Stephen Snyder Transcript

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Stephen Snyder Interview

Rick Archer: Welcome to Buddha at the Gas Pump. My name is Rick Archer. Buddha the gas pump is an ongoing series of conversations with spiritually Awakening people. We’ve done over 650 of them now, if this is new to you, and you’d like to check out some of the previous ones, go to Bat gap and look under the past interviews menu. This program was made possible through the support of appreciative listeners and viewers. So if you appreciate it, then we’d like to help support it. There are PayPal buttons on the website and there’s also a donation page which explains some alternatives to PayPal. My guest today is Steven do to Snyder. Stephen began meditating daily in 1976. He has practiced since in Zen tradition as well as extensive practice in Tera Vaada Buddhism. He is a lineage Zen teacher, as well as a lineage Theravada teacher. He was also influenced by diamond heart teachings and practices. That’s a chamas. I’ve interviewed Amit Ali a couple of times. He combines the ancient Buddhist heart practices with awakening practices of the Zen tradition into a heartfelt journey of realization and embodiment. Steven has written several books, three of which I read two of which I have here. demystifying awakening, Buddha’s here it is Buddha’s Heart. And let’s see what was the third one? That’s called trust, trust and awakening, trust in awakening? Good. I don’t have a physical copy of that. But he sent me the file and that one’s coming out in November. Something isn’t as dated. September, September. Okay, good. So, let’s see, it’s usually good to start with a little bit of a biographical sketch. Just so people get a bit familiar with who it is where we’re talking to. So you started meditating? 76, how old were you at the time?

Stephen Snyder: I was 19, 19.

Rick Archer: And what motivated you to start?

Stephen Snyder: I think just the usual teenage angst, not knowing who I was not knowing where I was going, feeling like most of life was overwhelming. And just having an idea that if I could meditate, if I could settle within that, I could learn some things about myself. And I think just was drawn to meditation. I had traveled as a youth. My father was a sales executive with Panem, back when there was a Pan Am, and he spent his career in Asia. So we traveled in Asia pretty extensively. So some of the first religious people I saw were Zen monks in Tokyo. When I was about three, I was quite struck by them. Yeah, that stayed with me.

Rick Archer: And I guess it was some Zen book that first inspired you to to learn meditation.

Stephen Snyder: It was it was I read a survey book of meditation and the Zen section of the book, just really spoke to me. I just felt an aliveness to it and a strong attraction. And so I began meditating five minutes a day to start.

Rick Archer: Zen kind of inspired me to start to I remember, I read, read Zen flesh and bones when I am. And I was like, high on LSD. And I thought, I thought, These guys were serious. And I’m just screwing around. I said, That’s it. I’m going to stop taking drugs and learn how to meditate. So I did, I didn’t learn them. But I got into meditation. Right? Yeah. Wonderful. Yeah. So I like the theme. We’ll get into it in some detail, but like the Zen has kind of, at least from my uninformed perspective, has kind of a dry, austere, stern, you know, feel about it. But you know, you’re you have you wrote a whole book about the Buddha’s Heart. And, you know, in the bio that I just said, you speak of a heartfelt journey of realization and embodiment. Is that a fair characterization? I mean, Zen a little dry and you’re trying to have a more heart oriented approach.

Stephen Snyder: I think it is a little more dry in the sense that the heart practices really aren’t too discussed some of the teachers of my generation and are introducing mindfulness and heart practices. But it certainly isn’t systemic, that it’s happening. And when I was a student, I found that some of the difficulties in the different Zen centers were happening, really, because there wasn’t a lot of compassion, a lot of connectivity. So the teachers had, were awakened to emptiness, but they hadn’t awakened to unity or love. So their, their wisdom was quite dry, and could be very unfeeling. People could get very hurt. In the teachers pay,

Rick Archer: they weren’t behaving compassionately. Or

Stephen Snyder: a lot of them were not there. And, and with the realization only of emptiness of the nothingness that is at the source, it gives a kind of or gave a kind of freedom were these teachers, if you would point out something to them, you know, hey, the way you interacted with so and so really seemed off the mark to me, then they would say something like, well, it’s all empty, so it doesn’t matter. And my response was, Well, if you’re standing on my toes, it matters to me a lot.

Rick Archer: Yeah. How about if I punched you in the nose? It’s all empty. It won’t matter. Right. Right.

Stephen Snyder: Right, exactly. I don’t think that would have been too welcome.

Rick Archer: That’s an interesting point. Are you familiar with Ken Wilber his lines of development model?

Stephen Snyder: You know, I read some of his material very early on, but it’s been a number of years. So I can’t say I, I can recall that. Yeah, basically, he

Rick Archer: just says that, you know, we’re multifaceted beings, we have intellect, we have hearts, we have senses, we have, you know, minds, we have all these different faculties. And, and then there’s consciousness, and all of these things could be considered lines of development, and there’s no guarantee that they’re going to develop, you know, in a balanced, coordinated way. And some lines can get way out ahead, and we can be quite stunted along other lines, and that can cause all kinds of problems, which I think is what you were just describing.

Stephen Snyder: Yes, well, when I really come to land a lot in the importance of the heart practices with the Buddha’s Heart, and working with students. And I’m gonna say, you know, I, I work predominantly with Westerners, so people outside of Asia, so there may be differences in some of the Buddhist countries, to what I’ve experienced as a teacher. But as Westerners, we really need a lot of hard practice. We’re walking around, most of us fairly wounded, with a lot of armoring. And to try to drop the sense of self, to experience the source, the absolute requires a lot of trust. And unless our heart is in a, a stable enough place and open enough place, with strength and sensitivity, the awakening is going to be difficult for it to happen, and it’s gonna be difficult to embody.

Rick Archer: Yeah, I’ve also heard it said by many people that you really have to have a healthy, well developed ego or sense of self before you can really think about dropping it. And if you haven’t even developed that it can be either counterproductive or even. problematic, problematic, dangerous, depersonalizing.

Stephen Snyder: And that’s why I’m here today, I really encourage the folks who are wandering trying to figure out their identity in relation to gender and sexuality that it’s important to land. Because as you say, unless they’re landed, and there’s a solidity to it, you can’t transcend it.

Rick Archer: So that land you mean what exactly. But to be clear

Stephen Snyder: about your identity, who you are, you know, all the various aspects of that who you take yourself to be, because we can’t begin to put any of that down unless it’s stable enough. You know, we really need a very well constructed container in order to hold the absolute.

Rick Archer: Yeah, that’s actually a big social issue these days. Because, you know, some people are saying, Well, kids should be who they really are in their heart of hearts that who they really want to be. And then others are saying, well, they’re nine years old, you saying they should have gender modification, hormone therapy and stuff like that, you know, they don’t know who they are. I mean, this speaks to that. And I’m not about to offer any ready answers. Do you have any?

Stephen Snyder: No, I don’t really I certainly understand the discussion. And I guess what I would contribute to it is most of the people that I know that our landed in gender and sexual identity, if you ask them when they became clear about it, most of them were quite young. They’ll talk about being five years old and being at tract to do so. And so. And that’s really what started their, their journey. So So I feel that those folks have just as much right to land where they need to be as the rest of us. You know, if we were the minority of the heterosexuals were the minority, then it will have a different perspective for us, we’d want people to value and honor our orientations and where we land in these things.

Rick Archer: Yeah. So there’s an interesting paradox here. We’re talking about, you know, there being no self, and having the realization that there’s no self, and at the same time, we’re talking about developing a healthy, you know, personality and sense of self. So how do you reconcile reconcile that paradox?

Stephen Snyder: Well, there’s two ends to that. One is the transcendent aspect, where to have awakening experiences, we do transcend the normal self, I talk about it as absence of self, I like absence as a term better than emptiness, because emptiness implies, nothing is there, but absence, there suggests that something may be there. But it feels like nothing’s there. So there’s a difference in that regard, that we need to have the transcendent opportunity, and we need to feel safe enough to let go of this, this body and even this life, to have those experiences deep experiences like cessation, the consciousness and awareness shut off, I call it a lights out experience. And there is a moment when the merger is happening when the awareness and consciousness realize, I don’t know how to unmerge. And that’s a real question. So we have to have enough stability and enough trust in order to go into the into the absolute, but also, how do we embody, and if our hearts and our identities aren’t landed enough, it makes it really difficult to do that. And that’s where you end up with teachers who are behaving badly because they’ve resolved certain aspects of the personality and the dynamic of that, and others they have not. So you see them acting out with money and with relationships, in ways and power in ways that are unhealthy and harming people.

Rick Archer: Yeah, I helped to start an organization, which you might find interesting, called the Association for spiritual integrity, and has over 400 members now. And it’s all about what you’re just saying there, which is we have a whole code of ethics that we spent many, many hours drawing up, you know, comparing other things like Spirit Rock and other places who had drawn up codes like that. And but the basic principle is that ethical behavior is an important component on the spiritual path. And, you know, these sorts of excuses for unethical behavior, like, Oh, God is doing it, or there is no doer or stuff like that. Just don’t cut it.

Stephen Snyder: No, no, the again, if you’re standing on my toes, my toes still hurt, right? So whether whether you perceive it or not, is irrelevant. Yeah, in that regard, but you know, we all have to be careful with what we’re doing. We’re dealing with and as teachers, we’re working with people who are trusting us, they’re opening their deepest selves to us, and letting us give some guidance, and we have to take that very responsibly. That one

Rick Archer: of my favorite quotes, which I’ve said on the show many times was supposedly from Padma Sun bhava, who apparently said, although my awareness is as vast as the sky, my attention to karma is as fine as a grain of barley flour. And by karma, we mean for the we mean, action, my behavior impeccability.

Stephen Snyder: Right. Yeah, right. Yeah, that’s a great line. There’s, there’s a similar Koan like that in the Koan series of a teacher who didn’t believe that realized beings were subject to karma. And so ended up having to live 500 lives, that’s a fox. And then and in Asia, that the fox is similar to how we would say the weasel in the States. So it’s a crafty sly figure. So he had to come in for 500 lifetimes be a fox before he could come back and had to realize that even though the realization is unconditioned, we’re still functioning in a conditioned world.

