Rick Archer: Welcome to Buddha at the Gas Pump. Buddha at the Gas Pump is an ongoing series of interviews with spiritually Awakening people. I‘ve done over 400 of them by now. And if this is new to you, please go to batgap.com, and you’ll see all the previous ones archived and organized in various different ways and you can check them out. This program is made possible by the support of appreciative listeners and viewers. I say this every week. So if you appreciate it, and feel like supporting it, there’s a Pay Pal button on every page of the site.
My guest today is Tony Samara, whom I have found to be a very interesting person having listened to about six hours of his interviews in the previous week. I had a couple of two-hour drives and some grass to cut, so I got plenty of chance to listen.
Tony is rather prolific. He’s written a number of books, Shamans Wisdom, Discover your Inner Buddha, Ancient Wisdom for Reality Creators and a number of others, and has been inspiring 1000s of readers to discover inner peace and greater fulfilment in their lives through the power and simplicity of practical spirituality. At the core of his teachings lies the evolution of human consciousness, and the joyous illumination of each individual’s inner quest. So that’s a short bio. And we’ll get into a much longer bio as we talk, because as I said, Tony has lived a very interesting life. And he’s got a lot to say. Usually these interviews consist of, you know, sort of the biographical stuff about what the person has gone through, and that in itself usually contains a lot of knowledge, as it just comes out when you hear what a person has been through. And then there’s also the stuff that’s more explicitly the teaching, if there is a teaching, you know, what, what the person has to convey? I think Tony has plenty to say on both of those themes, but I think we’ll start with the biographical stuff. And, as I recall, Tony, from listening to your other talks and interviews, your interest in spirituality, although you might not have called it that at the time, started at a fairly early age, right?
Tony Samara: That’s right. I didn’t call it spirituality, because when you’re a little child, you don’t know what spirituality means. We’re just living life in the moment. So, for me, looking back, I’m able to create an idea of what spirituality means for children, as a child that had access to various dimensions of reality that most children don’t really understand, or comprehend so easily, or so well, such as being able to see into people. I don’t mean just seeing a person through the words that they’re communicating, or the body language that they’re conveying, but seeing more deeply into a person. It’s a sort of perception, which, perhaps in New Age, spirituality is called being sensitive or an Indigo child. I don’t know what terms they use today, but I would say just being able to perceive things in a very different way.
Rick Archer: Like, for instance, can you give us an example?
Tony Samara: Well, I grew up in Egypt. And I was very creative in the way that I understood the world. So perhaps this was a little bit of a mixture of creativity with insight. You see, I was able to see a lot into the ancient people that lived in Egypt, you know, the pharaohs. And I used to speak to my brothers and people around me about their lifestyle, information that wasn’t in history books, and in some instances about their very specific ways of doing things. But from a child perspective, you know. For me, it’s just as if you’re watching something that’s happening right in front of you, and you’re describing it from a very basic observation that wasn’t very in depth. So I would explain things about their clothes and foods that they ate and rituals that they participated in, things that weren’t part of my education. My parents thought this was very interesting, and they called me a very creative, imaginative type, child.
Rick Archer: So, you weren’t getting that from books or anything, you were just coming out with this stuff.? You’re sitting there describing things?
Tony Samara: Yes, as children do. You know when they sit and do something exciting, I might sing a song, or begin to describe things. And sometimes there is a lot of interesting wisdom, or very interesting information that you can perceive, if you are present to what the child is doing, and what’s behind the words being conveyed.
Rick Archer: Also picking up stuff from living people like that ordinarily wouldn’t be noticeable?
Tony Samara: I was very, very sensitive. So, I would explain things about physical, or emotional problems that people had in a way that a child, I was five, six at the time, describes things in a way that looking back now, I understand was a sensitivity that’s not normal. I think sensitivity is universal but that somehow I was initiated into being more sensitive on some level than most of the young children around me. For some reason, I don’t know why. But looking back, I see that sensitivity to have played a very major part in my spiritual practice development.
Rick Archer: I’m guessing that this sensitivity worked both ways. It not only made you more perceptive, but it made you more vulnerable.
Tony Samara: Exactly, and also more physically sick. As a child, I suffered from a lot of ill health. I was sensitive to any disharmony, any sort of anything in the environment. And I grew up, as you know, in areas of conflict, because my parents were diplomats, so that was their job, to work in places of conflict, because they were working on the peace process. So, you know, sensitive to very interesting aspects of the world, but as a child, I was perhaps too vulnerable to situations that didn’t make sense to me.
Rick Archer: A lot of people I know, feel like that. And we, spiritual people sometimes describe ourselves, like washing machines, where we’re kind of picking up on stuff in the environment and processing it through our own nervous systems and resolving it that way, in order to help the world, or help specific individuals or situations, do you get a sense of that?
Tony Samara: Yes, I totally agree. And I think not just human beings, but also animals, especially dogs and cats. You know, harmony is innate in all living beings, human beings, animals. It’s an innate quality that somehow, we lose, perhaps through socialization, yet it’s still very much the core of our being, and we’re always trying to harmonize things. And, as a child, when you’re less, what’s the word, less influenced by socialization, not necessarily less conditioned. then it’s very easy to be vulnerable to situations in that way where you’re harmonizing, for the good of humanity, whatever is out of sync, or not working very well around you.
There were many, many difficult situations that I faced as a child, I think all children today are faced with many choices that aren’t very easy, perhaps being in a third world country, I was perhaps exposed to situations that were a little bit different than most children in the Western world experience.
Rick Archer: This thing you’re saying about sensitivity and being like a washing machine is interesting. I have a friend who is highly awakened, who is always sort of scratching their head and thinking, why is it that so many spiritual teachers seem to go through so much difficulty in terms of their health and, the various stuff they go through? I mean, people in general do, but it almost seems to be a syndrome sometimes where these people are like sponges, they’re soaking up a lot of stuff, and then kind of resolving it. That’s my answer. But would you concur?
Tony Samara: Yes, I totally agree. I think that it’s an initiation into compassion, because when you actually experience life, from very harsh or difficult perspectives, then you become more compassionate, and more open minded, and you become more aware of what that means, in a practical sense.
I haven’t actually spoken to any very deeply spiritual person that hasn’t experienced some sort of painful initiation. For me, it’s not a negative thing, despite many people thinking that going through pain is negative, but that’s a perception that we’ve been socialized to think. For me, life is perfect, and whatever you’re going through, is a learning process, and if you see it in a positive way, as I do now, I think it’s very beneficial for you to be more compassionate and more sensitive to people’s actual experiences because you are able to understand their experiences. In my case, this experience of sickness and sensitivity, allowed me to see the world in a different perspective. Growing up as a teenager, and then as an adult, helped me to see things in a different way.
