurti Foundation, is after all set up to celebrate him, to promote the books he’s written. So he obviously has to be the center of everything.
Rick Archer: Well, the reason he disliked it so much may be because he probably felt that it shouldn’t be about a particular man or particular personality, because the truth is much bigger than that. Was that his attitude?
Ravi Ravindra: That is very much the case.There is actually a very strong suggestion although different words are used, but practically all teachers convey that you can’t get there from here. Even in the in the Bible, you build this wall and people are fighting with each other. No, you can’t build a tower from the earth to heaven. True. Directly quoting Krishnamurti, “You cannot ascend to the truth, but the truth can descend to you”. The suggestion is that this is a great mystery, which nobody can as it were capture or figure out. I often had a bit of a questioning with Krishnamurti How the hell is the truth going to descend on me? Should I just go and have another beer? What do I have? Is there anything I nee d to do to welcome the truth to descend on me? Or even to allow the truth to descend on me? To me this is a very important question not and in a way to be fair to him. I don’t think he would wholly disagree really with any of this. But somehow one ends up having a kind of terminology, he had a very famous expression, called Truth is a pathless. Land. And all his followers keep repeating it. And there are even books by that title. But really, if one seriously looks at it, what he’s suggesting is, it cannot be anybody else’s path that is going to take you through it has to be your own path.
Rick Archer: But it can be a path, as long as it’s your own.
Ravi Ravindra: Well, yes, meaning you can’t lay down a path for somebody else,
Rick Archer: I don’t know a whole lot about Krishnamurti. But I’ve heard that he was a bit discouraging of any kinds of techniques and practices. He didn’t teach any and I’m not sure how supportive he was of the notion of doing some kind of practice. Can you fill us in on that?
Ravi Ravindra: Well, in a way, it is certainly true because he felt if he said “this is what you should practice”, then people will take that to be the injunction. But on the other hand, he was constantly reminding people to engage in self inquiry,
Ravi Ravindra: Krishnamurti was very happy to sit down in meditation or go for walks in nature. Why would he be a vegetarian? In his own practice in his life, he was very happy to chant many of the old Sanskrit Vedic shlokas and mantras and he actually said it nourished him, it helped him. But on the other hand, he would not say to anybody else, “This is what you must do”.
Rick Archer: Yeah. Maybe he was reacting to the, I mean, like you said, in the very beginning, when you were a young man, and you had become a communist , because you were disillusioned by the apparent corruption and greed, and, you know, distressing genuineness of the priests, the Sadducees, the gurus. I know that at one point, Krishnamurti was put up as the world’s saviour or something by the Theosophical Society. And at a certain point, he said, “I don’t want that”. So you know, maybe he was trying to strip all the fluff away from the essence of truth. And he didn’t feel that a spiritual path needed all that, all that embellishment, which people get very much distracted by.
Ravi Ravindra: I agree. I think this is where it was coming from. Leadbeater was the person who found him on the beach, and recognized his potential. So then later on, Leadbeater had certain specific stages of initiation and Krishnamurit began to feel that this needed to be rejected. But even there, you know, he said to me, and I’m actually quoting Krishna murti, ”I did not leave the Theosophical Society.”
Ravi Ravindra: At that time, I asked Radha Bernier, who was the president of the Society for 30 years. “Is there some truth to it?” She said, she will do some investigation. And it was actually true. After this, Krishnamurti, went through a sort of a revolt after his great awakening. At that time, the president of the Theosophical Society literally put Krishnamurti’s suitcase. on the road. So it is, in that sense, it is true, that he was kicked out rather than that he left the Theosophical Society,
Rick Archer: I got kicked out of the TM movement for similar reasons, I just became too independent in my thinking, and I was questioning everything. I was just doing whatever I thought I ought to do rather than what I was supposed to do, and it just wasn’t a good fit anymore.
Rick Archer: There’s a number of things I want to explore with you. And again, you know, from your side, if there’s some thought that comes to mind and you think I’d really like to talk about that, feel free to bring it up, even if I don’t ask about it. In fact, right now, is there anything on your mind?
Ravi Ravindra: No, not specifically. I’m happy to have a conversation with you. But I know you were a little offended by my remarks about this non-duality business.
Rick Archer: Actually, I printed out your email here. And the point you made is very good. You said “My concern is much more in living an idea of non-duality, from which love and compassion will naturally come and will naturally ooze out. “ In other words, if it’s a concept, if it’s just an intellectual thing, and you’re not really living it, if you’re not walking your talk, as they say, then you may not be displaying much love and compassion. And that’s the problem. You said that you were struck by the competitiveness and ego assertion that you ran into among these people who are into non-duality. And this has been a concern of mine over the years too. I feel it very often, certain people have read a lot of books and immerse themselves in the subject, and then began to mistake an intellectual understanding for actual realization. And they will actually dismiss the notion that there has to be a sort of a continual purification and transformation of all aspects of our makeup and just say, you know, just realize you’re enlightened and that’s it, you’re done. You don’t need to practice. Practice implies that there’s a practice.
Ravi Ravindra: This area is particularly important. So if you don’t mind, allow me to speak about it for a few minutes. Yes, please think about oneness and uniqueness because these non-duality,people are not interested in the uniqueness of everything.
Rick Archer: We should say not all of them because there’s some good eggs in there, but it tends to be a thing. So continue.
Ravi Ravindra: First of all, we need a rather larger perspective in the whole of the Indian tradition, by which I mean whatever gets called Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism, Sikhism, that’s what I mean by the Indian tradition. I’m more interested in the spiritual part of it, but it gets philosophically expressed also, as a strong emphasis on oneness of all there is. a common a DTM, only the one not the two is a very standard expression from the Upanishads. On the other hand, in the entire Abrahamic tradition, by which I mean, Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, the whole emphasis is on the uniqueness of everything. What has also happened, which actually slightly surprises me, I have made this remark several times in other places also, including in the Galileo Commission, which we’ll talk about. Western scholars and educated people seem to never quote anything from the Gospels or from St. Paul as if they are completely disillusioned with it. They can happily quote something from the Yoga Sutras, or from the from the Buddhist literature, but are almost wholly disenchanted with what goes on in the name of religion here. This is my personal impression. So they don’t even seem to realize that in the whole of the Abrahamic tradition, there is so much emphasis on uniqueness of everyone. You can never find remarks, such as my spirit merged into the cosmic spirit. I’ll be happy if you show me an exception, This is the kind of thing you’ll find in the Indian tradition frequently. But nowhere in the whole Abrahamic tradition,
Rick Archer: even St. Teresa of Avila, or St. John of the Cross.
Ravi Ravindra: Great mystics come very close to it. But if they ever said anything like this, they will be either excommunicated like Eckhart. Christ Himself said that the Father and I are one and look what happened to him. He was crucified. And in the Islamic tradition, we have another example. Allah said something very similar, he was also crucified. This is actually the case throughout the Abrahamic tradition, that even after death, each person remains completely unique. In fact, this is the reason I said give me a few minutes about it. It is a very large area, because uniqueness is necessary for manifestation. For example, one of the commercials even makes this remark which I very much if you like, dispute, that. Once you understand, you look at every part is just clay. There are people who would pay $10,000 for a lovely Chinese vase, and not even one cent for a broken table, you know, in India, at a railway station, they will give you tea in one of these pots. So, all works of art are unique. They’re not just clay. Uniqueness is required for manifestation. Oneness is actually hinting at something which is beyond manifestation. And both of these things have their downside. This is also important to realize because from the perspective of uniqueness, I am unique, you’re unique, then gradually it becomes “look how unique I am”. It becomes more and more individuality, egocentrism. The other side, everything for example, Shankara, who is the great non-dualist said “Brahma Sati Jagath. Metta”, “Only Brahma is true, everything else is false or Maya. Anybody going to India can see people take care of their own home, but not the neighborhood area. You won’t find the notion that is in the Lord’s Prayer, “Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.”This is not anywhere in the Indian context. The reason I’m saying this, that the downside of that other side is completely forgetting the requirement of seeing the individuality of each person. After all, what any of the great sages or great artists, when they come to understand something back does not do what Einstein is doing. That would be crazy. So we need to really understand and appreciate uniqueness. Looking at it from a scientific point of view, we share 99.9% of our DNA. So one can get carried away about non duality here. But that 0.1% gives you enough distinction equivalent to more atoms in the whole universe. So absolutely, each person is unique. This is what the CIA relies upon, or FBI in looking at my fingerprints. Uniqueness is absolutely necessary for manifestation and for responsibility. Whereas oneness is necessary to give significance to our life.
One without the other makes no sense. And then we look at any of the great sages. I will take examples from the Buddha and Christ. They loved everybody. But they had a unique person whom they loved very much. Why do they call the beloved disciple of Christ. Similarly, the Buddha had many disciples, but Ananda was his favorite disciple. Why? So, what I want to point out that logically, oneness and uniqueness seem contradictory. But in practice, if we look at any of the great sages, simultaneously, they were aware that everybody comes from the same divine energy, but that each one has a unique song of praise for God, what you need to do is not what I need to do. This is the reason I said what Einstein needs to do. To follow his connection with divinity is quite different from Bath, what needs to do or what Buddha shank of the great Indian dancer needs to do. So each one is different. So I have been trying to emphasize that don’t get against the uniqueness, that would really mean lack of responsibility, or lack of one celebration song that I need to have my own song of celebrating. Your song needs to be different from mine. Some some places it coincides, that’s fine. So I think both uniqueness and oneness are required and Ramana Maharshi gives a very good example of this actually, in one of his remarks, because he was often asked by people, what happens when one is enlightened. So I’m more or less quoting him, if you like an exact quote, I can send you later. But this is more or less from my memory, that when one realizes the divine, the eye loses, its usually importance, but the eye still remains.