Rick Archer: Yeah. Would you say that? Either in your own experience, or in your understanding of what the in the experience of an enlightened being is supposed to be? That it’s multi dimensional in the sense that you no one can simultaneously be everywhere, nowhere and right here, and there’s no conflict or between those rather different modes of, of experience or perspectives.

Stephen Snyder: Yeah, I’d say that’s true. And that’s really because we’re talking about a territory that’s non conceptual. And what you’re describing is concepts about time and space. And if those aren’t real in the sense of being part of the absolute part of the source of the universe, then you know, we’re dealing with conditioned events.

Rick Archer: You’ve used the word absolute quite a few times. So let’s define that. And at some point in one of your books, you went into a cosmology, it’s, as I recall it, of sort of the steps of manifestation. Or maybe that was something else I was listening to, I don’t know, I listened to a lot of things. But yeah, what do we mean by absolute?

Stephen Snyder: The absolute is the source, it’s, it’s the source of the universe. Think of it as the deep silence before the Big Bang. So it’s got that potentiality, to create. And, in my experience, the absolute has two functions, and unmanifest, which is the part that’s dark, and absence is the main quality we would encounter there. And along with that, there’s things like peacefulness, stillness, silence, there. And the other, the other function of, of the absolute is manifestation. And that’s where we would have in contrast, this would be really bright white, a brilliantly white, white quality. And the chief characteristic is presence with pure love. And Pure Love is simply a love that doesn’t, it’s not conditioned in any way. So the great aspect of the heart practices is they’re all derivatives have the manifest absolute of pure presence and pure love. So if you and I have some ego deficiency, if we have some places of shame and guilt, that it doesn’t matter to, to the absolute, it’s not judging anything. So we don’t need to earn our way in there, nor do we need to fix everything about ourselves in order to make contact with this. And that’s really one of the great presentations of the Brahma viharas, as we call the heart practices.

Rick Archer: When you say the abs, the the manifest aspect of the absolute Did you say I did is pure love and pure presence. So the way that struck me is there’s a level of the Absolute, which is just so absolute, that there’s nothing going on. And then there’s a kind of a warmed up aspect of it, where it starts to manifest or starts to express, which is still so close to the absolute. You could call it absolute. But but it’s begun to percolate. Is that Is that what you’re getting?

Stephen Snyder: Yeah, yeah. And the manifest is what is what moves into creation. So everything we can see, including ourselves, our ex expressions of the manifest absolute, we are pure love, we are pure presence. That’s what makes up everything. But at our core, were the unmanifest were the absence. So you’re quite right, and your framing of it.

Rick Archer: Okay. What would you say to the notion as some scriptures like the Mandukya, Upanishad say that the creation only appears to manifest and in fact, never has, and never does? Like that, you know, the rope appears to be a snake, but it was never a snake.

Stephen Snyder: Yep, there’s different positions. I mean, to me, it’s based on direct experience. That’s what has to lead our understanding. And if we have that understanding, if that’s their understanding, then that’s perfectly fine. And to me, it’s legitimate to have that viewpoint. I mean, every viewpoint that’s not harming others, is a correct viewpoint.

Rick Archer: Yeah. And I guess different people resonate with different viewpoints, which is, which is not to say that there are many, as many ultimate realities, as there are viewpoints.

Stephen Snyder: But we’ll do it. There’s one mountain, but there’s a multitude of paths up that same mountain, right.

Rick Archer: Yeah, so what you said there was a key thing you just said in there, which is experience. I think, you know, a lot of the stuff that we are talking about today and that people talk about in spiritual circles might sound metaphysical or philosophical. But I think the key thing is, can they be experienced? And if not, why are we even talking about them? What’s What’s the utility of it unless we can actually realize them experientially?

Stephen Snyder: Yeah, and that’s part of the the teacher student relationship if you’re working with a student, with a student having an experience that the teacher has had that same experience, they can not only help guide, but they can also confirm, right because it resonates in a particular way. In in, you know, if I’m with somebody who’s had a Kensho, an awakening experience, there’s a certain way it resonates in me in consciousness that I can feel. And so that’s how the teachers work, those that are realized, have that experience. So everything I teach I’ve experienced, and that way I can validate it and confirm it for students. The students sometimes

Rick Archer: say to you, Well, what about this? And do you? And then you answer well, I don’t know. Because I haven’t experienced

Stephen Snyder: that. Yet, not too often. Sometimes people will bring in other practices, like you’ve mentioned, that one perspective, I’m not familiar with that. So if somebody raised that to me, I would just tell them, I don’t know about that. Or if someone says, oh, in this tradition, or this lineage, they do it differently. I would say that’s perfectly fine for them. I just tell them sort of jokingly that. I’m a union member in the lineage as I’m in. And so you’ve got to present to some extent what’s in conformity with the union or with the lineage?

Rick Archer: Yeah, that’s good. I have some sometimes said to people that I think if you got the Buddha and Jesus and Krishna, Muhammad and all the rest into a room together, they wouldn’t have anything to argue about. They’d say, they would just they’d be in full agreement just having grown up in different cultures.

Stephen Snyder: Right? Quite right, there would be enough similarity of realization that they would have commonality to discuss and they would realize that their particular expression is different. You know, if, if I’m meeting with a Christian teacher, there’s going to be a very different orientation for how they’re teaching then how I am, because they they’re working with a model of God and Jesus, that is a different setup than in Buddhism, the Buddha is not our Savior. He’s an example. Yeah, but but we don’t we don’t pray to Him in the way that people Christians pray to Jesus.

Rick Archer: Although seems like some Buddhists do make a big fuss about him. They’ve kind of deified him in a way and they have gotten very ceremonial and ornate. Yeah.

Stephen Snyder: Well, then, as you probably know, record, virtually every major religious leader that you just mentioned, part of their teaching was don’t make statues of me. When I’m gone, no pictures, no statues, and of course, what do we have, but we have a plethora of all the above?

Rick Archer: Well, I think people need a focus of attention. You know, you can’t pray pray to the absolute.

Stephen Snyder: Buddha Buddha dasa, the famous teacher in Thailand used to put things like a big boulder or a giant mirror on the altar, instead of a Buddha.

Rick Archer: Yeah. Okay, so let’s get back to you a little bit. So you started meditation when you were 19? I think you said and, and 76. Then I remember hearing you say, you first you could only do about five minutes a day, or twice a session anyway. Yep. Right. And and what were you kind of like bouncing off the walls during those five minutes? And

Stephen Snyder: yeah, it was like trying to contain a live wire. But over time, I did settle. And you know, Rick, really, the interesting thing was, I didn’t tell anybody I was meditating. And maybe 18 months to two years into it. My coworkers began commenting on how peaceful I was, and how accepting I was. And so they were seeing change that I wasn’t even seeing in myself. And that’s where the importance of relation that’s where we really see our practice. Yeah, that’s good relation.

Rick Archer: That’s good. Yeah, I mean, that takes me off on a tangent, which is sometimes I hear people saying things like, well, you know, you can be enlightened and still be a real sob or be drinking or, you know, a lot or I mean, Shalgam. Trumper Rinpoche was died of alcoholism in his 40s. I take exception to that. What’s your opinion? Well, I think

Stephen Snyder: someone can be realized, and they cannot be done with their personal work. Okay. So you know, there’s different levels of realization, in the deeper levels of realization, you have to work the personal material that has to be in conformity, otherwise, the deeper realizations won’t arise. So, so talk about that sport, and

Rick Archer: let’s talk about levels of realization, because sometimes you hear people say, Well, I had my awakening and last September or something, and I always think, Well, what did you have? Exactly? Because my understanding is that there are these levels of realization, and they perhaps are on ending. So how do you see that?

Stephen Snyder: Yeah, in my book demystifying awakening, I present both the Zen model and the Tera Vaada Buddhist model of awakening in the Tera Vaada. And there are four stages stream entry Every once returned or non returner, and Arihant, and in the Zen model identify three stages of realization, the first Kensho, which is really a kind of generic realization, most any kind of realization would satisfy that. And then a deeper realization being Satori. And the differences between those two is how much of consciousness wakes up. If it seems to be if it’s more than 51%, then part of what happens is the personality gets dislodged as the foundation and true nature becomes the foundation. And then there’s a deeper realization called Diago. Tae Tae, which is the realization, it’s considered the final realization, although I don’t think that’s actually true. But it’s a realization where we have to resolve the core ego deficiency, in order to have the realization. And when that successfully happens, then the absolute becomes the foundation even rather than true nature. And I make the distinction between absolute and true nature. True Nature is simply the absolute in a particular consciousness. It’s they’re both the absolute,

Rick Archer: yeah, it’s kind of like Brahman and Jeeva, and the Hindu model, or rather, Brahman and Atman. I meant to say, yeah, so this thing about 51% It would it be a good analogy to compare it to like when you wake up in the morning, you know, initially, you’re awake enough to look at the alarm clock and know what time it is, but you couldn’t recite Shakespeare or, you know, do anything very complicated. You have to wake up more degrees, but it is awake.

Stephen Snyder: Yeah, yeah, well, well, what happens with the smaller Ken shows, typically, somebody will have a few seconds or a minute or two, where they will flash into awakening. And as I teach it, and confirm it, there needs to be three threes components to awakening. The first is a deep experience of absence of self. And we mostly experienced that if I were to ask you who you were, you would normally self reference you turn in and you’d talk about your likes and dislikes and things like this, your personality. But if you’re an absence of self, you literally would have no answer. It would feel like you look in and there’s just nothing, there’s a question mark. And so it’s saying, I don’t know who I am. And that that’s the start of the absence of self experience. And then there needs to be a realization of true nature. So not just seeing and recognizing true nature, but it’s got to be recognized as your true identity. That’s who I am, I get it. And then the third is there has to be a love or unity experience. Everything is one, or everything is a part of a fabric of oneness, which must include us, it can’t be just I’m looking and the world around me is this one love, but I’m not included. It has to be including me, too. If you have all three, then I think you have a significant Kensho experience.