Rick Archer: Yes, and there seemed to be degrees of it. I mean, some people get off pretty easy, and others really go through hell for a long time, you know?
Tony Samara: Yes, I mean, any pain is difficult when you’re in it, it seems like it’s very, very difficult, but it does seem like some people attract a lot of pain, because…
Rick Archer: …they have more karma to work off or something I don’t know.
Tony Samara: Who knows exactly. I wouldn’t say my childhood was terrible, but I had moments of deep, disharmony, meaning physical and emotional disharmony. There were situations that really disturbed me, for example, the pain and suffering of people around me, just being so poor, and not being able to fulfil their basic needs, you know, back then, that was a powerful impression that allowed me to always be more open to seeing things from different perspectives, not just looking from one perspective, because I grew up in a very wealthy environment. I was open to seeing that not everyone is the same, some people grow up in a little beautiful castle, and they’re sort of separated as if by a border from the actual reality of what’s happening around them. I assume I was able to see both worlds.
Rick Archer: I think it would perhaps be jumping ahead too much to explain why you’re healthy now. But maybe we can discuss that in the course of the conversation. What do you think?
Tony Samara: Sounds good, because it’s important. Yes.
Rick Archer: Okay, so if that sensitivity and being in Egypt and all that were the first significant milestone that comes to mind, what would the next be?
Tony Samara: The next would be what my mother once shared with me, she said, I don’t know where you got this idea from, because it wasn’t so common then, but you explained to us about vegetarianism. And that was not an aspect of anything that we ever spoke about. My parents didn’t know anything about vegetarianism, and I grew up in a place where that wasn’t normal. I wasn’t in California, or the UK, I was in a place where people didn’t really understand vegetarianism. And I described at the age of eight, how much suffering animals go through to be present as part of our dinner. And I described that to my parents, and everyone present, my brothers. And after an hour of speaking, they just put the food away, and they just had to change. You know, they couldn’t eat, and they didn’t know where the information came from,
Rick Archer: did you convert them to vegetarianism or just No? Okay.
Tony Samara: And I’m not trying to convert anyone to vegetarianism, I am just saying that for her, it was incredible that, I came up with this interesting information out of nowhere. And I continued to do this, not just about food, but about many aspects of life. You know, they’re not religious, and they didn’t believe in reincarnation, and what I meant was just like, this is an incredible, interesting situation that’s happening. We don’t really understand where the information is coming from.
Rick Archer: Where’d he come from? I was just gonna mention my connection. If you ever have any, like clear past life, memories that could account for your precociousness in the spiritual world,
Tony Samara: I’m very hesitant to use the word reincarnation, because I think it’s been used in a way that doesn’t really convey its true meaning. You know, everyone is speaking about karma and reincarnation, and what have you, today, and I don’t know if it’s truly understood. So I don’t really see reincarnation in the same way, as say, Hinduism, where, whatever you do, allows you to come back to a rebirth that is very specific to what you’ve done. I think it’s much more complex than this. And I, I don’t believe that religions, whether it be Hinduism or Christianity or Buddhism, have a clear understanding of what happens after death. We all we can all talk about things but in the end, you know, it’s only our experience that allows us to understand the truth of what’s happening.
Rick Archer: Do you have this sense, though, that we’re on an evolutionary trajectory that is much longer than an individual lifetime? However, the mechanics of that may work because it’s a long-term project.
Tony Samara: Exactly, it’s not as simple as what’s happening today, or what happened yesterday. And I see this very often in people. You see that, beyond personality traits, there are certain aspects that perhaps are genetically transmitted, you know, into the personal communication of that person, saying whatever, but there is a depth behind everything that we don’t understand. Neuroscience is beginning to understand today, a little bit more about the complexity of what it means to be human, but we are just at the beginning, I believe, of understanding something so complex that, you know, in words you can’t really convey what happens reincarnation is a word, you know, what does it mean? What does it really explain? It doesn’t explain very much to me.
Rick Archer: Yes, beautiful point, I often ponder that notion. And through various examples, for instance, I mean, a single cell is more complex than the city of Tokyo. And we have about 100 trillion of them in our bodies, plus even many more times that number of non-human cells, the microbiome, and so it’s this amazing instrument that we occupy, and we just kind of blithely go along through life, yada, yada, you know, but there’s this miracle taking place.
Tony Samara: Every moment and you know, that’s just the cells who knows what else is happening beyond the physical.
Rick Archer: exactly, all the subtle levels and everything.
Tony Samara: Exactly, we’re too complex to simplify experiences into a word such as reincarnation or spiritual. I’m always hesitant to use these words, because very often it creates dogmatism. It creates a belief system that, okay, we understand our experience, because it means that you know this word that we’re communicating about and we agree upon, and that’s what the experience is. But actually, it’s so much more complex, like you just said, you know, so much more is going on.
Rick Archer: OK, we’ll get back to your personal story, And yet, that there is something which we might call the simplest form of awareness. You know, there’s a verse from the Bhagavad Gita, which says, “For endlessly branched,” and I don’t know, really somehow complicated “..are the intellects of the irresolute. But the resolute intellect is one point.” There’s all sorts of fragmentation and complexity can be actually boiled down in one’s experience to a simple form of awareness, which is kind of at the core of things.
Tony Samara: Exactly. And that’s the core of my teaching. Yeah, good. Okay, not my teaching is everyone’s teaching perennial wisdom.
Rick Archer: Okay, so would it be jumping ahead to begin to talk about your Zen phase, or the sub significant milestones in between there.
Tony Samara: I mean, as a child, I was just unusual, and I didn’t like being unusual. As you know, when you’re a teenager, you don’t want to be different. So that was a big thing for me. And helped me to embark upon the practical spiritual path, of learning meditation. This started at the age of 14, where I started learning, a type of meditation that’s very similar to TM, actually, TM, but a little bit removed from the TM, of Hindus. Yes, exactly. It was psychologists who were working to promote this mantra type of meditation, which was based on TM teachings.
Rick Archer: I was a TM teacher for 25 years, by the way, just for the record.
Tony Samara: All right. And that was a great experience, as I do think that TM is also an amazing teaching. And for me, that was like, the first real initiation into learning practical meditation, how to sit and meditate. I did this for many years, quite regularly, every weekend, and also every day for an hour. Despite studying at high school, you know, it was something I found fantastic. It was just like a revelation to be able to sit in meditation.
