Fax Gilbert: Good evening, everybody. Welcome. It’s a really good turnout. I didn’t realize I was so popular. So, I’m here with Rick Archer. Sharon and I have known Rick and Irene for over 25 years. We taught TM together. Actually, we’re in the national TM organization in the marketing branch of it. We used to go to cities and do TM lectures. And so, we’ve known Rick for quite a while. And I had the idea about six months ago. I’m a Waking Down teacher and I go to a lot of events throughout the United States and people would come up to me and we start talking and they find out I was from Fairfield and they say, “Fairfield? Do you know Rick Archer?” But they wouldn’t say it like, “Do you know Rick Archer?” They’d say it like, “Do you know Rick Archer?” And we were in Australia doing some weekend courses about a year and a half ago. This fellow asked me where I was from and he goes, “Fairfield, Iowa. Do you know Rick Archer? He saved my life!” And so, I had the idea it might be neat to actually interview Rick, who has done an unprecedented thing when you think about it. He’s interviewed almost 230 people. You have interviewed all these people and put it on the internet and it’s live, and people not only get to hear these people, not just from reading about it or from listening, but they get to see and get the feeling of the transmission of each of these people. And I’ve read a lot of the things that people have sent to you, about how their lives have been transformed by one person or another, because there’s a lot of ways to get to California and it seems that certain ways are more conducive to some people than others. And when you have 230 people to listen to, the chances are, if you’re motivated on a spiritual path, that this is going to be a great aid in that endeavor. And so, I feel privileged to be able to be with you today, and to find out exactly, why you got into this. Maybe we could start with that.
Rick Archer: Sure. Well, for years I attended that Satsang at Tom Trainor’s house. Many of you went to that one time or another. And almost ten years he had that thing or something, a long time. And every Wednesday night I’d go there, and I’d hear story after story of people who had had spiritual awakenings, people in Fairfield. Sometimes, they were just flashy experiences that came and went, but a great,many people in town, were having what we would call an “abiding awakening,” something which stayed once it had happened. And many of those awakenings conformed quite clearly to the higher states model that Maharishi Mahesh Yogi laid out, so that was great. But a number of those people would say to me, or to the group, that they had mentioned it to a few friends once they had had this awakening, and the friends ridiculed them, or scoffed at them. In fact, just the other day I got a long Facebook message from this guy in Skelmersdale, which is the TM community over in England, and he said he had had this profound awakening and he told his wife, now ex-wife, and she said, “No, that couldn’t be, you haven’t done enough rounding courses, enough long meditation courses,” and she didn’t believe him. And a lot of times when people got that kind of reaction they would shut up about it. Now, at the same time, I was running into other people around town, who were saying things like, “Well, I don’t ever expect to get enlightened in this lifetime. I like meditating, it’s restful and I’ll keep doing it, but nothing like that is ever going to happen to me.” And so, I thought, “There’s a disconnect here.” And I thought, “Why don’t I start interviewing people who have had awakenings and then the people who haven’t had them can hear that, and it might make it more of a norm in our community consciousness and it wouldn’t seem weird or strange or unbelievable, and it might actually facilitate more awakening
Stan Kendz: it might be a catalyst.” And I thought that was a good idea and I took the idea to KRUU FM and said, “Let’s do this radio show.” And I did a little demo with George and Mary Foster and KRUU FM didn’t want to do it. Now that probably leads us to the next question.
Fax Gilbert: “Why didn’t they want to do it?” [Laughter]
Rick Archer: Well, at the time I didn’t understand why.
Fax Gilbert: This is going to be easy.
Rick Archer: KRUU FM, by the way, for those who are watching it on the internet, is this little radio station here in town, low-power FM station with a 10-mile radius. I thought, “Cool, we’ll get it out to this 10-mile radius.” And I couldn’t understand why they didn’t want to do it. It seemed like a perfect fit for our community. And so, three months went by, and Tom Traynor kept bugging me, “Do something, do more, try to make this happen.” And then finally he said, “Forget KRUU FM, take it to FPAC,” the local public access TV station. So, I said, “Okay.” I went to FPAC, talked to them, they were into it, so I started taping them there. And we did about 17 of them there with Stan Kenz and you guys and the Boggs and various other people around Fairfield, but they just didn’t have their act together, in terms of the technical thing. And so, I was accumulating these shows on DVDs, and they weren’t going anywhere, they weren’t airing on …
Fax Gilbert: You were doing the technical stuff as we went along. You’d ask a few questions and then make a few adjustments to the camera. You’d have to be standing like this the whole interview for two hours.
Rick Archer: So still nothing was happening to it. And then one night I was at one of those Satsang’s, and I was kind of grousing about the fact that it wasn’t getting off the ground. And Connie Zweig, who is from Malibu, happened to be there with her husband and she said, “What are you thinking so small for? It’s Fairfield, why don’t you get it out on the internet, and bring it out to the world? We’ll watch it in California.” I thought, “Okay.” So, I got in touch with a friend of mine who was one of my best friends in high school. In fact, 50 years ago they were talking about the World’s Fair in New York City. We went to that together when we were 14 and almost missed the bus going home. So, we’ve been friends ever since, although we haven’t seen each other since then. But he had been a video professional all of his life. And so, I said, “Can I send you these discs and have you turn them into something that I can put on the internet?” I sent him a box of discs and he converted them to the necessary format, put nice titles on them and everything and sent them back. So, then I just had to figure out how to create a blog and how to create a podcast for the audio aspect with iTunes, and how to create a YouTube channel. And initially YouTube limited me to 10-minute segments, so I had to split them up in little segments and upload the individual segments. But eventually once I reached enough views and videos, they gave me unlimited time, so I went back and re-uploaded them all in their entirety. And then I had to figure out how to … I realized I was going to run out of people in Fairfield maybe, or it would be more interesting if I could get people outside of Fairfield. And so, I had to figure out how to …
Fax Gilbert: You had to find another gas pump.
Rick Archer: Yeah. Oh, Isaac Nevis, by the way, thought up the term “Buddha the Gas Pump,” if you haven’t heard of Isaac, young guy. In any case, I had to figure out how to get Skype to record, and that was tricky, getting Skype recordings to look halfway decent. And there was this company in Australia that I discovered made some software called Vodburner, and they weren’t used to people trying to do two-hour shows in high definition, so the software kept crashing and having all these problems, and I kept sending it back, sending them the problems, they kept fixing them. At one point they sent me a hard drive to send them a whole show on so they could work with it directly. So, the whole thing just kind of kept developing like that. And there’s more detail but probably mundane.
Fax Gilbert: Fantastic. It’s Horatio Alger, what it is, of the internet. It brought up a question to me, that whole idea of moving in a spiritual path toward enlightenment or toward awakening or greater perfection in life, and yet, there was that pushback if people came out of the closet, so to speak, to talk about something that they had realized which was permanent, which was there. Why do you think that is, that that pushback was there? Because I experienced it myself. In fact, you’re the first one I talked to. I don’t know if you remember, we had you and Irene over for dinner one night, and you were sitting there asking all these great questions, and days of future past, and it was such a relief to be able to bring it forward and to talk to somebody who would hear it and listen and flesh it out, so to speak. I think it speaks to what awakening is and how people perceive it, that there’s this kind of a taboo about talking about it.
Rick Archer: Well, you know, I think the concept of awakening that people form over the years in enlightenment, when they’re reading books and listening to lectures and all that, in many cases, ends up being quite a far cry from the actual experience of it when it happens, so that they don’t actually connect the two when it does happen, in some cases. Like for instance, that book by Suzanne Seagal, Collision with the Infinite, and she had been a TM teacher and had been on all these courses and everything, and then she was living in Paris, got pregnant, was coming back from a swimming thing at the pool, and she was getting on a bus and all of a sudden, boom, she had this profound shift, and she was terrified because there was a complete, from her perspective, loss of sense of individual self. And she didn’t connect it at all with everything she’d heard about enlightenment, or cosmic consciousness and all that, and went on for 10 years being terrified, until she finally got together with Jean Klein and he pointed out to her, well he said, “Stop trying to look for it,” and just relaxed into it and she realized it was a spiritual thing, she wasn’t crazy. So, well that’s part of the answer. Another part is, I think that people – well it’s kind of along the same lines – people have a concept of what enlightenment is supposed to look like. You seem really holy, maybe you have a certain inflection in your voice, something like that. And I think Christ said, “A prophet is not without honor except in his own home.” I think that, hey, it’s facts. How could he – he’s the same old facts as he ever was, his golf game is still mediocre. How could he…
Fax Gilbert: Why don’t you tell the world?
Rick Archer: I don’t see anything different about him, he doesn’t seem special. Can you levitate? That’s another one I’ve gotten from a lot of people around town. You say you’ve had a spiritual awakening, and maybe it seems like cosmic consciousness as Maharishi described it, well can you levitate?
