Roger Walsh Transcript

Roger Walsh Interview

Rick: Welcome to Buddha at the Gas Pump. My name is Ray Archer. Buddha at the Gas Pump is an ongoing series of conversations with spiritually awakening people. I’ve done, I think, about ones, go to, B-A-T-G-A-P, and look under the past interviews menu. This program is made possible by the support of appreciative listeners and viewers. So if you appreciate it and would like to support it, there’s a PayPal button on every page of the site. I was listening to a podcast today and some guy said, “You know, even if you contribute a dollar per episode, you know, if enough people do that, it becomes significant. So it doesn’t have to be a lot. Many hands make light work.” My guest today is Roger Walsh, MD, PhD, and DHL. Is DHL Doctor of Humane Letters?

Roger: It is.

Rick: Okay, good. So you’re not in competition with UPS or FedEx?

Roger: I am not fast enough for that game.

Rick: Okay, Roger graduated from Queensland University in Australia. I’m going to crack jokes with Roger because as you’ll see in a minute, he once tried to be a professional comedian. He graduated from Queensland University in Australia with degrees in Psychology, Physiology, Neuroscience, and Medicine. Came to the US as a Fulbright Scholar and is currently a professor of psychiatry, philosophy, anthropology, and religious studies at the University of California at Irvine. His research interests include psychological health and well-being, virtues such as love and wisdom, practices such as meditation that foster love and well-being, and the psychological roots of our current social and global challenges. I think we’ll be talking about all these things today. Roger’s books include “Paths Beyond Ego,” “The World of Shamanism,” and “Essential Spirituality, the Seven Great Practices,” which I’ve just read in the last few days or week.

Roger: Bless you!

Rick: It wasn’t a toil. It was an enjoyable experience. It’s a good book, well-written, well-organized. And Roger recently edited the modestly titled volume, “The World’s Great Wisdom.” His research and writings have received over 20 national and international awards. He was formerly a circus acrobat, held world records in trampolining and high diving, and recently graduated from the San Francisco Comedy College and had an extremely brief and unsuccessful career as a stand-up comedian. And to me, those other things that I just mentioned kind of signify that you’re a, well, you said it before we started the call, you’re kind of a, what do you say, a dilettante or eclectic?

Roger: Intellectual, spiritual dilettante. My late wife used to call me spiritually promiscuous.

Rick: Good, that’s a good thing to be. Before we get going on the juicy stuff, I really have to ask you about this trampolining and high diving. I heard you say that you were the first person to achieve a quadruple flip on a trampoline, right?

Roger: I was a long time ago, and now they’re doing quintuples, of course.

Rick: Wow. And then you also, for a while, held the world high diving record, which means what? Diving off a board into a pool or off a cliff or what?

Roger: In my case, it meant off a bridge, and there are three qualifications for a record. You have to intend to go off it.

Rick: Yes, not be pushed.

Roger: Slips and falls don’t count.

Rick: Right.

Roger: Pushes don’t count. Second, you have to intend to survive.

Rick: Yeah.

Roger: And third, you have to actually survive.

Rick: Uh-huh.

Roger: So those are the three criteria.

Rick: Do you hit the water head first or feet first?

Roger: Feet first, reverse somersault. No, you can’t hit head first from those heights. You have to go in feet first.

Rick: Boy.

Roger: Yeah.

Rick: Even then, it must have been quite a shock. I mean, water doesn’t compress. That’s one thing I learned about water recently, and that’s why it kills you when you hit it at a high speed.

Roger: Yes, no, it turns out to be a little like concrete from that height.

Rick: Yeah, geez. Well, I’m glad you survived. I think that –

Roger: Me too.

Rick: You know, I was just saying to somebody today, I think that during — you probably did this when you were older. But I said to somebody, you know, I’m really grateful that I survived my teenage years. And I think I must have had some unspoken pact with God that if He saved my life, I would dedicate the rest of it to spirituality.

Roger: I understand. I think, you know, any of us, particularly anyone, any of us who have lived with testosterone have looked back with gratitude that we escaped a lot of things legal, bodily, etc., etc.

Rick: All kinds of crazy stuff. Gave our guardian angels nervous breakdowns. So, okay, so I’ve heard your story because I listened to quite a few hours of other interviews with you. But of course the people listening haven’t heard it. And I want to spend a good part of our time today breaking fresh ground if we can, and not have you just have to repeat things you’ve said a thousand times that people can hear on other YouTube recordings and so on. But I think we need to start with an overview of how you ended up where you are. You know, I mean, how you got started in spirituality, what your orientation was before you got interested in spirituality and so on, just to give people the kind of the lay of the land sense of how you tick.

Roger: Sure, yeah. Well, I was born in Australia. I came over here to do my, went through medical school in Australia, came over here to do specialty training in psychiatry. As part of my psychiatry training, I was doing psychotherapy on people, but didn’t really think it did Much. And since I was doing it and I was pretty green, it probably didn’t. But I figured I had a moral obligation to try it myself, so I did go in and into therapy myself for what I thought would be a brief period. And I had the extremely good fortune of being in therapy with a really true master therapist who just cracked me open in a way I didn’t know was possible and got me in touch with the inner world again, which I had no clue existed. I’d been totally out of touch with my inner experience, and he opened that to me. And I found this totally unexpected inner world or universe of insights and thoughts and images and fantasies and visions that became available as a reservoir of inner guidance and resources. And it just blew me away because I just had no context for it.

Rick: I think I heard you say you had been a behaviorist, right? Were you like a BF Skinner guy?

Roger: I was a BF Skinner guy, yeah. I came out of a neuroscience.

Rick: For those who don’t know, he was a guy who popularized the notion that we basically have- you explain it, you’ll do a better job.

Roger: Well, it was a black box approach to changing human behavior. You didn’t have to worry about what was inside it. You just provided the right stimulus and the rat would go this way or that way. That is, the human being would go this way or that way, so that was where I started off.

Rick: So you basically discounted all subjective experience, you know, you just brushed that off as being nonexistent or irrelevant or something.

Roger: Exactly, yeah. So this was a huge shock for me. And once therapy had opened me up, then I started exploring all the things California has to offer, and gradually found myself gravitating towards religious and spiritual practices, which I could not understand because it seemed like meditation did something useful. But I knew it was part of the relic of primitive thinking from the opiate of the masses. So why the hell was this stuff working? It really bothered me, and there was literally one moment, you know, we all have some life-changing moments. And one of the big ones for me came as I was walking across the living room and suddenly realized that behind the conventional religions with their myths and rituals and beliefs and dogmas were these hidden disciplines for practices for training the mind to induce the same states of consciousness that the founders had realized, and thereby opening up similar possibilities for all of us.

Rick: Yeah, so I was thinking as I was reading your book to ask you to define in a nutshell why and how you think a religion gets started.

Roger: Why it gets started? Well, off the top of my head, in several ways, I think religions tend to get started when usually it’s an individual as some sort of breakthrough of some kind. And I think one of the things maybe we want to talk about is different founders have different kinds of breakthroughs. But they have spiritual breakthroughs of one kind or another, and the people who are effective in initiating traditions that have lasting power provide several things. First, they provide an insight, a vision, or an understanding, a spiritually informed understanding. Then they’re also able to transmit partly charismatically, partly what’s called technically, that is they offer a variety of practices by which other people can have the same realizations for themselves so that they transmit two things. One is an insight and understanding, a vision of the way the world and we look from that awakened place but, secondly, a set of practices which allow others to have the same insight, understanding, state of consciousness and test it out for themselves. Now over time, as we all know, there tends to be a process of what one of your guests actually called “truth decay,” and over time the deeper realizations or higher realizations tend to get lost or sidelined somewhat. And what remains tends to be the belief system and the rituals around it. And in most religions, the “esoteric side,” the real practices which can actually induce transformative states and psychological, spiritual maturation, tend to become marginalized to some extent to different degrees and different traditions.

Rick: You mentioned that the founders of different religions, which we could call, maybe we could call them enlightened people or people who have had this profound experiential breakthrough might have had different kinds of breakthroughs. Do you feel that, in line with the notion of the perennial philosophy, that there’s some kind of underlying universal reality and that all these different founders were tapping into the same thing, and if they had gotten together for a meeting somehow, they would be in complete agreement with one another? But just different religions meet the need of different ages and cultures, and obviously are expressed in different languages and so on and so forth? So they appear dissimilar in certain ways on the surface, but if we could get right down to the core experience which inspired them, we would find that the sort of universal truth residing there.

Roger: Well, first off, let’s acknowledge this is one of the great debates of our time, that both spiritual practitioners and teachers and religious scholars are debating. And it’s really a debate which is somewhat new to our time because this is the first time in history we’ve ever had all the traditions available to us, all the spiritual practices and contemplative disciplines, and all the maps of states of consciousness, and now just coming online for the first time. We’re also getting the first maps of actual psychological spiritual maturation, and we need to draw a distinction between the varieties of states of consciousness and psychological maturation, which are two different things. They overlap, but they’re not the same. And we’ve only just really in the last few decades recognized that. So let’s acknowledge first off that this is a more complicated question than it seems, and there are a lot more pieces in the puzzle than any of us had appreciated down the line. And at the extremes, there are the views which you were pointing to with perennial philosophy that there’s an underlying reality, that realization/awakening unveils that, and then it is couched in culture-specific metaphors and concepts and language. So that’s one view. The other is, no, these people are different people have different kinds of realization. And those are discordant on a variety of dimensions and we need to honor that. And then we also need to recognize there’s a third possibility behind, well, let me add something else. There’s also an assumption in many traditions that there is a final realization, and most traditions hold, you know, some adherence at least of all traditions seem to hold as a final realization. On the other hand, you have contemporary figures, some of whom have been on your program, like Hamid or Almas, who with his latest book, Runaway Realization, has made a very powerful statement, I think, the most powerful statement that’s been articulated in the tradition. You can find hints of it in other people like Dogen and Ramakrishna, etc. But he has clearly articulated the idea that there is no final realization, that consciousness/reality is endlessly creative, and that each realization can be a portal to a further realization. So we have all these different perspectives. Then we need to add in a couple of other things to make it more complex and realize that there are multiple states of consciousness. And the shamanic states, for example, the shamanic realizations are very different from, say, which are visionary states or subtle states, are very different from, say, the Buddhist cessation experience of pure awareness. And the Theravadan Buddhist experience of pure awareness is very different from the Vajrayana realization of samsara and nirvana are one, the manifest and the unmanifest. So we have a non-dual even within the same tradition. So it’s like, this is not a simple question. Then you add in a map, a dimension that we’ve only just had for the last few couple of decades or so, this mapping of developmental stages, psychological and spiritual, beyond the conventional. And in my mind, one of the greatest discoveries of psychology of the last 50 years is the recognition that there are recognizable, mappable stages of development beyond the conventional. So you can have people at different levels of psychological maturation having the same state of consciousness and then interpreting in very different ways. So this is really very rich, complex territory that we’re only beginning just to appreciate the richness of.