Rick Archer: When I learned to meditate, my friends were all into drugs at the time, and I realized that I’ve got to just be alone now. I can’t be with these people, because I have to chart my own course. And, so I just hung out with the dog and after a few months, I collected new friends. I mean, did you find yourself to be a bit of a loner? Since you’re a meditator? Did you find kindred souls that you could relate to?
Tony Samara: Exactly like you say, most of my friends were at the age, where they were drinking too much. partying and doing all sorts of interesting things. But you know, for me, my interest was more in meditation, so, you tend to isolate yourself from the social setting around you, and, find a new sort of relationship with other people. And I began to connect to people who are interested in meditation, and consciousness. So, this, for me was an amazing experience, because I never had that connection in my life. Of course, I had my family and I had my friends, but none of them understood what I was going through. So, I felt weird, really. But I also felt okay, that this is normal. You know, there are people around me who enjoy meditation, who are talking about consciousness, and so for me, it was the greatest fun ever. And I was enjoying myself. It wasn’t like, I’m meditating, because I’m suffering. I was meditating, because it was a joyous experience.
Rick Archer: Yeah, I mean, that’s a good point to make. And I would concur that it’s an inherently blissful, enjoyable experience. It’s not some arduous discipline, if it’s done, right, it’s delightful.
Tony Samara: Exactly. And so this is why every weekend, every free weekend, I would spend in retreats, learning more meditation, and the more I meditated, the more impressed I was with, where and what you could connect to. It was like opening a book and you get more interested, if it’s a good book, reading it becomes more interesting, and you can’t put the book down. And I realized that TM was interesting, but I wanted to work with a person. And from what I was reading, and from talking to people around me, I wanted to work with a person who understood meditation from an awakened perspective. And so I began searching for teachings that were conveying what it means to be awakened, but in a way that’s not dogmatic or too religious. Because for me, as soon as religion becomes too dogmatic, it’s like, the red lights just stopped blinking. And I don’t like what happened to the religious way. So for me, it’s difficult.
Rick Archer: There’s a story of God and the devil walking down the road, and God sees something and picks it up and puts it in his pocket. And the devil said, “Hey, what did you find?” And God said, “Oh, it’s the truth.” And the devil said, “Oh, give it to me. I’ll organize it for you.”
Tony Samara: Very good point. For me. Zen Buddhism seemed, from what I looked at, like Tibetan Buddhism, and I looked at Hinduism. And Zen Buddhism just seemed the simplest way, to meditate. And I wanted something that was focused just on meditation. So especially Zazen, which is the meditation practice, seemed like the right thing. So I started learning Zen meditation as a teenager, and from there, I got so impressed with the whole practice, that I decided to dedicate a few years of my life and sit in meditation in a monastery with a Zen master.
Rick Archer: Out in California, right?
Tony Samara: That’s right. That was the first and only time I spent a few years in California. Beautiful place.
Rick Archer: I found that phase of your story interesting, because you were doing like 10 hours of meditation a day, plus, were working in the garden and other things like that. And, you couldn’t get enough of it. And you’re only sleeping a few hours a night, I think, as I recall, but you liked it so much that you would actually do extra meditation sitting outside the Zen master’s door sometimes at night.
Tony Samara: Exactly, exactly.
Rick Archer: Yeah. And the reason I found that interesting is that, I’ve talked to other people who did Zen meditation, like Adyashanti, and Shinzen Young and others, and it was a real grind for them because the struggle was difficult. They were in pain. They had to sit there even though they’re in pain. And it sounds to me like you really enjoyed it.
Tony Samara: Well, I mean, it is painful to sit in the beginning, but most of the pain is emotional or mental. If your mind is blissful then the pain can be transformed just because you are in a blissful state to something that’s not so present in the physical body. For me, I was present to the joy of sitting in meditation, and the gratitude to be in a place where that was possible. And not only me sitting in meditation, but also so many people practicing meditation in the same way, creating this energy bubble, this place of meditation, where you just felt so in touch with the spiritual dynamics of the world. I can’t understand how anyone could not feel blissful in such a situation.
Rick Archer: Well, you must have talked to some of your fellow monks there. And like, for instance, with Adya and Shinzen, they both said that it wasn’t just the physical pain, it was a sort of the mind is wandering, and there was a sort of an inner struggle going on. But for you, it seems like you just naturally sunk into a blissful state. And I find, part of the reason I find that interesting is that, the mechanics of TM, which you’ve been practicing are effortless, and you don’t concentrate and so on but then Zen involves concentration, as I understand it, and then you managed to make that shift and yet still found it blissful.
Tony Samara: Yes, I actually used the TM technique with Zen, so it wasn’t that I was just sitting and focused on the breath counting, you know, 1-2-3-4-5-6-7-8-9-10, that was only at the beginning, you know, to get the mind to be so focused, and so clear that you could go a little bit beyond the mental, repetitive state of counting numbers. I think numbers are very important but I think creativity is much more. It’s a very powerful aspect of meditation that’s often forgotten when you get too caught up in techniques.
So, you know, I spoke to the Zen master about this. And he said, of course, creativity is what meditation is about, but first you have to discipline the mind, so that you don’t daydream. and you don’t just use your creativity to fulfil your desires through your mundane imagination and stuff. Maybe it’s just because of the sensitivity that I was initiated into as a child, it just was easy. It wasn’t difficult, and that’s good. I think it should be easy for everyone. As soon as meditation gets difficult. I, I believe then that something has to change, that the way that you’re approaching things has to change, because part of my teachings, or everyone’s teachings, is that positivity, or being positive but not in that sort of pretend way, but being positive internally, and being positive about your practice, is one of the most important wisdom tools that you can apply in transformation.
Rick Archer: Maybe we can dip into the consideration of the mechanics of meditation here for a moment. I mean, Why would you say the mind wanders? like you when you’re meditating, right? The whole point is to bring the mind into a full kind of a focused deep state. You don’t want to just be chit, chit chattering all over the place and wandering. So the question is, why is it wandering to begin with?
Tony Samara: Well, the chit chat is actually an important aspect for you, too, for anyone to realize, I don’t think that’s a negative. The mind wandering off and focusing on this and focusing on that, is actually a very useful way to understand why the mind is working in that way in the first place. For me, if you want an intellectual description, it all has to do with the ego, this idea that we are separate from this moment.