Fax Gilbert: Are you in bliss all the time?
Rick Archer: Yeah, then it’s not real. If you don’t meet those criteria.
Fax Gilbert: Yeah, I’m not saying that those criteria aren’t real in certain instances, but I think that the way that it shows up in individuals, first of all, it’s a surprise, because if it wasn’t a surprise it wouldn’t be an awakening. And if it’s a surprise then it’s not going to relate to conceptions that you have about it, from the path that you’ve been on. If you have a conception about it, then that’s what you think is going to show up and that’s what you’re moving toward.
Rick Archer: Yeah, you’re expecting a certain thing.
Fax Gilbert: And then something shows up which is kind of like the penny dropping, kind of like nothing special, no lights going off, nothing special at all really, except that it feels … it’s normal. You just feel normal. And there’s a big transition there, in other words, because all of the things that your mind has created, all these things have to fall into place, in order for me to know myself, aren’t there. The whole thing is different. And I remember just floundering around trying to find something solid to put my feet on. And I remember looking, “This has to be in the Bhagavad Gita.” So, I got Maharishi’s Bhagavad Gita and I started going through it. Chapter 1, it’s all attainment, attainment. I didn’t attain anything. Chapter 2, chapter 3, chapter 4, chapter 5. I got to chapter 6, verse 5, and he said, “The self is revealed to the self, through itself by itself. No amount of meditation will reveal the self.” And that clicked with what I had recognized, it had recognized itself. But the rest of it, I couldn’t relate to at all. And so that’s what the awakening is, is that something happens. Now in your interviews, do you find that people … I know that a lot of the people, come through certain traditions and they have an awakening which is kind of within that tradition, it’s perhaps through that tradition, whereas other people just kind, of fall into it on their own. Did you notice that?
Rick Archer: Yeah, some people do fall into it quite spontaneously without any practice or prior interest in this sort of thing. There was a lady named Kiran, who sometimes calls herself “Mystic Girl in the City.” And she was sort of an actress, a fairly worldly person by her own admission, by her own definition. And one morning she was tying her shoes and all of a sudden there’s this profound opening and it took her a long time to figure out what in the heck had happened. And in fact, it was so radical, when she finally did identify it as a spiritual thing, she started going to spiritual teachers. She went and saw Adyashanti and she actually got up on the mic and started yelling at him. She said, “It’s not right for you to be encouraging people to get this, they have no idea what it’s going to be!” What was your question?
Fax Gilbert: It was kind of the distinction between awakenings that come through traditional means versus people falling into it on their own. I noticed that some of the interviews you have both.
Rick Archer: Yeah, it would be interesting for somebody who has a more sociological, scientific bent to actually review all these things at some point and see how they could be categorized. Because I think it would be really valuable for our culture, our spiritual culture, which is hopefully burgeoning, to have a more clearly defined and systematized understanding of the territory, of what awakening is and what its stages are, if it has stages, and so on. Because otherwise, what is it? Is it just some kind of individual world that you live in without any correlation to other people who supposedly had an awakening? By definition, an awakening is supposed to be a conscious realization of the most fundamental reality of the universe. And do we each have our own most fundamental reality? I think not. And yet at the same time, we each have our own individual nervous system. And many traditions, including many things I heard Maharishi say, indicate that according to the makeup of your nervous system, awakening is going to have different flavors. For some people it might be more bliss, for some more vastness.
Fax Gilbert: Some people more in the heart.
Rick Archer: And for some, if there hasn’t really been adequate preparation and purification, it can result in a grandiose ego trip. A person can be fueled with this Shakti and think they’re just the cat’s meow and start having people carry them around on their shoulders.
Fax Gilbert: So, this kind of brings up the idea of the relationship between the physiology and awakening. The tradition that we went through was a purification of the physiology through meditation and diet and all the rest of it, so that the nervous system could support higher states of consciousness. But many of the people that you’ve interviewed, and I would put myself in this category and a lot of my friends, I don’t feel I have less stress now than I have in other times in my life. I feel that the self is something that’s inherently yours and it finds itself, so to speak, directed through the mind, the senses, but at some point, through grace, through an accident, whatever, this consciousness becomes conscious of itself and there’s a shift in identity. It’s not like a momentary thing where you just transcend and then come out. It becomes part of your identity and it’s something that’s always there. And to me, the physiology, it plays a role in experience, but does it play a role in actually, in this awakening process, in the ownership of it, the shift of the identity?
Rick Archer: There was a Zen teacher, I forget his name, who said, “Spiritual awakening may be an accident, but practice makes you accident-prone.”
Fax Gilbert: Yes, very good.
Rick Archer: Maybe it’s my deeply ingrained background, you know. And actually, Maharishi’s teaching has a lot of roots in Kashmir Shaivism, which talks a lot about the physiology and the importance of having it cultured to be able to sustain the shock of awakening. And it’s regarded, as I understand it, that you can get yourself into trouble, if the physiology isn’t adequately prepared and there’s some rising of the Kundalini, which is really strong. You can go crazy; all kinds of things can happen. And physiologists, neurologists would tell us, even with no spiritual interest whatsoever, that anything that you’re experiencing has some kind of correlation with the brain, right? With the nervous system, every little thought we think, every experience we have. It would seem to me that something so experientially radical as awakening, as we’re defining it, would necessarily, to my understanding, correlate with some sort of radical change in the physiology. Whether neurologists can locate it – Fred Travis has devoted his life to trying to do that – whether it would be something more subtle, whether they’re only getting 10% of the understanding of what’s actually happening, I don’t know. But that Zen quote, “Spiritual practice makes you accident-prone,” sure, there are people who have been raging alcoholics and have …
Fax Gilbert: Yeah, one of the fellows you interviewed, Fred …
Rick Archer: Wayne Liquorman, ironically that was hi name.
Fax Gilbert: There was another guy, Fred something.
Rick Archer: Fred Davis.
Fax Gilbert: Fred Davis, yeah. He said he had an awakening while he was under the influence.
Rick Archer: Yeah, Byron Katie was in some kind of halfway house. So, we can seriously abuse our physiology and yet still have an awakening. But I think that there’s some kind of bell curve and that people who have that happen to them are probably on the fringes of the bell curve and that it’s more likely that people who have actually cultured the nervous system in some way, some of them aren’t going to get awakened, but you’re probably setting up the conditions for making it more probable,
Fax Gilbert: I would think.
Rick Archer: Incidentally, everything I say tonight is based either on my experience, my understanding, or my opinion, and generally a mixture of all three, and all three are a work in progress. So, I could say an entirely different thing a year from now. I don’t claim to have any kind of authority about anything.
Fax Gilbert: Right, I understand, I understand. And it seems that this process of awakening in and of itself, it’s a spontaneous thing at times. In other words, there can be two kinds of awakenings. There’s a kind of awakening where the self recognizes itself, but then if the physiology has been cultured, then it’s as if there’s a depth that can come from that. And I would not want to say that what I’ve experienced, that the awakening I have had, is synonymous with the awakenings that people have been in caves for 50 or 60 years, culturing their nervous system. So, it’s almost as if we have a fulcrum of identity, and some individuals, they identify almost completely with this absolute pure bliss being, and other people have a taste of it, but enough so that they identify with it, they know it, and they live it, and it’s a part of who they are, just like being an American or a male, and that’s there. And there’s a whole range of spectrum that makes up our identity. So that’s kind of how one paradigm that I look at in trying to understand this, because the more you go into it, the more paradoxes there are about it. The physiology is necessary, the physiology isn’t necessary. And a lot of the people that you’ve interviewed have talked about this paradox.
Rick Archer: Yeah, and I’ve talked about it a lot in interviews. In fact, somebody sent me a t-shirt that says “paradox” on it. I should have worn it. Adyashanti, who I respect as being one of the most down-to-earth and yet, in the clouds, in a good sense, teachers out there, really highly evolved but very down-to-earth guy, one thing he said recently, not too long ago, is “I always feel like I’m a beginner.” And I feel like, just again, opinion here, but the range of possibilities, for spiritual evolution is so vast, that virtually everybody is a beginner, at least it’s healthy to maintain that attitude. That’s something Amma says in practically every lecture, she said we should always have the attitude of a beginner. But the range of possibilities is vast. And there’s another thing, Adyashanti, talked about, there’s for some reason a tendency to latch on to some level of awakening and assume it’s final. I don’t know why people do this, but it happens a lot, I’ve seen it a lot. And sometimes that awakening is actually nothing more than an intellectual understanding, it’s not even the beginnings of an experiential awakening. People read a whole bunch of books, get the non-duality thing going in their brain and think that they have realized it. But it’s far more than that. Go ahead.