Rick Archer: I’d like you to send me that quote later. That’s that’s a good one.
Ravi Ravindra: But the I still remains. So the point is, it’s not a question of just getting rid of myself or obliterating it. But to find what in me can in fact relate with something which is permeating the entire space. So that has to be my unique journey, my unique song of praise. So uniqueness and oneness really need to be brought together. And in a way, I also often think if half the sages in the world in the Abrahamic tradition, emphasize uniqueness, the other half emphasize oneness. Why should I just assume that the half of them are wrong? These are just expressions. Expression of truth is not the truth. This is another thing I have been trying to emphasize. Truth is indicated by somebody living the truth. They then exude vibrations of truth. They exude aura of truth. expression of truth is not the truth, but expressions are needed. In fact, you can find this even in the Gospel of Philip, which is it non non canonical, anything which is good is become non canonical that we need the words, but every expression creates his own difficulty. So, of course not therefore, to be against language, because you and I are now using a language we need the language to say something, but if I get stuck only on this word or that expression or something, therefore, I repeatedly say to all my friends expression of truth is not the truth, we have had this kind of example, in physics history very much are the basic particles, particles or the waves, in fact, to have more than one expression, in my judgment can be a very great help. Personally, I believe, this is a great value of studying more than one tradition, which is why I actually go out of my way to study more than one tradition, because then it can free you from getting attached to this otherwise, at their best, any expression, any tradition is a finger pointing to the moon. If I get so attached to the finger, I could never get to the moon, then I’m stuck with the finger. And, for example, crisis, the fall, or one, I have never heard any sage in India ever refer to God as Father, they would say, Uh hum, Brahmas. Me, I am Brahma, or that you are that. But if one is not stuck with the expression, then one can see there, both of them are trying to point to some very great mystery with which one can actually connect, not so easily connect, what is the practice that is required? So if I’m seriously taking either the expression of Christ, or the expression of let’s say, some of the Indian sages, like Yoruba, lucky, or many other people have said something very similar. That then one would not get stuck with the expression. But wonder what are they hinting at? And how do I actually relate with this in my own life? This is what I mean by saying expression of truth is not at the very best it can point to truth, the very best, like a finger pointing to the moon. So this is another example I feel.
Rick Archer: I think this whole uniqueness and, and oneness point is, has very deep implications. You know, because if we, as some people have done, if we just sort of dis see life as something we want to get out of as soon as possible, as some kind of mistake we’ve fallen into, that needs to be corrected and eliminated once and for all. It’s in a way it’s to me, it’s kind of insulting to God as if, as if the whole universe with some kind of error. And, you know, it needs to be just dismissed as illusion and told it doesn’t exist, and so on and so forth. But But I see it as a profoundly beautiful divine play, which is in no way in conflict with the notion that everything is one. And my, I don’t know if this is correct, but my understanding of Brahman and maybe, maybe maybe I’m reading something into it, is that it’s a totality that is more than the sum of its parts, and that its parts can comfortably include oneness and diversity simultaneously, that there’s no conflict between them.
Ravi Ravindra: In fact, among the modern sages, or thinkers, Aurobindo was the one who specifically is very concerned about this point. So he actually goes out of his way, first of all, much to my pleasure. Tea refers to Shankara as the medieval philosopher. Because I’m, on the one hand, Shankar was a very great philosopher, actually, and a great poet also. But he sees followers who are, the more the trouble, they just keep repeating something, I forget. But in any case, Aurobindo is the one who was very interested, I’m more or less paraphrasing him in spiritualizing the matter, rather than just getting away from the matter. Yeah.
Rick Archer: And if we actually look at matter, I mean, I brought this rock today, because I’ve heard you referred use the phrase dead matter several times. And I don’t really think that you think that matter is dead? At least I don’t think it is. Because if we analyze what we’re actually looking at here, even a tiny little flake of it, you know, and all the trillions of atoms that are in that little flake, and then you know, how miraculous each of those is. What’s such orderliness so many interesting laws of nature, you know, existing in order to For it to, for them to operate the way they do within themselves and among them among themselves, then you’re left rather awestruck with the sort of vast intelligence that orchestrates every little bit of creation.
Ravi Ravindra: It was actually the so called mechanization of nature that took place in the starting in the 16th century, much more than the 17 that has created that kind of feeling, but I should here there is a very important point that is relevant here. In the Indian spiritual traditions, strictly speaking, there is no creation myth. There is what one might call an emanation myth. But the reason I’m mentioning that is very relevant to what you just said, Brahma, by the way, which literally simply means the vastness or the largeness. That’s the literal meaning of that word. Brahma did not create the word, Brahma became the word. Everything that exists, has Brahma in it, including this so called dead matter. Everything has from that point of view consciousness in it. This is a very important distinction from the Western world. By western world I hear I mean, the Abrahamic tradition, where God created the world, and no creature can possibly be like the Creator. Whereas in the Indian tradition, every creature already is the Creator. But they don’t necessarily discover this or find this in themselves. And the call, especially to human beings, is to find that part in them, which is one with the Creator. Creator is not the right word, one with Brahma will be the right word. But then there is a very interesting thing. Brahma became the world but the oldest Oh, Punisher, Braga, ironic operation has this very interesting analogy that is helpful here, just as the whole spider web oozes out of the substance of the spider. But then the spider can move anywhere on the web, or even away from the web. So Brahma is not stuck in the manifested world. So in that sense, it can be transcendent, it can be imminent. But you see the difficulty that arises otherwise, if God is transcendent, this was actually one of the reasons in Christian theology, Christ is supposed to be the connecting link between the imminent world and the transcendent God. In the Indian way of putting it, it’s not required, because Brahma is both imminent and transcend. And this analogy of a spider web, people think they could think of a better analogy, this doesn’t sound so nice. Why not? Is the good example.
Rick Archer: To go through a spider
Ravi Ravindra: with a mosquito, or a piece of metal or stone that you will just shown, actually has Brahma in it. And Krishna actually repeats this in the Bhagavad Gita. I now caught him if you like, I’m a great fan of the Bhagavad Gita is probably the single most important text to originate from India, in my judgment. And Krishna says everything that exists is a combination of the field and the knower of the field. And I am the knower of the field in all fields. So in everything Krishna exists.
Rick Archer: Even in your professor of religion, don’t Western religions feel that God is omnipresent? Yes. If they do, then obviously, this is we’re looking at it.
Ravi Ravindra: Yeah, but this is where it becomes troublesome. They will say it’s omnipresent. But that doesn’t mean in everything.
Rick Archer: Oh, that seems like a contradiction to me.
Ravi Ravindra: Well, you can ask the Christian theologian about this.
Rick Archer: I mean, if he’s not in everything, entirely permeating everything, then he’s not under present.
Ravi Ravindra: Well, even there, for example, why was Eckhart excommunicated, he makes this remark. Our soul is as infinite as God. This is one of the reasons or even Lucifer you know, Lucifer was the highest of all angels. Literally, the word means the one who is bearing light, Lucifer. Why was he expelled from heaven? Only the prophet Isaiah actually has say something about it. No other book seems to say well, but this is what Isaiah says. Because he wished to be like the most Hi. So in a way, what you’re saying needs to be understood why people are they don’t buy this idea that God is everywhere, everywhere in the sun is present everywhere, omnipresent. In fact, one of the things I’ve been trying to say in one of my other articles People forget. It’s not only that God is omnipresent, omnipotent, omniscient. These are the three words which are often used. But we should also remember that he is Omni delectable is loved by everybody. Delectable and also Kwame amaurosis on loving. I don’t know why people don’t remember these other expressions, I had to actually ask my Latin professors to let me know these words. Some of these words are in Latin, so I don’t know Latin very much but on amaurosis
Rick Archer: to me, I feel like sciences helped us to what this whole thing we can get into about whether science and religion or science and spirituality let’s rather use the word spirituality rather than religion can have a mutually enriching influence on one another. And it seems to me they can because you know, science, a scientific approach to spirituality can help us cast off some of the magical thinking that one can somehow sometimes get hung up in on the spiritual path, and spiritual, what spirituality can offer, as I’ve heard you describe this, that, you know, this is an instrument that we are operating in. And it’s an instrument of exploration of subtler and deeper levels of reality, which science has not been able to contrive anything so marvelous. You know, science comes up with the Hubble Space Telescope, or the Large Hadron Collider, and they can do certain things the human nervous system can’t do. But by the same token, human nervous system can explore realities that no manmade instrument can hope to explore. So if we really want to approach knowledge as a, as a total package, we’d like to know all aspects of it gross and subtle, near and far, then it seems to me that the two can work hand in hand, if if understood properly, and each playing its appropriate role to to achieve that.
Ravi Ravindra: No, I very much agree with this in a way, one of the things we need to realize, rather than calling it science and religion, I very much emphasized spiritual search and scientific research. Then we look at what is it that a scientist is actually trying to do? Similarly, what is it a spiritual searcher trying to do, then you would see, what is their aim? What is their practice, and now, because we always have shortage of time, a spiritual searcher is undergoing more and more a transformation of his being. Because of this standard call from all the teachers that I mentioned earlier, that unless I am radically transformed, born of the Spirit, born from above, to use Christ expression, I cannot come to the kingdom of heaven or come to enlightenment or action. So the undertaking of a spiritual searcher is actually if you like transformation of himself. No scientific research is involved in this. I have met many, many Nobel Prize winners in one context of the other, some of them are quite remarkable people, I can assure you, it’s not a good idea for me to make mention names now here. But some, I’m sure you don’t want to invite home for tea. Their quality of their being is has nothing to do with the quality of their science. In fact, science, in principle goes out of its way to remove the person out of the way there is in the spiritual search person is the whole damn thing. That’s the whole sector of the whole enterprise is that changing of the person. So one needs to realize that these two are quite different enterprises. On the other hand, all the great spiritual sages are very scientific in their outlook, by which I now mean, they don’t simply believe something that somebody has said, even if the Buddha said something, a great Buddhist searcher would wish to experience this himself now, just simply because the Buddha said he might begin from there. But that is not what convinces him.