This moment, you know, is recreated in the mind as something different from what it is. So, there is this internal dialogue that’s constantly trying to reaffirm itself. OK, this moment means this, and then the chit chat happens, because the egos really separate from this moment. But you know, that’s just intellectual. For me, that doesn’t make sense when you’re actually sitting in meditation and the mind is chit chatting. How do you actually deal with it is more important, you know, and for me, the way to deal or interact with that inner communication is to come back to a level of heart connection that allows you to bypass the ego, meaning to come back to a real deep feeling, and what that deep feeling means in the moment is very different than just saying, “Okay, I have to discipline my mind, I have to stop it from wandering.” Or, I did that a few times. Because, you know, my mind is very, very clever, that it manages to think about all sorts of things.”
Rick Archer: Yes, for whatever reason, as does everyone’s pretty much.
Tony Samara: Right, exactly. So I pushed myself to think about one thing, but you can’t do that with a mind, you have to come back to a heartfelt space of connection. For me. That is what is important to do. And so if there is Chit Chat, it’s just because we’re separate from the world. were separate from what’s going on.
Rick Archer: Yeah. And when you come back to that heartfelt space of connection, what is your experience? Or what is one’s experience in, you know, just directly, not intellectually, what is the quality of that experience?
Tony Samara: Well, I can speak from my perspective, but I think that shouldn’t be taken as what happens for everyone, because everyone is different, everyone is unique. But for me, it’s deep stillness, yes, and joy, and also being able to laugh at things in a way where, you know, you don’t take your mind and you don’t take what it thinks about so seriously, you don’t look at it from that serious perspective.
Previously, you know, before when I sat in meditation, I would look at death, and I would look at suffering from a very grim perspective, I would say, from this, gosh, the world is a terrible place. How could we be in this sort of place? Why is that mess here in the first place? You know, it’s a very negative perspective. And I understand the negativity in that perspective. Because of course, if you’re separate from seeing things in a different way, then of course, you see it from the only way possible, which is the mental one. But if you connect to this moment, that speaks a different language than just the mind, then you’re connecting to many, many aspects that are difficult to portray in language. You’re connecting to yourself from a deeper perspective, and this is why there is stillness.
Rick Archer: Yeah. that’s kind of what I was getting at, in my understanding the mind wanders, because it’s looking for happiness, and if it’s not really finding it, if it’s just finding a little shred here, and little shred there, then it’s wandering is kind of constant and frenetic, and, perhaps almost desperate. It’s like a dog. Let’s say a dog is really hungry, and it’s sniffing all around the yard, looking for scraps of food, or whatever, but if you put a bowl of food at the door, then the dog will just come in and focus there and be kind of settled with that bowl of food. So like what you’re saying about settling into the heart, that would be the bowl of food and it’s so intrinsically gratifying that the frenetic wandering of the mind ceases. And that sort of multi divergent scattered quality of the mind converges into one pointedness, is kind of what I was getting at.
Tony Samara: Actually, the thing is, Western people have satisfied their basic needs, yes? but there’s no one satisfied. They’re still unsatisfied. But there are many people in third world countries, where not everyone who is unhappy because the physical needs haven’t been met, but it’s the same circle. You know, people are trying to satisfy those needs, thinking that those needs will bring them back to a space of stillness, but actually, it’s the mind that’s creating all the confusion.
So you can say, and I don’t say this to sort of push aside that suffering, you know, when you don’t have enough food it is not important, but I understand how important suffering is and how important it is to satisfy one’s hunger. But we can change the confusion around that picture, by also remembering that the mind is what is creating the confusion. It’s not only the hunger. So, this gets into a place that’s perhaps not very politically correct, you know, that even in India, because I worked in India for many months. You know, when poor people don’t have enough, you can still come back to a place of happiness, even when those basic needs haven’t been fulfilled. So, it’s not just about happiness.
There are many, what I call egoic confusions that we sort of chase in our mind as the bowl of food that you’re speaking about the dog is looking for, and for some people it gets even more complex than happiness, then we start identifying happiness as very specific. We look at happiness, meaning that we think happiness is something, and that happiness then becomes very limited to that something.
In the Western world, it could be money. You know, for some people, we don’t even know that we’re chasing money, because we’re looking for the happiness that’s behind the material world, where money becomes what we’re chasing, or sexual satisfaction or mental satisfaction or physical satisfaction.
Rick Archer: Yeah, but it kind of all boils down to happiness. We may not realize that that’s what we’re looking for but that’s what we’re looking for.
Tony Samara: Of course, if you’re not happy, you’re going to be confused about why you’re not connected to your heart.
Rick Archer: Yes, and of course, all the scriptures say the kingdom of heaven is within, or Satyananda, says you know, there’s this reservoir of inner happiness, and there’s something I just heard the other day from the Upanishads or something about how the Creator created the senses to be out outward directed by nature. And, so we naturally start looking outside for that happiness that we inherently desire. But then, someone like yourself who learns to meditate, they take a 180 degree turn, and “Ah, there’s where the happiness is. And that’s the source of it.”
Tony Samara: Exactly. But that’s actually a very simple step. It’s just the rewiring of the brain, to connect to the internal communication that most of us, because of social belief systems, we tend to ignore. I mean, like, in the UK, you just don’t speak about yourself, you speak about everything else, the weather, and politics and whatever else. But you don’t speak about yourself, because looking internally is just seen as something that you just don’t do, you know, it’s just not normal. So, you have to rewire the brain, to go beyond that social belief system, where you’re not just sitting in meditation, and people then think, okay, you’re sitting and wasting time, because you haven’t got anything better to do. It’s an actual positive activity that changes it, as we know, from Google and from other big organizations, meditation actually helps people to be more real and more productive and to have more empathy. You know, it’s not just that you are more awakened, you’re also more harmonious.
Rick Archer: Yes, when I first learned to meditate, I used to go to a tree house in the backyard of this house where I was staying, because it was noisy in the house, and the people wrote this song, you know, Hey, Jude, up in your tree, get out of you and into me, you know, I got that they thought I was just being self-indulgent or something.
Tony Samara: But that’s basically what people think about meditation. It’s not understood, but now we’re beginning to understand it through the science and all the MRI imaging and all that sort of new technology. We understand that things are changing inside internally, we’re rewiring the brain, so it’s not a waste of time, it’s actually something that I believe, will help humanity to transform consciousness from looking out all the time, to realizing that we have precious gifts within ourselves that need to be explored and communicated and investigated, you know, in a different way than history has allowed us to do.