Rick: Boy, there’s about a dozen different points in there I’d like to flesh out with you. And I’ll try to keep them all in my brain as we go through each one. The first, well, actually, conveniently, you started with the point that you also ended with about the psychological maturation and spiritual development. And I guess a question I could extract from that is, you know, could one be highly mature psychologically and yet rather primitive, not primitive, but a relative beginner spiritually, or vice versa? Could one be extremely advanced spiritually and yet kind of stunted psychologically? Or is there, obviously the correlation isn’t tight, but is there a correlation that’s at least loose, like a big stretchy rubber band, and eventually, whichever has gone ahead pulls the other behind?

Roger: Okay, well let me echo back to you what you said, you have about several things, multiple questions!

Rick: He’s getting like the Sorcerer’s Apprentice with those, with those brooms multiplying!

Roger: So your first question, could a person be, for example, psychologically exceptionally mature, and in technical terms we’d say, could they be advanced levels of post-conventional development and still have quite limited experience with states of consciousness and particularly states associated with spiritual insight? The answer is absolutely, clearly yes! Look around, look around, you know, outstanding people, most people who are truly outstanding or gifted in our culture display some degree of exceptional development on some lines of development but most of them have no experience with spiritual contemplative practices.

Rick: Yeah, now let me just throw in here, part of what we need to do is define what spiritual development means because I would contend that somebody like Beethoven was a highly evolved soul, although he may have had no familiarity with spiritual parlance. I don’t know that much about Beethoven and he may not have had deep spiritual experiences and may actually have been psychologically troubled as he was reputed to have been. And yet he could be a very advanced soul who was just here on earth to perform a certain function. Despite all of his handicaps and challenges.

Roger: Yeah, yeah.

Rick: So there’s that.

Roger: Let’s hope so for all our sakes because all of us have our wounds. And yes, clearly, let me back up and say, your point about we need to come up with some definition of spiritual…

Rick: Spiritual development or evolution.

Roger: Development. One of my life missions is to stamp out the word “enlightened.”

Rick: Yeah, me too.

Roger: I think enlightenment is a lousy concept.

Rick: It has too much of a static, superlative connotation.

Roger: Exactly. It’s dichotomous, you’re either it, you are, or you aren’t. It’s unidimensional. It doesn’t take into effect you can have profound insights and yet be an emotional retard. It doesn’t take into account the fact that it is used to refer to different things and different traditions. So it’s just, in my mind, a really misleading category. And I would much prefer to replace it with spiritual maturity with the implication, which has a couple of implications. One, it’s not like, it’s not an either/or. All of us have some spiritual maturity and all of us are lacking in other aspects of it. It’s multidimensional, it recognizes that one can have, one individual might be very mature in emotions, be filled with love, agape, metta, karuna. Another person might be much less sophisticated emotionally but have very profound or precise penetrating insight and understanding and wisdom. And so I think the concept of spiritual maturity just lends itself to a much more nuanced appreciation of first the variety of openings and insights and maturations that we humans can have and acknowledges that all of us are multifaceted and none of us are mature in all these things.

Rick: Yeah, and I think a good point here is that we all have our dharmas, you know, we all have our aptitudes and makeups. And you know, no one is going to be an Einstein and a Beethoven and an Elon Musk. And you know, just sort of all the great geniuses lumped into one personality. That’s just not the way life is wired. And we’re just all going to, but if there is any legitimacy to the word enlightenment, I would say that, and I would reserve the term even though I still wouldn’t use it for someone who is completely, again, you can’t use the word completely but, who has blossomed to a profound degree in all the various faculties and aptitudes with which he or she has been gifted. And you know, at the core of all that would be the awakening to pure consciousness or pure awareness. But again, that person might be radically different than some other person who had undergone the same development within the context of their individual makeup.

Roger: Yeah, yeah. Yes, and let’s hope there are some of those around. I think there are and I think you’ve interviewed some of them. I think, you know, I mean, I don’t know whether we want to name people. But I think, for example Almas, who to my mind has an extraordinary gift, is extraordinarily gifted and has not, you know, has done it cleanly and, well and, in a way which has been very effective in the world. And we probably don’t want to just stick with one example. But since I know he’s been on your show and I’ve just recently spoken with him and hold him in high esteem and his writings in high regard, yeah.

Rick: Yeah, just a note to the live listeners. I don’t know if I can keep track of all the points I want to discuss with Roger because they keep coming up faster than we can process them. But if you catch anything you hear us saying and we don’t seem to be getting around to elaborating on it, feel free to send in a question and say, “Please talk more about this.” Okay, so back to the point of whether the sages or founders of each religion were all experiencing the same thing or not. I think we’ve kind of covered it now in terms of the differences between different people. I think an underlying question, if we’re going to try to resolve that one, is, “Is there a universal reality and are human beings capable of cognizing it?” You hear some people whom I respect and listen to, like Sam Harris, saying, “Yeah, fine, you can have this deep mystical experience but it’s not going to tell you anything about the mechanics of the universe.” And I would contend that it will. And that the foundation or essential nature of the universe as physics understands it is probably the very same thing as understood by mystics. They’re just using very different technologies and terminologies for dealing with it, addressing it.

Roger: Well, let’s see. Again, you seem to be getting us into some of the great contemporary issues of our time. So I don’t think we’re going to solve this one today, but we can have fun talking about them anyway. You know, you’ve touched several kind of questions and debates here. The one you mentioned at the end was the suggestion that the contemplatives and the scientists have the potential for revealing some overlapping insights or understandings of the fundamental nature of reality. And I would say “perhaps,” but I’d want to qualify by saying, you know, there’s a general principle, if we use a technical term for a moment, epistemology. Epistemology is the way of knowing, and it’s getting increasingly clear that our experience is what’s sometimes called “enacted,” that it, is what we experience is a product of whatever may be out there, plus the method we apply and our own capacities for seeing and appreciating. That is, we have our own inbuilt limitations. So what a scientist enacts or what is brought forth into their world is a function of the technology they use and how they use it and their own capacity for seeing and interpreting it.

Rick: So here’s an example. So the Large Hadron Collider, you know, which supposedly has discovered the Higgs boson. Now you or I, I don’t think, would be able to operate the Large Hadron Collider or to interpret any results if we somehow accidentally got it to work. So there’s a phenomenon that that thing discovered or enabled scientists to discover, but it took a high degree of qualification and skill to be able to use the apparatus and to interpret its findings.

Roger: Yeah, exactly. And the question is, to what extent will, say, the contemplative and the scientist, with their very different techniques and practices, to what extent will first they unveil or reveal overlapping aspects of reality? And to what extent will they interpret them in ways that are even comparable? So I think the jury is still out on that. My own, the way I think, you know, the way I kind of go out and think about in daily life when I’m not trying to wrestle profoundly with this is simply these are overlapping, each has their own value. And at the moment, there doesn’t seem to be a lot of overlap between them and I’m all for taking the best of all approaches.

Rick: Yeah, well, even in the field of science itself, there’s not a lot of overlap sometimes between different specialties, you know? They’ve all fragmented and branched out into, way out to the twig level of the tree. And there’s often not a lot of communication between the disciplines. But if you can trace any discipline back to its source, and ultimately back down to more and more fundamental levels of nature’s functioning, I think you find greater and greater unification. And you know, physics obviously has taken this the farthest. And the deeper they go, the more unified things become, until ultimately physicists have been looking for a unified field out of which all the diversity has arisen. And I’ve had several physicists on the show, John Hagelin and Manos Kafatos come to mind, who have argued that the unified field which physics hopes to find and consciousness which mystics have identified or experienced is the same thing, even though obviously the technologies involved would be very different.

Roger: Yeah, that’s a very tricky one. And I think I need to just state that obviously I’m no physicist here. So my understanding is clearly limited by my knowledge here. But given that you said earlier that the mystics come at foundation to the recognition of pure consciousness, and consciousness is formless, transcendent to space-time, etc. Fields aren’t. And so, we’re already in the manifest, back in the manifest. And to what extent one can say that those are, I mean, a non-dual perspective, yes, ultimately it’s all one, etc., and that gets a little stratospheric for me, and maybe.

Rick: Yeah, well I guess one way of looking at it is, you know, I mentioned the Large Hadron Collider. It can do things that the human nervous system can’t do, obviously, as can so many scientific instruments. But something the human nervous system can do that those things can’t is be conscious, or experience consciousness. And you know, I would suggest, as many have, that the human nervous system is so sophisticated in its functioning, if used properly, if used to its full potential, that it actually can get right down to an experience of, well, the language trips us up because at that stage. It’s not like you are experiencing the ultimate reality, you are the ultimate reality waking up to itself through the instrumentality of the human nervous system.

Roger: Okay, well, let me throw a question back at you. Is it consciousness waking up to itself through the instrumentality of the nervous system or is it consciousness disentangling and disidentifying itself from the workings of the nervous system?