Rick Archer: And the Buddha himself said that he said, Don’t believe something just because I’ve said it, you know, investigate it for yourself,
Ravi Ravindra: that I’ve similarly Gurdjieff in contemporary times, repeatedly said this, don’t simply be what I say. question it. So this is a very scientific spirit. And also there is another thing which people often forget, religions become very much occupied with one place, one country, one nation, etc. all spiritual seekers are saying, truth is not. If it is true, it is true. I occasionally give this example Newton happened to be a Britisher. But if the law of gravitation applies only in England, it can rule of nature.
Rick Archer: Yeah, I remember hearing that Hitler made some disparaging comments about Jewish physics because Einstein happened to be Jewish.
Ravi Ravindra: Or similarly, if it only the English can understand this law of gravitation, then it can’t be a true law. So I think all spiritual teachers, Christ is a very good example of this, in spite of whatever the 2 billion Christians want to say, Christ speak into this Samaritan woman specifically says, she says, Well, you people worship in Jerusalem, we worship here on this mountain, Christ actually goes out of his way to say, God is Spirit, and is to be worship, not here, nor there. But in spirit. All the great teachers are very inclusive, just by definition, because they are experiencing the oneness of all there is. So they can’t exclude somebody just because he happened to be male or female, or happen to be English or German. This will be silly from their point of view. Yeah.
Rick Archer: I haven’t been phoned up by a Christian fundamentalist lately. But last time I did, I started talking astronomy with them and going into how many galaxies there are in the known universe, and how many, you know, the fact that we now know they’re more planets in our galaxy than there are stars because the the Kepler telescope is seeing all these planets, and the probability of how many intelligent civilizations are on all these planets, and you start going on like that. And you think, Alright, well, there must be trillions of religions throughout the universe. And yet, there’s only one reality.
Ravi Ravindra: Yes, now, this is why I often one, we like everything else not to get stuck on this religion, literally, as you know, comes from the Latin expression really do to reunite to reconnect, which is to say, I am now disconnected from the ultimate reality, how can I be connected with which is by the way, the root meaning of the word yoga, I offer yoga, that yoga? And, but so we don’t need to be against religion, but what usually goes on in the name of religion, that’s where the problem comes. So spiritual practice, in fact, my I’m going to give a set of four webinars being organized by the Theological Society. There I’m not calling it science and religion, I’m actually calling it spiritual search, and scientific research.
Rick Archer: A question just came in actually on spiritual practice. This is from Johnny, somewhere in the USA, he says, I have a question about practice. I hear the world all the hear I hear the word all the time, but don’t understand exactly what it’s referring to? Does it mean meditation or yoga or study of a belief system? Is it a worship of God or saints? Might be worth addressing?
Ravi Ravindra: A very good question. Actually, any of these can be the practice, as long as one doesn’t get stuck with this, but in my personal judgment, what most of these teachers wish you to undertake is an impartial self study. And if you impartially look at yourself deeply, without making excuses, or without wanting to be important, or whatever, then you would see, there are two dangers of any impartial self study. One is despair, because you would actually see many demonic tendencies in yourself. Jealousy, competitiveness, looking for work, self importance, all this. This is not surprising. After all, all the great traditions actually say in one way or the other, that the entire external Cosmos, in principle can be mirrored inside us. So why not the demon is also part of the external cosmos. And I keep reminding people that the devil did not create himself he was also created by God. He’s also a son of God. Actually, I often remind my Abrahamic friends. Look at the book of Job twice worth in first chapter and the second chapter, it says, when all the sons of God were gathered together, among them was Satan is also a son of God. And then God actually asks him to go and test this character, Joe, who is claiming to be very devotional to God. The whole book is about that. So peyten Or later on other names, Beelzebub, Lucifer, devil, he is the head examiner. Nobody can come to enlightenment or come to God, unless he’s been tested by the set. Christ tested. The Buddha was tested in in Buddhism, we call it Mara, but it’s the same thing, Devon, and what is the test? We can take this very simple examples from from Buddhism. Maybe this will speak to this young man who was Asking this question I’m saying young man, I don’t know who
Rick Archer: he calls himself, Johnny and that John so probably is young.
Ravi Ravindra: But no, it’s a good question, then what is the test of the Buddha? Mara Sam’s his own daughters to seduce him. Any person can see this is a very strong force. You and I, first of all won’t exist unless this was a forcing system. And it is said in the Buddhist tradition, that the Buddha himself makes this remark that if there was one other force as strong as sex is not sure he would have made it. This is the remark of the Buddha. And then that doesn’t work for Mara, what does he do, I will make this mountain into a mountain of gold. I think for most of us a million dollars, we’ll do. Maybe a billion for some. But honestly, one has to face this. This is the thing I’m saying that self knowledge or self inquiry is a very dangerous enterprise, it can lead to great despair, because we tend to take things personally. The other danger is fantasy, or I am the Son of God. This is why every serious teaching actually recommends to have a group of fellow searchers. You look at any of the ancient monasteries, in Buddhism, in Christianity, I have spent a fair amount of time in these monasteries part of my search has taken me here we are everywhere. None of these monasteries would allow beginning monks to be alone. Because using now a very Christian expression, because the devil tortures them more, if they are alone. Pride will come or despair of some kind, or the other sexual fantasies wishing for more money, more honor, more prestige, then occasional person, but there is also the other side fear I will die as if I alone will die forgetting that everybody will die. That, therefore only an occasional person, as it were graduates, this is the reason why none of these big monasteries are always on the top of the mountain, there are three quarters of the way up, then the person can further go up. And then the mother monastery actually takes care of them, there can be wild animals, they can get sick, they can get completely starved. These days, they also protect them from tourism. Because tourists are going everywhere. So the mother monastery is actually very responsible for this person who is alone. But even there, what I’m trying to say to you is that a group of fellow searcher is almost a necessity. Sangha in Buddhist literature, you know, with some Sharon, Chinese Sangam, show number Chinese Sangha means community literally.
Rick Archer: And the sages actually, in many cases have placed great emphasis on the importance of the quality of the company, you keep, that if you’re if you’re a sincere aspirant to truth, then you need to hang around like minded people. And that, you know, hanging around the opposite sort of people is like going into a coal mine in a white suit or something, you can’t keep it clean.
Ravi Ravindra: And you know, the word satsang. Right, use India very literally means what? Company of the truth seekers? Yes.
Rick Archer: Yeah, there’s a kind of a resonance that develops or a coherence or something. Between all like minded people, it sort of builds a it’s like, what’s that word? Synchronicity notes. The hole is more than the sum of its parts. There’s a single word for that. But anyway, it creates something greater than the individual pieces, and it mutually strengthens all the all the people.
Ravi Ravindra: So this young person can begin when when we say practice, maybe if something strikes him, he can begin if something strikes him in the Gospel, you know, one can see in any great text, not everything strikes us. This is certainly my experience, but certain things strike you. So then try to see what the sage is saying, whether it’s Christ or Buddha or anybody else who appeals to you. We have modern sages also. Then try to see how it speaks to me. And in general, the call for any serious searcher is really to see what I am. Who will mean searching for anything. Why is it searching? Am I just eager to get to heaven? With my boots on? I willing to submit to some kind of a discipline.
Rick Archer: In this conversation. We’re talking a lot about sages and saints in Christ. Buddha and Vivekananda and all kinds of people. And I guess one thing we assume about these people is that they are, quote unquote, enlightened. But do we really know what we mean by that world word of someone named Deborah, whom you may know, because she’s from Nova Scotia through Truro Nova Scotia asks, Do you think there is anyone alive in the world? Who is enlightened? In the process of answering that question, maybe you can help us arrive at a definition of what the heck enlightenment is supposed to be?
Ravi Ravindra: Yes. Now, first of all, I should say, I cannot speak about this from my personal experience. I don’t think I am enlightened, let me assure you. And, again, as in everything, one doesn’t need to jump right away to Mount Everest, whatever we mean by enlightenment, there are people who I have absolutely no doubt I have met and I give examples of this. Madame de Saltzman, who was as it were representing the whole of the Gurdjieff teaching after his death in 1949. I was very fortunate to spend what to work with her for about a decade. And similarly, Krishna Murthy, and there is a great Roshi, Zen, Roshi, Roshi kebari, who was head of Rinzai, Zen in Japan, these three people I mentioned specifically, because I spent a fair amount of time with them, work with them. Now, are they enlightened, I don’t know, I would not have the knowledge to know this. But they were much wiser than I am. And had much more almost as if a sense of compassion, or love or sympathy oozes out of them. And then, after meeting them, I felt as if I was heard. And also that I was seen almost sometimes seen through. In fact, I think you may have even come across this I mentioned to Krishna Murthy. On one occasion, when we were just going for a walk there, it seems to me, you know more about myself than I do. Why don’t you tell me what’s deep inside me, it will save me some trouble. And because I had that feeling very strongly that he could see more deeply inside me than I could see.
Rick Archer: Now I’ve had that with some people too.