Rick Archer: You mentioned, rewiring the brain and I’ve heard you say that it might take 120 days to really reprogram the brain to get rid of a particular habit or something. And, of course, the term neuroplasticity is very much in vogue these days. But I would say that it’s not like the rewiring starts from day one and is cumulative. You know, it seems incremental and cumulative. So, exactly, you know, you can be going on for 50 years, and still, the rewiring takes place, and there’s always more that can be refined. And, you know,
Tony Samara: Exactly. That’s why it’s important to meditate every day, right? Not just to meditate once, and then you think, Okay, I’ve done it and wait for another week or two weeks. Consistency is what helps the brain to actually as you say, create a space where there is an accumulative effect of what you know, of the practice that makes sense to the brain. And sometimes it takes 50 years, sometimes it takes longer to change things, but at least you’re changing and in itself, the joy of life, you know, that you have the possibility to learn from the changes that are happening.
Rick Archer: Jerry Seinfeld, you know, has been meditating for decades. You know? He is right. And he kind of quit the Seinfeld show because he was really tired. But he said that, he later realized that if he were to meditate, he didn’t use to meditate in the morning because he figured, well, I’ve just slept, why bother? He would just meditate in the afternoon to sort of recuperate. And he later realized that if I do it twice a day, I would have had much more energy during the whole day, I probably wouldn’t have quit the Seinfeld show. And then recently, he was talking to Tom Hanks, and Tom was going to take a sabbatical for a year, because he was burned out. And Jerry said, well learn to meditate, and you won’t need to do that. And sure enough, that’s what happened.
Tony Samara: Wow. Yeah, that’s exactly right. That’s one of the core aspects of universal teachings, meditate in the morning, meditate in the evening, even if you have no time, just two minutes. Yeah, it’s better than nothing. You know, and I think this should be something that children are taught at school, you know, so that it’s normal.
Rick Archer: And it isn’t some schools. Yeah. Wow, that’s amazing. There are schools in inner cities, where programs of various different kinds of meditation are being offered and in prisons and places like that. It’s really helping perfect. Yes, yeah.
Tony Samara: Yes. I believe this to be one of the major transformational tools, and this is why I’m so happy when the Dalai Lama goes around, you know, and inspires everyone with his smile and his compassion, to think that meditation is, you know, something that’s not exotic or dogmatic, you don’t have to be religious, you don’t have to have certain strange belief systems that are different from your own. It’s just a practice, you know, it’s like anything else.
Rick Archer: And a lot of that stigma has been eliminated since the 60s and 70s. You know, it used to seem really weird and exotic. Now, it’s kind of mainstream. I mean, yoga is taught on every street corner, practically in every YMCA. And meditation is kind of coming along with that. So it’s getting more into the culture.
Tony Samara: I think in America, you’re more advanced than in some Eastern European countries, and in some other places, people still see meditation as a cult or as an Eastern religious practice, rather than as a neutral practice that has nothing to do with religion, it has to do with emotional wellbeing.
So there’s still some education in this part of the world anyway, that needs to happen. But I know in America, especially California and the Western states, you know, you’re pretty advanced.
Rick Archer: And there’s that popular phrase, you know, spiritual, but not religious. A lot of people categorize themselves that way. So maybe when you’re in eastern countries, you can popularize that notion. I’ll do my best. So anyway, let’s get back to you. So you were in the Zen monastery, meditating your brains out and, and thoroughly enjoying it. You even took a vow of celibacy at a certain point there.
Tony Samara: You have to be celibate in a monastery.
Rick Archer: Of course. But I didn’t know when you took that, were you thinking okay, this is for life? Are you thinking okay, well, as long as I’m in this monastery?
Tony Samara: Well, I didn’t know. I really went with an open mind. I thought I could be here for like a week for the rest of my life. I don’t know. I’ll just see how things go.
Rick Archer: Yeah. And as it was you were there, what, a year and a half or something.
Tony Samara: Yeah, almost two years. Yeah.
Rick Archer: And so what, finally prompted you to leave?
Tony Samara: Well, that’s complex. I’m very individual. So I felt that, you know, as an individual, it’s important to share what I know with the world, outside of a group setting. And I still believe this to be important that every human being is unique. We’re all born with gifts in which, you know, we don’t need to go to an ashram, or to go to a temple, or to go to a monastery, I think it has its place, but in the modern world, I truly believe that we have to be part of the world, on some level, and interact with the world, on some level. So I felt that was important, and was my driving force, to go back to the world and see if what I had actually experienced in this beautiful place, (I could have stayed there would have been easy and very blissful for me), if it was possible to transfer this bliss and happiness in a world where everyone is faced with stress and anxiety and pollution and noise, and people who aren’t so nice and so open, you know. Where you have people who are negative in their perspective or of just their communication and what they do to you. And I wanted to see, could I survive, you know, with this in the world, and it was very, it was much more difficult than I thought actually, it was almost like, you know, going out naked into the world. It was quite an experience, you know, everyone, I felt everyone was just screaming at me and the noise because the monastery is so still and you sit in stillness, the noise and amount of aggression and the amount of disharmony that was obvious in the world was just a lot to cope with the first few weeks, but I managed, we’re adaptable. We human beings are really adaptable. To get over that sensitivity and toughen up.
Rick Archer: So okay, so that was California. And we’ll be skipping ahead to get to India now? Or was there something significant in between?
Tony Samara: No, that that was basically from California, then going back to the UK, and just living life there, you know, working a little bit and doing things, and adapting to the situation and then going to India. Just because it’s a fascinating place. For me, I was very fascinated with the history, and especially the Jain tradition, you know, the very peaceful tradition and the Hindu tradition, and also the Christian tradition that is there, which is a type of Christianity that is very important in India.
Rick Archer: Did you meet Father Bede Griffith by any chance?
Tony Samara: No, I didn’t, actually. But I met many very interesting people, Manu sadhus and many, I would say awakened people. So it was, it was an amazing experience for me, which helped me to really clarify the teaching that I began to, after leaving India began to search group of friends, few people around me,
Rick Archer: Did you spend time with Osho? I know, is there some book about you and OSHO or something?
Tony Samara: No, but I’ve met many people who have spent time, or were alive when OSHA was alive, who were, part of the movement. So you know, it was in India, where you meet all sorts of people, I wasn’t travelling as a tourist, I was moving from one place to another visiting great places. So you know, I would meet interesting people who were on that sort of journey, a pilgrimage so to say.