Fax Gilbert: To me there are two tracks. There’s the track of awakening that many people that you’ve interviewed describe as kind of “up and out.” They have that recognition and that becomes the focal point, they’re alive, their life is abiding in that, and that everything else in terms of their relative lives is secondary. And there are different degrees of that among the different teachers that you’ve recognized. And then there’s the school of experience or teaching, where it becomes more down and in, that you have a recognition of something which is absolute, which forms the basis of identity, and that is invited consciously into your life, into your personal interactions, and so much so, that the recognition comes that it’s not different, that there’s a marriage between absolute and relative, between human and divine. And you could say this is the point of reference that we have in waking down, that we are divine as well as human. We are limited and we are free. We’re bound and free, both together. And you can’t find where one leaves off and the other begins. And so, there’s different ways of coming at this experience and integrating it into our lives. And I think that’s one of the beautiful things about what you’re doing, is you’re exposing many, many people to this whole range of possibilities, and then their own being is going to select, vibrate with whatever path, whatever direction is right for them at that time.
Rick Archer: Yeah, I’ll put up an interview and I’ll get emails from some people saying, “Oh that guy was a bozo, what a waste of my time.” Other people saying, “Oh that was the best one you’ve ever done, I love this guy, I read all his books.” So, people just resonate with different things. And these days embodiment is a real lively buzzword in the spiritual community. There was this lady I interviewed about a month or two ago named Prajna Ginty, and she had done a number of spiritual practices. She lived in Amrit Desai’s ashram, she went to California, got into the satsang scene, spent time with Adyashanti, and she could sit in samadhi for hours on end. And she was really living a blissful life, everything was hunky-dory. And then she got a really poor misdiagnosis by some doctors and was more or less forced to abort twins three months premature. And they came out a pound each, the size of her hands, and she ended up with an intense challenge which just never let up, severe sleep deprivation. And just dealing with this.
Fax Gilbert: They lived?
Rick Archer: They’re both alive. And she’s done an incredible job with these girls. They’ll be developmentally challenged for life, but she’s done an incredible job. She got to the point at one point where she had one of them in her arms, and she was about to throw herself off a cliff, and she actually heard a voice, “No, you cannot do that,” and she was back on her butt on the ground. And she rose to the challenge, and now she feels like she wouldn’t have changed a thing. And she’s come full circle in terms of her bliss and her stability of awareness, but in a profoundly embodied way. And hopefully most of us don’t have to face such challenges.
Fax Gilbert: Well, that is kind of a theme that I’ve heard many of the teachers interview it in “Waking Down” also, that once there’s an awakening, that many unresolved issues from the past tend to bubble up, perhaps because there’s a greater identity with being.
Rick Archer: Maharishi said, “When the postman knows you’re going to move, he tries to deliver all your mail.” Okay.
Fax Gilbert: It’s common that that happens, especially if there is going to be embodiment of this being force, this identity, into your life, which it seems the planet needs right now. It needs people not to live in caves, although that’s a value in and of itself. But for people to come into who they are as individuals, and in order to do that, you have to become aware of all the patterning that prevents you from that.
Rick Archer: Well Christ talked about not pouring new wine into old wineskins, and maybe that’s back to our discussion about preparing the physiology, and you really should get a new wineskin before you pour the wine in. But if you happen to pour the wine into an old one – really stretching the metaphor here – the wineskin is going to start to change, the wine is going to start changing it, and all kinds of things may have to be purged – psychological, physiological – because all that shadow stuff, I don’t think, can sustain the presence of awakened consciousness. And maybe some of the stuff is really tenacious and it will sustain it, it will kind of cling on for a lifetime or whatever, but there’s a tendency, I think, for it to start to blow out once the juice is floored.
Fax Gilbert: At the very least, you become aware of the patterns that are unconscious. But the patterns may still be there, but you’re aware of them, and so they have less power over you, and there’s less space, so to speak, that their energy is being tied up in them.
Rick Archer: Yeah, and maybe they start to resolve. I interviewed Neelam last week and she was talking about meeting everything as it comes up, and in this process of meeting everything as it comes up, it just layer by layer gets resolved and whatever is next to be resolved comes up, and you meet it, and then it gets resolved and there seems to be no end to it.
Fax Gilbert: Yeah. Let’s see what else we’ve got. How about… I never asked you about your personal spiritual journey. We know about TM, but maybe before that even, how did you… did you come from a religious family where devotion to God was forefront in your upbringing?
Rick Archer: My father had severe PTSD and was a raging alcoholic and epileptic, mixing phenobarbital and alcohol on a regular basis, you can imagine the results of that. That took its toll on my mother, and she tried to commit suicide three times, and we listened to all this as we were growing up as kids in the 50s and early 60s. So that was my spiritual upbringing. But at the very same time, I loved them both and I feel like they were very intelligent, highly evolved people who just had that hand dealt to them. My father was incredibly creative and sensitive, he was a professional artist. My mother was a character, some of you may have known her, she was just full of innocent enthusiasm about stuff. But as far as my spiritual stuff is concerned, the earliest thing I remember is when I was a kid and had a high fever with measles or whatever, we all got those diseases in those days. I remember sitting in bed, when I wasn’t actually delirious, I remember sitting in bed, and having this experience of simultaneous vastness and tininess, infinite weight and infinite lightness. I would just sit there and be fascinated with it. There would be this incredible density and incredible vacuum, sort of void, and it just kept fluctuating. I just sat there and examined it for the longest time as I sat there. I must have been 10 years old or something, really young. And then I also had experiences like we all had, about staring at the stars at night and just thinking about the universe. Every year on my birthday I’d go to the Hayden Planetarium and the next year I’d go to the Natural History Museum, next year Hayden Planetarium, next year Natural History Museum. So, I was always curious and fascinated with things. The spiritual thing didn’t really kick in until I took LSD when I was 17. It was a jaw-dropping experience in terms of realizing, that not everybody sees the world the same way. We’d been up all-night tripping and then went to a donut shop, Dunkin’ Donuts, in the morning and I was just looking at the donut-selling ladies and thinking, “Wow, they’re seeing the world so much differently than I am right now.” I thought, “That’s it, everything depends on how you see the world. It’s your perspective, it’s not the world, it’s how you see the world.” I could never forget that. So, I spent about a year muddling around, getting more and more screwed up, dropping out of high school, getting arrested a couple of times. And then finally one night I was sitting on my bed, tripping again, and I couldn’t go to sleep, so it was like 3 in the morning and I’m sitting reading a Zen book, Zen Flesh, Zen Bones, and something really hit me. I said, “These guys are really serious and I’m totally screwing around, thinking that I’m going to get enlightened or something.” I said, “Okay, that’s it, I’m going to stop taking drugs, learn Transcendental Meditation and I’ll see what happens.” So that’s what happened.
Fax Gilbert: So, you’ve been meditating?
Rick Archer: Since the summer of ’68.
Fax Gilbert: Summer of ’68, and did you have any vacations from meditation?
Rick Archer: I never missed one.
Fax Gilbert: Never missed one?
Rick Archer: No.
Fax Gilbert: Well, what do you think would happen if you did?
Rick Archer: My head would explode! I don’t know. It’s just like, I’m really good at routines. On the 6th Humble course in 1971 or ’72, Phil Hirshhorn and Ira Clements gave a talk about the value of flossing your teeth. And I’ve flossed my teeth every darn day since I heard them say that, , because I thought, “If something is good, I’m just going to do it as a matter of routine, and if I don’t do it routinely, then skip one here, two there, ten there, next thing you know I’m not doing it, so I’m just going to stick to this thing.” Because, geez, I was a high school dropout, I was completely messed up. Within a few weeks after I’d learned, I’d reconciled with my father, who had thrown me out of the house, I’d gotten a job, I had made arrangements to get a GED diploma, and get back into school, so it really turned me around, and within two years I was teaching the darn thing.
Fax Gilbert: Yeah. So, you’ve seen an evolution over – this is like 40 years you’ve been meditating.
Rick Archer: Yeah, 46 or something.
Fax Gilbert: 46 years. You’ve seen an evolution in your practice, or has it just become more like, just so integrated into your life that you couldn’t imagine living without it?
Rick Archer: I’ve never had a meditation that didn’t work, in terms of actually settling down and having it be enjoyable and feeling better afterwards. But I wouldn’t say that even now my meditation experiences are any more profound than they were 40 years ago, but it’s just a routine. But the effects in daily life have always continued to be cumulative for me, and still are. And now, there’s just this sort of steadiness of awareness that is there no matter what.
Fax Gilbert: And it’s a way to pay honor to that steadiness of awareness, by putting your attention on it a couple of times a day. It’s as if you’re recognizing the value of that in your life, and it’s almost a devotional practice.
Rick Archer: It is. It’s kind of like a CAT scan in a way, in the sense that I find myself… the awareness just scans the body and notices things, and those things get resolved, and it just goes on like that. The Buddha meditated his whole life after his awakening. Ramana Maharshi went into a cave for about 16 or 24 years or something after his awakening, and just meditated. So, there are people who say, friends of mine even, say to me, “There will come a time when you’re just going to drop it, and the fact that you’re still doing it indicates that you haven’t arrived, or whatever, and they may be right, for all I know. Maybe I’ll drop it at some point, but I just feel no inclination to do so.”