Ravi Ravindra: And his remark was very interesting. He said, No, that will be like reading your private mail. So he won’t, because in a way I needed to find out myself. He said, It’s not a question of him telling me then I would wonder, I would doubt I would question, you see what I’m saying. So whether there are enlightened people or not, I don’t know, I have certainly met two or three, four people in my life, who are a hell of a lot more enlightened than anything I could possibly donate to myself. Yeah.
Rick Archer: I used to use the word enlightenment, think of it as a sort of a final resting place of some sort that one could attain, and then you just sort of that’s it, you can’t go any higher. These days, I think of it more like the word educated, someone might say, I am educated. And you would immediately say, Well, does that mean you can’t learn anything more? And I mean, you can obviously look, get more educated. So I kind of have come to the conclusion that, you know, who out however, however great at some stage or Saint may have been, there was yet or evolution that might be possible. What do you think about that?
Ravi Ravindra: Sure. In a way, my own impression is that none of these people themselves claim to be educated or to be enlightened right. But for example, the remark of Christ, the Father and I are one is not in a way he’s in the same gospel, he also makes the remark the Father is greater than high. It’s only in certain state of consciousness. Sometimes I say only at the Mount Sinai of consciousness, one can feel that oneness. In general, one doesn’t feel this, even Christ doesn’t feel this all the time. Because otherwise, why would you say these two things? Now, of course, there are theologians who keep arguing a lot for them is a logical contradiction. This is the kind of theology that doesn’t interest me at all. It’s obvious to go ahead. I’m sorry, this to me, that even the Buddha, for example, himself says every morning he needed to renew himself. Now what does that mean?
Rick Archer: And he will meditate or something. That’s right, right.
Ravi Ravindra: Or Krishna Murthy. Throughout his life. He went through what he called the process started when he was only about 23 or 24 years old. Actually, I think 26 or 27 years old, but then it continued throughout his life. He there is reports about this. This is not something I’m making up actually a friend of mine is writing now a whole book about Krishna moods this process. And Krishna Murthy himself actually took me to this treat. Under which initially, the his process began what he calls the process. It’s almost as if some great forces were entering into his body and doing a surgical operation practically, especially in the brain, but everywhere else in the body and causing the great pain but also a great shift in his understanding.
Rick Archer: Interesting. Well, you know, minnow could say the ocean and I are one and also a whale could say the ocean and I are one. But the minnow and the whale are different. So I think one can you know, be one with God or one with the oneness and yet still grow in one stature and also in one’s functionality, you know, the degree to which one can embody and express that, that oneness that one has merged with
Ravi Ravindra: and also in a way, there can be an occasional experience of something or there can be repeated experiences of something. And also really, personally from my point of view, it seems to me to be obvious, you i Everybody is exuding vibrations. And in the presence of some people, it obviously affects you quite differently than in the presence of other people. So, if they are not, in fact, this was one of the things which especially Krishna Murthy especially emphasized, this might interest some of your people here too. This is an illustration actually provided by Laura Huxley, Aldous
Rick Archer: Sackler, his wife,
Ravi Ravindra: Aldous Huxley had died by that he was quite a good friend of a close friend of Krishna Murthy. But in any case at Laura Huxley’s place, a few people were gathered his or her friends, and they were speaking about doing this good or that good in the world. And apparently Krishna Murthy intervene, saying, Oh, please don’t go out doing good. And then Laura Huxley said to him that you’re going around the world doing good. Krishna Murthy said not intentionally. This is actually very important from his point of view, that goodness needs to ooze out of you. If you decide to do good, it’s still coming from your ego.
Rick Archer: Well, you know, the term do gooder is actually a sort of a, an insult, you know, implies a hypocrisy of some sort.
Ravi Ravindra: That’s right. And Krishna Murthy used to use this very interesting example. Rose does not decide to smell like a rose. We recognize it as a rose because of its fragrance. So a person doesn’t decide to do good. But goodness oozes out. I occasionally say that if the if we were to say that the Buddha was enlightened, but not compassionate, it will be an oxymoron. Yeah.
Rick Archer: Well, that kind of gets us I mean, we were trying to define enlightenment a minute ago. In I would think I like to think of it if I use the word at all as a very full if not complete, I don’t know if there is any such thing as complete, but a very full blossoming or unfoldment or development of all the different faculties and facets of our of our being, head heart, everything. Like you were talking about scientists who could be brilliant Nobel Prize winning physicist, but could also be a jerk, you know, so fine, they were using one of their faculties to a great extent, while another faculty with quite atrophied. I like to think of an enlightened person, if I use the word as someone whose heart is just as developed as his mind as his senses, which we can even talk that’s a whole nother field of refinement of the senses. Every on the whole instrument has been eternally.
Ravi Ravindra: Actually, there are two remarks here, which let me just mention them. If you’re interested, we can discuss them. I discussed a great discussion with Krishna Murthy about it. One is every impression influences our body at a cellular level. Which is one of the tragedies of our modern times the terrible impressions being conveyed by the film’s by all kinds of terrible music and violence everywhere. All the kids are growing up with that video games. Yeah, that’s right. But I am repeating that remark, every impression influences our body at a cellular level. That’s one and the other one is that a new body is needed for a new consciousness. On the other hand, it’s a spiral movement, that a new consciousness is needed for a new body. The correlation? Yeah, it’s always every development is spiral. It’s never linear. You know, if I’m a little bit interested in math emetrics then I studied more mathematics then it gives me more interest. So it’s not that I’m interested in math. Suddenly I become a Nobel Laureate in mathematics. But they don’t have Nobel Prizes in mathematics. They have a there’s a price called a book price. But it so one doesn’t jump right away to the maximum. There is a spiral movement in everything I call development is like this. Yeah.
Rick Archer: On this note of the loo, we could say the neuro physiological aspect of experience and neuro physiological correlates of enlightenment. You mentioned Krishna Morty going through stuff which actually was painful to him, but his brain was getting restructured. And somebody here sent in a question, Ramon from Madrid, Spain asks, and how can Gorjuss negative stance on Kundalini be reconciled with that of classical Indian traditions. And of course, that gets us into the whole Indian notion or, you know, Vedic notion of the neurophysiology of the subtle physiology of Kundalini and chakras and noddy’s and all that stuff, which they very much feel, has to be purified and enlivened, and all the blocks and impurities removed from it in order for full blossoming of consciousness to take place. So anyway, his romance question again, was how can Gorjuss negative stance on currently be reconciled without a classical Indian traditions?
Ravi Ravindra: Well, first of all, this gentleman needs to know that this is not the classical Indian tradition, it started largely at the end of the 19th century, mostly in the Philosophical Society, literature,
Rick Archer: we can do anything on anything. And
Ravi Ravindra: if he’s interested, he can read the book by the Chicago char, who is the highly regarded yoga teacher, son of Krishna Macharia, and whose I think, brother in law, son in law was I anger, so I anger and the picture, these are the great moments teacher, he can know, yoga teacher. So he can read this book by Krishna by the sugar child called the heart of yoga, where he indicates that Kundalini was regarded as an obstacle to spiritual search, rather than is this much connected with sexual energy, which to be sure, can be used for his spiritual enlightenment require all of our energy, including our sexual energy, that is true. But in fact, the entrance of real spiritual energy doesn’t come. It comes from the Sanskrit heart chakra from the chakra, which is above the head, that’s where it comes from, not from below. But the energy from below needs to receive it. So this business of Kundalini, I know it has become a big deal. Many People Keep Talking Kundalini Yoga. So this is what the reason I’m giving him a specific reference if he wishes to read that. And then he can read much more discussion about it. In my, one of my books called the spiritual roots of yoga, I have an article there discussing this. And
Rick Archer: that’s interesting, I’d never heard that. You know, I hear all the time from people who say that they’ve had some sort of Kundalini awakening, and sometimes it happens to people who haven’t even done any spiritual practice, but they had started having all these symptoms, and they didn’t, they don’t know what it is, and they start looking it up on the internet, and they, they come across the word Kundalini. And, you know, I mean, I myself have had experiences of all kinds of things, but you know, the nicer ones have been, you know, bliss running up from the base of my spine up to my head and energy flowing through the body and all kinds of stuff. So something’s going on there.
Ravi Ravindra: You know, nobody needs to deny that we have energies everywhere in the body. The question is, what is the quality of that energy is that energy able to receive something subtler energy? Or is it that is the one which is doing all this work? So, but again, as I said, a minute it take me a lot of time to move, discuss, this is the reason operator is a big topic, and to imagine that all the ancient Indian sages regarded that as the source of our enlightenment is quite, this is not true. There are many, many dishwashers actually gives references to ancient teachers, suggesting that Kundalini is the source of darkness, rather than it needs to be overcome, rather than to be worshipped.
Rick Archer: Interesting. And so the whole notion of the subtle physiology with the Schumann, the EDA and Pingala, and all that stuff that that just kind of came about with the Theosophical Society or is that somehow tangential and actually as more traditional,
Ravi Ravindra: that is more traditional, okay. The Yoga literature is much more, much more traditional, but even there, maybe Any changes have taken place. And in any case, era in pink, I mean, this energy coming from above also needs a channel or is it to enter the body. So these areas nardis, either finger amen on different sides of the spine. In fact, one of the suggestion they often make to people, if they are really seriously interested in becoming more and more sensitive to their body, which is a fundamental requirement, by the way for anybody in spiritual search to become more and more sensitive to their body, then to watch, just like during the day, the nostril through which I breathe in changes. Similarly, which side of the spine is more active changes during the day, and one side tends to get more towards activity, the other side more towards the receptivity. Which is one of the reasons why people often don’t realize why, for example, one of the Sanskrit words for a woman, these days, people are not happy to call this male female but receptive it is usually called feminine activities, traditionally called masculine. And the woman, one of the words for a woman in Sanskrit is ba Mangi, the left sided one. If you see the pictures of any of the sages, for example, Ramakrishna with his wife, or Shiva and Shakti, whether these are mythological figures, or historical figures, the female will always be sitting on the left side. This is not just getting addicted to something, there are reasons for this. So to become more and more sensitive to one’s body, when then begins to see whether, at some time in my day, I can be more receptive, at some other time or active, just as the nostril through which I breathe changes, people often don’t seem to be aware of some of these things.