Rick Archer: So it sounds like you’re saying that there may be two factors. One is duration. And the other is clarity. That might be one way of looking at it.

Stephen Snyder: Yeah, duration, duration or depth, I think clarity or depth, we could use the either term

Rick Archer: right, then so there could perhaps be brief clear clashes, or long, foggy periods. Yeah, but you ideally we want, you know, ongoing abiding clear one, the clear state,

Stephen Snyder: we, we get what we need. And like, in my experience, I had a lot of little Ken shows for years, I’d have little little flashes of seeing true nature or seeing absence of self and seeing true nature, but they would last a minute or two minutes. But I got to really develop a trust that this is real, it exists I know based on my experience, but I wasn’t really mature enough in order to really have a sustained experience. Because when you have the sustained the Satori words, 51% or more of consciousness, then the integration becomes very different, where you begin to see not only your attitudes, your beliefs, but also your behavior, you know, and when I tell those students is your outside has to match your inside. And that’s what you watch for is in congruence these, what doesn’t match anymore, and you have to make adjustments in your life to fit your realization to have it be expressed more fully. So it’s an ongoing journey of and not always easy, because we’re often challenged by the way we’ve been our whole life, our certain attitudes are I’m this kind of person. Well, you’re not anymore. You’re not a person exactly anymore. You’re the absolute functioning as a person. Yeah.

Rick Archer: And I’ll bet that you know, during those years when you would have, you know, little kinjo I was here and there when you weren’t having them, I’ll bet the state you were in was very different than the state you had been in prior to 1976.

Stephen Snyder: Sure. Sure. I agree with that. 100%.

Rick Archer: Yeah, so the whole thing had been lifted up. But then there were still little waves and, you know, moments of insight and stuff, but all on a higher platform.

Stephen Snyder: Yeah. And also, I just had to mature Emotionally, I was, you know, I hadn’t done therapy, I hadn’t really worked on myself at all, I was working under the Zen model that everything was empty. So why, why work on it. And when I saw that I was still behaving badly. That’s what really prompted me to engage not only in therapy, but to do things like like diamond heart, where you’re working explicitly with the personality and the personality material in connection with realization.

Rick Archer: Yeah. Is that a? I mean, is that an ongoing problem? Within? Do you find that in Zen centers where people have just done Zen and nothing else? And they’ve been doing it for decades, that there’s still a lot lopsided development? Or did they somehow come around to a more holistic development?

Stephen Snyder: It really depends on the tradition, some traditions are, are really, some lineages are a lot more traditional, where they wouldn’t, they wouldn’t explore that very much. And others as teachers of of your, in my generation, are coming into authority. We’ve been doing therapy, we’ve been doing personal work. So we’re bringing that into our work with students. So the culture is changing, for sure. But there are some places that are still again, very traditional. They they like it that way. They think they’re honoring their roots, which I understand the perspective. But, you know, we have to work with our wounding, we have to work with our armoring in order to really be as full of expressions of the absolute as we can be.

Rick Archer: Yeah, my observation is that the spiritual community in general, is getting less and less tolerant of, you know, lopsided development and teacher misbehavior. And all because there’s been so many scandals, and so many articles in tricycle and places like that about, about these things. And so many people have gotten burned, that it’s like, alright, we’re just not gonna, we’re not gonna tolerate this anymore, we have to find a way of making this go away, or, you know, address what we’re not addressing.

Stephen Snyder: Right? Well, and when I was a young student in the Zen centers, they didn’t have any rules of ethics, they didn’t have any complaint procedures, if you had a problem is your problem. And, you know, now, if something comes up, there’s processes, there’s people who can be, they can meet with you and help understand, is this my issue as a student, or is this issue of the senator or the teacher, or both? So I think that’s helped. And that’s part of what you’ve contributed to.

Rick Archer: I’m not really, you know, well versed in Buddhism, but my understanding of it, from what I’ve heard and read and people I’ve talked to, is that an ethical foundation is very much a part of traditional Buddhism. And perhaps, perhaps, Zen considers itself a pared down bare bones approach, which, you know, gets rid of a lot of that baggage that that kind of a broader style of Buddhism feels are is important.

Stephen Snyder: I think that’s accurate. Then the territory of Aden, sila, which is I translate as wholesomeness is a huge part of the practice. One, you take the precepts as you do, even in the Zen world, but you’re really you’re really work with a lot. It’s really a common issue to work and like like my Tera Vaada, teacher, Pollock Saito believes that part of our meditation is affected directly by our sila by our wholesome behavior. And if we’re not acting in wholesome ways, that’s going to condition our meditation and our realizations.

Rick Archer: Yeah, that’s a great point. Swami Sarvapriyananda, who’s in Ramakrishna traditions often says, you can have ethics without Enlightenment, but you can’t have Enlightenment without ethics. It’s no, yeah, if you’re behaving, if you’re misbehaving, it’s actually going to handicap you in terms of realization. Agreed. Yeah. And I suppose a deep way of looking at it is it’s not necessarily the misbehavior itself. That’s handicapping you but the underlying Samskaras or whatever you want to call them that are causing misbehavior?

Stephen Snyder: Yeah, something’s driving it. Something’s driving that I need you to look at me in a certain way, or I need you to be in relationship with me in a certain way. So it’s the teachers unrest All material unconscious material that’s coming out. I mean, there was one, one teacher who actively was inappropriate with students. And when someone asked them about it, they said, I just felt lonely at the top. And, you know, to me, it’s like, that just screams that there is work to be done. If you’re if you’re the teacher, and if you’re feeling lonely, and your teachers need to, your students need to fix that. There’s a huge problem.

Rick Archer: Yeah, and that points to another thing, which is, these days, a lot of people are saying, things are too hierarchical, you know, if some guys at the top and everybody else is looking up to him, and you can’t, you know, call him on his stuff, or give him feedback, or if he’s unwilling to accept that because he feels it will destabilize the hierarchy. That’s not a healthy model.

Stephen Snyder: Right? Well, I think any teacher who is defending themselves, you have to look at and I’m not saying you shouldn’t defend yourself. But if someone has a question about my teaching, if I attack them verbally, to defend myself, there’s something that’s not happening with me, I’m defending some position, rather than if someone says, I think this, this doesn’t make sense to me. Well, what does that mean? Doesn’t make sense to you tell me more, you know, and I had one person on a on a group call, who said, I have doubted you as a teacher? So I said, Well, let’s unpack that. You know, do you believe I’ve, I’ve had these experiences? Well, yeah, I do. Do you believe I understand what I’m teaching? Or the I do? So So where’s the rub? And it was, effectively we got down to it, there was a transference going on? They were projecting their doubt onto me. But the fact is, I was willing to work with them. And it’s fine. If they have doubt about me, that’s, you know, that’s maybe part of their process. But it doesn’t, it doesn’t affect me, in terms of my stability, or what I’m in contact with?

Rick Archer: Yeah, I think it’s a healthy thing to be able to air one’s doubts, in any anything. I mean, even in college or anything else. When I was teaching meditation, I would sometimes just start lectures or talks by saying, Okay, bring up all your doubts, you know, and I wasn’t saying that I was some kind of example of anything, but just the doubts about the teaching, you know, we’re, what bothers it. Where’s the? Yeah, where are the gaps?

Stephen Snyder: I think I think that’s a brilliant approach, because you’re going to get the places where they need some more information.

Rick Archer: Yeah, I mean, you’re actually going to get what they need most, I think.

Stephen Snyder: And you’re going to build trust, because if you’re willing to wade into their doubt, with an open mind, then you can look at it from their perspective and help them see. And some things they have doubt about, well, you’re gonna have to sit with that and work with that. That’s, that’s, you know, your, your issue right now.

Rick Archer: Yeah. Okay, so I have like, outlines here of your various years, several books that I read, and I highlighted some things in yellow to offer. Let’s go back to you get from it. And then we’ll get into that, like, so you became a lawyer. And you have any good Buddhist lawyer jokes?

Stephen Snyder: fraid. Not? Too many of those lawyers walked into a bar. And make me one with everything. I don’t know. Yeah,

Rick Archer: that actually is a good one. And then and then. So the the hot dog vendor gives them his hot dog. And but the guy had given him a 20. And he’s not getting any change. And so he says, Hey, where’s my change? And the vendor says change has to come from within? Yep. So how did you find that being a lawyer, and yet being a serious spiritual practitioner for all those years? I mean, you have to deal with some messy stuff. When you’re a lawyer.

Stephen Snyder: Yeah, I and when I started off, I was young enough that I really thought it important to keep my spiritual life and my professional life separate. So in my mind, I did that I had sort of a wall I built and I was in loiter mode, or I was in spiritual mode, but I thought I was keeping them separate. And I found that the longer I did that, the more difficulty there was for me. And at one point, I finally got to where I just can’t keep this up anymore. And so I effectively put down the wall, which I’m not sure existed, but I sort of embraced both sides of myself. And when I did, everything began to work better. My clients liked me better, I was more successful as a lawyer. I was happier. But I really had the idea that I would show too much softness. If I showed my spiritual side and then the Lord is would would be taking my lunch money. So that was my approach, but again, I found that to be it was An idea I had, it wasn’t a reality. Yeah, it

Rick Archer: seems to me that spiritual development would be a great training for lawyers and a lot of other professions.

Stephen Snyder: I actually have a book called stress reduction for lawyers I wrote, which is introducing some basic meditation skills to lawyers. That’s great.

Rick Archer: As a lawyer, did you ever have I mean, did you ever have to defend somebody that you knew was guilty? The lawyers do that? And did you have ethical qualms about that?