Fax Gilbert: My experience is that it’s an individual consideration. People continue with practices or don’t continue with practices. It doesn’t have anything to do with the depth of the quality of their recognition, or their realization. It has more to do with who they are as a person and what they enjoy doing with their lives.
Rick Archer: Yeah, and I do it a lot. I spend probably three hours a day. I get up at four in the morning, meditate an hour, go to sleep again for a while, get up again, do my bathroom stuff, meditate an hour, do it in the afternoon, do it before bed. So, I really enjoy it. It’s just a routine that works for me.
Fax Gilbert: You feel nourished?
Rick Archer: Yeah. And I’m not good at forcing myself to do things I don’t want to do, or that are really unpleasant. So, it’s self-reinforcing. But as you say, I would never tell anybody they should or shouldn’t do that or anything. Somebody comes to me and says they’re getting great benefits out of chanting Hare Krishna or being a fundamentalist Christian or whatever, I would say, “Great! Go for it, do it, enjoy.” I really feel like everybody is on the path they’re meant to be on, and if that path doesn’t work for them anymore for some reason, they’ll switch paths and do something else.
Fax Gilbert: Your work is helping people to make those choices in the world, by giving them – and this is unprecedented – giving them the knowledge of a variety of people. It started off with just regular Joes, but now I would say that most of the people that you’re interviewing have websites and they’re teachers.
Rick Archer: Yeah, but they’re regular Joes too, you know? We’re all bozos on this bus. And we all perform the same bodily functions and so on. So just because somebody is well-known or something like that.
Fax Gilbert: Getting back to your spiritual history, is there anything else other than TM that you’ve done on your spiritual path or quest?
Rick Archer: Strictly speaking, I don’t do TM anymore because I’m using a mantra that Amma gave me, I’ve been doing that for about a decade. Yeah, everyone knows who Amma is, the hugging saint. And so, the TM movement would say I don’t do TM. I do it TM style. I do my asanas most days, things like that.
Fax Gilbert: So, there’s a devotional component in your relationship with Amma.
Rick Archer: Yeah, but it’s different than it used to be with Maharishi, in the sense that – and that’s because I think I feel fulfilled now, whereas with Maharishi there was this sort of yearning, craving, “Ugh!” all the time and I had to be around him, and I had to go to this course and do that. Now, I go to see Amma, leave Amma, whatever, and there’s this continuum of fulfillment.
Fax Gilbert: In a sense, devotion isn’t something you do, it’s something you can’t help but do. It’s as if you’re called to it. There’s some transmission that resonated with you that brought you to her. In the same way that your interviews with people, there’s a transmission quality there, because it’s alive. It’s not just, I’m sure from reading the letters, that people pick up on different transmissions, and it’s transformative.
Rick Archer: And I do too. Talk about spiritual practices, doing these interviews.
Fax Gilbert: Yeah, that’s good.
Rick Archer: I really get zapped, whether they’re in person or over Skype, I really feel so elated. Sometimes I come out from doing an interview and my cheeks are all rosy and Irene says, “Wow, it looks like you’ve been jogging or something.” It just wakes up the life in me.
Fax Gilbert: Well, didn’t Maharishi talk about association with the wise as a means of developing recognition?
Rick Archer: And also, in preparation for these things, I listen to probably at least an hour a day of people’s other interviews and talks and read their books. So, all my spare time I’ve got my attention on this. I put my iPod on when I wake up in the morning, and then start brushing my teeth, listening to something.
Fax Gilbert: Plus meditating three hours a day.
Rick Archer: So that’s my spiritual practice for what it’s worth. It works for me. But this has been a real evolutionary thing for me. And it’s also been really cool to get to know so many wonderful people. To have these conversations with these people every week, they’re all so delightful and interesting, and it’s just so enriching to have these conversations with them. And some of them have become very dear friends, like Francis Bennett, for instance, who’s like a brother to me now. He’s coming here in two weeks, by the way, to teach a retreat. And Igor Kufayev, the Russian fellow, we feel like this sort of brotherly connection.
Fax Gilbert: Well, that’s what I mean, in the same way that you’ve created a relationship with them. I’m sure that others that are hearing your podcasts are creating relationships of their own.
Rick Archer: Yeah, they are, all these people. And the people I interview usually say that they’re really surprised by the response, that they get sort of this huge wave of interest, of inquiries.
Fax Gilbert: The bat-gap bump.
Rick Archer: The BatGap bump, yeah. And it’s really, you know, when I was on my six-month course, towards the end of the six-month course I was in Biarritz, and I was made the course director, or something like that.
Fax Gilbert: The TM course.
Rick Archer: The TM long six-month meditation course. And I was made the course director. And it kind of went to my head. I thought that I deserved a better room and maybe better food, and I started getting kind of bossy with people. And this came to Maharishi’s attention, and I got the message back, “You’re just a connector and a collector.” And I really took that to heart. I feel like that’s what I’m doing with this thing. I’m connecting and collecting. And I really get a lot of joy out of connecting people whom I feel deserve a broader stage, a bigger audience, with that audience. And it’s really gratifying to hear these stories, like this guy from Australia, “Saved my life,” or whatever.
Fax Gilbert: And the reverence that people have in their voices.
Rick Archer: Yeah, that makes me uncomfortable.
Fax Gilbert: “Do you see Rick?” “Well, I try to get an appointment.”
Rick Archer: “That really makes me uncomfortable. As a matter of fact, Kristen Kirk, who is also coming here in two weeks, I’ll explain a little bit later what Frances and Kristen are going to be doing here, she just did a retreat in Hawaii, and some of the people on that retreat in Hawaii wouldn’t have been there if not for her interview with me. And they decided that they felt inspired to make these little testimonial videos, that I could put up on BatGap, but there are all these mushy-gushy, “Rick, you’re so wonderful” stuff, and I thought, “Ugh, I can’t,” it just makes me squirm. And fortunately, I have a very down-to-earth wife who doesn’t give me an inch of that kind of latitude, so it’s really not about me. And it really sounds like a cliché, but I really feel like I’m not doing this, and I’m not doing anything, it’s sort of like I’m just rolling along, it’s not even me rolling along. There’s a sense, in a very real sense, nothing is happening, and I’m not doing anything. But I’m… well to quote Suzanne Siegel again, “doing the next obvious thing,” following each impulse as it comes up, and one idea leads to the next, and it just unfolds.
Fax Gilbert: it’s like being in your dharma.
Rick Archer: Yeah, in my dharma, and I sort of feel like I’m kind of a tool. That reminds me of another thing, which is that for years and years and years I felt like I want to get enlightened before I die. There was this intensity about getting enlightened. Now I never have that feeling or that thought. Now it’s more like, if there’s any intensity, it’s more like, “Of what value can I be as long as I’m in this body? How can I contribute in some way?” So, this really means a lot to me, to be able to do this, because I feel like I’m having some kind of impact and serving in some way, benefiting.
Fax Gilbert: Well, that is, in my definition, that is what embodiment is. That is that beingness that you are, wanting to come through you into the world to see itself and know itself and be itself. And there’s both tendencies. There’s the desire to go up and out and to know ourselves as that, and then there’s the desire of that, which is ultimately living us anyway. It’s the desire of that to incarnate more and more and more into matter, to know itself as matter. So, to me, one is the foundation for the other. And it’s beautiful to hear and to see all the people that you’re bringing forward that are doing that in their lives, that have had spiritual recognition and they’re not just running for the caves to culture that, although some people that’s their tendency. But what they’re doing is they’re bringing it forward into the world in their own way.
Rick Archer: Yeah, there’s that saying, which I’m sure you’ve all heard, that the next Buddha is the Sangha. And the way it seems to be going now, and modern technology has facilitated this, is that rather than some guy in sandals being able to walk around a 30-mile radius in the course of a lifetime or something, this stuff is just spreading all over the world at the speed of light. And so, what was it, George H.W. Bush, who talked about the thousand points of light all the time, what he meant by that, but it seems like all over the world there’s this sort of enlivenment taking place and awakenings taking place spontaneously. I was listening to Jed Amali the other day.
Fax Gilbert: People’s friends are helping them to wake up, which is kind of the work that we do. It’s your friends working together for that purpose, to help each other.
Rick Archer: There’s this lady I’m going to interview this weekend named Jed Amali, and I was listening to her stuff and she made the comment that each time somebody awakens, it becomes that much easier for other people to awaken. It’s like we’re making the membrane that blocks us from awakening thinner and thinner with each new awakening, a hundredth monkey kind of idea.
Fax Gilbert: Well that’s what you were saying at the beginning, one of the first things we said is that you wanted to bring this out to Fairfield because you saw the disconnect. And if people start talking about recognitions that they’ve had, then that gives other people the confidence, “Hey, if that bozo’s awakened and he seems confident about it, maybe there’s hope for me.”