Rick: Maybe both, because I was just reading your book and you were talking about Patanjali’s aphorisms. You know, yoga is the cessation of the fluctuations of the mind. So the nervous system is a tool through which we can have experience in the manifest world. But we are overshadowed by that experience and the mind is in a continuous state of agitation and turbulence such that the pure consciousness which resides at the root of life, at the foundation of the mind, is never experienced clearly, as sunlight is not reflected clearly off turbulent water. So does that address your question? Maybe not fully. Go at it again.

Roger: I think we are asking questions we will never answer fully, Rick, but that’s okay.

Rick: That’s okay.

Roger: We can have fun in the process.

Rick: People say that sometimes, they say you bring up the same point over and over again. Well you said it, and I’ve heard you say it in some of your interviews, that there are, how do you put it? There are, like, knowledge questions and information questions. How does that go?

Roger: Yeah, well, it’s an important distinction. There are knowledge questions, wisdom questions, and knowledge questions are factual along the lines of, “Is it raining outside? Take a look.” End of question. But wisdom questions are like cons. They’re questions that you can, are asked about profound existential issues of life, and they have no final answer. So each time you ask them, they can take you deeper into the question, deeper into yourself, deeper into reality. And wisdom questions are the ones which open and awaken us.

Rick: Yeah, and I think you and I have both been doing this for decades, just taking these wisdom questions and going at them from every possible angle, intellectually, experientially, and so on. And they’re just not the kind of thing you say, “Oh, okay, got that. I can die now.” It’s more like, you peel off layers of the onion each time you take a whack at it.

Roger: One thing I’m clear on, Rick, there are not a lot of things I’m willing to be really certain about in the spiritual world, because it all, but one of them is, at bottom, it’s radical mystery and it’s always more than I thought it was.

Rick: Yeah, yeah, good.

Roger: Yeah, it just is endless, endless openings. This is conscious, boundless, infinite, trans-temporal, trans-spatial, whatever terms you want to use, and the infinite play of manifestation.

Rick: Yeah, I put this great quote up on Facebook today that someone sent me. Basically it was, hang on a second, I’m going to find it here. “Ultimately, you are not a person but a focal point where the universe is becoming conscious of itself.”

Roger: Sounds good, yeah!

Rick: And I would refine it slightly actually to say, not that the universe is becoming conscious of itself, because the universe is a manifest thing. And yeah, sure, this manifest thing can become aware of that manifest thing over there, but we kind of have to bring it back to the ultimate, which is that consciousness itself is. Well, if we regard the universe as emerging from a unified field, and if the unified field is consciousness, then the whole universe seems to be one giant evolution machine where forms and phenomenon are being evolved with greater and greater complexity, such that consciousness can experience more and more fully in a manifest way. And ultimately begin to reflect back and recognize itself as the source of all this, as the source, course and goal of all this.

Roger: Sounds good! Well, I’ve just been studying, reading Suzanne Kukroita, who has developed one of the most sophisticated maps of post-conventional development. In fact, she’s one of the very, very few people who’s mapped psychological development from childhood through adolescence and adulthood, and then into the post-conventional stages, including very advanced preliminary openings or awakenings. And she said that the penultimate level in her map she calls “construct-aware” or “ego-aware,” in which the ego becomes aware of its fundamental insubstantiality, and its incessant desire to create stories and narratives to explain everything and to justify its own existence and its own importance and centrality in the whole game, and the most sophisticated maps of all, stories of all these very sophisticated maps about reality, including developmental maps. (Laughter.) So, that’s a wonderful story. It sounds fine.

Rick: Yeah. Well, the thought that comes to my mind is that I think it’s natural to want to grow and to want to know more and be more and be more happy and all that. There’s this evolutionary trajectory, it seems, in life, in everything, and so it’s a natural tendency.

Roger: Yeah, and I think that’s a really important point, Rick, that it unfortunately is not recognized in our society. And the fact that it’s not recognized creates enormous tragedy. And one of the real tragedies of our culture is we have no understanding, let alone popular map of stages beyond the conventional. So we have no encouragement or call to mature beyond conventional levels. Which means that for most people, most people stultify the conventional, having no understanding there’s something more. There is, as you say, and the data comes up from multiple fields, from developmental studies, from psychotherapy, from psychedelic work, that the psyche really does have inherent in it, just as you said, a pull to development. Maslow called it self-actualization, other people have called it self-transcendence or the Moksha drive or any number of terms, Jung’s individuation, etc., etc. And when that drive is not recognized or fulfilled, it creates a kind of deep, profound dissatisfaction. And the tragedy is that because our culture has no understanding of this call, that malaise is not recognized for what it is. And people look for substitute gratifications of one kind or another. And trouble is you can never get enough of what you don’t really want. So it leads to your point that there is this inherent growth dynamic in the psyche and the fact it isn’t recognized leads to enormous suffering in our culture. And Maslow called them metapathologies. Not of the normal, not of psychosis or neurosis, but kind of existential pathologies that emerge for people. And another implication of what you’re saying is, and we have to have a realistic view of what post-conventional development looks like, because it’s not all sweetness and light. Every new stage brings forth new opportunities, new capacities, new understandings, and new problems. There’s a dialectic of development. Every new stage has its new challenges and difficulties. And one of the big problems for us in our culture, for anyone who starts to move beyond the conventional, is there’s no map to understand the problems that emerge, and very little in the way of remedies.

Rick: Okay, I want to ask you a couple of questions. One is, what are some of these problems that one encounters at higher stages? And the other is, I’m kind of forgetting the other. But oh yeah, just basically, it’s more of a statement than a question, which is that all the traditions tell us that there’s tremendous bliss available if we can get right down to the real nitty-gritty, you know, if we can experience our essential nature. And it’s rather sadly ironic that there’s so much unfulfillment and unhappiness and drug abuse and suicides and all this stuff going on in society. Because really everyone is like someone who has won the lottery and not realized that they have, and maybe the ticket is in their sock drawer and they’re begging on the street and starving and freezing. So we all have this incredible capacity and so few people are tapping into it. Well, these days more and more people are, and that’s great, and the more the merrier, but predominantly in society, it’s still kind of a very small percentage.

Roger: It is, yes, and historically it always has been. There’s a lot in what you said, so you asked first about some of the difficulties that people run into at post-conventional psychological development. And I think there are two kind of resources we can draw on to begin to understand those. And let’s acknowledge that we’re just beginning to understand them. For example, the whole field of spiritual emergencies is a very recent one. The texts we got were, “So-and-so got the message or heard the teaching, went into the forest, meditated, woke up, lived happily ever after.” It’s like reading about a relationship, you know, “Boy meets girl, rides off in sunset, lives happily ever after.” You know, if you’ve ever been in a relationship, you know something’s missing from that story. Well, the same with spiritual practice. And we got “boulderized” versions of spiritual practice through the classic texts for the most part. You know, there are various references to the Dark Knight of the Soul or Pseudo-Duker or whatever, but we got pretty boulderized, screened out versions about spirituality. So we’re just now beginning to map out what are these problems, both in psychological maturation and in spiritual practice, so we can draw on both resources and say, for example, “Who begin to move into post-conventional stages?” We should say a little about what that actually involves, and we can just make it very simple by talking about pre-conventional, conventional, and post-conventional. We were all born in a pre-conventional stage. We have no understanding of the culture and the mores and the myths and the beliefs and the values, etc. And we are gradually socialized through our parents and through formal institutions like media and education, and we come to accept at the conventional stage the view of the world and the values and moralities, etc., and the mythologies that are given us. And they’re pretty much unquestioned at that stage. The definition of conventionality is an unquestioning assumption, or more or less unquestioning, of the conventional worldview. But the movement to post-conventionality involves a stepping back and a question of the pre-given beliefs and values and myths, etc. You know, “Is it really true that my country is right, is better than others, is right or wrong? Is it really true that this race is better, etc., etc., etc.?”

Rick: Yeah, you mentioned � I quote it from your book, “People at trans-conventional levels think and behave independently.” And there’s that study you mentioned where people were � actors, actually, were posing as research subjects and were being given stronger and stronger electrical shocks, supposedly. They weren’t actually being given them, but the people in the study, they thought they were administering these stronger and stronger shocks to these people, and they went along with it because they were told to, even when they were asked to administer what might be a lethal shock. But then there were people who were sort of more independent in their personalities, perhaps more mature, who wouldn’t go along with it, you know, wouldn’t do what the party line was telling them to.

Roger: Yeah, that’s one of the hallmarks of post-conventional maturity, is people literally begin to think for themselves. Their worldview is based on an examination of what makes sense. “Is this really true? How does it fit with my experience? How does it fit with the larger picture, with the great minds, etc.?” So it’s much more a self-reflective attitude towards life and one’s understanding of it. And some of the challenges that go along with that are, first, a sense of isolation, because most people, you’re literally stepping out of the conventional understanding. And so that goes along with a sense of uncertainty, of not knowing, of anxiety. It can lead to, if the questioning doesn’t find adequate grounding, it can lead to a kind of nihilism. “Well, no value makes sense, why should I do anything? Why should I be moral, etc., etc.?” So there’s that. If we turn, say, to the spiritual traditions, we find that there can be a variety of challenges that emerge as people either have open-walled states or mature psychologically, and there can be the eruption of unresolved issues. When you open up, you don’t get just sweetness and light as we all know. You get, first, you have to deal with what hasn’t been looked at and resolved. So there’s that.

Rick: Yeah, you talked in your book about a medic, a guy who had been a medic in Vietnam, and 10 years later he was on a spiritual retreat, and all this horrible, gory stuff started coming up that he had experienced as a medic. And he had been having nightmares about this stuff a couple of times a week over the previous Decade. But after the retreat, he was able to process a great deal of it, and, as I recall, the nightmares stopped. So I mean, sometimes people make spiritual practice sound scary, like, “Ooh, you’re going to open this Pandora’s box of all kinds of buried stuff.” But I think if it’s done properly in the right proportion, you know, not sitting right down and starting with 18 hours of meditation a day, but sort of easing yourself into a reasonable practice, then nature has a certain wisdom, and things kind of come to the surface and get resolved at a pace that we can manage.