Rick Archer: People may not have even heard that idea before. But the idea is that if you notice, throughout the day, at some times, the breath is predominantly coming from one nostril and sometimes from the other. And I imagine pranayama, where you’re going back and forth is a has about a balancing influence on them. But I’ve heard it said that they’re actually to two nervous systems in a sense on some subtle level, and that they take turns maintaining the function of the body while one rests and the other is active.
Ravi Ravindra: If you would allow me to make one or two more remarks, specially for this person who asked what is the practice that I was saying, impartial self knowledge and self inquiry. The reason for that is that self awareness is actually the mechanism of transformation. It’s a very fundamental law, whatever I become aware of changes in its quality. This is the reason why we feel if I meet somebody like Miranda Salzman, or Krishna Murthy, if I feel I am seeing something in me changes.
Rick Archer: And you can feel transformed in their presence, they look at you and all of a sudden you feel like your consciousness expands or shifts or gets quiet or something
Ravi Ravindra: a certain kind of silence enters. Yeah. And in a way, what I’m trying to say is that self awareness and self transformation are not two things. This is a spiral thing. Which is the reason why it is so much emphasized. You can read any really any of the spiritual teachers, sooner or later, they invite you to look within to see what you are, what is hindering you what is going on. Of course, religions don’t do it. I sadly point this out. Often you can look at the concordance of the whole usual Bible. hundreds of entries under faith or belief, some entries under knowledge, not a single entry under self knowledge. But you read any of the Christian mystics, or the non canonical gospels Gospel of Thomas, for example. This is very strongly emphasized, if you don’t mind I can even quote this from Gospel of Thomas from memory because this struck me very much kingdom of God is within you and without you. If you would know God, you must know yourself. When you know yourself, you would realize that you are the Son of the living Father. If you do not know yourself, you are in poverty. In fact, you are poverty. I don’t actually know a stronger statement almost anywhere else is very strong, the gospel of Thomas, but non canonical, and
Rick Archer: this implies that we can know God and of course I think that Indian sages say the same thing. They refer to God consciousness and And they actually my understanding is that God consciousness might be a more exalted stage of development than than self realization, that self realization could be the foundation of it. In fact, I heard one teacher say that, you know, without without the foundation of Self Realization, nice, solid foundation, God couldn’t even telephone from a distance you’d be crushed. I’ve heard you references to Who was it, Moses said, you know, God said it would kill you if you saw me. And when our Juna had the revelation of Krishna as divine form, he was basically begging for it to stop because it was too much for
Ravi Ravindra: I don’t know, because the mind cannot figure this out. mind always wants to control whatever it knows, see, in the sciences, we have institutionalized the idea. We understand something if we can predict it or control it. That’s what the mind, this is the remark of Arjuna in the Bhagavad Gita when he sees the great fun, although my heart is bled, but my mind is afraid. That’s what he said was overwhelming. Yeah. So this is the 11th chapter in the Bhagavad Gita. And when he asked Krishna, this might also interest you, he asked Krishna to take your usual forearm for which he can wear up to forearms not
Rick Archer: gonna handle that.
Ravi Ravindra: I often remind people that don’t be so much in a hurry to have a great spiritual experience, you probably know in the, especially in the late 70s and early 80s, many people used to take LSD or this or that, and some of them actually literally would have a great spiritual experience, but they were unable to bear it, some of them may jump out of a window thinking they can fly. So one has to be not only prepared to understand an experience, but to withstand and experience spiritual experiences can actually completely make you crazy.
Rick Archer: Yeah, I have to serve have the capacity to bear them, it takes a great, well, you’d like you, like we started out you said Vivekananda religion is for the strong, it literally there has to be a certain physiological strength to bear the impact or the the intensity of higher higher states.
Ravi Ravindra: Yes. No, this is the reason why I keep saying that every impression influences our body at a cellular level. So what kind of impressions I subjected myself to so the body needs to be prepared mind needs to be prepared feeling need to be prepared. So this is a long journey. And but one of the things which is actually very interesting shift, maybe I should mention this to you in the journey, because somebody was asking you what is the way to look? Initially, one has this question that question. But sooner or later one comes to a point when says I am in question. Not that I have a question, but I am in question. This is a great shift. Nobody can answer any serious question for you except yourself. It needs to become a quest, a real search.
Rick Archer: So what do you mean by that phrase? I am in question.
Ravi Ravindra: Because all the problems are in here. Solutions are right in here.
Rick Archer: I see. I see. So so you’re kind of looking within rather than expecting to find some kind of resolution outside?
Ravi Ravindra: That’s right. And it’s a very standard idea even in the Shiva Sutras, for example, that people keep searching for Shiva, outside is a person who has they actually use the word Ella do in their hand and they are looking for it elsewhere. Let you know let do
Rick Archer: Indian sweet Indian.
Ravi Ravindra: So it doesn’t need to be looked outside. It’s in here that I need to look and so this is first shift that is very important. Another shift that is very important, is more and more interested in the journey rather than in the destination. Because the destination always remains unclear. Mind made. I have heard something I’ve read something. But as I said, even the Buddha could not describe what nirvana is how would I know whether one eyes so I’m looking for nirvana? I have just idea of it. And we have a very interesting remark of a great Christian mystic, actually, Meister Eckhart naturally excommunicated, but excuse Christian mystic. And if there were a God, of whom I had any idea, it will not be worth having him as God. But you see the reason for that? Any idea? I have, it’s just my mind. Mind is making it up. So how can I get more and more interested in the journey rather than in the destination, then the journey becomes very interesting. Sometimes I need to sit down, sometimes it’s there is a fire there or there is an iceberg. Or I’m tired, I need to rest. All that is part of the journey. That justice.
Rick Archer: I mean, if you’re climbing a mountain, and you’re thinking about the mountain top and you’re not paying attention to where you’re putting your feet, you could easily fall off.
Ravi Ravindra: Exactly, exactly. Which is why one of the reasons people often invite me because I’m from India, oh, he’s a Hindu. So invite him for Hindu Christian dialogue are interesting. I often keep saying this is all nonsense. What we need are inter pilgrim dialogues. If I’m on a journey, and you’re on a journey, one of us could say, look, there is a fire over there, that’s not the right place to go. Or something is broken there. We can help each other. But we are on a pilgrim. So our paths can change. Interface around it’s a little bit like international dialogues in the United Nations. If an Imagine if an Israeli person were to really be sympathetic to the Palestinian will be called back home, centered Malwa. This happens in this so called Hindu Christian dialogues, I have often been involved, everybody’s quoting wonderful things, then they go home, they don’t they hate the other guy, or whatever.
Rick Archer: So they’re just trying to prove that their thing is best. That’s right.
Ravi Ravindra: So interfaith dialogues, personally don’t interest me at all. Interrupting Greenberg, this is what I’ve been recommending for a long time. But
Rick Archer: would you like to talk about the Yoga Sutras a little bit? He wrote a commentary on them? And I think, maybe not too many people have actually read them. So what are some of the highlights that you think we might want to discuss?
Ravi Ravindra: Well, the Yoga Sutras actually speaks about is really like an eight limbs of yoga. For us, Ashtanga. Ashtanga literally means the limbs, a separate word, em, Nia, these are very much what are my attitudes? For example, the very first thing he speaks about is non violence. A hintsa. I, by the way, I often suggest that that is, that is the translation that has been used very much specially since Gandhi was promoting this very much. Hence, the more appropriate translation is non violation, because non violence seemed like a physical journey. In fact, we had more most of the cases of violation of violence, a woman is being violated, but there is no physical sign of it. The skirt is not torn. There is no wound here on the arm, but she feels offended just the way he looked at him, or what he said. So I actually recommend the word to use is by non violation not to violate somebody. Supposing I said to somebody, unless you marry me, I’m gonna kill myself, what am I doing? I am imposing something on her. So that is a himself to be free of that kind of imposing myself violating somebody. So there are several things like this. That’s the first but to imagine that I can wholly practice them before I can go to the next will be crazy. Everything is spiral in development. Then Yemeni I’m certain things I need to be free of certain things I need to practice that’s what Yummy Yummy yum mean, what I need to be free off. And near means what I need to practice and then asanas, his posture, if you like, but one can get wholly occupied with it. The two great texts of yoga will be the Bhagavad Gita and the Yoga Sutras don’t mention any us now by name. This is a holy kind of a separate development. But for them, Arsenal really is the right posture. And I try to point out that right posture is not only the physical posture also requires an emotional posture, even an actual posture, I need to be clear that I don’t know everything, even if I was a combined intellect of Einstein, Nagarjuna and Shankara. I still cannot know all there is to know. So it requires a certain humility, a wish to learn something, really, in fact, generally they would call it a state of unknowing, not a state of ignorance, but a state of unknowing. Similarly emotional relaxation. That’s actually more important than even physical relaxation. So ask that is mostly misunderstood by people or simply some particularly offensive posts. These days, of course, you probably have seen this, they will have some sexy woman sitting on the front on the hood of a car, trying to sell a car that’s increasing your sex. That’s, that’s not what yoga is Yoga is a whole science of transformation from connecting with the highest reality, which is the aim of all spiritual teachings, including the teaching of Christ. Now, he calls in fact, gospel of Philip again, non canonicals actually says, Christ came not to make us Christians, but to make us Christ. That’s a direct quote from the Gospel of Philip. So one realizes that that is the call, but this is very high, is not going to be done in any great hurry one needs to be clear about it. So the Yoga Sutras speaks about us, then pranayama program literally means regulation of breath, not control of breath. And subtlest prior in the potentials. Yoga Sutra is just being aware of prana he doesn’t mention any specific animal on the llama, there are many different kinds of prime, one doesn’t need to be against any of this, but any of these things, one can get too carried away with it, marshy Rahman wasn’t doing any of these things, I can assure you. And but to be aware of my breathing is very important, because one realizes, I did not create myself to say, I am breathing is completely wrong sentence, I am being breathed.