Rick Archer: Yeah, maybe there’s hope for me.
Fax Gilbert: Yeah, that kind of thing. That was my signal. If you were me, what would you ask yourself right now? I was going to say, what was the biggest surprise in the people that you’ve … Were there any surprises, things that people said that you could not … and you were like, “I have no idea what’s going on here.” Or perhaps in a good way.
Rick Archer: Yeah, a couple of thoughts on that, I guess. One thing I do is, while I’m interviewing the person, I’m sitting there and I feel like the more settled my mind is, the better I would be at this. And it’s not as settled as it could be. There’s always some kind of buzz going on. But I sit there and just allow myself to be as settled as possible and be attentive to what comes up. And as the person talks, questions are kind of triggered or elicited and they bubble and I let them talk and the questions kind of rearrange themselves in my mind as the person is talking, like, “Okay, you’re at the front of the line, oh, they just said that, and you moved back and this one’s up in the front now.” And then when it’s time for me to ask a question, there’s an impulse of which one to ask. And people often say that I ask just the thing that they were wanting to ask. But sometimes it’s hard to understand what a person is actually trying to say. This happens once in a while and so I kind of try to restate what they just said, to make sure I got it right. So, I don’t know if that answers your question, but that’s part of the process. Larry King once was asked what his most difficult interview was, and he said it was Marlon Brando. And I said, “Well, why was that?” He said, “Because he really wouldn’t talk. I would ask him a question and he would say, ‘Yes,’ and sit there. I’d have to come up with another question.” There was one guy whom I interviewed, I don’t remember his name, and I kind of expected him to be like everybody else, which is fairly loquacious. He would get talking, I’d throw in a question every now and then, but it was like, boom, flat, I couldn’t get him to say anything. And I was thinking, “Why did this guy want to be interviewed?” And as it turned out, after the whole thing was over, he and I both decided not to put it up.
Fax Gilbert: Yeah, it just didn’t flow.
Rick Archer: Yeah, it didn’t flow. But 99% of them flow, and sometimes they’ve flowed for three whole hours, and the shortest one has still been over an hour. And usually after a certain point, hour and a half, two hours, I just kind of get this feeling like, “All right, we’re done,” and then we move toward wrapping it up.
Fax Gilbert: Yeah, I’m starting to get that feeling for myself.
Rick Archer: No, we’re not done yet.
Fax Gilbert: No, we’re not done yet, but I was thinking that we have a half an hour or so, it might be good to have some people from the audience.
Rick Archer: Sure, yeah.
Fax Gilbert: I can always …
Rick Archer: Do we have to actually get out of here at a certain time?
Fax Gilbert: No, we can keep going.
Rick Archer: No, they’ll just be off. Let’s say, if you want to be on mic, come stand up here, otherwise just be there. Make sure you turn it on. Okay.
Peter DeCicco: Rick, having interviewed lots of people, almost 230 people, I’m wondering if over this time you’ve seen common … I’ll wait for the sound. Can you hear me now? Okay. So, I’m wondering if over this 230 interviews, you’ve seen common themes, common characters, common things arise that might in some way define spiritual maturity.
Rick Archer: That’s a good question. Well part of it, I think is this embodiment thing, and that thing I said earlier about people who just have an intellectual concept of non-duality or something and think that’s it, that would be the low end of the scale, if we could make a scale. Then there are people who are in the up and out stage, and then there are people who are much more embodied. And interestingly, I’m also noticing something that I think conforms to Maharishi’s seven states model, which is that I’m noticing in certain teachers whom I would consider more mature in their spirituality, a real blossoming of the heart. Like Adyashanti for instance, again, has recently been talking a lot about Jesus, and understanding the teachings of Jesus. And there’s just this devotional component that seems to be dawning in the way some people teach. And also, people here are all familiar with Maharishi’s seven states model – cosmic consciousness, God consciousness, unity consciousness. People on the internet may not be, but the first one I just mentioned, cosmic consciousness, was supposed to be pure awareness maintained all the time, no matter what, including during deep sleep. And it’s interesting, I often ask that question of people, “What happens when you sleep?” And there are a number of people who maintain pure awareness, as clear as a bell, throughout sleep and some don’t. But I’m not totally convinced that that has to be an absolute criterion, I don’t know. And some people say, “Well, I did for a while and now I just as soon snore. I prefer being out like a light.” So, I’m not qualified to say. But the next one was God consciousness that he talked about, which is refined perception. And this kind of fascinates me because if you think about it, the iconography of just about every spiritual tradition and the literature depicts subtle perception – halos, angels, devas, demons, all kinds of stuff that’s supposed to exist on some level or other that we ordinarily don’t perceive. And so, if all the spiritual traditions talk about that stuff, shouldn’t it begin to dawn in the experience of these people who say they have had a spiritual awakening? And I’m finding in more and more cases that it is, it does. In fact, it fascinates me so much that I decided to set up a little forum, where people who have what I would call “stabilized” subtle perception, “stabilized,” refined or celestial perception, can talk about this whole topic and we’ll put it up on BatGap. And we’re going to do that when Francis Bennett comes in a couple of weeks, because he’s one such person. In fact, I had already become really good friends with him and knew him quite well, and he hadn’t mentioned this at all. And we were just going to the airport to come back from California after the Science and Non-Duality Conference and he mentioned to me that he sees subtle beings all the time, they’re always attending to people and helping them in certain ways and doing all this stuff. And I was so fascinated with it, I kept asking him questions, “Are they here? Do you see any now?” We were in an elevator in the San Francisco airport, and I said, “Are there any in the elevator?” And he just kind of smiled and then when we got off the elevator he said, “Oop,” he said, “They just told me, ‘Don’t point us out to people. If they’re meant to see us, they’ll see us.'” And then he said, “Well, there were three.” Pardon? There were three in the elevator. It was a small elevator too. So sorry Francis, I didn’t mean to embarrass you. But he’s been very reluctant to talk about this because it’s sort of like a sensitive, subtle thing that is intimate. And so, this is actually going to be one of the things we’re going to talk about, in this forum, is should we really be talking about this? But it seems to me that it’s one of those things that is … if we lived in a society where everybody had refined perception, it would be like, “Yeah, duh, so what?” It would be matter of fact, normal. And so, if some people are starting to experience it, then they’re kind of the – what’s that word? The advanced avant-garde. They’re kind of out on the fringes, beginning to have this experience, and maybe, 20 years from now, the spiritual community at large, this will be kind of where non-dual realization is today. So, Francis will be there, Kristin Kirk, who has been much more open about this, Ruffina Farrokh-Anklesaria, some of you may remember Farrokh-Anklesaria, who has been teaching TM in prisons in the St. Louis area, although they don’t call it TM for legal reasons, but he has very profound experiences in this way. And Harry Alto, who is very squeamish about doing anything like this in public. It took me four years to talk him into being interviewed, and his experience of the subtle mechanics of creation is off the charts, but perhaps it’s because he’s been awakened since his childhood and has had time to develop. But anyway, that’s kind of a fun thing about BatGap too, in a way it’s like a play toy, where if something interests me, I can talk about it with people who are having that kind of experience, and it’s just so much fun. I’m really interested in the materialistic mindset that forms the basis of our culture, primarily the scientific and technological culture that has such a profound impact on our world. And the mindset is basically that this is dead matter, and we can pretty much do whatever we want with it, reap whatever rewards we can get from it, and so on. And I think that if we, as a culture, appreciated the innate divinity in every particle of creation, then we would treat it much more respectfully. So, I’m working on getting really familiar with Sam Harris, in order to interview him at some point. I’m going to read all his books and listen to everything I can, just to stretch my own boundaries and just to discuss another area which I think is really fascinating, and really important.
Fax Gilbert: I had a … when you’re talking about God consciousness or subtle perception, I thought it can come in the form of seeing, feeling these subtle layers of creation, but it can also show up in a very seemingly ordinary way, where there is a flow of love, which to me is the subtlest form of creation. There’s a flow of love that spontaneously connects you with the other person, not just on the level of consciousness, but viscerally as a human being. There’s a connectivity that’s poignant. It’s both beautiful and blissful, but it’s painful also, and it’s a combination of both. And to me, that’s indicative of the descent of, you could say, the Christ into matter, is that Christ love that connects us with the world that we live in and the people in the world and the trees and the critters and all of that. It’s both. I think when Maharishi talks about God consciousness, he’s talking about both of that.
Rick Archer: And he actually talked about … I’ve been listening to some of his talks on it recently, because I’m veering up for this topic, but he talks about how it’s love or appreciation, to a superlative degree, appreciation to a superlative degree would be love, which refines the perception, and which cultures the nervous system to be able to maintain refined perception. And as the song says, “That’s what the world needs now.” Another question? The mic is in the chair, if anybody wants to ask a question. Carol, but come on the mic. You won’t be on camera, and then make sure it’s flicked on before you start talking. Go ahead.