Roger: Yeah, and I would certainly want to agree with that, Rick, and also on nuance, and I think you said, there was something very important you said quickly there. So I want to make sure it doesn’t get lost, that the psyche has its own innate wisdom and organic Processing. And that it does, in general, bring things into awareness to a certain, you know, degrees we can handle, and there are some people who just get flooded and overloaded. And let me move to the extreme and say, one of the great tragedies in spiritual practitioners, and I work with this clinically with people, is thinking that spiritual practice should do it all alone, and they shouldn’t need psychotherapy, let alone things like antidepressants or anti-anxiety medications. And that’s a real tragedy, and I’ve treated some. Well, I’ve had the privilege of treating some people who have had really deep awakenings and have still had significant psychological issues which in some cases needed medication. And they were very grateful for it once they got past their spiritual superego. And so that’s a trap, thinking that spiritual practice will do it all. It doesn’t always.

Rick: But it is good to again emphasize that there is a healing mechanism within us. Like, you know, if we break our arm, we feel pain, we put the arm in a cast, and you know, it takes a while to heal, but nature knows how to do that. If we had to manage that based on what we understand intellectually, or even if we had to manage digesting lunch…

Roger: We’d be dead!

Rick: Yeah, we’d be in bad shape. But there’s a wisdom in the body. I mean, we don’t even understand how a single cell works, and we have trillions of them all coordinating with each other. And I think the very same phenomenon we see in the case of healing a broken arm or digesting lunch is operative in spiritual development. And all kinds of things get worked out on all kinds of levels in ways that we’re not even aware of, probably, if we’re doing spiritual practice. But you know, when we do become aware of things, maybe it’s good that, maybe there’s a reason we’re becoming aware of them at that time. Because we need to put attention on them or something, you think?

Roger: Yeah, absolutely. So just playing with a couple of the implications of what you said. One is there’s a wisdom in organicity to the psyche. And we say, “We’re doing our spiritual practice, and it produced this and this effect.” But actually, we directed our attention, and some incredible miracle of the mind somehow orchestrated this inconceivable opening and processing that 90% of which we have no conscious awareness of. And it’s an ongoing miracle which we just happen to have a privilege of a little bit of control over.

Rick: Yeah, we kind of like put ourselves in the Stream. We kind of like, “Well, you used to dive, you want to dive off the diving board? Take a correct angle, let go, and gravity will actually do the work.” So there’s a certain spiritual gravity, I think, that can draw the mind within to the ascendant. And this is sort of a skill to align ourselves with it in such a way that it happens. I read several quotes in your book about the importance of effortlessness. I think that a practice can be both effective and effortless and enjoyable. I mean, the whole notion of, “Oh God, I’m not going to have to sit there on a pillow for hours with my mind driving me crazy and my back hurting,” and all that stuff. It doesn’t have to be that unpleasant at all. In fact, my experience of meditating all these years has been largely extremely pleasant every single time. I always enjoy sitting down and doing it. I feel bliss flood my body and great relaxation and rejuvenation and so on, so it’s very reinforcing.

Roger: Yeah, and how beautiful. And for me, it’s been both. The initial years, actually the initial 10 years, were really hard, and fortunately, it has gotten a lot easier. And it’s now a source for the most part of great comfort and gratitude and opening, and it’s just a priceless gift. And I just assume that one needs to be open to both possibilities.

Rick: Oh, all kinds of possibilities, yeah. And I’ve definitely had my rough periods too, but you know, I just kind of kept on trucking, as they say.

Roger: Right.

Rick: Okay, so keep in mind that any time a thought pops in your head that you want to discuss, you don’t need to have a question from me. You can just start talking about it.

Roger: Okay.

Rick: We’ll do that, but I’m just going to go through some notes here, and I also want to go through some of the main points of your book, Essential Spirituality. One point that I jotted down was that societal conflicts are due to people being at different developmental stages. I would say, I mean, I’ve also heard you say…(bark) hmm, might need to put the dog…out that at this stage of human evolution or societal development, we can pretty much blame any problem in the world, almost any problem, on human mentality or a reflection of the collective state of mind that we all share. So perhaps we can play with both of those points, which are related.

Roger: Yeah, you know, technology is so powerful that at this stage, we have, at least for those of us in the developed world, really managed most of the afflictions that plague humankind for most of history. And we have generated a whole new set of ecological, global, social issues that are reflections of the power of our technology and the side effects of it, and the industrialization, etc., etc. So now when we look out at the state of the world, we see the state of our minds writ large across the planet expressing our psychological immaturities and dysfunctions and greed and conflicts, etc. So yes, to that extent, clearly at this stage, the state of the world reflects the state of our minds. And as regards development immaturity, yeah, well, there are many, many causes for conflicts between individuals and between cultures and subcultures. But one of them, not the only one, but one of them is that many of the great cultural, the culture wars, a lot of the culture wars that we’re currently experiencing do seem to reflect in part people at different psychological stages trying to protect and promulgate their own developmentally specific worldviews without recognizing that they’re not just different perspectives or different attitudes. They’re actually reflecting different stages. So a lot of the culture wars are between people at conventional or pre-conventional stages, for example, who take a mythic, literal view of religion and the myths are real and this book of God is literally true, etc., and we need to preserve it and protect the way things were and as against the forces of secularization and etc. And on the other extreme, we have a post-modern community who are saying, “None of these belief systems are true, and your values are, who am I to say your values are less than his,” etc.

Rick: Right, it’s a relative kind of thing.

Roger: Yeah, so you have three different stages of development at each other’s necks without recognizing they’re coming from different stages. That’s a problem.

Rick: When you follow politics, if you do, do you feel like you can sort of identify that, Well, this political party or wing is at this stage by and large, whereas this one is at that stage? Is there any correlation there?

Roger: If we really emphasize the qualifier used, and largely, yes, in general there do seem to be correlates between different stages and different political affiliations. For example, the pre-conventional and early conventional stages with their mythic literal interpretation of the world tend to be conservative parties, and the ones at the modern worldview and post-modern tend to be more liberal. Now we should emphasize here, you know, these words liberal, conservative, get thrown around so much. But the crucial distinction, if you really look, and actually this was one of your guests who pointed this out, it was Ken Wilber, who really pointed out very clearly, if you look, one of the defining characteristics that differentiates liberal and conservative is the conservatives tend to emphasize inner factors like virtue, morality, strength, etc. In a personal initiative, the liberals tend to emphasize external factors like poverty, inequality, injustice, etc., etc. And there’s just a different, and other people like the Jonathan Haidt, who’s a psychologist who’s done a lot of work on morality and wrote the book, I think it was called The Moral Mind, mapped out these distinctions with a lot of sophistication. So yes, one can see some loose affiliations here.

Rick: We were talking earlier about independence, you know, and the more post-conventional, I guess you’d call them, people being unwilling to electrocute experimental subjects, and so on. But when you think of politics and also advertising, they depend a lot upon people kind of believing what they’re told, and kind of going along with the herd mentality. You’ve got to get this new phone. “Okay, I’ll camp out on the sidewalk for three days so I can get it,” you know, stuff like that. So I wonder if the powers that be are even aware, and if they are, feel threatened by the apparent slow but sure proliferation of more independent-minded people, people who are sort of operating at higher stages of development.

Roger: Well, again, I think there’s an intuitive recognition of that. For example, some of the pollsters for the Republican Party talk about the younger generations holding very different worldviews and values to what has been traditional Republican Party values, so there’s a concern there. But I don’t think there’s yet a recognition, or much widespread recognition, that different developmental stages play a part of that. So I think we need to remember that this understanding of developmental stages beyond the conventional is really something that’s only emerged very recently and really hasn’t gotten out far into the cultural mainstream.

Rick: At least contemporaneously, because I mean, obviously back in the Buddha’s day or Christ’s day or Shankara’s day, those guys were post-conventional for their time and for any time. You know, plant them in our society, they’d still be post-conventional. They were extremely advanced souls.

Roger: Yes, true, and they were talking more about states of consciousness than they were about the underlying psychological developmental stages, which again, we need to remember those are different developmental dimensions. So we’ve only recognized, all you have to do to recognize different states of consciousness and the ways they can sequence and flow and grow is to sit down long enough, meditate long enough, and you see it in your own experience. But to appreciate psychological developmental stages, those are more like the operating systems with which we interpret our experience, and they operate behind consciousness. So you can’t introspect and see, “Oh, I’m using an early post-conventional operating system or interpretive framework here.” The way this has been discovered is by researchers looking at people’s beliefs and interpretations at different life stages and seeing how they change over time. So it’s only by those kind of external measurements of people’s experience that we’ve really begun to map these out. So we need to acknowledge that Western science and psychology have a real contribution to make to spirituality, because you raised the question before, Rick, a very important one. Can a person have high states of realization and still be psychologically immature in various ways? And the answer is clearly yes. Think of the book Zen at War, which looked at Zen teachers in the Second World War and the way they got in line and used Buddhist ideas in the service of nationalism and militarism. And the Bodhisattva fearlessly faces the enemy and swipes them off the face of the Earth. Well, that’s not a traditional interpretation of the Bodhisattva aspiration. But it was something that a significant number of Zen teachers promulgated during the Second World War. And we need to qualify by saying what that book doesn’t do, in my mind, nearly enough, is really examine just how awake those teachers were.

Rick: That’s the question I was going to ask. Just because they were Zen monks or something doesn’t mean they were necessarily spiritually advanced.

Roger: Exactly. And you know, Zen got a bit decrepit and it was like the Sun often inherited the Zen teachers, you know, inherited the mantle.

Rick: Sure, I mean, think how many corrupt popes there have been throughout history.

Roger: Yeah, yeah. So I think it’s an open question, but I do think there is some evidence that one can have high state realization and still have, well, we sure know one can have ethical limitations.