Stephen Snyder: Well, I didn’t practice criminal law defense. So I didn’t have to do that I, I did civil litigation, which was no different animal. So but you sometimes as a lawyer have to put forward arguments that you don’t necessarily agree with. But it’s your clients position. So the ethical guidelines are that you must zealously represent your client. And that’s where that falls into. So there are lawyers that defend, say criminals who they either know or suspect are guilty, but they look at it, that it’s their job under the Constitution, to require the police and the prosecutors to make their case and convince the judge or jury, then if they do, then the system works. And if if they don’t, and the person goes free, that’s how our system is designed that there’s some expression that nine guilty people should go free rather than one innocent person be found guilty.

Rick Archer: Interesting, which they sometimes are there been people on death row who are innocent. We’ve

Stephen Snyder: seen that in recent years, they found a handful of folks who were innocent and are on death row, some have been already killed.

Rick Archer: Yeah. Interesting. Well, they won’t be born as foxes, they’ll get some

Stephen Snyder: They won’t, they will get a break on that for sure.

Rick Archer: Okay, so I don’t know how much I know, a lot of times Buddhist people don’t want to talk a lot about their own personal experience. It’s sort of a ethic in the tradition. So

Stephen Snyder: No I’m fine. I’m fine to talk about

Rick Archer: So it would be interesting to talk about the evolution of your of your experience, rather than just talking about all what all jhanas are and all that,

Stephen Snyder: Sure.

Rick Archer: what talking about what the stages are in terms of how you have experienced them?

Stephen Snyder: What do you want to start with?

Rick Archer: Oh, well, there was your first awakening. And I don’t know if you’ve elaborated on that yet. You were talking about brief kenshos that it was there, one that really stood out because it was unlike anything you’ve ever experienced?

Stephen Snyder: Yeah, there was one that was a big one would be a Satori experience. That’s what I consider the first awakening I had. And that was I was interesting. I was listening to you interviewing our friend, Henry Schucman. And, and you you talked about this about, in effect, using the senses as a portal and entry. And really, that’s how it ended up for me, I was reading a biography of the Sixth Patriarch of Zen waning was very famous and respected. And he, there’s a line in there, produced the thought that is nowhere supported. And when I read that, it just hit me like, somebody smacked me in the forehead. And it became my Koan. I couldn’t put it down. And, and I began just sort of mulling this over constantly. And finally I realized, Okay, well, how does thought come about? Well, it comes about from sin sense data. So I began tracking each of my senses sight, hearing, touch, taste, etc, and face them all the way back to the part of the brain. I don’t know if this was real or not. But in my meditation, it felt like I was going back to the source. And then I would sort of conceptually put a little, a little posted at the, at the beginning of each one of these. And when I did the last one, and got to the putting the posted on that, when that’s when the Satori happened, it was just this big explosion, that I realized I was nothing. I was completely, you know, emptiness. And also I was everything. So it was both the unity and the emptiness experience, co joined. And everything changed after that I was just not the same person. And it was early enough in Buddhism in the West that there weren’t even many teachers around, I could go talk to, or even it was years before somebody finally heard this and confirmed it.

Rick Archer: That’s interesting. As you as you know, I was a TM teacher, and the principle of that was that all of the senses sort of have their origin at some very, very deep level, and then radiate outward, like the spokes of a wheel, and the use a Mantra and that technique and as a mental thing, and it’s considered that thinking is a subtler aspect of the sense of hearing. And so what you’re essentially doing is taking the sense of Hearing to finer and finer and finer levels of its emergence, and eventually reaching the sort of source from which it emerges and then transcending it altogether. But theoretically, you could do that with any of the senses. And it’s kind of sounds like that’s what you did in a way.

Stephen Snyder: Yeah. And this was, there was no book or anything, this is just what unfolded. So it was quite natural. And, you know, again, that was a big experience, there was still a lot of behavior that I was doing that was incongruent. But took me a long time to start being able to work the behavior, because I didn’t understand I hadn’t done therapy enough to understand my motivations. And, you know, I hadn’t really looked at family history and other things. So over time that that happened, and I got to understand more and more, and, you know, release the pressure points of my psyche, let’s say, so that they weren’t running automatically.

Rick Archer: I’m going to pop a few questions in here that are coming in. And then we’ll keep coming back to the main track that we’re on. But this one is from turiya ganache in India. And incidentally, the word turiya means fourth, it refers to the fourth state or the transcendent state that underlies waking, dreaming and sleeping, but Indians name their kids that way. But anyway, his question is, is asceticism mandatory? To experience the truth?

Stephen Snyder: No, I don’t think you need to be an ascetic and live a homeless life to have those experiences, I do think that people need time away. So you need retreat time for certain. And that’s going to be a more austere experience, because you don’t have the comforts of home and the relationships of home,

Rick Archer: I was just reading an article about the merit of forgoing short term pleasure for the sake of long term good. And a lot of times, things that are pleasurable immediately, like with I think, half a dozen donuts, have negative consequences later on. So asceticism doesn’t necessarily mean beds of nails and, you know, bathing and ice water, but it could mean just not being overly hedonistic or indulgent.

Stephen Snyder: Well, I certainly in that context, I certainly think moderation is a great, a great rule to live by. And, and the Buddha talked about the middle way between both extremes. So I would probably fall in that camp myself that I think we need, we do need to learn delayed gratification, most definitely. And it’s like going on retreat, people will come on retreat, and they have expectations of what they want to have happen. And one of the things I say in retreat to folks is having done, you know, almost 50 years of retreats, I understand that I always get the retreat I need, I may not get the retreat I want. So we have to understand that there’s something happening in its own time that we’re a part of,

Rick Archer: yeah. And turiya, who asked the question might remember those verses from the Gita where Krishna says this Yoga is not for him who eats too much or too little sleeps too much or too little, is to engage in an activity or not enough engaged in activity. So he’s essentially saying the middle way there to get anything balance. Right? Okay, Cedric Orange from Sacramento is wondering, I am new to Vipassana meditation and have experienced the place of stillness, calmness, focus and deep concentration. Might this place be the same as before physical birth and after physical death?

Stephen Snyder: Hmm, good question. It’s hard to say with just that information. It sounds like he’s getting concentrated in his meditation. And we can make the connection to the absolute in that, but it’s not the same as the experience of the absolute directly. So I would say that it’s probably a great confirmation of his meditation. But I would probably hold off on confirming that as being the same as a realization.

Rick Archer: So when one has a realization, or when you have had realizations, did they include the clear sense or conviction that this is timeless? And will it proceeded and will succeed my physical existence?

Stephen Snyder: Yeah, it’s outside of time and space. So it’s happening in the eternal Now as I call it, and it has that quality where that becomes something that’s timeless, I understand. The absolute functioning in this particular location isn’t going to die. This body has a bad knee and a bad back and a variety of things. But in this body, he’s going to die at some point and turned out turned to dust, but the absolute will not

Rick Archer: right. And in fact, even How the absolute doesn’t have a bad back?

Stephen Snyder: Right. It’s doing fine.

Rick Archer: This is a question from Giovanni Spampinato in Philadelphia. “I have a question about maya, the foggy, confused state most of the human beings live in and experience life. Once they recognize they are trapped in this illusion, the realization work begins. What is the purpose of being trapped into such a state of confusion?”   I think it means why we end up all confused and messed up to begin with, why not just pop in here all nice and happy and enlightened.

Stephen Snyder: That’s a good idea. Well, I think in the Buddhist model, we talk about the first noble truth being dukkha, which I translate as dissatisfactorness. It’s sometimes translated as suffering. And we need the Dukkha in order to propel us to practice. Because of everything in Buddhism, it’s believed there different realms of existence. And one of the realms is a Daiva realm, a realm of say angels. And there, there’s no suffering and they have everything they want, and adequate supply, everyone’s happy and joyous, but nobody practices because they are so content and happy. So it’s offered that in traditional Buddhism, that one might aspire to be reborn in a Daiva realm, but to be in the human realm, this is where we can become realized. And we can’t in some of the other realms.

Rick Archer: Yeah, Maharishi Mahesh Yogi used to say the same thing. He said, angels have no meditate, no motivation to evolve, because they’re, they don’t even want to close their eyes. They’re enjoying so much.

Stephen Snyder: That’s a great line.

Rick Archer: Yeah. Okay, so back to you. So it talked about your first awakening. How many years in was this?

Stephen Snyder: Good question, probably, say about 10 or 11 years. And

Rick Archer: now obviously, you must have had some, some good things happening or some, you know, reinforcing progress going on. Are you into hung in there that that long I would imagine? Yeah,

Stephen Snyder: well, really the first time I meditated for my shaky five minutes, I was really clear that I was plugging into a grounding cord. Something about this was like, I’m home. Yeah. And so that’s always been that way. I tell people I meditate because I like to meditate. I don’t expect anything to happen or not happen.

Rick Archer: Yeah, I can say the same. It’s never taken discipline. It’s I look forward to it. It’s enjoyable. Right. And I imagine you’ve done you did a bunch of heroic retreats. I mean, Buddhists are famous for these, you know?

Stephen Snyder: I refer to that as my show off period. Yeah. Well, in the in the Zen Zen says, Sheen, there was always a kind of Marine Corps sort of approach to it. And we would sort of vie to be the first in the meditation hall and the last to leave. So being, you know, the most hardcore, and so I was definitely guilty of that.

Rick Archer: Yeah. Yeah, it was kind of a maniac like that, too.

Stephen Snyder: I’m not sure if there was any good, but

Rick Archer: in fact, that was on this six month course. And Maharishi started out the course and said, Alright, this is a contest, I want to see who can purify the fastest. So I just went bananas. I was like, fasting like crazy. And you know, just meditating constantly. It had had a spring back effect, I ended up like, down in the kitchen at six in the morning gorging myself on because I pushed it too hard.