Carol Olicker: Is it on?
Rick Archer: Yeah.
Carol Olicker: Good. Is it on?
Rick Archer: It’s on.
Carol Olicker: Okay. Have you ever interviewed somebody who you thought was really hokey and hooey and not really present in that way?
Rick Archer: Yeah, a couple.
Carol Olicker: How do you deal with that?
Rick Archer: I try to be respectful. I’m not going to be insulting to people. But I try to be a little bit challenging also in terms of whether they’re actually experiencing what they say they are, or whether it’s just conceptual. And there have been a couple like that. And this whole thing of scheduling people is one of the most difficult things, because there are well over a thousand people on the waiting list. And new requests come in every day. I can only do one a week. I still have a job.
Fax Gilbert: You’re going to be busy for a long time.
Rick Archer: I will. I’ll be doing this well into my 90s, just for the people on the list. And so, I feel bad, because I know that a lot of those thousand people would be really interesting to talk to and I would like to talk to them all right away. But I somehow have to prioritize. And in the past, I was shooting from the hip a lot more, just sort of, “Alright, let’s schedule this guy and see what happens.” These days, Irene has taken over the scheduling and she actually watches YouTube videos and tries to get a feel for the person. And we have a voting system also where people submit these requests through a form on the website and people with a lot of votes, they’re in a spreadsheet, they tend to rise to the top of the spreadsheet. But we don’t strictly go by that either because sometimes it’s the people you’ve never even heard of, like Francis Bennett, who had just come out of a monastery, who are going to be really interesting. So, it’s an inexact, kind of clumsy method, but I do my best with that. And I feel bad about having to put people off sometimes who have requested interviews. Anyway, that’s my answer to that question. She had a question.
Woman in audience: I’m a little confused about, someone had mentioned that you still feel stress and you had mentioned some things that make me confused about…. Jesus did say that by their fruits you shall know them. And I know you’re probably not very judgmental, you don’t seem like the person who’d say, “No, that persons not enlightened or that person is enlightened.” But what kind of fruits do you see from these people who you get a sense really are awakened? I’m not so much a believer in enlightenment as I am in the outcome.
Rick Archer: That’s a very good question. That’s something my wife always says too, that she really wants to see some kind of tangible evidence that someone has attained something of significance, otherwise it’s not significant in her estimation. And as you were saying earlier, we all have our dharmas. Some people are just … Bernadette Roberts, I don’t know a whole lot about her, I haven’t read her books yet, but she’s one of these famous spiritual writers. But mainly she left the convent after having had a profound spiritual awakening and raised a family, and that was where most of her energy was going, raising this family, at the same time having profound spiritual experiences. So perhaps her neighbors didn’t even know that anything was going on. Maybe she was a good mother, I don’t know. So, it doesn’t necessarily mean one is going to be out being a Mother Teresa or something, if you’ve had a spiritual awakening, because we do all have our talents and our dharma. Dharma just means that kind of course of action which is most in tune with our particular makeup and most conducive to our evolution. A lot of the people I interview happen to be teachers, because that’s how I know about them, and so their dharma seems to be teaching and they feel that that’s how they’re serving, and that’s great.
Fax Gilbert: I was just going to say, you wake up as you are. It’s more of a remembering. It’s a remembering something that’s already there right now. It’s not that your mind remembers it, it’s the self that remembers itself, it knows itself. And so externally, there cannot be any change. You wake up as you are with all the baggage that you’re coming into it, that you have right now, and as a result of that, it’s like a seismic earthquake to your identity when that happens. And what can shake out of that, is all of the aspects of your being that have been held back for one reason or another will start to blossom, and it can take a while for that to happen as these things, bubble up to be seen, felt, integrated, spoken, lived. So, it’s not that all of a sudden there’s a red cape and you turn into a Superman or a holy person. My sense of it is that you just become yourself more fully and completely in the world, and your relationship with the world deepens, as that beingness that you recognize yourself to be falls into your heart.
Rick Archer: In the Indian tradition, well, also the Christian tradition and perhaps others, service is considered a spiritual practice. In the Indian tradition they call it “seva,” which usually is translated as “selfless service.” And it’s considered a spiritual practice because it attenuates the ego. Instead of it being all about, “What can I get for me?” it’s, “What can I do for this person?” Mother Teresa spoke that way too. She saw everyone as Jesus, and how can I serve Jesus by serving this person and this person? So, it really does, and Amma is really big on that. She has people going out and cleaning up garbage in the streets of Calcutta or other cities around India, and she herself joins in for hours after having sat on her couch hugging people for 12, 14, 18 hours, she gets up and they clean garbage in the middle of the night, and perhaps set an example for the townspeople to do it themselves in the future. And of course, hospitals and schools and orphanages and support for widows and farmer suicide prevention and all these different things. Most of the energy that – and I’m just using her as a case in point because I’m more familiar with her – most of the energy that all the people around her are expending has to do with helping other people. And there’s very little talk about, “Oh, I attained this state of enlightenment, or that state of experience,” and usually when somebody wants to get into that kind of talk, Amma deflects it and it’s more about helping others. And she actually said at some point that, what we were talking earlier about culturing the capacity or the ability or the readiness for awakening, that after enough service is performed, even a little meditation or other type of spiritual practice, or perhaps nothing at all will result in awakening. And Shankara talked about this too, he talked about levels or stages of preparedness for full realization. He said, for most people, Vedanta is inappropriate, they’re not ready for it. So, service would be valuable for most people, and at a certain stage meditation, at a certain stage self-inquiry and so on. Ramana Maharshi said a very similar thing.
Fax Gilbert: I would flip it. I would say that what is also true is that there may be no desire for service, until this awakening happens, and then as a result of that awakening – because it’s something that you were just saying, after all this meditation, you’ve lost the desire to get somewhere else, you’ve lost the desire to pile up points, so to speak. It’s not a linear thing anymore. And it’s the same way. Some service is, “Okay, I’m serving so that ultimately this is going to benefit me.”
Rick Archer: Yeah, it could be that way.
Fax Gilbert: Whereas, if you’re coming from a position of self-recognition, then it’s just a natural outpouring of that into life, because you feel the connection.
Rick Archer: You know the 23rd Psalm, “My cup runneth over.” So, if the cup’s not full, the orientation is going to be, “Hey, leave me alone, I’m busy filling my cup.” But once the cup is full and it starts to spill over, then there’s just this spontaneous giving.
Fax Gilbert: It’s a great question.
Rick Archer: Yeah. Bobby, did you have a question?
Bob Shrem: When you’re interviewing people or when you’re categorizing, do you have a concern about the distinctions between someone’s experience? An experience could be lights, or an experience could be LSD. So, an experience in contrast to someone being a teacher, in contrast to someone who you would consider more of being a master, in that they sort of understand the steps and how to lead a person on, or is it all just a mishmash?
Rick Archer: It’s a mishmash. There’s been a whole potpourri of different types of people. Some of them are really, they just have an experience, and they can describe it, but they can’t necessarily help anyone else get to it unless their description is conducive to somebody else’s awakening. Other people have devised various kinds of techniques and practices and meditations and whatnot that people can do. Other people, they don’t advocate techniques so much, but they have such a powerful transmission, that just being in their presence really helps people awaken. So there seems to be people who have all kinds of different talents and influences on others. Not everyone is cut out to be a teacher, it’s not everyone’s dharma to do that. David?
David: Can you just talk more about awakening? What is the definition of awakening?
Rick Archer: that’s a good question really, because if we’re going to use words, we better agree on their meanings or else it’s a Tower of Babel kind of thing, we’re just all speaking different languages. I think FACTS gave a pretty good definition of it earlier on. Remember that?
Fax Gilbert: I don’t quite remember. The phrase that I would … to me, it’s an expansion of identity. It’s a surprise expansion of identity to something that’s already there. It sort of owns itself and its fundamental. The difference between an awakening and an experience is that with an awakening, you can read the same book that you read the day before and understand it completely differently, because there’s something fundamental in the way that you identify, that changes. It’s a fundamental shift in who you are in the acceptance or the recognition of who you are as consciousness, and it doesn’t end there. There are awakenings of that, that progress in my experience.
Rick Archer: For sure.
Fax Gilbert: There’s an awakening into your life, into having that descend or fall into your heart, into your life, into the world. And so, I think fundamental is a good way to encapsulate it.