Rick Archer: Meanwhile, you’re doing some sort of spiritual practice as you travel around and, you know, maybe while you’re sampling other spiritual practices and trying this and trying that, that you would get from Earth teachers,
Tony Samara: No, I was just interested in being present to the energy that was around me. So I wasn’t actually learning anything more than what I had learned in my previous practice in the Zen monastery, or through the TM type meditation. But the thing is, when you learn something, I think, in the end, there is no need to, this is my personal perspective, there is no need to sort of look into everything. Once you’re established in a practice, the practice teaches you, but what is important is to be around people, or an atmosphere that is awakened. So this is what I was actually looking for in India, to sit in a temple that was just beautiful, and to be able to practice there without having to say, Okay, I want to learn a little bit more about Hinduism, or Jainism or Buddhism, or what have you, or the Osho practice, nothing wrong with learning all these things. But for me, I was too busy, in my own practice to spend time learning more things, you know, already that was a full-time work. So, you know, it was just meeting with people, sitting near sadhus and just them saying nothing and me just sitting there. And perhaps there is a transmission of some sort that happens when you are in that space, you know, that’s nonverbal goes beyond learning a technique or learning like a specific tradition. So this is maybe why the teaching today is very, eclectic. It’s, it brings in many traditions
Rick Archer: but not teaching you mean you’re teaching. Yeah,
Tony Samara: Yeah, it’s not you know, this is what you have to do I adapt the situation according to, the people I’m working with if they’re medical practitioner, or if they’re Hindus, or if they’re Christians, you know, I try to speak the same language so that I’m not speaking a foreign language, you know, so that there is a connection somewhere. So it’s eclectic.
Rick Archer: That’s good. I think if that’s approached in the right spirit, that’s, very wise. You know, it speaks of a universality in your perspective that, you know, all streams lead to the ocean, and, you know, whichever stream you happen to be flowing in, that’ll take you to the ocean. And but here’s some support, Here’s, some context in which you can flow with, you know, less obstruction or something.
Tony Samara: Exactly. But I do truly emphasize that everything is universal. And people who think that, one practice is better or different from another. I think they are, it’s an ego, spiritual egotism of some sorts, you know, where people say, I’m a Buddhist, and that’s the best you can be, or I’m a Hindu, or I’m a Christian. And this is, you know, the only way. I think we’re, beyond that, and that’s perhaps the history of humanity in the past. But today, there is a universal, sort of truth that needs to be explored from different angles. And, we can share that interesting understanding in different ways, poetry through creativity through music, and it just enhances our understanding of that ocean. You know, it doesn’t, create a difference. It just allows us to see that people see things differently. You know, some people look at the trees, other people look at the plants, you know, or the roses or what have you.
Rick Archer: When people try to tell me that such and such as the only way I like to start talking astronomy with them, I say, well, physicists now cosmologists think there may be infinite numbers of universes, they’re now thought to be 2 trillion galaxies in our universe, there’s probably 100 billion stars in each galaxy, most of the Kepler telescope now indicates that there are planets around most stars, many of them apparently habitable. And, you know, undoubtedly there, on those habitable planets, there have been many religions. All right. So and probably most of those religions are saying ours is the only way. So how crazy is that?
Tony Samara: Exactly, exactly. And there is there is a multi-dimensionality, even to those galaxies and stars, so we don’t even know if what is going on. I mean, this gets a bit esoteric, we don’t even know if what is going on in this linear dimension is the expression of reality, we just were comfortable with this linear dimension. So, you know, speaking about religious truths from this dimension will always find conflict. But what about if we, you know, go for a little bit of a deeper perspective, say, when we dream? Are we dreaming? The same dream? In the end, that’s a different level of reality. So perhaps we’re all dreaming from the very same perspective. But we can’t communicate that because it’s so beyond language, that we only remember aspects of the dream when we come up, out of sleep, and we come up to the mental conceptualization level of thinking, and then we can say, Oh, I dreamed yesterday that I was floating in water, but you know, then all of a sudden, you’re out of that level of communication. That’s important. And that’s just one level. Beyond that, there are many levels. So this is why my teaching is not so much about using words, I’m so careful. This is perhaps why I didn’t use so many words with you, I try to make it as simple as possible. Because in the end, it’s all about transmission. For me, rather than, intellectually trying to make sense of what it means to meditate, it’s all about practice, but we have to start somewhere, especially when you have an active mind that is asking all these questions, “Why am I sitting here? When I could be, you know, going to the beach? Or why am I sitting here when this is so boring? “
Like people say, meditation can be so boring, what, then we have to explore, you know, the multi-dimensionality of experience beyond just, sit here, because you will feel better or sit here because you will find happiness. There is another space that we just haven’t begun to understand. And this is why it’s so important.
Rick Archer: I guess one way of describing it is as if you want to just use metaphors, there’s like take the ocean, there’s the horizontal view that you might get looking at the ocean, but then there’s a vertical dimension that you don’t see necessarily if you’re just looking at the surface. And if you think you understand the Pacific Ocean, let’s say just by looking at the surface, you know, you’ve just begun I mean, there’s all this depth and all these life forms. ones that live at various levels and so on. And you have to sort of take a 3d perspective to really understand the ocean. And the same with creation, the same with our experience. Spirituality is like diving in that respect, I think,
Tony Samara: Like surfing. I know for those who surf, every wave is different. And you can only experience it as a total experience in that moment. And it makes total sense when you’re there. And then it’s never that you’ve experienced that wave before… or that you understand the ocean, because it’s different every time.
Rick Archer: Yeah. So in your interview with Conscious TV, one of them. I heard you mentioned that at one point, there was a kind of a big, aha realization moment for you. What was that? Again, we’re, yeah, what you just said, words are so inadequate. And I have seen people producing YouTube videos in which they just stare at the camera, and I think I can’t interview this person, I got to talk, I got to have a dialogue.
Tony Samara: Well, I think everyone has these ‘A-ha’ moments. And I would say, if you want to explain those in words, you know, their little A-ha moments, you know, when there is an A-ha moment that is a million times or a trillion times more, and it’s the same, but your mind just restructures in such a radical way, that it’s not the same. Yeah, the end, when you come back to your mind, it’s not the same, right? You don’t fall back into the old social habits, or the old belief systems, it’s like something transforms, and then the neurons just melt, and you rewire them in a different way. Is that making sense.
Rick Archer: I’m gonna press you a little bit more on it. So you know, given, accepting, that we understand the limitations of words and how, words can’t really do justice to this experience, any more than describing what a strawberry tastes like, is going to be the same as actually tasting one. What, what more can you describe about what happened to? J
Tony Samara: Well, I can’t describe exactly, in words what happened, but I can describe some of the transformations that happened later. Okay. So I was in meditation, and I would come out of meditation, feeling more relaxed, more connected, more still, more energized, more alive. That was my experience. But very often, I would fall back into a system, which would require more meditation right? I am not saying I resolved all the problems in the world, but somehow, the problems didn’t seem so important. From that moment, I expanded into a different dimension. It was almost like I was looking at the world from outside, in, rather than from in outside. I don’t know if that makes sense to you
Rick Archer: Yes, it kind of does. So, you shifted into some universal awareness, which was yes, Kind of like, how some people think, Okay, I am inside this body looking out, and then at a certain point a shift can happen in which you realize, oh, this body is really inside me.