Rick: So, what you just said actually made me think of something that I’ve never thought of before. And that is that I think of, for instance, modern science as being something which at least as far as we know has never existed on Earth before, unless it has and we wiped ourselves out with it. But it’s been, you know, the world’s never known all these technological wonders and I’ve often contemplated what the marrying of technology and spirituality might result in, in terms of what society might look like 100 years from now or something. But I always kind of assumed that the ancient saints and sages really understood the mind. But what you just said, you know, opens the question of, well, just as modern science has come out with all kinds of new knowledge, perhaps modern psychology deserves just as much credit and really understands the mind in ways that the ancients actually never did. You would think that they would with all their subjective explorations and technologies, but maybe they didn’t. So, what would you say to that? And what would the marrying of deep awakening and modern understanding of psychology result in parallel with spirituality and technology?

Roger: Short answer, yes. I think you’re exactly right, and I think that’s one thing spiritual communities need to take on board in our time is that there are insights coming out of contemporary research which have very significant implications for us as spiritual practitioners. And on the other hand, Western psychology in particular needs to really get, and fortunately it’s beginning to, that there are profound understandings of the mind and consciousness and psychological maturation and human possibilities that are revealed by contemplative practices that have just been off the psychological map. You know, the last time I counted, advanced contemplatives had demonstrated 12 capacities that psychologists used to think were impossible.

Rick: Like what? Can you tell us some?

Roger: Well, first off, lucid dreaming, the capacity to be aware of your dreams. Lucid non-dream sleep, the capacity to maintain awareness 24 hours a day, now demonstrated with electrophysiology. Incredible degrees of perceptual sensitivity, way beyond what we thought of was possible. The capacity to pick up, for example, micro-expressions in interpersonal relationships, far more, and pick up nuances of emotion and expression, way more sensitively than the previous record holders who were CIA agents. So what we are seeing is that the bringing together of the contemplative traditions and contemporary psychology and below them both, neuroscience, has the possibility of a mutual Enrichment. And that each of them, with their own technologies, their own ways of investigating the mind, very different, very different ways, but are complementary. And to summarize, and here I will draw on another one of your guests, Ken Wilber. Ken, I think, has mapped out more fully and effectively than anyone else in history, the kinds of contributions and mutual benefits that can arise. And he would, to summarize his 800-page book, The Religion of Tomorrow, he would say that the contemplative traditions have given us this unprecedented map of states and potentials, states of consciousness. Contemporary psychology is showing that, giving us an unprecedented map of psychological stages of development, and those are very different, and they interact. That is, the same state can be interpreted in very different ways according to the psychological maturation of a person. And if one person at a mature psychological state has an insight of, say, a profound vision, they may interpret it as an understanding of the cosmos speaking and conveying wisdom. Another person at a pre-conventional level matures, “God is speaking to me, I am the chosen one, everyone should listen to me, I’m …” and just feed into their narcissism. So these are very, very different results from the same experience, same state.

Rick: Yeah, well, it’s kind of like you pour the same gasoline into a Ferrari and into a rusty old VW Beetle, and the two cars are going to drive differently. Which I think actually points to the end. All the spiritual traditions emphasize preparedness, purifying the vehicle, studying ethics and purifying the body and training the mind and just sort of making oneself more and more fit receptacle for whatever may pour in.

Roger: Yeah, and I would want to add to that, Rick, because I think that’s incredibly important. Ethics, if you look across traditions, ethic is really the foundational practice for all the traditions. I don’t know an exception to that among the great religious traditions. And yet, we have a very shallow understanding of ethics as a practice. For the most part, it’s “here’s a set of rules, you follow it because you should, or because God said,” which is a very pre-conventional, conventional understanding. But there’s no appreciation of the recognition that there are deeper understandings to begin with that ethics works. That living ethically, and I would define an intentional as ethical to the extent it intends the well-being of everyone, including oneself. So ethical, living ethically with that intention, one begins to see that it fosters the well-being of everyone, including oneself, and it’s just a saner way to live. But beyond that, there’s a contemplative understanding of ethics, which sees that when we are about to act unethically, if we look, check into our mind, we find the mind driven or shadowed by painful, destructive motives and emotions like greed and fear and anger and jealousy and hatred. And when we act those out, they are reinforced or strengthened or create karma, to use spiritual terms. And the positive news is that when we’re motivated, when we find we’re about to act in ethical ways, we find, if we turn attention, we find the mind is illuminated by emotions and motives like joy and generosity and kindness and altruism and compassion, and they’re reinforced and strengthened when we act those out. So now from that contemplative understanding, we see that ethics is not just a good way to live and it’s not just we feel good. It’s actually a profound way of training the mind.

Rick: Yeah, I think it’s, I gave a whole talk on this at SAND a few years ago. And of course you’re aware that I helped found that organization that you’re going to give us a webinar in a few weeks, the Association for Spiritual Integrity. But I think that ethics is another one of those things like “enlightenment” that is always a moving target and we can never claim to have fully perfected or mastered it, but I think the effort is an essential part of the spiritual path because you end up shooting yourself in the foot otherwise. You know, it’s like you’re trying to fill a bathtub and yet you haven’t plugged up the drain, and so the water keeps draining out as fast as it goes in.

Roger: Yeah, it’s very hard to sit down and meditate and be concentrated when your mind’s filled with anger and greed and jealousy and you’ve screwed people over that day.

Rick: Yeah, really. I’ve seen it in action. I mean I used to meditate and do a program in the domes here in Fairfield, Iowa, And there was this whole group of people that were working for this commodities trading thing and they were basically bilking little old ladies out of their life savings and the FTC, or whatever it’s called, the FCC ended up shutting the place down eventually. But you know, these people would do that all day and then they’d come and sit in the dome. No, they didn’t shut the dome down. No, they didn’t shut the dome down, they shut down this commodities trading company. You know, these people would come in and meditate, you know, after having ripped people off all day. And I know people who tried various business deals and ended up in prison, yet they were ardent spiritual practitioners. So even from the standpoint of, you know, and sometimes people would use this “ends justifies the means” kind of mentality, you know, it’s like, “Well, I’m going to use the money for a good purpose,” and that’s a slippery slope.

Roger: That’s a tricky one. I had the privilege with my late wife of being in an ongoing research project which was interviewing cult people from various cults, getting to try and make sense of, you know, what are the common factors that led to problems. And there were a couple of things that came out that really stuck in my mind. One was, when you think what you’re doing is so important that the ends justify the means, watch out.

Rick: Yeah, very dangerous.

Roger: The second was, if you think you have a unique mission in the world to save it, to help it, etc., watch out. And the third one was, the first ethical slip makes the second so much easier, etc. It’s like the old slippery slope metaphor really has some power to it.

Rick: Yeah, a lot of these things come to my attention, and we’ve all seen the articles that keep coming out about various catastrophes in spiritual groups. But I mean, literally, I know of teachers who have said, “You know, mine is really the only teaching in the world that can save you, and if you leave me, you’re totally doomed for many lifetimes,” and stuff like that. And people actually, you know, the teachers themselves get convinced of this way of thinking, and a certain number of people around them do.

Roger: Yeah, yeah, and I’m the only truly enlightened person on the planet. Ken Wilber once said, “I know 10 people who think they’re the only fully enlightened person on the planet. I really want to get them in a room together.”

Rick: Yeah, that would be funny. Well, you know, the funny thing about ignorance, or maya if we want to call it that, is that the first thing it does is blinds you to its own existence.

Roger: Yes, yes.

Rick: You know? So, it’s the blinding darkness of ignorance, it’s called in Sanskrit.

Roger: Yeah, and you mentioned the Sanskrit, and the Vedantic tradition has a, Shankara, and I think it was Shankara, maybe not, but anyway, the Vedantic tradition had a really profound twist on that, that you can never know what it calls a vidya or ignorance or unconsciousness because while you’re in it, you can’t see clearly enough to understand it, and while you’re out of it, it doesn’t exist.

Rick: Yeah, good point. Anyway, it’s fascinating, and there’s all these fascinating stories in the, I’m sure the literature of all traditions about how this plays out, you know? I mean, there was a story about the, I forget who the characters were, it was maybe Narada and Narayana or something, and Narada said, “Explain maya to me.” So, the Vedic scholars, excuse me if I’m getting the names wrong, and Narayana said, “Oh, sure, I’ll be happy to do that, but I’m thirsty, would you go get me a glass of water, get me a drink of water?” So, you know, Narada runs off to the local town and goes to the well. And there he meets this beautiful woman, and you know, he kind of forgets all about his mission and ends up striking up a relationship and marrying the woman and having a family, and he’s working hard trying to support the family. And then one day this flood comes, and it’s like threatening to wash, his family is washed away and he’s about to drown and he remembers, “Oh, the Lord, you know, Lord, Lord, save me!” And poof, the whole thing is gone, and he’s standing there, you know, with Narayana and the Master says, “Where’s my water? You wanted to understand Maya!”

Roger: Ah yes, we’ve all been there!

Rick: Yeah. Let’s go through your book, I want to have some time here to go through your book. It’s in seven sections, and each section has an explanation of that particular principle and then kind of a glimpse of the highest value of that particular principle if one were to realize it, and all kinds of good little practical practices that one could do to help develop this or that particular area. So why don’t you sketch out the different areas, let’s spend like 5-10 minutes on each of these seven areas and play with the thoughts that come up.

Roger: Sure, well let’s hope I can remember them.

Rick: Well I have the book in front of me here too.

Roger: Yeah, you have the book there.

Rick: The seven practices. Well the first one is motivation, transform your motivation.

Roger: Let me just give, maybe it would be useful just to give a context for this, Rick, and the question that motivated this was, you know, this extraordinary situation we have where the first time in history we really do have all the great traditions available to us and their practices. So the question that kind of intrigued me was, what do the greatest minds in history say are the qualities that are most important to develop to be a full human being and to awaken to our potentials as much as we can and to live as fully and wisely and well as we can? And as I looked across the traditions I found it seemed like all traditions advocated seven particular qualities of heart and mind. And one was, as you said, was motivation, a certain relinquishing of craving, compulsive craving and a refinement of motivation away from material obsessions towards more transpersonal goals, actualization, transcendence, service, love, etc.

Rick: Well, you were saying earlier that people can’t be motivated for this stuff if they don’t know it exists. And in our society we haven’t really known it exists. So perhaps, well, continue on, but we obviously need an education of some sort as a culture which would awaken us to these possibilities.