Stephen Snyder: Right? That’s the thing, you have to have the psychological and emotional stability in order to really progress along there. And if we push too far, that’s the thing. I designed teachers that would say, I drive them crazy, or I drive them to Enlightenment. And I would say this, that’s the only two options.

Rick Archer: I remember I just Shanti who was also a very dedicated practitioner, but he was finally on some retreat. And he was just, he felt like he was at the breaking point, he was gonna go crazy. And he left which wasn’t like him. And he went to his little hut that he had built in the backyard of his parents home. And when and just sat down and said, I give up and boom, that’s when he had his awakening. Yeah. Interesting. Yeah. Very. Yeah. So concentration. I sometimes think of concentration as a result, rather than as a means. When you say concentration, meditation involves concentration. I mean, it’s not I presume it’s not the teeth gritting. You know, forcing kind of thing. And where does it lie on the spectrum of effort versus not effortlessness? Yeah, it’s a

Stephen Snyder: great question. And in traditional Buddhism and Tibetan Buddhism, there are something like 40 meditations that are in the concentration, meditation basket. Among those include the heart practices that I teach, and also what’s called the Jhana practice that I co authored the book practicing the jhanas on that. And really, it’s a, it’s a balance, there needs to be what I call proactive effort where there’s a doing like in the, in the first practice, people are assigned in Tera Vaada. Buddhism, is breath awareness. So they’re aware of the breath in the area between the lip and the nostrils. And that’s it, you stay with that with that sensation of the breath, you’re not trying to analyze it, you’re not trying to figure anything out, you’re just being with the breath, like we’re being together here. And over time, that gets, you get more and more concentrated, there’s three levels of concentration. Every meditation has the first to momentary concentration, whereas your concentration this moment, and then access concentration, once you begin to stay with a meditative object, for 10, or 15 minutes without serious interruption, we would say that’s access concentration. And with access concentration can show up these things called Jhana factors, there’s five Jhana factors, and things like bliss and joy, and one pointedness. So when we get that concentrated, staying with the meditative object becomes very easy. It’s almost hard to get away from it. And then in concentration meditation topics, there’s a third level of concentration called absorption or Jhana. And that’s where it’s a no self experience in a non dual state. So you could talk about things like Tibetan Rigpa, being similar to that, except Rigpa is an outward oriented and Jhana is an interior isolation, of experience.

Rick Archer: So in all these forms of concentration, let’s start with the beginner one where you’re you’re you’re concentrating on the breath, would you say it’s the kind of concentration where, like you’re driving a car, and you’re basically looking at the road, you know, you’re not kind of just going like this talking to the person next to you, because you’ll crash the car. So you know, you might glance briefly, but you’re focused on the road. And in this case, glancing briefly wouldn’t in case of meditation wouldn’t even be an intentional thing, because you really want to stay with the breath. But you might find yourself listening to the birds outside or car goes by or a, you know, fire engine goes down the street or something. But then you’re back to the breath. But at no point are you straining or forcing or rooting yourself up for having your attention wander.

Stephen Snyder: Yeah. As you’re implying that’s, that’s counterintuitive, that’s going to be not helpful. So just by doing a kind of exertion of energy, which people do try it, and eventually they get exhausted. So they have to put that down. So it’s a matter of showing up and it’s prioritizing that meditative object over everything else in your awareness or perception. So I can hear the fire engine, but I don’t leave the breath. I’m aware of the room and somebody unzipping their jacket, but I stay with the breath. So it’s not like I’m unmindful. I’m just not going to the thought, I’m not going to the hearing or whatever. I’m letting it all happen. But I’m staying with the breath.

Rick Archer: And if you’ve completely forgotten to stay with a breath, and you’re then you just whether it’s been five seconds or five minutes, you just come back to it and just write

Stephen Snyder: and ideally without self judgment or criticism, right? Because that just adds layering of difficulty. You come back the same way you would if you were teaching a two year old to walk down the sidewalk, no honey this way, not in the street. No honey this way, not in the street.

Rick Archer: Yeah. And I mean, if you did come back with all kinds of self judgment and criticism, then you’re not with the breath anymore. You’re with self judgment and criticism,

Stephen Snyder: right? And then you feel bad. And then you feel like I’m I don’t deserve this. I’m lousy. Everyone’s better than me. All of that. Yeah, yada, yada. And you got to work through that. Let’s come back to the breath.

Rick Archer: So what you said a minute ago about, it gets to a point where it’s so blissful that you would it would take effort to get your attention away from it. That’s kind of what I was alluding to where when I was saying that this concentration, the means or the effect it in a way it becomes the result of this effortless attention thing. And the eventually becomes really concentrated and absorbed. But we’re not concentrating. That’d be fair to say.

Stephen Snyder: Yeah, I think what’s your what’s your pointing to is the releasing of effort. And I mentioned the proactive effort, the doing part of meditation. But once we’re once we’re with the breath, then we have to shift over into a receptive effort or more receptive, where we’re just simply being with it. And I sometimes use the example of somebody who is kayaking in a river and they hit the current, and the currents going the same way they are, then the skill becomes not over paddling. And that’s what we have to do in meditation is not overdo. If it’s working. If you’re with the breath, if you’re settling, just relax and enjoy it. And when you appropriately relaxed, the meditation deepens. So there is something important about the releasing of efforts.

Rick Archer: Yeah, row, row, row, your boat gently down the stream. Yeah. I sometimes use the analogy of like, if you had a pan full of water, and the water was sort of agitated there ripples and waves, and you wanted them to stop, you wouldn’t start pushing on the waves because you’d create more ripples, you have to just sort of let it let it settle.

Stephen Snyder: Right now. Great example. Yeah, very much. So it’s interesting

Rick Archer: how I mean, I come from such a different direct orientation than than you in terms of this. In fact, I was going to join that Zen Center up in Rochester when I was a new meditator because meditation I had learned seems so easy. And I thought, well, this couldn’t be leading to Enlightenment, it’s too easy. So I wrote to the Zen Center, and they said, you had to study with a local Roshi for six months first and get his recommendation. So I was in Connecticut, I went into New York City and met with the Roshi and had the car towed away. We spent half the night in Times Square trying to get a check cashed. And all we were finding was prostituted, to send my man don’t take checks. Post. Anyway, I finally decided I was going to stick with what I had learned. And it was working. But I was. But I’m pleased and interested in the parallels between what you’ve been doing and what I’ve been doing. Yeah,

Stephen Snyder: well, that’s all I’m saying. All of these, all of these are just different approaches up the same mountain different paths. Yeah. But you have to there’s a point and realization, when you have to awaken out of your tradition, and awaken out of all traditions, where you realize that the source, it’s the source of all of them. So to say that Buddhism is better than Christianity, I can’t say that. It’s it’s one path. It’s a path that works for me. But it’s not the only path. And I certainly respect all paths. I haven’t attended an interfaith seminary years ago, for this very reason, because I really got the importance of the Mystery Schools of all the major religions are all very similar.

Rick Archer: Yeah, there was a point at which I left the TM movement about 20 years ago. And now I do this in which I talk to somebody from a different tradition every week. And it’s all one big happy family from my product.

Stephen Snyder: Right?

Rick Archer: Yeah,

Stephen Snyder: got it.

Rick Archer: Okay, so I’m occasionally bringing it back to you here. So about 10 or 11 years, you said, you’ve been practicing, including some rather intense retreats. I can only imagine the pain in your knees and stuff.

Stephen Snyder: unspeakable pain

Rick Archer: Oh, God. Now that’s one thing where my path would have differed that it was like, be comfortable, you know, because if you’re that kind of pain, that’s going to be an impediment.

Stephen Snyder: Well, people can get injured. That’s the problem. Yeah, they can have side problems, sciatic nerve damage and other things. Yeah, my, my knee problem is from running. I used to be a runner. But but but I can’t sit on the floor anymore. I sit in a chair.

Rick Archer: Yeah. I remember Henry Schucman, saying when he was on these lungs and retreats, they have, you know, a break of I don’t know how many 510 minutes or something in between meditation sessions. And he would jump up race to this lake, which was their jump in the lake, and then jump out and race back.

Stephen Snyder: Sounds like fun. Yeah.

Rick Archer: So 76 years. So you’re going on 50 years, almost. And so that was your first awakening. And so then what take us through some more of the stages of awakening?

Stephen Snyder: Yeah, well, there were a lot of different awakenings I practiced in the Tibetan tradition. So I did several zoekt Shen Rigpa retreats and experience Rigpa with those, but Rigpa is a Tibetan practice where you are recognizing the non duality, and you’re realizing it in real time. It’s an eyes open practice. So basically, you You start by concentrating with a concentration object, and then when you’re concentrated then you drop the object and stay with the concentration And that’s called the Shama tool without support. And then you either do a turn to look at the awareness, that’s observing your awareness, or you do a backward step. And you you basically, most people have the sense that I had this awareness sort of here like this parabolic shield around my head. But we move back into the larger awareness at some point, we realize our awareness is non existent, that’s just a concept. And so then the awareness becomes one. And that’s really the the function of Rigpa, as I understand it. So it’s very similar to to Jhana, in that it’s a no self non dual experience. But it’s, again, Rigpa is eyes open. Jhana is eyes closed, and your interior rising with Jhana. Moving into the deep interiors,

Rick Archer: when I was listening to your books I listened to because I turn them into audiobooks. But there were so many different techniques. And I thought, wow, I would if I tried to do all these, it would be too much I get confused. So I mean, are you offering like a smorgasbord, and people just sort of pick out the things that jumped really appealed to them?

Stephen Snyder: No, no, I don’t do it that way. I, I offer retreats like I’m leading retreats, starting Friday, on my book, demystifying awakening. So one of the main practices we’ll do with that group is the innate goodness meditation, which is a real, lovely meditation of just getting in contact with that unconditioned quality of goodness that each of us carries. And so that becomes helps create kind of a buoyancy. And then we’ll do a Zen practice in Japan called she can Taza I use the Chinese Tron description, which is silent illumination, meditation, but it’s where I’ve identified three stages, and basically unifying a body and mind unifying it inside outside, and then opening to the vastness opening to the absolute. And, and that’s really one of the great practices with that practice, you can do a lot, I mean, with both the Brahma Vihara as the heart practices, and with the silent elimination, they really can open a lot of doors.