Ravi Ravindra: If I am breathing, can I stop breathing, can I start breathing did I create this breathing apparatus is completely silly. I am being breathed. In fact, that is a very interesting comment, this is in the book of Genesis in the Bible, God created human beings from the earth, then he breathed his own breath into them to make them alive, then what is keeping me alive is the breath of God keeping me alive, to actually become aware of this is a very important movement in actually yoga practice, not fantasizing doing this or that, but aware ness of my breath, and then an awareness that I did not actually create myself I am being breathed. That naturally brings a sense of gratitude that I am being breathed. And also a sense of wonder, why why did God take the trouble to create me only for a few decades. So, the astronaut program, then these are these four are regarded, though then there is Pratyahara. But they are literally means actually the analogy that is given like a one turns all the senses inside, more and more bringing attention inside rather than being taken by this on that, but at the heart. But these five are regarded as external aspects of yoga. Interestingly, then there are internal aspects three others, the corona, Dan Samadhi. The Hara is, if I’m looking at somebody or something I am looking. Next stage is a different quality of attention, called John, which is that half is coming from me half is coming from the person or the object I’m looking at. A little bit of the analogy might help here, if I go into a dark room, have a flashlight, I could see a cat sitting there and I put my flashlight on the cat. But I don’t see that there is a dog sitting elsewhere in the same room, but if I have an overhead light, then I don’t see anything so acutely, but I see everything in relationship then Samadhi that is considered to be the highest state and but until we actually defines it, what is Samadhi the expression is through social media. Three of oneself, I am not there is only the object, which is why I say spiritual search actually wishes to be two completely objective truth. The subject is totally out of the way. I am not there. In fact, this is a very classical way of actually even this text I’ve mentioned earlier Shabbat Brahmin, a very old text actually says when a person knocks at the Sun door We need coming to the enlightenment, he will be asked Who is it? If the answer is anything other than nobody, he may not enter. So the whole spiritual search is really for becoming nobody. She likes to be free of myself. This is a very fundamental requirement. This is also also required by Christ in the Gospel of Matthew, unless you leave yourself behind, you cannot be a follower of mine. This is everywhere that this was actually one of my concerns about this conference that you were asking, Why was I so critical? How I left myself behind, that is the requirement. It’s all very nice to talk about non duality, and this and that. And so the recommendation in all of these teachings is, how can I be free of my usual condition self. So that I can actually then hear, see, relate with an act from the real particle of divinity or the breath of God, that is animating me. But this requires really coming back again and again to the simple, obvious fact that I did not create myself. Who could deny that? But we don’t often remember this
Rick Archer: is interesting. I’ve sometimes heard that the eight limbs explained that they kind of develop simultaneously. And commensurately just the way our, our limbs as a, as a human being developed all at once we don’t just first develop one arm and then the other arm and then a leg and it’s like everything grows to the same degree sequentially or progressively. Is that part of what you just explained?
Ravi Ravindra: Yes, certainly, they are not a linear development thing can assist the other if I am really interested, let us say in non violation, as I mentioned, this is the first name, Ahimsa then if I begin to also Suad higher self study is very highly recommended. As you know, I mentioned this earlier also, then if I see that I am actually not free of this, then something in me wishes to try, how do I practice to be free. So these things are self awareness then brings about a requirement for self transformation, it assists self transformation. So many of these things are spiral in nature. If I try a little bit of finding the right posture, what Krishna actually in the Bhagavad Gita says the right posture is simply sitting straight, and, and thinking nothing at all. That’s what he describes as the right posture, thinking, it’s not so easy to just sit there thinking nothing at all. But if I then can gradually find just a simple posture, then I would see that my breathing changes. On the other hand, if I bring attention to my breathing, it calls for my posture to change. So things are not linear. They’re very much.
Rick Archer: Yeah, like a table, you pull one leg and all the other legs come along. Yeah, yeah. And maybe you can pull two or three legs at once, and then it’s even easier to move the table.
Ravi Ravindra: Yeah, but one of the things which by the way, since we spoke about Shankara, a little bit earlier, I should mention here, there is there is about 15 or 16 volumes, called World spirituality, to history of spiritual traditions. So they have two volumes on Hinduism, two on Buddhism, two on Christianity, etc. This was published in the 1980s and 90s. In the first volume on Hinduism is called from the Vedas to Vedanta. And the second volume is called Modern flowerings of the Hindu spirituality. I was invited to write an article in both of those volumes. In the first one I was invited to write an article on yoga. And the second volume on Krishna Murthy is regarded as flowering of the modern tradition, or the Indian tradition. But on yoga, partly actually, because of my physics background. I was much less interested in what anybody else has to say about it. I said, I would just read the text, the Yoga Sutras, that is the classical text of yoga. And so I wrote an article and the editor was absolutely horrified by my article, because he was without this. And I tried to say that the very fundamental wish in practice it is To serve Purusha you can read this in the in the text. And he was so horrified he sent my article to somebody
Rick Archer: explain what those words mean, petroleum purusha. So people will understand what you mean there.
Ravi Ravindra: You could more or less call it body and spirit, if you like. Although prakriti means nature, but not only the nature that we know all of nature, there is a lot to nature that we don’t know.
Rick Archer: So in other words, the purpose of nature is to serve spirit. That’s what you’re saying.
Ravi Ravindra: That’s what are the purpose of the body is to spirit, ters serve the spirit. And this person Shankara, apparently was against the philosophy of yoga Shankara, sadly, in my judgment, was more interested in winning than in truth.
Rick Archer: Yeah, he had these famous debates. That’s right.
Ravi Ravindra: And so he puts down the whole yoga philosophy, because it is dualistic separates push and progress. Whereas what I’m trying to say that’s not what Patanjali says that the whole purpose of productivity is to serve Porsche. So in any case, this is my article to some character call. He has even told me his name in Calcutta, I actually asked him if this other person is such a valued scholar, why did you ask me to write this? Why not? And he said, because His English is not very good. So I was obviously a second
Rick Archer: second string.
Ravi Ravindra: But this scholar them actually honestly said what Ravindra is saying is actually true. That’s what the Yoga Sutras says. But somehow Shankara disputed it, and all his followers have been just repeating chakra for the last 12 years.
Rick Archer: I once heard about Shankara that he said that the intellect imagines duality for the sake of devotion. And Shanker was actually very devotional. He wrote beautiful devotional songs and poetry and stuff. So he didn’t, he didn’t seem to have some appreciation of duality as well as oneness.
Ravi Ravindra: Yeah, I often say that Shankara himself also was a great poet, even sang one of his points, actually, or mother, I just wish to sit at your feet. I don’t care for moksha. For
Rick Archer: I mean, that sounds like you would horrify that guy that.
Ravi Ravindra: But what I’m saying is that is mostly the followers, they take some remarks of is, and just get argue philosophically one way or the other and get carried away. But this is the same thing you see in Christian theology, whether God is his trinity or unity. keep arguing or if you are interested, you can look at there is a journal called New Testament studies. Many years ago, it had one article called, or St. Peter must be left handed. Why? Because when the various soldiers come to arrest Christ, it cuts the right ear of Marcus, the soldiers name is even mentioned surprisingly. And then the argument is, so he must be left handed because he cut his right here, then somebody somebody has another article, but maybe he came from behind, because he must be surely right. And this was gonna be the right thing. And then somebody is arguing that, well, maybe he could have used both of his hand. This is what goes on in the New Testament studies.
Rick Archer: Crazy, then, I was reminded a minute ago, and you’re talking about people catching on to a particular aspect of Shanker is teaching. And this could be said of many, many other teachings. And then, you know, focusing on that, to the exclusion of everything else, there’s a great great line from a Simon and Garfunkel song where they say, a man hears what he wants to hear and disregards the rest.
Ravi Ravindra: That’s exactly, we should play again and again, we come back to an impartial and sustained, serious look at myself, Am I what is it that I am for what I am against? Why, what conditioning has brought me here, unless I can be free of that condition. So I’m conditioned, by my age, by my parents, by my culture, by my religion, even the language I use, actually, more and more studies are being done. Now. If I grow up, listening to Chinese music, rather than a European music, my DNA changes. And you can see many of these studies. So we are very much influenced by all this. And all the sages are calling us to become more and more aware of this, and then not to be completely hung up on if I come from a rich family, I behave differently. If I come from a poor family, I behave. If I’m male, I behave differently. If I’m female, I behave different. If I’m Indian, rather than American, I behave. You see what I’m saying? We are conditioned, so many things.
Rick Archer: And the admonition there I suppose is to you know, be careful What you give your attention to because that to what you give your attention is going to grow stronger in your life. It’s going to change your DNA. Yeah. And leave impressions.