Rick: Yes, and to nuance that by going back to the point you made earlier, Rick, and that is that the psyche has its own innate motivation to grow and develop.

Rick: And gets frustrated if it’s thwarted, and gets thwarted if it’s not ever shown that possibility in school or in church or in anything with one’s parents or anything else. You have this kind of feeling like there’s got to be something more, but you don’t know what it is.

Roger: There’s got to be something more, yeah, and most people don’t know what it is. And for a few fortunate people the psyche does break out spontaneously in some sort of erupt into some opening, spontaneous opening, whether or not they know anything about it. And that can happen even in childhood. People and kids can have some extraordinary experiences which only make sense to them much later. So motivation first, emotional transformation is another one, the relinquishment of painful, destructive emotions like jealousy, anger, fear, hatred, the cultivation of positive emotions, love, compassion, joy, perceptual training. So as one becomes …

Rick: And as we go through that though, just say a few sentences about the highest value of each of these things. Like if motivation is really as lofty as it can be, what is that going to look like? And if emotional wisdom is at its apex, what is that going to look like?

Roger: Well, I think for motivation as far as I can see, and again this is looking across traditions and drawing from contemporary psychological research. It seems to me that there are a number of higher motives here. One is self-actualization, that is, the motive to develop ourselves, to cultivate our capacities and potentials. The second is self-transcendence, which is the motive to open to an identity larger than our little personality and ego. The third is selfless service, which is to be distinguished from the usual conventional understanding of selfless service as a kind of compulsive, super-egoic doing. But the spiritual selfless service is a trans-egoic compassion, not a super-ego compulsion. And beyond even, and this I would add in, you don’t see this in the psychological maps, the psychological maps go as far as self-actualization, self-transcendence. So I would add in from the spiritual traditions selfless service. And I’d add in on top of that what the Taoist would call wu-wei or effortless effort or spontaneity in Dzogchen or Meister Eckhart in the Christian tradition, living without why. It’s a spontaneous overflow and expression of the universe or the divine acting through without alt-egoic movement.

Rick: Sure, one way you could put that, I mean, in the Gita Krishna says, “Established in yoga, perform action.”

Roger: Beautiful.

Rick: And so, karma yoga, if we want to call it that, doesn’t just mean doing stuff and not being attached to the fruits or doing it out of an altruistic motive or something. It means actually being in union, being established in non-duality and then performing action in that state. And if you’re doing that, if that’s your condition, then naturally things are going to flow in a right way. You’re going to sort of be an instrument of the divine.

Roger: Yeah, beautiful. And really nice, you acknowledge those, a developmental progression within karma yoga because that’s not often emphasized.

Rick: Yeah, I mean there’s another verse that comes to mind which is, you know, you have control over action alone, never over its fruits. Live not for the fruit of action nor attach yourself to inaction. So why, let’s say, why do people become attached to things? Whatever, you know, I could give an answer but I’d rather hear you do it.

Roger: Thanks!

Rick: Well, let me give you a quick stab and then you see if you agree. And that is that, you know, we were talking earlier about wanting fulfillment and wanting happiness. It’s an innate thing. And we try to grasp things which seem to give it to us. But things by definition keep changing and so we grasp harder to hold on to them and yet they get away from us anyway. So we kind of go chasing and gripping on to various external situations or experiences in the hope of gaining some fulfillment. But they always change. Whereas if we could sort of sink into the self, which is an ocean of fulfillment, then that satisfies that craving for fulfillment and therefore interaction with the world is not the primary source of our fulfillment. It’s just icing on the cake and we’re not attached to how things go.

Roger: Beautiful, yes. So that’s a very beautiful spiritual understanding of craving, and from that perspective, the craving for fulfillment in the manifest realm is a substitute gratification for an unrecognized, when we don’t recognize what we truly want, then we start craving the things we do know. When we don’t know about what we really want, we crave what we do know. And so that craving gets expressed in different ways according to different personalities and profiles and Maturation. You know, childhood cravings are different from adult ones and adult ones are different from post-conventional ones, etc. And they’re all substitute gratifications, one kind or another. I think it’s useful to add in, to give a meta-frame here and say that one can always look at an issue like craving from many perspectives and many maps. So if we now look at craving from a contemporary psychological and neuroscience perspective and evolutionary perspective, we would say that cravings are hardwired into the nervous system for certain things like food and sex and security and comforts, etc. And we could go any direction with this. But let’s move in a direction which is really up for us at this time in human history, where our cravings which were set hardwired into the nervous system hundreds of thousands or in some cases even millions of years ago, are now in an environment which is extremely different from the African savannah where we have, for those of us who live fortunate lives in the Western world, we have unlimited access to food and to pleasurable stimuli of one kind or another. And we have whole industries that are devoting some of the best minds they can hire to creating what the evolutionary psychologists would call “supernormal stimuli,” which are stimuli which are more attractive and addictive than the stimuli in the natural environment, which can lead, let’s take the food industry for a moment, they are on record as that they are working to create the best combination of salt and sugar and fat, which creates “the bliss point of eat-attainment.” Okay, so we are, now we wonder why we have a global epidemic of obesity. It’s called globicity. That’s half the world’s population now. There are 600 million people that are malnourished and underfed. There are half the world’s population that’s overweight. And our evolutionary hardwiring is up against a multibillion-dollar industry, which we’re just not wired for. Now, let me give you an example, because this is going to get worse. We are just at the beginning. Think, for example, of the Internet addiction and pornography addiction. The Japanese have a term, which I can’t pronounce, for kids who literally just, what translates as “shut-ins.” They just stay in their room as many hours a day as they possibly can, except to get food and go pee, and they play video games. Now here’s a really telling story. There is a species of beetle in Australia called the Australian jewel beetle, for which is incredibly attracted to beer bottles. The males are attracted to beer bottles. The beer bottle just happens to be the right shading and right shape and give the right reflection and colors to act as a supernormal sexual stimulus for the males. So the male jewel beetles will literally stay out in the sun until they die and desiccate, trying to copulate with these beer bottles and neglect the females. So we have now Internet pornography, which is, it used to be, I’m a physician, a psychiatrist, it used to be someone, a male came in with erectile dysfunction. You asked, “Okay, do you have diabetes? Do you have hypertension?” Now the first question you ask is, “How much porn do you watch?” Now think of the next stage, virtual reality. We haven’t seen anything yet. I mean, this is, it’s really hard to comprehend what this could mean for addiction craving. And given that there are going to be billions of dollars spent to get us into these things and buying the latest ones, etc., etc. They’re already creating virtual reality porn programs. So it’s like, I mean, we are on the cutting edge of another whole layer of addiction. Add in the fact of designer drugs, which will probably make today’s addictive drugs look like popcorn. And I mean, this is a dystopian aspect of the future that very few people seem to be thinking about. But we’re going to be facing this very soon.

Rick: Interesting. Well, it’s interesting, it almost seems like what you’re saying is that the technology is evolving to increase the polarities in the world. Because like, you and I are using the internet right now for something edifying, I would think. And you can find all the world’s great spiritual teachings on the internet if that’s where you choose to put your attention instead of on porn or something. And at the S.A.N.D. conference, there’s people downstairs using virtual reality goggles to elicit some kind of spiritual state or something. I’ve never tried, I don’t know exactly what they’re doing. But all these technologies, and then there’s artificial intelligence, I mean, you didn’t even mention that. Who knows what that’s going to do. But it seems like all these technologies, like fire or any other technology, can have a benign application or not, depending upon how we choose to use it. So maybe it’s a kind of a “separate the sheep from the goats” kind of situation and people have to just see where their loyalties are, where their interest is. Back to motivation, what their motivation is. These technologies aren’t going to go away, and we can choose to live to not even use them. I mean, we don’t have a cell phone that we actually use except for emergencies. But if you are going to use them, then you have to exercise discernment and discrimination and examine your motives and not do things which waste your time or demean you in some way.

Roger: Well said, and technology by itself doesn’t do anything. As with so many things, it’s how it’s used. And what you just pointed to are the qualities of heart and mind and maturity that are going to be required to use these increasingly powerful technologies. Because technology’s power is increasing exponentially and our wisdom is not increasing exponentially by any means. So we’re really up against a challenge of a race, a race between consciousness and catastrophe, really, and catastrophe can take any number of ways we could do ourselves in.

Rick: We’re working on quite a few of them actually, all at once.

Roger: What’s that?

Rick: I say we’re working on several of them all at once, it seems.

Roger: Sad but true.

Rick: Actually, I interviewed a woman a few months ago named Jillian Ross who wrote a book by that name, “Consciousness vs. Catastrophe.” And this is the kind of stuff we talked about. But it seems that there’s kind of a race in the world between accelerating consciousness and accelerating catastrophe. Just climate change alone could easily do us in. And there’s a logic to accepting that it pretty much already has, that it might be irreversible. Hopefully that’s not true. But all this doesn’t seem coincidental to me. It seems like this sort of consciousness epidemic that seems to be sweeping the Earth is rising to meet the challenge that has been posed by the technologies and their potentially lethal effects.

Roger: Yeah, and I find it, you know, one can take many perspectives about the many challenges to our species and planet that we face at the moment. I really think the issue of the time is, can we sustain civilization? But there, and one can take a variety of perspectives from dystopian to techno-optimism to the perspective I choose is agnosticism, I don’t know, and responsibility, it’s up to us. But I do take heart from the fact that if we’re in a race between consciousness and catastrophe, then if we break down what we mean by consciousness, we probably mean something close to the classic virtues, those qualities of heart and mind which allow us to live wisely and, well, love. You know, be they any of those seven capacities I listed in the book, whether it’s emotional virtues of love or motivation of selfless service or insight and wisdom, selfless service, etc. And for the first time in history, we have available to us practices for cultivating every one of these virtues from multiple traditions. What we don’t as yet have is a recognition in our Western society that these virtues are in fact skills. You know, for example, that love is not something just that kind of descends on you like an attack of epilepsy with the right person who looks the right way and says the right things. It’s really one of the great arts and skills of human life and there are practices in every one of these traditions for cultivating it. Now if we could get that out into the culture, we could change the culture.