Rick Archer: So in other words, even though you might know about dozens of techniques that you could potentially teach, when you teach a retreat or something, you just have two or three things that you’re going to focus on with those people. Right, right. Okay. And probably different things on different retreats.

Stephen Snyder: Yeah, different retreats, or I have folks, I’ve worked with solo, I’ve had a couple of Buddhist teachers come and want to learn either the heart practices of the Jhana practice. And so I’ve led them on a solo retreat where they’ve done the practices. So in that instance, they’ll do progressive practices, like they do the jhanas. There’s eight Jhana. So they’ll do one through eight in different ways. We approach it in about 10 or 15 different ways to have the full experience.

Rick Archer: Or when you have a retreat, do you still select the people so that they’re roughly the same level of expertise? No, no? Wait, is that a problem? I mean, some people might have 2030 years of experience, and others are just starting out.

Stephen Snyder: Yeah, the retreat I’ll do next on Friday, we’ll probably have some people I don’t be their first retreat. But some people probably who are a year or so into meditating, and others have been doing it longer than I have. And I find that the people that are attracted to the retreat, belong there. It’s very rare when somebody isn’t in sync with a retreat. This works out. Yeah, I did a retreat in Croatia in June, and had folks from all over Europe. And it just was a beautiful retreat, it went really well. People just had great experiences. And you know, one woman was a very first retreat and others, one man’s been on 10 or 15 retreats with me alone. So really a cross section of people.

Rick Archer: Nice. You just use the word progressive. There’s this debate about the direct versus the progressive path. Are you conversant with that?

Stephen Snyder: Yeah, yeah. Enough, I think to have a mild conversation.

Rick Archer: Yeah. I have a kind of a both and attitude toward it. But what do you think?

Stephen Snyder: Yeah, I’m with you there. There absolutely can be a progression. We can follow. Like with the Jhana practice, there’s absolutely a progression of practice. With the other practices there can be to, like, say with with a heart practice, there’s the making contact with the with the meditative object, which is usually a certain quality we’re getting in touch with and we’re also using People. So we’re using like, say I’m using a mental image of you, you’re my object. And I’m doing a practice on love. So I’m looking at you, and I’m feeling that love and connection to you. Well, at some point, when we get concentrated enough, I can put down your picture, I can put down any supporting phrases I’ve been using, and I can be directly in the felt sense of that love. And that becomes my vehicle. But I’ve got to be concentrated enough to where I can put down that that image, that person and the support phrases that are traditionally used to help stay focused.

Rick Archer: Yeah, just to dwell on this a bit more. So the way it’s often presented, some people say, they say, okay, the direct path is, you can just directly realize you don’t have to spend years and years and years, there’s a way of shortcutting all that. And, you know, basically, you’re done. And most people are going to hear that and think, Well, I like that idea. That sounds good. I don’t want to have to spend years if I can get it right away. And we’ve we started out today talking about how you know, a person can be realized and yet have a lot of work to do in terms of their personality and purification of various kinds. So I guess my take on it is that, I mean, like you, the very first time I meditated, there was a direct realization of something, it could have been deeper and clearer. But it was great. And then over the years, it’s continued to unfold. And so I kind of feel like it’s not an either or choice really the that it’s both? Yeah,

Stephen Snyder: well, because really, if you know, in Buddhism, we have the sort of ideal that the Buddha meditated, had this amazing realization, and it blew out all the personal stuff, all of his personality stuff, and his difficulty with his family, etc. But we don’t actually know that’s true. And my experience, what I tell students is, I’ve never met a teacher that was true for I never met anybody that their awakening was so large, that they resolved all the personal issues and all the psychological issues they had before the awakening. So I think there is an integration time. And it’s an important time to work with these different aspects of ourselves. And that’s when we begin to see them more clearly, and see their difficulty. So, so I think there is a direct, and I think that that ends up with us doing a progressive path to

Rick Archer: Yeah, and we know I mean, the Buddha busted his butt for years before he had his his realization. It wasn’t like, oh, Enlightenment, I think I’ll go for that. Okay, I’m done. Yeah, he went at it much more arduously than most of us ever could. Yeah. The one reason I dwell on this a bit is there is a stream of people in contemporary spirituality who keep emphasizing the end of seeking and giving up the search, and you’re already enlightened. And then, you know, practices are only going to reinforce the sense of a practice or and they keep saying things like that. And I just skeptical.

Stephen Snyder: Yeah, I don’t think what they’re saying is untrue. But I think it’s a very narrow band they’re talking about, yeah, and I think it’s people who have somehow done personal work and had a deep realization, because we need to have both. Otherwise, you have this crack container holding this amazing nectar, it’s going to start leaking out in places that are unexpected. And that’s what happened in the Zen world in the 80s. And 90s. Was, a lot of these Zen teachers were acting out in inappropriate ways. Because they hadn’t done the personal work. They just believe that wasn’t, wasn’t necessary to do. They believed in the direct approach that everything was resolved by the realization, and it’s just not.

Rick Archer: Yeah. Jesus said, Don’t pour new wine into old wineskins.

Stephen Snyder: Yeah, yeah, that’s basically we’re talking about Yeah.

Rick Archer: And I think it’s also a lot of I forget the way you phrased it a minute ago, but I think a lot of people just don’t want to do a lot of practice. They haven’t found a practice that they enjoy, or that they can that they, that appeals to them. And so, you know, if I can just convince myself that I’m enlightened already, and there’s nothing more to do. I’m good, you know that. It’s kind of the McDonald’s approach in a way.

Stephen Snyder: And I tell my students the opposite. I tell them I’m a work in progress. I view that there’s no end to realization and there’s no end to unconscious material. I keep working both. And I realized the teachers I’m friends with are the teachers. felt like me see themselves as lifetime students. Yeah, I keep saying the same stage, but we’re students.

Rick Archer: Yeah, exactly. I think everybody’s been working progress. I don’t think I’ve met anybody who isn’t. And I met some pretty impressive people. Yeah, you have, you have? Not that I can judge my experience, you know, yeah, I don’t claim to be able to judge anybody’s level of consciousness. But I’ve just never gotten the sense that anybody is finished. And including some great teachers, you know, that like Maharishi, for instance, that I spent a lot of time with. Definitely a work in progress.

Stephen Snyder: Yeah, well, and the question is, you know, what’s the teacher revealing about that? Are they revealing that? No, I’m done. Because that sets a different model up for the students. Then if you tell them no, I’m my feeder of clay to I may have realization, but I’m still figuring out the day to day stuff every day. That’s how it works.

Rick Archer: Yeah. A woman who had had, let’s say, relations with Maharshi wrote a book called robes of silk feet of clay, since you just use that phrase.

Stephen Snyder: That’s a good title.

Rick Archer: Yeah. Do you know anything about Kundalini? Somebody sent in a question about it.

Stephen Snyder: I did. I got asked about that. Recently, I had a Kundalini experience when I was young, young teenager, never practiced yogic practices, but I did have the Kundalini rising. So

Rick Archer: let me ask this question and see if we can handle it. Let me see if I can pronounce the woman’s name. Dina, so Yaalon super Raj from India. What is the difference between prana rising and Kundalini rising? Is there something called Slow Kundalini rising?

Stephen Snyder: Yeah, that would be outside my my knowledge base, so I couldn’t answer that.

Rick Archer: Okay. Dana, I would recommend that you watch. I’ve watched I’ve interviewed several people on the topic of Kundalini, Joan Cheever, Peter Harrigan is probably the most authoritative, Bonnie Greenwell. And I forget the other guy’s name. But anyway, there’s a categorical index on that gap. If you look under there, you’ll see a category for Kundalini. And if you click on it, you’ll go to a list of people on that topic that Joan Harrigan is one of the best and she’s written a couple of very thick books all about the whole science of Kundalini believe it gets very, very detailed and sophisticated. So that’ll be a good resource. Okay, so, Steven, as we’ve been talking, then are, is there anything that’s we flirted with that you thought? Well, we should really talk about that more, but we haven’t yet. Not that we’re done. But I just want to make sure we get it to everything that is important to you.

Stephen Snyder: Know, I think we’ve talked about a lot of important things. Well, I think the one thing I’d add would be that for a student looking for a teacher, you want to have a teacher that you trust, and you want to teach her that you feel like they’ve had the kind of experiences that you’re feeling drawn towards. And the other tip would be look at their senior students. If their senior students are acting in ways that you think are inconsistent with the realization they’re talking about, then it’s probably not a good place to be to practice.

Rick Archer: Yeah, those are great points. I mean, one way of putting it is, do I want to be like this guy? You know, I mean, if I practiced this for 3040 years, as he has been doing, would I be happy if I ended up the way he seems to be? And if not, then what do you do in there?

Stephen Snyder: Yep. Perfect question.

Rick Archer: Yeah. Because what often happens, and this touches upon the Association for spiritual integrity that I mentioned earlier, is a teacher will be behaving reprehensibly. But students will sit there and think, Well, that seems pretty weird. But he’s supposed to be enlightened, and I’m not. And so what do I know? So I’ll just go along with this. And the whole thing just goes farther and farther off the rails.

Stephen Snyder: And that’s how that was the view of the students really, in the early days in Zen. I was guilty of that, where I thought my teachers were completely enlightened. I thought they were living Buddhas. So everything they did was enlightened action. And if they did things that were harmful or hurt people, I viewed it that they were doing it for their own good. They were they were helping. So and this is part of the what gave these teachers license and permission to continue because we as students, were very immature. And today that’s changed a lot. We’re students really have a lot more sophistication. And understand the fact that the teachers are human, they have their regular lives and you can’t expect perfect behavior. It’s just it’s an unrealistic expectation.