Ravi Ravindra: Yeah, very much. As I said earlier that impressions actually, every impression influences us at a cellular level to understand
Rick Archer: by impressions, is that what they mean by what is it equations are some scars, those terms,
Ravi Ravindra: but Glacia is really means hinderance. Okay, yeah. sanskaar is
Rick Archer: more the impression more the impression Yeah. Okay. And as I understand that, there needs to be a working out of these impressions. Not that you’re going to, like, become a blank slate, and you don’t remember anything but that the, the sort of, I guess by impression, we could maybe define it as some chemical or structural or very subtle abnormality, that there’s an impact on the on the nervous system on a subtle level, which renders it less ideally, functional than it could be, and that we all that needs to be repaired in the process of spiritual development. So that the, the nervous system can adequately reflect the the the internet,
Ravi Ravindra: we can actually look at the law of karma in this context. In general, I feel it’s good to express this into two sentences, as I am, so I act, then you put a semicolon as I act, so I become that’s the law of karma. Now, of course, as I am literally I should say, so, I react the whole spiritual development can be actually expressed in two words, to move from reaction to response. If at that semicolon, I become aware of why I am reacting the way I am reacting, then I can act otherwise, I can respond. Then the next sentence will be as a response why become then there is a change, otherwise, I’m just repeating myself. In circles, it can become a spiral. If I can add the semicolon is the magic. That’s where I need to be aware. In fact, I should tell you this I was once giving a talk in India. One businessman was so struck by this he started he started his business is called semicolon.com.
Rick Archer: That’s great.
Ravi Ravindra: So, so struck by my strength to say that semicolon ality really means Can I move from reaction to response?
Rick Archer: Yeah. And I think the word discrimination comes in here if we can. Well, remember, remember that poem by Rudyard Kipling, you know, if you can keep your head while those around you are losing theirs, then you are a man, my son.
Ravi Ravindra: That’s right. You use the word discrimination these days, it has become a little I prefer the word discernment,
Rick Archer: discernment. Yep. Good word. Yes. Yeah. I guess one way of thinking it of it is that if if the thought overshadows you so that you’re not even so that you’re kind of forced to act compulsively, then you you can end up doing all sorts of things. But if if you’re well enough grounded in pure awareness or in the self, then the thought doesn’t grip you you have the thought but you you see it and you can choose to act or not. Or maybe remember hearing the analogy that the thought becomes can become like a ball of sawdust and if you if you think it’s inappropriate proof, it just disintegrates,
Ravi Ravindra: attract. Look at of course, one naturally thinks of traditional very high example they may even be mythological, but look at Christ, on the crucifixion. imagine any other human being they would wish to get away. blame somebody cry shouters, what does Christ say, Father forgive them? For they know not what they do. Now, this is a response. This is not a reaction.
Rick Archer: Yeah. And beforehand, he said, you know, if it is possible, let this cup pass from me. But then he said, Okay, as they know, they will be done. Whatever.
Ravi Ravindra: Yeah, there’s evening before that’s in the Garden of Gethsemane.
Rick Archer: Right. Before we run out of time, let’s just spend a couple minutes on the Galileo commission. I think you’ve been involved in them and I recently signed up. I think it’s very interesting. And I think this whole notion of the materialist paradigm, you know, being fundamental to Western society, and all the damage that’s being done to the world as a result of that paradigm, and then a shift from that paradigm to one in which consciousness is placed at the foundation and everything else emerges from there. You want to you want to kind of Talk about that a little bit.
Ravi Ravindra: Well, basically, it is really many, many people, including some Nobel Prize winners in science. So it’s not that only outsiders are interested in it. But especially people who are coming from what we might call a mind sciences, they are much more struck by this, that not everything can be explained in terms of matter in motion, which has been the fundamental program of physics, then the idea of metal has changed, connecting with energy. Motion has to do with space, the idea of space and time has changed. So all the revolutions in physics have been to do with matter and motion, basically, those are the two issues. And then the suggestion, which is part of this materialist, reductionist is an assumption really, that everything in the manifest in the universe comes starting from the lowest level of consciousness. Whereas in all spiritual teaching, it comes from the highest level of consciousness, wherever we may want to use, whether you call God or Brahma, or it doesn’t matter, but the idea is that it has the highest level of consciousness, from where the manifested universe at different levels, different levels of consciousness, therefore, a different kind of materiality is required, different material manifestation. So there are many people who are beginning to now question this, some of this is the rising from so called Near Death Experiences, where a person’s brain is actually dead. So if the mind is completely coming from the brain, or consciousness is coming only from the brain, the brain is actually dead. But then sometimes a person comes alive after maybe a few minutes are few hours, sometimes longer than that, and they can even is clearly they have consciousness, they can even say what the doctor said to the other doctor is quite amazing, actually, some of these experiences or somebody is dying away in Australia, and at the moment of death, he conveys something to his friend or lover in England something now, so there are many experiences now being gathered. Of course, some of them may be not as reliable as others, but a lot of data is being gathered, where it is quite clear that consciousness can certainly exist without the material functions. Now, whether it is the starting point, or I mean, some of these questions need to be raised and discussed. So the Galileo commission is really set up initially, or largely, in order to, to see if science can include other levels of reality, also. And I keep saying that, just as St. Paul says, The eyes of the flesh see the things of the flesh, eyes of the spirit of the things of the Spirit, every spiritual teaching says that there are levels of reality subtler than the mind. In fact, that’s almost the meaning of the word spiritual. But the spiritual zone is very large. There are nine orders of angels, for example, in the Bible, so they’re all spiritual, at very different levels. So it’s a very large zone. But that the mind, this is subtler than the mind. So what I’ve been trying to emphasize that we need the right instrument, eyes of the flesh are not going to see things of the Spirit. And all our telescopes, microscopes, however fine they are, they still remain eyes of the flesh, because that’s the attitude that is going behind them. And so my contribution really largely is trying to suggest that we need the scientists who are willing to undergo a transformation themselves come to some connection with the spiritual world. Otherwise, we don’t have the right instrument for Blake didn’t have any trouble seeing angels. Christ didn’t have any trouble seeing Angel the Buddha didn’t have any trouble seeing into how can we say also, and so went to the moon, but they didn’t see any angel. Of course,
Rick Archer: they said they were there.
Ravi Ravindra: So one forgets that the right instrument is needed for this, but the Galileo commission is not going to easily succeed or something. Personally, by the way, I myself feel that the difficulty is not only in the mind sciences, even at the level of physics, for example, I’ll give you an example. I try to say this, I haven’t yet succeeded in persuading anybody. Maybe I won’t persuade you either. If we say an iron filing is attracted to the magnet, we can say this is a physical law. Why can’t I say that the iron magnet Island filing has some Consciousness. It’s Yeah, well, it what is
Rick Archer: that term? Pan psychism. The idea that everything has some degree of consciousness. And, and I prefer something called panentheism, which is that consciousness is all pervading and fundamental, it’s not that things have consciousness is that things reflect consciousness to some degree,
Ravi Ravindra: yes, there will be a good way to put it. But the point I’m making that even what we call laws of nature, may be actually manifesting different kinds of qualities of consciousness being perceived by different objects. So even at the level of the physics, one may begin to question it, although, as I said, I haven’t yet persuaded anybody else. So a lot of people
Rick Archer: are talking about that, though. It’s a it’s a lively topic. And Pantheon ism is sometimes seen as a concession to materialism, because they’re basically saying, well, things are still material, but okay, they have a little bit of consciousness, as if consciousness is somehow generated by the matter. But it’s still trying to keep it in that order, matter first, then consciousness, whereas panentheism, and there are surely other phrases for it is that consciousness is fundamental, and everything emerges from that universal field.
Ravi Ravindra: But one thing that might interest you, when the Galileo commission report was initially published, Peter Fenech, in England, they pronounces FANTIC. But it’s written as Fenwick, Peter Fenech. He wrote a brief introduction to that. And I will be required struck in his introduction, he says, There are two factors that very much have caused us to question the modern materialist science versus science. One was meditational practices coming from the east. And the second, which slightly surprised me, but I’m not completely surprised. He said, We’re the writings of Gurdjieff, and Ouspensky. This is in the introduction to the Galileo commission written by Peter Fenech. He is the overall editor. Because in a way, Gurdjieff is actually bringing some quite remarkable things, which can be a challenge to science. But also he is trying to be actually scientific in a way, not against science. But trying to place it in a slightly different foundation, as it were from above, by above, I mean, highest level, of course, coming from the absolute, rather than coming from what we would call dead metal. But as you rightly pointed out, even the so called dead matter isn’t completely dead. It seems to be remarkable in its complexity. And more and more, you know, geologists, for example, are often actually surprised and struck, how the rocks seem alive.
Rick Archer: Yeah. And I don’t think anything is dead.
Ravi Ravindra: And the biologists are more and more discovering how the trees help each other underneath the ground.
Rick Archer: Yeah, the mycelium, I think they call it there’s this sort of network of communication, and they warn each other of, you know, threats and share nourishment, and all kinds of things.
Ravi Ravindra: So all kinds of remarkable things are happening in a way. It is, in my judgment, completely silly, to be against scientific work at any level, with whatever assumptions because some very remarkable things have been discovered. Why wouldn’t want to be wonder struck by many things we discovered in astrology or astronomy, astrology, astrology, has become a wrong word these days, although they will come you know, in India, what is translated as astrology is called Jyotish Jyotish which means light bearer, bringing light, so it sounds like a different different meaning behind it. But in any case, not to be against any kind of science. But on the other hand to question similarly, we need to question many of the so called religious or spiritual teachings, also, everything is subject, the whole world. This is one of my objections to much of this non duality thing, if the whole manifested world can be just ignored or neglected. That surprises me completely.