Rick: Yeah, well, we’re trying to do it, right? I mean, I am, you are, many people are. We just keep talking about this stuff and doing these things ourselves and, you know, I mean, sure, there was Yogananda and there was a few things here and there. But it really seems to, a lot of things have become household words that were just seen as kooky and weird and off the beaten path way back then.

Roger: Yeah, it’s true, and that’s one of the things which really gives me some hope that there is, that these practices, these understandings and practices, are becoming part of the wider conversation. And as you said earlier, it’s still a minority of people who actually practice them, but it’s a growing minority.

Rick: Yeah, one thing that I’ve often thought is that it’s kind of like, you know, “Make hay while the sun shines,” that there’s a sort of an acceleration or an intensification of the spiritual impulse, kind of bubbling up from below, as it were. And, you know, to mix metaphors, you can catch that wave and surf it if you’re so inclined. It’s an opportune time for making a lot of spiritual progress if you’re inclined to do so whereas in other cultures and other economic situations, it may have been difficult or impossible. You would have had to struggle just to feed yourself. And you wouldn’t have been able to find a teacher. And even if you had found a teacher, and so on, the atmosphere was … it was as if a breakthrough into higher consciousness was some kind of thick membrane that you took a superman like the Buddha to break through. But these days the membrane has gotten a lot thinner and is a lot easier to break through. More and more people are having … well, the reason I named this show “Buddha at the Gas Pump” is the implication being that in this day and age, you may meet enlightened people, to use that word, in ordinary circumstances, ordinary situations. They’re becoming more and more commonplace.

Roger: Yeah, yeah, and I like your idea of several things I like there. One is the implication that, yes, this is a time in which a large number of us in the Western world live what the Tibetan Buddhists would call free and well-favored lives, free of the impediments to practice and favored with things from food to teachers to resources to be able to practice.

Rick: Indoor plumbing, whatever.

Roger: Indoor plumbing. Let’s hear it for indoor plumbing. And yeah, let’s make the most of it and do as much, awaken as fully as we can and serve as fully as we can. And that these, hopefully, each of us feels like we’re called to do what we can to bring these ideas into the mainstream in a couple of ways. One is to popularize, that isn’t quite the right word, but the second is to legitimate them, to make sense of them. And there’s a very beautiful concept that I take and draw on from Carl Jung. He spoke of the translator of the I Ching, Wilhelm, as being a Gnostic intermediary. And the way I understand Gnostic intermediary is someone who imbibes the wisdom of a tradition so deeply that it becomes part of their own being. And they’re then able to translate that wisdom into the language and concepts of the culture they’re trying to communicate to. So they do a threefold process of become the wisdom, translate, and by translating so as to create an “aha” experience. So they’re not only getting the information out there. They’re legitimating it, making it understandable to the community. And I think that the traditional spiritual ideas and contemplative ideas that we have inherited from around the world were born in the Agrarian era. They’re couched in mythic language in foreign terms, at least for the non-Western ones. They literally don’t make sense for most of the world, and our Western traditions are couched in archaic language and concepts, etc. So we are the first tradition that is called not only to translate, say, for example, Buddhism across cultures, but to translate traditions across eras and bring them into a postmodern world and make them comprehensible in contemporary terms in the language, in many cases psychological language, that’s current in our time. So it feels like a lot of us, and I think a lot of the people on your program, without necessarily having that understanding of Gnostic intermediary, are basically doing that.

Rick: Yeah, it’s actually a huge task that I think will take, well, I don’t know if it’ll ever be complete, but it’ll be something that we can work on for generations, you know, because there’s just so much territory to map out. We started near the beginning of this interview using the metaphor of a territory and mapping it and so on. And I still think, I’ve often said this, that we’re kind of at the Lewis and Clark stage of understanding the terrain.

Roger: I think that’s a generous view.

Rick: And actually a question came in about this from Dan in London, he said, “Can you recommend a post-conventional physiological map for someone that would like to understand the possibilities and their own development, if one does indeed exist?” Go ahead and take a stab at that if you’d like.

Roger: A map of physiology, a post-conventional map of physiology?

Rick: Well I would say, to interpret Dan’s question, that there will be, just as the subjective experiences of higher states of consciousness are radically different than ordinary states, there will be corresponding physiological states, physiological correlates that will be as different from ordinary waking, dreaming, sleeping physiologies as they are from each other, and perhaps more so. So this will just be part of the mapping, I think, to get the complete neurophysiological map clear and its correlation with all the higher states that one can experience.

Roger: Okay, yeah, that’s helpful, that lets me understand it, yeah. I think the first thing we need to acknowledge is it’s very early days yet. We’re only just beginning to get some maps of neural correlates of contemplative experiences and practices. There are interesting insights, but most of the neuroscientific research on contemplative practices and insights really focuses on beginners. So we don’t have much on the really advanced people. We have a few and growing number of studies, as I mentioned, which have identified, for example, the electrophysiological or EEG profiles of people during lucid dreaming and non-lucid Dreaming. And finding that, for example, in lucid dreams, the dreamers exhibit a unique combination of EEG patterns with the fast rhythm of waking superimposed on the slow rhythmic patterns of sleep. So it’s a unique electrophysiological profile. And we also find in advanced practitioners doing contemplative practices a unique degree of synchrony across the, as I recall, this is from memory, across the long tracts of the brain, the frontal and posterior poles. So we’re beginning to get some things, but it’s really early, and let’s remember the brain is the most complex organ we know of in the known universe so far. It’s got 1.2 by 10 to the 9 neurons and 1,000 connections between them all, I mean, more connections there are than stars in the galaxy. So we are just beginning to map the brain, let alone its function during higher states of consciousness.

Rick: Yeah, you mentioned something earlier about how a Buddhist monk in satori might be having a very different experience than an Amazonian shaman, let’s say, on Ayahuasca or whatever the Amazonian shaman is doing, and how that might make it difficult to say that there is sort of one underlying universal reality that everyone can tap into and agree upon. But I think we can understand that the territory is so vast and varied that the Buddhist monk and the shaman are just exploring different aspects of it in their respective experiences. But seen from a broader perspective, it’s still the same territory, there’s just a lot of diversity. For instance, there are all these, said to be, all these subtle realms, astral realm and celestial realm. There’s all kinds of things one could discover there which are very different from, and maybe different people would discover different things. But if you could really take a God’s eye view and encompass the whole of what is, what exists within your awareness, you’d find that, “Oh, they’re all just pieces of the same puzzle” and everybody has a little, we humans are all feeling the elephant and coming to different conclusions. But let me just finish this last sentence which is that, still, I think that humans have the capacity to tap into something which is truly universal and not just a limited part of the elephant.

Roger: Yeah, so there’s a lot in what you said, Rick. And let’s agree, we can happily agree that it does seem that in some extraordinary way, consciousness can awaken to itself. And what the limits of that, if there are any, who knows? And to complicate things a little bit, this presupposition that there’s an underlying reality which we, well, let’s use the elephant metaphor, blind men and the elephant metaphor. There’s the underlying reality and the mystics and the scientists and the shamans and tapping into different aspects of it, maybe so. And there is a growing movement of feeling that is called the participatory turn that we can’t even be sure there’s the one underlying reality. That there’s a participatory relationship with the universe, with experience, so that each of us evokes or enacts a particular something which is called forth in its unique expression through each of us in each state of consciousness, in each stage of development, etc. So that let’s just acknowledge that first off, I don’t know, but I do know there’s a growing number of people who would say, “Not so fast! Maybe the blind men and the elephant is the appropriate metaphor. But maybe it’s a much more dynamic, maybe reality is a lot more dynamic and there’s no one elephant. And we call forth, it’s not just we’re finding, seeing the elephant or feeling it, we are actually calling forth something new in that moment.” So, you know?

Rick: Yeah, and yet there is sort of intersubjective agreement about many things. We all see a tree and the bee sees it one way and the cat sees it another way and so on and so forth. So there’s something out there that seems to transcend individual perspectives.

Roger: Yeah, and bottom line, I love the bottomless mystery.

Rick: Yeah, I mean obviously I don’t think either of us is saying, “Okay, this is the way it is, everybody should believe this.” We play with ideas and sometimes we state them somewhat assertively just so you don’t have to hem and haw over every sentence, but who knows?

Roger: Yeah, and I hold that it’s fine to say anything as long as there’s an understood qualifier and I could be wrong. And if we believe that, I don’t know.

Rick: Yeah, there’s a great line in the Rig Veda where they say something like, I can’t really quote it precisely, or it might be the Upanishads, I forget which but it’s sort of like, “Maybe the Creator knows, or maybe He doesn’t know, and if He doesn’t know, then maybe nobody knows.”

Roger: I think it’s the Rig Veda. Right, don’t know mind, I’m a big fan of don’t know mind, yeah. And within that, and the way I hold it is, yeah, at bottom we don’t know. It’s bottomless mystery and within that mystery we are still, we need our worldviews and assumptions, and the game is to be open to the feedback from whether it’s the elephant or the enacted calling forth or whatever, to be open to finding the understanding and corresponding behavior and values which best serve the welfare and awakening of all.

Rick: Yeah, absolutely. I kind of flash when we’re having conversations like this on the idea that we, after all, are just little sense organs of the infinite. And deep down we are the infinite, but when we want to think and talk and understand, we’re just doing that with fairly limited capacities. But the infinite self, we could say God itself, seems to have His act together. I mean, the various laws of nature, we know that certain laws of nature which we see operating in our nearby neighborhood in the universe also operate billions of light years away. So somehow or other, this whole marvelous thing has come into existence and is orchestrated by orderly laws which we certainly don’t all understand completely by a long shot. But they’re predictable, they’re reliable, they’re stable in a sense. So I guess to wrap that point up, it’s like the knowledge of totality is there. The instruction manual for running a universe is being followed by he or she or it who is running it. And we as human beings, we can aspire to understand and experience the mechanics of that to whatever extent human beings are capable of doing.