Rick Archer: Yeah. Well, we know when we’re young, we tend to be naive and idealistic. Can I did the same thing I would sort of, you know, get all starry eyed about some teacher.

Stephen Snyder: Well, I remember the I remember the excitement about Maharishi when he first came here and oh my god, it was just incredible. It was like the Beatles coming to town. It was

Rick Archer: because of the Beatles that they’re the ones who made famous. Right. And actually, around the time you learned Zen was when he was going on the Merv Griffin Show. And there were like, 50,000 people a month learning TM in the US

Stephen Snyder: on time, I bet yeah, it was

Rick Archer: fun. I mean, I don’t regret any of it. I feel like it was the most beneficial influence in my life. But I have just a nuanced attitude about it all in terms of I’ve learned a lot, you know, yeah. You know, it’s good. Yeah. older, wiser.

Stephen Snyder: i Oh, do mention one thing. My newest book called trust and awakening, which you’ve read is coming out in September. And that’s sort of a follow up to my book demystifying awakening, which is really exploring the Path of Awakening, different realizations, different resistances. And that’s one of the big things in my teaching that’s different from other teachers is identify and work with the resistances to awakening with folks that makes a big difference. But the Book Trust in awakening is a reworking of what’s considered the first poem of Zana poem from the six hundreds. And I’ve sort of modified some of the language to be more accurate with my teaching, and then I’ve given commentary on the poem itself. So but it’s a great poem, I’ve I’ve used it for decades to open and read and find some stands or some section that just speaks to where I am or feels like it explains something I need to do. So I think it’s a really interesting book. And it’s different than my other books, where they’re more practice manuals. This is more direct teaching, we call it in Zen.

Rick Archer: Well, let’s talk more about that. But then also, you just mentioned resistance is the resistances to awakening. What are some of those?

Stephen Snyder: Well, the biggest ones are related to aspects of fear. In Tera Vaada Buddhism in the the Vipassana section, one of the last stages before one approaches or awareness approaches cessation is terror. And that’s what people feel not necessarily terror, but absolutely fear, anxiety, all of that will come up when they’re getting to a point when the personality is going to go dormant. It’s very unnerving for people. And what I’ve realized is there’s two aspects, people can feel it as though they’re going to go into a kind of non existence, or that they’re going to lose their mind in a way that they’ll end up without a family a job and be homeless. So it’s the idea of losing everything in some way. But it’s every possibility you can imagine and resistance, it’s mostly around fear or loss of the personality or the personal life in some way. I’ll become a blob on the couch, I won’t be able to do anything, I won’t be able to relate to other people. All of these things.

Rick Archer: Yeah, I have this friend down in Austin. And she’s she’s going through this beautiful shift, I mean, the quality of the openings that she’s having. It’s just sublime. But she’s been going through exactly what you described. I mean, she, you know, for one thing, anything can trigger it. And so, as she’s driving, she’s afraid to look at the sky because the vastness of the sky just put her into this vastness and she’s afraid she won’t be able to drive. And then like she said, the other day, she was sitting living him just gripping the coffee table, because she felt like she was just merging into unboundedness and she doesn’t want to be able, unable to take care of her son and things like that. I found this beautiful Khalil Gibran calm that just perfectly. Let me see if I can quickly find that. perfectly describes what she’s going through. Let’s see. Here it is. I’m gonna read it. It says it’s called fear by Khalil Gibran. He said, It is said that before entering the sea, a river trembles with fear. She looks back at the path she has travelled from the peaks of the mountains belong winding road road crossing forests and villages. And in front of her she sees an ocean so vast, that to enter there seems nothing more than to disappear forever. But there is no other way. The river cannot go back. Nobody can go back to go back as impossible in existence. The river needs to take the risk of entering the ocean, because only then will fear disappear, because that’s where the river will No, it’s not about disappearing into the ocean, but of becoming the ocean.

Stephen Snyder: Well, and actually realizing it’s always been

Rick Archer: ocean. Exactly. Yeah. Isn’t that nice? Beautiful? Yeah, yeah,

Stephen Snyder: we’ll help your friend if she can. If she has a teacher she can talk with this is where a teacher comes in. Really handy.

Rick Archer: Yeah, she’s been talking to some people good. Yeah, she’s worked through a lot of it. Now. She’s kind of gotten more into the company and comfortable as the ocean.

Stephen Snyder: Good. Sounds good.

Rick Archer: So what more do you want to say about the trust and awakening book.

Stephen Snyder: Just I it’s a really interesting, I think it’s an interesting book, I’m getting some good feedback from the early reviewers are reading it. And I it’s a direct pointing book. So it’s, it’s really I’m pointing to the absolute. Using this other poem, I didn’t originate the poem, of course. But also with the commentary, I’m trying to point people to the direct experience of the Absolute. And like, in my own teaching, I’ve started doing it, where I really focus and stress on people to practice the heart practices first, to really get comfortable with those as a meditation and then I teach them as off the cushion practices to because as laypeople, we need this to be able to move into our lives and our function. So taking things like compassion off the cushion, and really using it in life is really helpful. And then once people get well established, then they resolve some of the heart wounding they’ve accumulated, then they can turn more towards the awakening practices. Because with the buoyancy of the heart, and the heart being the rudder, it becomes a lot easier to navigate the awakening material. And like next year, I’m doing two mentoring groups. I’ll do a six month Buddha’s Heart. So heart practices mentoring group, and the second half of the year will be a demystifying awakening awakening, mentoring group. And those have been really wonderful to have to work with people one on one to do readings, and I have questions they post and, and all that, but it’s just wonderful seeing them develop over the course of the year. I think it’s a good combination of practices in that way. And, and then also, I just plug I’m doing a two week retreat in Croatia next year, April 2 to 16th. I’ll do a week of Samatha practice. So concentration practice than a week of awakening. And I think that also will be a tremendous retreat, we’re keeping that to 20 people. So it’ll be very small, and I’ll be able to work with folks pretty closely.

Rick Archer: You seem to have a lot going on in Croatia. I do it by the seashore.

Stephen Snyder: It is it’s this, this resort is you, you have a view of the Adriatic, it’s half mile away from the ocean from the Adriatic Sea. And it’s just lovely setting. Croatia is a beautiful country. I mean, it’s right there on the water. It’s across the water from Venice. So it’s just a lovely area. And I just like the people and the food and all of it

Rick Archer: sounds great. Did you ever over the course of your spiritual practice? Did you ever go through phases where you became somewhat dysfunctional? It was hard to go to work, it was hard to deal with your family became too detached or just coordinated? Or I don’t know, anything like that?

Stephen Snyder: I think so. I think it was you know, I would say at that I was believing believing my own press, you know, I had had some realizations and I was really very caught up and somewhat arrogant about the realizations that I was special. And that’s one of the resin, one of the issues we have to resolve is when we have these realizations, the I’m special, I’ve had an awakening I’m, you know, I’m, I’m cool. We have to resolve that and digest that to where we put it down. And we’re very ordinary, because otherwise it just creates another spiritual in effect self image that we’re then trying to live up to. And of course, we’re gonna fail.

Rick Archer: The bigger they are, the harder they fall. Oh, yeah.

Stephen Snyder: And if you have a family they do, they’ll do the good service of pulling out pins when you have a nice big inflated ego. So that balloon gets popped

Rick Archer: out there. Rom das said if you think you’re enlightened, go spend a week with your parents. Exactly. Exactly. Do you have any recommendations for integrating like if a person feels they’ve done a lot of spiritual practice, but they feel spacey or, you know, ungrounded that kind of thing?

Stephen Snyder: Yeah, I really encourage folks to do the heart practices, particularly in my book I have one innate goodness meditation And, and it’s one that’s really good to plug into the folks that have the can shows I’m working with. They really, I stressed the innate goodness practice, which they do a lot. And then I have them journal and keep track of the times of the day when they act in ways that are incongruent. So, you know, in effect, like, they went to a restaurant and yelled at a waitress over a glass of milk, and they got home and said, What the heck was that? Who did that? Well, it begins to show something’s getting triggered. So we can often trace that back. And we can work through that and resolve that particular issue. So it’s not pressing anymore, and effective becomes liberated. But that becomes the job after Realization, as we have to start watching our behavior, our thoughts, and seeing what we’re actually doing. And that’s where we can see where we’re, we’re not walking our talk in certain places.

Rick Archer: Yeah, it’s interesting. In advance, if there is no person, then I guess the question is, who is the doer? And, you know, some teachings say that, well, it’s God as the doer or the Gunas of nature, or the doer, or, you know, some larger intelligence other than the individual is the doer. And yet, and in fact, some people will do bad things, and then blame it on God, because God is the doer. But there’s, how do you? How do you treat that? Would you say that if a person is sort of off the beam in terms of their behavior that don’t blame God? I mean, it’s you there’s something that hasn’t been purged or purified.

Stephen Snyder: Right? Right. Well, think of it this way, Rick, it’s like we’ve, we’ve opened the tap on this amazing mountain crystal stream, and this incredible water is flowing through, but it’s flowing through a, an old psychology, it’s like going through a dirty filter. Yeah, so the fact that we’re gonna get some dirty water once in a while, isn’t surprising. But we have to get to the filter and work on the filter to clean the filter until the water can be as pure coming out as it is going in. And that’s a lifelong job.

Rick Archer: Right? And is that why you emphasize the heart practices are they primarily filter cleaning

Stephen Snyder: things, they are that we work a lot with the wounding and the armoring, which is really what gets liberated. And because it’s unconditioned qualities of true nature, we’re sitting with aspects of our true nature. So that becomes an exercise in seeing that there’s nothing bad about it, and we can develop some trust in our true nature.