Tony Samara: Yes, even to the extent where you’re looking, and you realize that the body is not even really part of your experience, the body is just as temporary. Now, of course, it’s not exactly the same, but this is just to make sense. Exactly. If as if you would see something moving, you see it there, and it’s permanent. And then it moves out of your vision, and you don’t see it and it’s gone. So, that same relationship to the body and that same relationship to the old personality, I would like to call it like, the personality I was born with. So, you know, looking out in, nothing really changed because, you know, people still recognized me, I was still Tony it wasn’t like I changed my name and you know, all of a sudden started speaking a different language and certain characteristics people identified as me were still present,, my movements, the way I looked at people, the structure was still there, but something….
Rick Archer: you didn’t start speaking Swahili all of a sudden or something, you’re still you have your individual structure, which
Tony Samara: Yes, actually I became more comfortable in the individual structure, because I wasn’t identifying with it, I was looking from outside in, and I would slip into that, and at times slip out, because of the experience, which, as you say, universal experience allows you to connect to another aspect of what I believe to be everyone’s personality, this universality of consciousness that we are constantly dipping into. And for me, this is why we have the A-ha moments, but we don’t remember, because it’s so quick, that, you know, it’s not dramatic enough to shift your awareness into this recognition. But when there is a very powerful, dramatic event, and this shift is remembered for much longer ( I don’t know if it’s remembered forever, for me, forever, so far, so far, but, you know, for some people, I’ve read that there is a gradual awakening.
This was the debate in Zen Buddhism, there was the Rinzai School of Zen Buddhism, which is, you know, one awakening, and you’re there, you are free of the ego. And then there is the, I’m simplifying, there is the other school that speaks about gradual awakening, that you just move deeper and deeper into the space of awakening. And it makes more sense, you feel more comfortable. So I believe they’re both right.
I believe that some people have an experience of awakening, and after which it’s impossible to fall back into the old ways of doing things. And there are other people that have those moments of awakening that aren’t moments, they may be two or three minutes that are remembered for a long time, but there needs to be more work to awaken, to awaken the mind to radical shifts.
Rick Archer: We were talking about the brain and the nervous system a little earlier, and neuroplasticity, and there’s a physiological correlation to enlightenment, or to higher states of consciousness, or whatever. And, the physiology doesn’t utterly transform itself in an instant. It takes time for the neurons to rewire and all that stuff. So, I think practically speaking, like you said, there can be both. you know. There can be many years of gradual, incremental, transformation both subjectively and physiologically, and then, at a certain point, when you’re ready, there can be a rather profound and dramatic shift, which can be permanent. There’s no conflict between the two notions, I think,
Tony Samara: And who knows what happened before. For example, like with Rumi, who met his spiritual master, and was awakened in that moment. But he was, obviously awakened, writing poetry and very wise, previous to that moment. So I believe there were many moments of gradual insight that allow your brain, your physiology, your nervous system, your mind to be capable of such a radical shift.
Because actually, it can be quite dangerous, I believe, if you’re not prepared for a radical shift. And this is why, (I’m not against drugs) I’m always cautioning people, you know? Because many people say, but why would you sit and meditate every day, when you can just take some drugs that will change your consciousness immediately, and it’s quicker! No, it’s not. In the end, you still have to prepare for the shift. So, in that way it’s not quicker, and you can get very confused when you come back to this reality, and you have to work with what you’ve already seen. Knowing, in this way, (using drugs) what you have to do, it’s very confusing to have to do all those things. In the end, it’s better in my perspective, to take things slowly and gradually enhance your awareness so that you’re capable of deeper awareness. Not to push your awareness into a state, which is so unable to process the information that sometimes there is a regression that happens.
This is why meditation is so very important. And this is what gradual awakening means. I believe every moment we sit in meditation, we’re awakening our consciousness. This is why it’s so profoundly important, like you’re saying, because it gives you energy and brings back vitality, and health.
Rick Archer: Yes, there’ are a few popular phrases that are appropriate here. Slow and steady wins the race. Safety first. You know, in drugs, the drugs can give you a glimpse, and you may never forget that glimpse, and you might realize, wow, there is something really profound that I don’t ordinarily experience, and you could come back to that maybe, but they don’t really have the capability of producing the neurophysiological transformation in a thorough and stable way that’s going to enable you to live that as a natural state 24/7.
Tony Samara: Exactly. And some people using drugs may be offended by what I’m saying, but I believe that sometimes it’s important to see things in a different way. You know, like, when you travel, and you see a country that’s totally different from where you live, and how people do things differently from the way that you do things. It opens your mind. But beyond that, the opening has to happen in a natural, very accumulative way, and this is why meditation is the central core of what I teach to people.
Rick Archer: Yes, in my position, talking to all these people, and having all these people listen, I often get reports of people who have gotten into serious trouble. I mean, I get good reports from people doing ayahuasca and stuff, and I know you’ve done that, and maybe we’ll get on to that. But I also get the car wreck stories of people really getting into trouble or, having Kundalini awakenings for which they weren’t prepared, not necessarily exactly through drugs, but through other means, and then being incapacitated and all. So, there’s real value, I think, in culturing the nervous system, doing something in a stable, steady, safe manner that’s going to be effective in the long term.
Tony Samara: Exactly. Because in the end, that’s what matters. It’s not just a quick fix. You know, Western people are into the marathon, not a sprint, as you say. It’s not about instant satisfaction, because in the end, you know, it’s about your life, and what happens with your life, and the legacy that you leave behind. Just one moment of, say LSD or Ayahuasca can rewire the brain in such a way where there is more difficulty, you’re actually having to do more work, rather than less work.
Rick Archer: Yes, it can do some damage that has to be undone.
Tony Samara: For sure. I’m sure you know, it’s not new to me. I was in the Amazon forest, working with Native people, and I was initiated in the ritual of ayahuasca. I would never recommend it anymore to people, unless, there are very specific ailments that you have, such as cancer or similar, and perhaps, because of such physical ailments, you don’t have the time. Then, you need to work through things, physically, that transform your body, but for mental stability and for mental clarity and focus. It’s not the way for me.
Rick Archer: Like you said, there are specific things. I mean, Johns Hopkins is doing studies now with psilocybin and its efficacy and how it is helping people with various addictions and things like that. So, sure, we never know, never say never, there’s a value in these things. But, you know, if you’re a serious spiritual practitioner who is interested in enlightenment, it may be tempting to go for shortcuts and in our culture, you know, the fast food culture, people are always interested in those but for sure, it is good to be really sober about this stuff, and careful.