Rick Archer: Also, if you think about it, the vast majority of people in the world identify very strongly and deeply with what we would call their individuality. We ask them who they are, and they’ll give you their name. “No, that’s just your name.” “Well, this is me.” “Well, that’s just your body.” “Well, this is my job. This is my wife.” They describe various external features and there’s no inkling of any kind of pure consciousness, or deep fundamental reality as their true identity. They’re kind of flesh-bound in a small package, whereas we all have the understanding, that the “enlightened person,” their primary identification is as the ultimate reality itself, as consciousness, as the ground of being. So, the identity has kind of shifted 180 degrees. And Maharishi always used the term “leisha vidya,” there’s still going to be some faint remains at least, and perhaps not so faint, of individual identification, otherwise, you wouldn’t be able to function, you wouldn’t be able to feed yourself, you’d be pushed around on a gurney.
Fax Gilbert: I think he’s talking about people who have been living in caves and stuff. “My leisha vidya is huge.”
Rick Archer: Yeah, but as you just said, he said his lesh avidya is huge, it’s not lesha, it’s mucho vidya. [Laughter] But again, there’s a vast range of possibilities, and for all I know, we all may be spiritual neophytes compared to what’s really ultimately in store for us, at some stage of the game, I don’t know. I was thinking, “He’s going to ask me if I’m enlightened,” and I was thinking, “If he asks me that, what I would say would be, ‘If you really want to cheapen the term, yeah, fine.'” But it’s not some kind of false modesty thing or something, I really feel like the range of possibilities … in the Indian tradition they talk of 16 kalas, which are supposed to be levels of possible evolution, and human beings are said to occupy something like the fourth through the eighth kala. So, if that’s a true model, then the most enlightened person who ever walked the earth was in the eighth kala, and there are many above that. who knows what possibilities there may be.
Fax Gilbert: It never ends, endless awakenings.
Rick Archer: Stan?
Stan Kendz: Hi Rick. This young lady over here asked us about “know them by their works,” and probably you’ll recall Maharishi talked many, many times about humans being born not to work for another Person, but to command nature and to command the laws of nature. We don’t really see a way to evaluate that easily socially. It’s kind of a personal experience, and I’ve spent the last seven years here doing research on people that have reported awakening experiences with profound support of nature support, and trying to analyze to see on an academic level if we can actually determine how that process occurs after the person becomes awake in self-referral. And I think finally, just about three weeks ago, I had my data sort of crystallized into some meaningful ways that I can express it and converse about it. And there is a very, very clear evolution of the entire nervous system from self-awareness through six levels of mind, and each one of those levels has to be cultured to completely replace the ego with self, the emotions with self, and eventually the entire world becomes nothing but an expression of self. Everything that’s seen and felt and thought about, and then that process spontaneously and effortlessly and without any determination or predetermination results in the subtlest fulfillment of any desire in an almost instantaneous way. So, I think maybe that relates a little bit to this question, and it would be fun sometime in the future, for you and I to talk about that.
Rick Archer: Yeah, we’ll have to do that. Stan was one of the first people I interviewed on That Gap, if those who are watching on the internet can find him on there, Stan Kenz, K-E-N-Z. So that’s a good question.
Stan Kendz: I guess I have a follow-up to what I asked before. I guess many of us when we were on courses with Maharishi, and there would be a discussion of experience with him, we would have the benefit of him clarifying things, and in that sense authenticating, helping to authenticate a person’s experience. And so, one of my concerns with BATGAP is just that issue of you have this sort of wide range of experiences and yet for the neophyte or for the new person, without having someone to help authenticate, it could be quite confusing.
Rick Archer: Yeah, and I’m certainly not qualified to verify or authenticate anybody, and I don’t try to do that. But it is what it is. It’s like people just have to sort it out and go with what resonates with them. And I don’t think anybody I’ve interviewed or anybody I’ve ever met in my life, is the ultimate final authority on everything. We’ve all met some great saints in our lives, everybody in this room. But I think it’s important. Buddha said something, he said, I can only roughly paraphrase, but he said, “Never take my word for anything. You have to verify it in your own experience.” So, no matter who says anything, even if I’ve said it, Buddha said, you have to go by your own integrity, your own insight.
Fax Gilbert: And you trust in your own being.
Rick Archer: Yeah, so I think that was for me one of the values of involuntarily getting distanced from the TM movement. It was something I came to appreciate, and I still have great respect, and appreciation for the TM movement, but I also appreciate having been kicked out of the incubator, because it enabled me to step back and reevaluate a lot of assumptions, that I had taken for granted and that had gotten deeply ingrained. And it came around eventually to just. There’s that line by the band in that song, “The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down,” “You take what you need, and you leave the rest.” And you’re going to find perhaps a lot of what you need in a certain thing and a little of what you need in this thing, but you have to learn to use your own discrimination. And I think it’s unhealthy to ever assume that anybody is speaking the ultimate Gospel truth, and even if they were, it’s going to be filtered through your own interpretation, and you still have to take it with a grain of salt and see if it really sits right with you. You can stay up here.
Fax Gilbert: Another way of saying that is taking responsibility for your own awakening.
Rick Archer: Yeah, and we’ve seen examples of people- with gurus, with Christian things, and that Heaven’s Gate cult, they all killed themselves, because some teacher told them that some spaceship was following the Hale-Bopp comet and they would all elevate to some other level. So, people have … and maybe they did, who’s to say? And how many hundreds of millions of people have been killed by others in this world because they happened to believe what it said in some book, or they had some kind of rigid interpretation of the book or something, and it clashed with everybody, they felt like everybody else would be better off.
Fax Gilbert: Not to mention the paradoxical nature of spiritual awakening that we’ve talked about. You can look at pretty much any spiritual teacher and they say one thing at one time and they say the opposite, and so you have both going on.
Rick Archer: I think sometimes that’s intentional.
Fax Gilbert: And a lot of times they’re both right.
Rick Archer: Yeah, that’s an important point too. Two completely paradoxically opposed statements can both be right at the same time, “Certs is a candy mint, certs is a breath mint.” Photons are particles, photons are waves. Paradoxical-ness, whatever that word would be, is inherent in the nature of creation. Yeah.
Carol Olicker: Isn’t that one of the lessons of SCI?
Rick Archer: That’s on, right? Good.
Carol Olicker: Lessons of SCI is the mutual coexistence of opposites. That’s one of the basic premises of the SCI course. Has anybody ever talked to you or had the experience of where it feels like you’re going backwards in evolution, like devolving? Because when I started TM, I was definitely in another place in consciousness. It was incredible. Loved everybody. Nature told me everything. It was the opposite of paranoia. Everything, everywhere I turned, the world was telling me something I needed to know, and giving me something I needed to have. It was incredible. It lasted for 18 months. And I had psychic…I saw things and all this. Now, I’m very aware, because I’ve studied all the Advaita and stuff, I’m very aware that I’m identified with my thoughts and my feelings and my appetites and my ideas, and that I’m not, I don’t, I have the idea that, of absolute consciousness and pure consciousness, and I’m very aware that I don’t identify as pure consciousness, but I know that it exists, and I believe in it. So, I’m just wondering if anybody you ever interviewed has ever talked about devolution or can you go back?
Rick Archer: Well, I’ve had a couple of people ask me to take their interview down because they had felt they were awakened when I did the interview and later on, they decided that they weren’t and they didn’t feel like it should be up there anymore. So, there’s that. To kind of zoom out to a broader perspective, I feel, again, this is a mixture of experience, understanding and belief, I feel that the universe is, God is in everything and everything is in God. It’s a divine play and ultimately, it’s a big, giant evolution machine. Stars form and explode and form heavy elements which eventually form bodies, because bodies can be self-referential with regard to consciousness, and it takes billions of years. But it’s this huge evolution machine, and the force of evolution is inexorable, it’s unstoppable. And to use an analogy Marshi used, if a boat’s going along and it seems to divert its course, it might seem like it’s not going towards the goal anymore, but actually, the captain knows that it had to go around a rock or something. And it’s actually taking the most direct course to the shore, to the port that it’s trying to reach. So, I just sort of would feel, if I were you, and I do feel as me, that all is well and wisely Put, and just keep on trucking, and don’t sweat it too much, and don’t kind of like lament over something that happened 30 years ago in your experience.
Carol Olicker: Oh no, I don’t. I usually lament over what I ate last night. Right. Or as my lamenting goes.
Fax Gilbert: I think everybody goes through periods of just …
Rick Archer: Stagnation.
Fax Gilbert: Stagnation. Nothing happens and waking down we call it the rot. People have been on spiritual paths for 2, 3, 4 decades, and they wake up one morning and say, “I’m the same Joe I was, in fact it’s even worse. I used to have good experiences, now I don’t have anything.” And many times, it’s at that point, where transformation can begin because you don’t know. You start to question the assumptions you’ve had about where you’re going, and what you believe and all this other stuf,f and that creates an opening where truth can surface and be seen.
Rick Archer: Another analogy, I don’t know who used this one, is that a train can be in a tunnel and it can be going along and it’s dark and you can’t really see any progress, and then you come out the other side of the tunnel and you realize, “Whoa, there’s been a lot of distance covered here,” but you just don’t know it. So, I would not assume that you were somehow devolved or a fallen creature or something. I am sure you are doing fine.