Rick Archer: Yeah, a lot of people in the spiritual community seem to be interested in trauma these days and healing trauma. The people who do the science and non duality course recently did a whole movie with Gabor Ma Tei, called The Wisdom of trauma, right. And there’s a guy named Thomas Hubel, who is German with an Israeli wife, and he’s been working on healing the trauma between those two cultures, and but it seems like a lot of people are aware of the notion that trauma both in the individual and in the collective consciousness is holding us back. It is

Stephen Snyder: and we have to work with that in the psychological world. They’ll talk about some of the structures and one in particular, the inner critic, or super ego is one that we have to work with. And that’s the one that’s the critical one, you make a mistake. And that voice says who the dumbest person there is. No, that was a stupidest mistake. So we have to work with that. And what I found working with folks is, is if there’s sort of normal trauma survivors, which is the majority of people, you can work with it with some assertion, you know, stop, knock it off. And the folks that are severe trauma sufferers, if they’ve had particularly severe childhood trauma, that doesn’t work, they actually have to show love to their inner critic or super ego. Because if there’s assertiveness even it feeds the aggression of the super ego. So that even there there’s a distinction and whether somebody is a severe trauma survivor or just a normal trauma survivor,

Rick Archer: do you have certain therapists that you recommend to people if they’re if they’re working with you?

Stephen Snyder: I have, I don’t always because I don’t always know people in their location, right. But there’s, for example, I know somebody who works a lot with trauma folks who’s somebody who’s had an awakening. And I work with her periodically, and she is somebody who will begin I’ll start referring folks to her who have had severe trauma and I’m talking about really, the horrible stuff that we hear about sometimes.

Rick Archer: Yeah, they feel that therapists to really work in conjunction with a with a Buddhist teacher. Need to understand the Buddhist world. I mean, because there are probably some therapists that just don’t really get spirituality. It’s not in their wheelhouse, you know?

Stephen Snyder: Well, I had one student contact me recently, and they had been doing therapy, and they were concluding therapy. And the therapist said to them, Well, you know, you’re almost done with therapy, you don’t need meditation anymore. And they said to me, Will, I’m doing therapy because I want to go deeper into meditation. That’s the point. Yeah, but but the therapist didn’t understand the spiritual world, and only saw it from the secular side of becoming a better ego. And that’s certainly helpful. But in the spiritual world, we’re also we’re wanting to experience ourselves as God. And that’s the way it’s actually set up. So, you know, those of us that are called that’s the only thing that’s going to scratch that edge.

Rick Archer: Yeah. In your teaching, or even in your own personal view of things, maybe you don’t bring it out a lot in your teaching. Do you have a sense of what the world is going through, and, you know, the sort of a mass psychosis or something, perhaps to a certain extent, and

Stephen Snyder: I think we’re in a big shift in a big positive shift. And they’ll talk about it as a step up in consciousness. I think that’s where we are. And the pendulum is swinging back, to really get in contact with all of the fear and distrust. Before we make the move into this newer level of consciousness, which is already beginning to happen. We’re just not there yet.

Rick Archer: Yeah, I think that too. But I also wonder about the efficiency with which the shift can take place. Let’s not talk about that. Yeah. I mean, it could be rough, or it could be smooth and right. Maybe it will be rough for some people and smooth for others. But I think one way of looking at I think what a lot of the spiritual teachers have been trying to do for the last half century, is, a lot of them have explicitly predicted that there’s a big shift coming, and they’re trying to grease the wheels as much as possible. So they don’t, you know, jam, as these changes take place.

Stephen Snyder: Right? Yeah. And to me, a lot of it comes back to the heart practices and realization, the more people that can wake up, and the more people that can be in touch with their authentic heart, the Buddha’s Heart, the better the world is going to be. Yeah.

Rick Archer: So your books? I’ve read them, but can you explain how they contain techniques, the kinds of techniques you’re alluding to here? And could persons just read your books and get quite a bit in terms of knowing how to do certain practices and doing them? Are the books just supplementary to actual in person or online? Courses?

Stephen Snyder: Yeah, good question. Well, I think there are certainly people that do read the books and can put into practice what’s in there. For example, in Buddha’s Heart, I have all the steps for all the meditations. So one could certainly do it themselves. Most people like to work with a teacher just because the teacher is experienced in it, and can help guide them if they get stuck somewhere. You know, I’m a fan of retreats. That’s how I grew up and how we’ve always done it in Buddhism. So there’s something about sitting in that field with other people, and the teacher where you really get contact with the felt sense of what you’re practicing. And the same is true of the my book demystifying awakening, I go through all the practices, I explain them all, how they work. And I think there are people that could actually do them at home without a teacher, but I think a lot of people do better if they have a teacher to help, you know, check that what’s going on and let them know what’s important and what’s not important.

Rick Archer: Yeah, I also think it’s hard for most people to get a deep routine established at home, right? Because there’s so many distractions, you know, the dogs need feeding and this and that. And the other thing. And even trying to do online retreats, I imagine it must be a bit of a compromise compared to an in person one.

Stephen Snyder: Yeah, I haven’t done any online retreats. I do day longs, which is the most I do online, and those work very well. But the retreats, I still like the in person retreats, there’s something about sitting together again, being in that field and living together. And for me, I can watch people I can see them in meditation all I can see them walking around, I can get a sense and I’m interviewing every other day with them so I can get a real good sense of where they are and what’s happening. And so it really, it works well that way too. And that’s one of the things I’ll just throw out in the old colons people don’t always realize that a lot of the people in the colons were had been living in the same monastic community for sometimes decades. So for them to have the Little exchange where someone awakens. I mean, imagine if your I lived together for 20 years and you said, pass the Cheerios that might be enough to boom, you know, we have the awakening. So, so it’s important to understand that context, I think in the reader when one reads the Cohens.

Rick Archer: Yeah, I think I might say past the granola, but anyway,

Stephen Snyder: that was to go Nola. Excuse me.

Rick Archer: Do you have retreats in the US?

Stephen Snyder: I do. I teach a cloud mountain in Washington. I’m going there Friday for demystifying awakening. And I’ve got a bomb with the horrors retreat in October. They’re both sold out. But I’ll have all have for one week retreats there next year I’ll be doing in April, I’m doing a heart practice. May is the mystifying awakening. July I’m going to do a new retreat, I think called entering the absolute. And then October another hard practice between nice and then Croatia for two weeks in April.

Rick Archer: Cool. You haven’t fun? I am. Yeah. You had a stroke, or you mentioned towards the end of one of your books.

Stephen Snyder: Yeah, I’ve had a couple of head injuries and had a stroke about four years ago,

Rick Archer: that the head injury has caused the stroke or

Stephen Snyder: no, there’s no relation that I know other doctors have said, they just I was in a couple of car accidents. And something fell on me another time. So but they they were actually great gifts I they all helped me in that they dislodged my normal personality and functioning in a way that I couldn’t continue to be me the personality. And so I got to see the tenuousness of my personality and what didn’t go away. Yeah. So so it was great teachers. For me, I wouldn’t recommend it for anybody else. But I learned a lot from those experiences. A lot of humility also,

Rick Archer: you probably read Jill Bolte Taylor’s book, right? Which book is my Stroke of Insight? I think it was I have she was a neuroscientist who had a stroke. And

Stephen Snyder: yeah, I saw her TED talk online, too. Yeah. Yeah.

Rick Archer: Well, I’m glad they were minor strokes. They must have been because you, you seem totally normal. And,

Stephen Snyder: yeah, I’ve got some vision issues and some other things like I can get overwhelmed if there’s too much visual stimulation. But you know, it’s all manageable. It’s like anything with aging, you have things that don’t work quite as well. But you make do.

Rick Archer: Yeah. Good. Okay, is there anything else that you want to conclude with? You know,

Stephen Snyder: I’ve really enjoyed this. It’s been really, really fun to do. And, you know, you’re an interesting, intelligent guy. So I appreciate the questions and the thoroughness of your interview.

Rick Archer: Thanks. There’s a lot of trust in the process, because I often don’t know where we’re going with it. And it just kind of rolls along, one thing comes up. But

Stephen Snyder: you know, like with with my Zen teacher, it’s like that. And I tell him, I said, I I call when our conversations, Zen jazz. Yeah. Because we never quite know what’s going to happen. Yeah, or whose mouth it’s going to come out of.

Rick Archer: And of course, jazz has, there’s certain you know, there’s certain chords that you have to use and all but then there’s a great, plenty of room for improvisation. Right. I think of life that way. Actually, I’ve lately been thinking of life is like a play that’s loosely scripted, with plenty of room for improvisation. I agree. And you know, something will happen. You’ll think Well, that’s interesting. I didn’t see that kind of clever, clever plot twist there.

Stephen Snyder: Yeah. Yeah. Well, it’s really our how do we receive it and respond to it? That’s what matters.

Rick Archer: Yeah. Good. Well, thanks so much, Steven. I’ll have a page on that gap with, you know, links to your website and do your books. If, if you like when your new book comes out in September, send me the certification. Why don’t need the book itself? Let me know when it’s available, because I can put the Amazon link on

Stephen Snyder: there. Oh, great. Okay. I’ll do that. Yeah, that sounds wonderful. Thanks. And I’ll and I’ll be sending out this to my email list as well. Yeah.

Rick Archer: And speaking of email list, if people listening to this want to get on that email list, that’s a good way of being kept informed of what you’re doing.

Stephen Snyder: Right? Yeah. Good. Thank you very much.

Rick Archer: You’re welcome. Nice getting to know you. You too. And thanks to those who are listening or watching. There’s an upcoming interviews page on BatGap, which lists who we have scheduled. We have some interesting people scheduled in the coming weeks. So check that out if you’d like and there’s a little thing that you can click to be notified and your calendar which whatever kind of calendar you use, when the Navy’s coming up so you can tune into the live one if you want to. And other things on the web. audio podcast, various other things if you check out the menus, so thanks a lot, and we’ll see you for the next one. Thanks, Stephen.

Stephen Snyder: Thank you. Bye Rick.

Rick Archer: Bye bye