Roger: Yeah, and always there’ll be more and always the invitation to wonder.

Rick: Yeah. As a matter of fact, I mean, they say again in the Vedic literature that the span of evolution, they speak of 16 kalas and that humans occupy the fourth through eighth. So if that’s true, then you could be the greatest sage who ever walked the Earth and you’re still only about halfway there if there’s really any “there” there.

Roger: If there’s a there there, yeah, right.

Rick: Depends on what your definition of “is” is.

Roger: Let’s not go down that road. Yeah, and not only wonder but awe.

Rick: Yeah, yeah.

Roger: The awe, that emotion, the response to something of incomprehensible beauty or grandeur and part of what feels like spiritual practice in life is a greater openness to the awe and grandeur and mystery and beauty and love of life and creation. The gift, this incredible gift we’ve been given.

Rick: It’s a great way to spend one’s time. I mean, I’m sure you’ve said this somewhere in this book. But the main point is if you find this stuff interesting, and to my mind it’s a heck of a lot more interesting than a lot of other stuff, focus on it. You know, put your attention there, because that to which you give your attention is only going to grow stronger in your life.

Roger: Yeah, yeah. And in one sense, that’s what purification, which is one of the key elements of spiritual practice and at the heart of ethics, is. It’s a purification that allows us to direct attention to that which is most important without being distracted by subsidiary compulsions and passions, etc.

Rick: Yeah.

Roger: So, yeah, absolutely, and within the mind, what we attend to, we evoke.

Rick: Exactly.

Roger: That’s a very important principle of contemplative practice, which you could say some sages would say, “Oh, that’s an essential aspect of meditation.”

Rick: Yeah, another thing I heard you say in a number of interviews is also that, hang out with people who are into this stuff if you want to be into it. Hang out with kindred souls, it’s one of the strongest admonitions of all the different traditions.

Roger: Yeah, you know, you’ve generously mentioned the book Essential Spirituality several times, Rick. And it took me three years to research and write that. And the biggest surprise in those three years was that every single tradition said for every single one of the seven qualities, “If you want to cultivate this, hang out with people who have it.” The consciousness is catchy. And I love it when contemporary research catches up with perennial wisdom, and now we have this emerging field of network research in which we’re finding that psychological, not just behaviors, but psychological states are transmitted across social networks. So that if your brother’s wife’s friend who you’ve never met gets depressed, then there’s a statistical chance your mood will start to go down.

Rick: Interesting.

Roger: Yeah.

Rick: So, we’re all connected at a deep level.

Roger: We’re all connected way more profoundly and sensitively than we’d appreciated, and of course, and yet, parents know this, they want their kids to hang out with “the right kids,” and sages have recommended this for millennia. The sangha, spiritual community, hang out with people who have these same values and aspirations and practices, and it robs the consciousness is catchy.

Rick: Sure, and it doesn’t mean we should become spiritual snobs or turn our nose up at “unspiritual people” and so on. I mean, look at Jesus’ example, or Mother Teresa’s, or various sages who just really dove into the thick of life and uplifted everyone they encountered. But they weren’t doing it for kicks. They weren’t doing it because, you know, like for the reasons one might go to a strip club or a bar or something like that. They were doing it because it was their mission as people who wanted to alleviate as much suffering as possible.

Roger: It’s very beautiful, yeah, and I think it’s helpful to put that within a kind of practice progression that at first, just like when you’re learning to ride a bike, you need training wheels. And it’s really helpful to be with like-minded people who give you support. The goal isn’t to insulate yourself in a nice supportive group for the rest of your life. The goal is to cultivate these qualities so they’re strong and stable enough so you can go out into the world in challenging situations and bring these qualities with you to others.

Rick: Yeah, yeah, good point. It has to get sort of stabilized. It’s easily overshadowed in its initial stages, like a little sprout of a pine tree, you know, it can easily get stomped on, but eventually it becomes a strong tree and can stand up to mighty gales.

Roger: Exactly, exactly. Yeah, and new potentials are fragile at first, and we need to nurture them as you’re implying.

Rick: Yeah, and that brings up another point in your book, which is if you find an effective spiritual practice, there are various strategies you can use to learn to do it regularly and to not let it be disrupted by the various distractions of life. And you emphasize this a lot in the book that, sort of, a regular practice with a kind of a stick-to-it-attitude is extremely beneficial.

Roger: Yeah, it just seems, you know, for the most part there are. For the most part, it takes sustained practice to instill a new way of being, whether it’s a habit of behavior or an emotional response or…

Rick: Or a really great tennis serve, I mean, whatever, you know, it takes practice

Roger: You’re right, yeah, exactly. It just takes practice. Now, there are rare exceptions. They’re called quantum experiences where people have real breakthroughs and are transformed very quickly. Think of the near-death experience, for example, but they’re rare. For the most part, it takes sustained practice to stabilize, to do two things, which psychologists call “stabilize” a new trait or behavior, and generalize it to be able to carry it out of the sangha or community or nice safe space in which you learned it into the world.

Rick: Yeah, this whole thing about sudden awakening and then you’re done or something like that, I mean, you know, you might suddenly win the lottery if you’re lucky, but you wouldn’t want to make that a retirement plan.

Roger: Yeah, and it’s clear. I think we have enough data now to say even people who can have powerful spontaneous openings, those effects tend to dissipate over time unless they’re sustained by some sort of regular practice. So there’s an opening, but sustaining it and integrating it as part of one’s personality and then generalizing it and bringing it out, those are very different processes.

Rick: I like Ken Wilber’s three phrases, “waking up,” “cleaning up,” and “growing up.”

Roger: Yeah, all of them crucial, and that would be a very good distillation, the growing up and the waking up of what we were talking about before, that there are different kinds of spiritual maturation. One is through states of consciousness, the waking up. One is through stages of psychological development, the growing up. And both are crucial, and the cleaning up, the purification process.

Rick: Okay, well, I’m always at this point in an interview after about two hours. I think, “Ah, this is so much fun, I could stay here for another two hours.” But then I realize, “Alright, I’ve got to sort of wrap it up at some point. My guest may need to use the restroom or something.” So is there anything you’d like to say in conclusion? Any one of the points you’ve made have been so eloquent they could have been nice concluding points. But is there anything you’d like to say to really put a lid on it for now?

Roger: There are a couple of things. One is just to thank you for these opportunities. It’s really an opportunity to dialogue with you, Rick. It’s really a gift to be able to get these ideas out, because as you said, a growing number of people, you know, including particularly the ones who’ve been on your program are trying to get these ideas out into the culture. And we are in a race between consciousness and catastrophe. And I think that I would want to say that we do have, as you implied, unprecedented opportunities with these favorable lives of ours at this moment. That really, we’re at a turning point in human history that we’ve never before in history had such threats to our collective well-being and survival and such opportunities. And each of us is called, it feels like, to take advantage of this unique situation and to go as deeply as we possibly can into ourselves so as to go more effectively out into the world, but go out into the world as part of our spiritual practice, as a karma yoga, as a yoga in action and using our work in the world as our practice. So we go into ourselves to go more effectively out into the world, and we go out into the world in order to go deeper into ourselves. And we keep that cycle growing, and we have this extraordinary opportunity with all the world’s practices available to us to support us in this. And we have a growing network of people, both personal and through the Internet, through programs like this, to support us and help us in the program. And I just hope, pray, that each of us can listen to our own inner calling to find our most, our calling, our unique contribution, and open to that and make our small part in making this, in keeping our wonderful adventure of consciousness that we call human existence alive and well and flourishing and awakening.

Rick: Good, nice. Okay, so I will be linking to your website as I always do, and linking to your books from your page on, so those listening to this, if you want to learn more about Rog, Roger, just go to his page on BatGap and then from there you can jump over to his website and his books on Amazon and so on. Also, Roger is going to be hosting a webinar along with Marianna Caplan, who has been on BatGap, under the auspices of the Association for Spiritual Integrity. And it’s going to be about “Psychedelic Emergencies: Is the New Psychedelic Revolution Really an Evolution?” And there’s a paragraph here describing it. “Used wisely, psychedelics can offer remarkable benefits, but how to ensure that they are used wisely?” So Roger and Marianna will delve into the ethical, personal, and psychological issues that we need to consider in order to ensure safe and fruitful expectations of psychedelics as they re-emerge into Western culture. So that’s something you and I haven’t talked about at all today. So if people want to hear that, go to the Association for Spiritual Integrity, which is and you’ll see a place to sign up for that webinar. It’s going to be on Wednesday the 26th from 1 to 2.30 Pacific Time. Is there anything else like that that you want to announce, Roger? Any special upcoming things?

Roger: I’m a fan of the European Integral Conference, which has really become the global or world Integral Conference, which will be at the end of May in Hungary. So I’m very much looking forward to being there. I was at the last one two years ago. Really a wonderful, wonderful event, so certainly encourage people to go there.

Rick: Great, okay, and there’s information about, they can just do a Google search for that, I’m sure and it’ll pop up.

Roger: It’ll pop up.

Rick: Great. All right, well thank you to those who have been listening or watching. Next week I have an interview with Bill McDonald, whom I’ve interviewed before. We’re going to cover some stuff that we didn’t cover in the first one. And the following week, I have an interview with Maurizio and Zaya Benazzo, who are the mother and father of the Science and Non-Duality Conference. I’ve been going to that conference for 10 years and I never actually had a chance to sit down and have a nice conversation with them because we’re always so busy when we’re There. So I’m looking forward to that. So thanks for listening or watching and we’ll see you at the next one. Thanks, Roger.

Roger: Thank you Rick, that was a great fun and I really appreciate this. We could have, we just have a lot to explore.

Rick: Yeah, we’ll have to drive across the country together somehow or something, some day and just talk for five days.

Roger: Well, maybe another lunch at SAND at the least.

Rick: Yeah, at least that.

Roger: Yeah, thanks so much. Again, I really do appreciate the opportunity to do a dialogue like this with someone who has been so immersed in these things and do appreciate the work you do. So, thanks so much.