Rick Archer: Yeah, you know, even at that conference, they’ve moved away from that there’s, there’s there was a complete turnaround over the years where the sort of emphasis on non duality to the exclusion of the of the relative world and all the important things that that we deal with in relative life have that’s been come back to the fore, and there’s a much kind of greater integration of those two values.
Ravi Ravindra: Well, I was invited many years ago to give a talk there. Yeah, but since they found me rather difficult party I guess. They invited me again. Well, if you You
Rick Archer: ever wanted to go, you could always play usually they invite people the first time and then in subsequent years, they’re supposed to just put in an application if they want to come. But anyway, you know, it’s a big trip. It’s probably not gonna happen this year anyway, because of the virus. Okay, Alrighty, well, thanks. It’s really been great. I had a feeling we would only scratched the surface, because we went deep. But at the same time, there’s so much to your work. And you know, there’s so many interesting things. And, you know, some guy just sent in a question that we don’t really have time for about how you’re influenced by Madame de Saltzman and Gurdjieff. And have you written a book about that, that you can refer people to if they’re interested?
Ravi Ravindra: Yes, I wrote a book called heart without measure. And the subtitle is Gurdjieff. Work with Madame de Saltzman.
Rick Archer: Great. So this fellow, it looks like in need in in your from Spain, if he wants, he could get that book. And I’ll list you those books on your page on bat gap calm, so that people can just click, you know, check them out if they want to.
Ravi Ravindra: This is my understanding. madrasahs meant that she had a heart without measure. This is the reason for
Rick Archer: this was one of your main teachers.
Ravi Ravindra: Yes, very much. No, I agree. So you know,
Rick Archer: once you talk about it for just a couple, two to three minutes, because I’m sorry, we didn’t really get to that. And I know that was an important influence on you. So you want to take a couple of minutes just to say something?
Ravi Ravindra: No, but basically, really she, if you like Gurdjieff, died in 1949. And she has been regarded after his death as the main keeper of that tradition. She’s the one who actually started the Gucci Foundation, she made the film called meeting with remarkable men, which is based on a book by by Gurdjieff. And she traveled many, many people, especially these for foundation, she had one in, in London, in Paris, in New York, in Venezuela. And she went to these places practically every year, even until the age of she died at the age of 101. And I met her even actually on her deathbed. And even there, she said, like this person. I have many things in my head here to tell you. But the last remark she made to me anyway, was I see that everyone comes from the same energy. Nice. Yeah, no, she was a very remarkable person, I feel very blessed to have spent time with her and that she will spend that much time and energy with me. I must have had, I’m not entirely sure. But I may have had 100 private meetings with her was very remarkable person.
Rick Archer: So I’ll link to that book. And if people can get it and read it. So it’ll be a whole area of conversation that we didn’t get to today.
Ravi Ravindra: And we didn’t speak about my scientific work. After all, I was trained as a physicist, they were there, it was my job. And I had a book there, called theory of seismic head waves. I should maybe just take a minute to tell you. This was not some it’s a colleague in Czechoslovakia and myself, we are joined authors of it. He had been reading my work. And in 1968, when they had a slight, slight freedom there under Duke chalk. So he wrote to me Can he come to work with me for a year. So we got gave him a scholarship. And so he came. So he and I, we were just going to write a review paper, but it ended up being 303 printed page book published by the University of Toronto press. And one of the implications of what we just did. This is not we set out to do, but it came out is that we could distinguish between an artificial earthquake and a natural earthquake. Now this may seem like a just a pedantic thing. But on the ground nuclear tests, the Senate, US Senate refused to pass what they used to call the villa uniform Strategic Arms Limitation treaty, because they said, this rooskies They used to call them these rooskies are exploding nuclear bombs, and they’re claiming them to be earthquake, but now we could distinguish them. book was published in 71. So in 73, the Senate actually passed that. So anything, that is my only contribution to world peace.
Rick Archer: Now, that’s not your only contribution, but that’s an important one.
Ravi Ravindra: But in any case, there was several implications of that because the year before the book was published, or three, six months before it was published, the University of Toronto press wanted to ask some questions, the editor, and they were all dealing with the publication’s in Russian or in other languages, which I did not know. So I try to call my colleague in Czechoslovakia before was very bad. 1971 after If you weren’t beginning of 71, height of Cold War, so I just decided that I’ll just go there to see him. Because I had all kinds of research grants you could actually buy. People don’t believe this pentagon used to fund physics research grants. Because you see so much people don’t often realize where the research grants are coming from. Pentagon used to give. But in any case, so I went there, unfortunately, that very morning, Doc check not to check the Brezhnev had just come from Russia, to bring to have a really to impose a whole curfew on this. So no other Aeroplan was allowed to land our airplane was allowed land because this was the first flight of the Czechoslovakia and airlines connecting New York via Toronto to come to, to Czechoslovakia. In any case, my friend whom I had sent this, he had been given a price. So he didn’t even read my telegram. But next morning, he when I arrived, he comes in show something to the people, they are at the military, and I’m stuck in their like line in a cage. Suddenly, this military person comes in suits me. And then I’m taken out and I said, I don’t even have my passport, they have taken it away. So he goes and brings it. Suddenly, I’m invited by the university in Prague to give a talk. And I spoke in English, obviously. So I have no idea what they say translated. But I was paid more for that talk than my friends one month’s salary. Wow. And then, of course, when I returned to Canada, within a few weeks, the police they we have what we call mounted police people here. One of them comes to talk to me, and closes the door behind him very politely speaks to me, sir. He says we have no concern. But we have been asked by Washington to find out. What were you doing in Czechoslovakia. And we have this letter that was signed by the rector of the university why I was being saluted. And so he read that letter in translation, presence of Professor Rabindra is necessary for the security of the country. And I was a hell of a lot of trouble with CIA for this. Wow. And so they’re asking me, well, because I had an Indian passport at that time. And also, ironically, this is a whole big story. I mentioned this actually, the Institute of Advanced Study, to all gather people there. John Wheeler, whom I had met at Princeton, had invited me for basically a family gathering she like, and this family gathering, I went there with my wife. He was there with his wife and four Nobel Prize winners with their wives. Because one winners sister is married to winner Wiggler sister is married to Taylor Taylor sister is married to Ben Volek, when Black sister is married to Durant. So these were a family he has really are only six couples. So this is where I met these people. And I had a lot of conversation with Dirac as well as talent, especially these two, because we never had met earlier at Princeton. And and so the main concern actually was that Taylor was that very ear, believing the position of the scientific adviser to the president of USA. And Wigner was becoming now the scientific advice. And they’re both of Hungarian origin. That was the concern of FBI. And then what the hell am I doing there? And I go there soon after coming from Prague. You see the problem? Yeah, it was all very suspicious. That was their main concern. Yeah. But in any case, I was rather concerned that they might ask me to leave Canada go back to India. But my, you know, the chairman of our department, they were all on my side. I mean, I was not doing anything. In any case, for the next seven years, whenever I went to USC, clearly I was being examined, I couldn’t see. Interest. 70 years after that, somehow,
Rick Archer: they somehow they decided you were harmless. So
Ravi Ravindra: my presence was necessary for the security of the country.
Rick Archer: It’s quite a story.
Ravi Ravindra: Now, they often wonder whether the rector of the university was a CIA agent or somebody in office, was he how does the CIA know that I have this paper?
Rick Archer: Yeah. track
Ravi Ravindra: of things. Yeah. It’s amazing what goes on in the world.
Rick Archer: Yeah, so All kinds of subterranean complexity was translated
Ravi Ravindra: into Russian within one week of its publication. Wow. Without asking that they didn’t give us any money, you can be sure that this is the height of Cold War. But the book was insane. Yeah. Yeah.
Rick Archer: Already, there we are. already. So your website I have, I’ll show it on the screen here. You have a website, it’s rabindra.ca. That is like, not not.com. Often, Canadian websites are very often that ca so people can check that out. And you mentioned webinars a little while ago. I imagine there’s things that you do that people can tune in on even if they’re not traveling.
Ravi Ravindra: That’s right, something called forthcoming events on my website, it’s on your website. Okay. Yeah. So they can check some of these events. Good,
Rick Archer: does and, and if you look on YouTube, you’ll find all kinds of talks and interviews and stuff that you’ve done previously. And as I mentioned, I’ve listened to a lot of them over the past week. And there’s all kinds of, I learned a lot, you know, listening, listening to what you had to say. So I really enjoyed getting exposed to
Ravi Ravindra: thank you very much for interviewing me. It’s very nice. Actually, I shouldn’t say interview is not a good exchange conversation would be a better word.
Rick Archer: I actually changed that on my website. We used to say interviews, it was the interviews with spiritually awake people. And then we thought no awake doesn’t make it because people are always still awakening. So we changed it to that, and to awakening. And then after a while, I thought, you know, this is a conversation. It’s not just an interview. So now it’s conversations with spiritually Awakening people. Oh, okay. It makes more sense. Yeah. All right. Well, thanks, Robbie. Good talking to you. And it’s been, it’s been an enriching experience. I really appreciate
Ravi Ravindra: it. Thank you very much. I’m really glad. Okay,
Rick Archer: and for those who are listening or watching, next week, I’ll be speaking with Donald Hoffman, who I’ve seen speak at this at the science and non duality conference a number of times. And he’s written an interesting book called The case against reality. And I’m sure it’s going to be a lively conversation. So tune into that. And if you’d like to be notified when new interviews are posted, you can just go to batgap. com and there’s a mailing list, sign up thing there and you’ll get like one email a week announcing each new interview. And there’s some other interesting things on the site too, if you want to explore the menus. So thanks for listening or watching and we’ll see you for the next one.
Ravi Ravindra: Thank you very much.