Carol Olicker: Thank you.
Indian man: So, about stagnation, so I want to continue that question. Rick, have you ever felt monotony having interviewed 230 people and you want to take a shift from it, or something like that?
Rick Archer: No, I love it. He asked if I ever feel kind of a monotony having interviewed so many people, would I like to take a break from it or?
Indian man: No, to change the course of your strategy.
Rick Archer: To do what?
Indian man: You said you want to interview people who have been having evolution and experiences. So do you feel monotony because it is continuously four years that you have been interviewing, that is 54 weeks, 234 years. Have you felt you want to make any change in the strategy of interviewing people?
Rick Archer: Well, there are different categories of people, and so I do like to mix it up. Like I was talking about interviewing Sam Harris, whose name is synonymous with Atheism, and I think it would be really interesting. But he is a practicing Buddhist. He does intense Buddhist meditation and has for years. So, it is interesting to sort of throw different things in the mix and have different kinds of conversations. If everyone were saying the exact same thing every week it would get pretty boring. you. Peter. We’ll get to the mic, yeah.
Peter DeCicco: As your show is evolving and likely to continue to evolve, have you thought of shifting towards thinking about your audience more? I don’t know how big it is. But having some shows.
Rick Archer: About 10,000 people a day.
Peter DeCicco: How many?
Rick Archer: About 10,000 people a day engage with it in one way or the other. come to the website, watch it on YouTube, listen to the iTunes podcast, 8 to 10 maybe.
Peter DeCicco: Wow, that many a day. What’s been the peak?
Rick Archer: Oh, well the peak on the website itself was 8,000 something one day, but that doesn’t count all the people who listen on iTunes or just watch it on YouTube without coming to the website. And I’ve never actually… it would be impossible to tell that with YouTube, because you’d have to go to every single of the 200 and something interviews and see what the view count was from day one today, and I don’t bother. But it’s up there, it’s pretty good.
Peter DeCicco: Did you ever think of maybe adding, not necessarily changing, but adding from time to time a format similar to National Public Radio where you have three or four people who are appropriate experts and then taking some questions from the congregation that listens to you. And maybe, you can have it on a certain topic just like the lady here was asking about understanding the process of personal experience and evolution. So, people can bring up questions and then there could be maybe feedback to the group more rather then obviously what you are doing is great, but it is often featuring experiences and wisdom maybe from these teachers, but something that is more interactive at this point.
Rick Archer: I would like to do that. There is kind of a technical challenge in terms of doing this on Skype with somebody and getting people to see that simultaneously, and ask questions and make sure that they aren’t total nutcases asking the questions. If somebody has a radio show, you don’t just call in and talk. They have a delay thing, so if somebody starts swearing, and I can always edit the stuff in post-production, but that falls on Ralph’s shoulders, my friend from high school. So, I would like to do that, it’s just a question of the technicalities of it, and therefore it is nice to have little get-togethers once in a while, like we did in North Carolina with Francis Bennett and John Mark Stroud, or like we’re going to do here in Fairfield in a couple of weeks with Francis and Harry and Rufina and Kristen and there we’ll have audience interaction.
Peter DeCicco: So, I’m thinking a lot of what you talk about for most people is sort of like something they’re trying to attain. May inspire them. But bringing it down to more of a practical level.
Rick Archer: Like for instance?
Peter DeCicco: Just like her question, just talking about being stuck in a rut. And people may, you’re constantly saying, “Practice makes you prone.” So, a lot of people will be wondering, “Well, what should I practice?” And these are all questions that naturally come up when you talk about awakening, or enlightening, enlightenment. And there’s a lot of debate in the press over that and all that. So, whatever, I just thought of bringing it down more into a different attention towards the audience as the audience evolving. That’s it. go anywhere, but just a thought that came up.
Rick Archer: The whole thing is evolving and maybe a time will come where I’ll be doing that routinely, it’s just I haven’t quite gotten there yet in terms of the technical set up. But one thing that would help with that perhaps is that on the website on batgap.com there’s a page called upcoming interviews and it shows all the ones that are scheduled, and people could go there, and see who is going to be interviewed and check them out a little bit, and submit some questions that they’d like me to ask them. It obviously won’t be in real time, but that would be at least somewhat in the direction of what you’re suggesting. Yeah.
Peter DeCicco: We can talk about it.
Rick Archer: Yeah. Go ahead.
Woman in audience: Do you know much about Francis Bennett’s book?
Rick Archer: Let me talk about that just for a second. So, Francis Bennett, a good friend of mine, he’s been to town before. came and just gave a talk at Morningstar one time a couple summers ago, maybe it was last year. It’s on YouTube, it’s on Batgap, and you can check him out, you can check out my interviews with him. He wanted to come to Fairfield and do a weekend retreat, and I taught a retreat with Francis one time, not as a kind of a co-teacher, more as a sidekick, and he’s really good. He spent 30 years in monasteries, not that that would necessarily make him really good, but he just has a real depth of insight and a good heart, and he is a very down to earth. What you see is what you get kind of person, no BS. So, he is going to come and teach a retreat and it will be at McElhaney House and it won’t be in residence obviously. I think it might be 140 for the weekend or something, is that right John? John Loyne is the guy to talk to if you want to get on that retreat, he’s organizing it. John Loyne is this guy over here. Yeah. So, talk to John if you’re interested in that. And then Kristin Kirk is coming. I haven’t talked too much about her, but I interviewed her about a month or two ago, and she’s really got something. I prepared for that interview by listening to a whole weekend retreat that she had taught up in Seattle while I was cross country skiing in Jefferson County Park. And I just felt this genuineness and authenticity and depth of insight, and kind of naturalness and people really seem to resonate with her and get a lot out of the experience of interacting with her. So, she’s going to come too, and she does something which I don’t completely understand exactly what it is, but some kind of group healing thing. And she is sort of attuned to some subtle levels of creation and does something or other. She’s got to put an ad in the weekly reader, and maybe a little article explaining what she does. So that will be kind of outside the retreat. That’s a Sunday afternoon she’s going to do it. She might also do something all day Friday. And a bunch of people who hang around her might be coming into Fairfield for the retreat and for that. Then Saturday night during the retreat we are going to have this kind of forum discussion. There was some thought to have it be a totally public thing, but for various reasons, we couldn’t do it that way- both scheduling and in terms of what we were saying earlier about the intimacy of this experience of subtle perception. A lot of people, some of the participants in this forum, just wanted a more private, quiet setting in which to kind of come out on this particular topic, and didn’t want to have sort of a come one, come all thing at a public venue. So that will be Saturday evening during the retreat for those who are on the retreat, but it will also be put on BatGap later on, which is ironic, because thousands of people are going to see it anyway. But somehow these folks felt, a couple of them felt more comfortable just doing it in a more private setting, not being open to every question under the book or whatever. So, that will be kind of an interesting discussion about what subtle perception or celestial perception is. Is it something that we should strive for? Does it come automatically? Can it be taught? Is it a distraction or is it kind of an inevitable unfoldment in the course of our evolution? We’ll just sort of go at it from all angles and discuss it. That will be happening Saturday night during the retreat. So, the retreat itself is like Friday the 23rd through Sunday the 25th at McElhaney. It’s reasonable, in fact, she said she wouldn’t turn anybody away. People can come in for free if they really can’t afford it, but I think it’s like Saturday afternoon after the retreat ends, she’s going to do a thing at McElhaney, where she does this healing thing. And she’s also, I think, going to do something all day Friday. I’m not sure where, maybe McElhaney, I don’t know. She’ll work that out or we’ll work it out. It’ll be in the weekly reader. Yeah. So probably I won’t edit this out of the tape that we’re recording here because people watching this on YouTube could still come to Fairfield and join in on this stuff if they want to.
Fax Gilbert: I would just like to say, I forgot to mention this earlier, this event is being sponsored by Waking Down in Fairfield.
Rick Archer: This event that we’re doing right here now?
Fax Gilbert: Right here, right now. And if you’re interested in getting on our mailing list, just leave your email address there. We’ll let you know about all the activities that we have in Fairfield. And there’s also a website, wakingdown.org, which gives a good explanation of what it’s all about.
Rick Archer: Good. And also, I’ve interviewed Fax and his wife, Sharon, on BatGap. My fifth interview I think, so you can watch that there if you want to hear more from them. I’ve also interviewed quite a few Waking Down teachers, Steve and Winifred Boggs, Saniel and Linda Bonder, Ted Strauss (Ted and Hillary), Sandra Glickman, Allan Morelock, and on BatGap there is an alphabetical index of all the people on the right-hand column so all these names I just mentioned, if you want to learn more about them you can click on those links and see their interviews. Great. Okay. I think it’s a wrap.
Fax Gilbert: Thank you all. Thanks for coming. [APPLAUSE]
Rick Archer: Thank you.
Fax Gilbert: Thanks.