Tony Samara: Why try to get somewhere, when it’s so enjoyable to sit in meditation, when it’s so fun to explore consciousness and learn about yourself and the world and reality from a different perspective.
You know, people who seek instant satisfaction are usually depressed, and depression needs to be worked with, prior to trying to change your life. You need to understand the psychology of your personality and being before you start using whatever to change that. Meditation can be very difficult, say if you’re depressed, because very often it makes you more depressed. People have told me this. You know, they sit in meditation, and they say, it’s not like you say, you know, it’s not a joyous experience. I’m not feeling blissful. I’m not feeling happy. I just remember how depressed I am and I sit there feeling worse. But even that’s part of the transformation.
Rick Archer: Being part of that washing machine dissolution effect we’re talking about in the beginning, where you’re actually now the stuff is being resolved and you feel it more acutely. Well, it’s being resolved.
Tony Samara: Exactly. The healing crisis right
Rick Archer: Now, a few minutes ago, you mentioned Rumi, and we were talking about, Awakening being either gradual or instantaneous, and the various degrees of awakening. They reminded me of a Sufi saying that I think is apropos, which is that there is an end to the path to God. but there’s no end to the path in God. Very nice. Yeah. Like that. Yeah, that’s very good.
So, we had technical problems in the beginning, we lost some of the time that I hope to spend with you. And I know you have to go in about half an hour. Oh, yes. So, what have we not covered yet that you want to be sure to cover in this interview? And we can do another one in the future. But for today, you know, what are some important things that you’d like to bring out that we haven’t had a chance to?
Tony Samara: I would say, what you eat, your diet. I believe this to be very important, simply because the Western diet, I know this is going back to the mundane, but the Western diet is so unhealthy, and it’s not so suited for meditation. It doesn’t support meditation.
I’m not saying vegetarianism is the way, but just making sure that the food that you eat supports the changes, the physiological and the neurological changes in your mind, and your brain. And I would say it’s important to eat less of certain foods, such as foods that stimulate the mind, especially sugar. And I would say, eat less meat and more plant-based foods.
Of course, seek to avoid overly processed foods, you know, with all the MSG and colorings and what have you. This is all obvious to people who are already meditating and choosing a healthy lifestyle. But I do believe this to be a very important aspect of transformation, because the physical body is part of the transformation. We’re not just transforming the mind, we need to take into account the physical body.
Rick Archer: Yes. You know, I live in a town where a lot of people meditate, Fairfield, Iowa, and a lot of people became vegetarians years ago. And, I see them in the grocery store buying doughnuts and stuff. So, it’s not like, everybody, although I am sure some, are on a healthy routine. But I think there’s a lot of people who could use a lot more exercise, and they could use a healthier diet. And a healthier diet doesn’t just mean vegetarianism, it means some of the things you just mentioned. And, a lot of times they end up heavy on the starches and sugars and having these cravings for things because they’re not getting the proteins. And then we can run into serious health problems down the line.
Tony Samara: I think people who are not healthy vegetarians can really damage their body. There is something called vitamin B 12 deficiency, which neurologically makes it more difficult to relax and meditate, and if you don’t have B12, you know, you can easily suffer from depression and neurological damage. And, if you’re eating donuts, or even vegan donuts or whatever, that’s not the way so what I’m saying is to reduce certain foods and to increase the foods that support the nervous system and the brain to function in a better way.
We know, for example, the Mediterranean diet is heavy on plant based foods, lots of vegetables, a variety of vegetables, a variety of fruit, and doesn’t include all these trans fats and donuts and sugars. You know, it’s based on fresh produce. And I think this is something that I noticed whilst in America. Generally, people are into fast food and quick food. You know, in Italy, there is this slow food movement where everything is cooked right from the beginning, and I know people don’t have time, but if you’re serious about transformation, make time to exercise, and make time to eat food that is transformative.
I always make sure, that diet is something I convey in the retreats that people come to, that it’s a habit, and once you create a healthy habit, it’s easy to put into practice. Yet it’s also easy to reach out for things like pizza or burgers or what have you, but it’s just as easy to (if you know how) to prepare something that’s slightly healthier.
That doesn’t mean you have to be fanatical. You know, some people get obsessed by food. I’m not talking about being obsessed by everything that you eat, because that’s another diversion, but just to be aware, because sometimes, I’ve noticed many people who meditate come to me and say, “Well, I’m not interested in the physical aspect, you know, I’m more interested in transforming the ego mind.“ And, there isn’t that correlation, you know. The Buddha worked with his body, and every mystic works with their body to transform the body to prepare for this awakening experience, which, is a slow process, changing your habits, but it is the temple of the soul.
Rick Archer: Exactly.
Tony Samara: And exercising like you, it’s so easy. Just walking, or swimming, or, I don’t know, whatever exercise if you’ve got a dog you can chase the dog, you can kick a ball or doing whatever, with your dog and it’s fun.
Too many people sit. This is the thing in the Western world, you know, people think, and also in the Zen Buddhist Centre, you know, sitting was an incredibly, difficult thing for me to do, because I think that, I had to sit for 16 hours, when doing intensive meditation. That’s difficult, you know, but there was always a five-minute break where you would walk around.
Rick Archer: Yeah, there’s a saying these days, in medical circles, that sitting is the new smoking. In other words, they understand now that physical inactivity is extremely deleterious. And really, the reason we’re dwelling on this, I mean, people might be wondering, what is this turning into some kind of health lecture, but you know, the principle here, I think, which hopefully is clear is that the body is, a vehicle, and, it’s the vehicle through which if we want enlightenment, and so on, we need to attend it in a body. And if that body is damaged in some way, or malfunctioning, it’s going to be an impediment to our, to our progress.
Tony Samara: As you say, what is meditation? It’s about finding a state of happiness that is sustainable. And if the body is not happy, then how can the mind be happy? If the mind is not happy, how can the body be?
Rick Archer: They are correlated, or inter-related very closely, I mean, and, you know, if you were to sit somebody like the Buddha, or Ramana, Maharshi, or Jesus or somebody down and hook them up to EEG, and various other physiological measurements, you’d find I think that those physiological measurements were quite distinctly different than the norm, than the average that he saw. And, that person was not only in a very different state, subjectively, their whole physiology had been transformed in its functioning.
Tony Samara: Exactly. And that is my ‘work’ to change the physical body, so that there isn’t a shock from, as you were saying, previously, a Kundalini energy movement. That the body is sensitive to energy, but able to sustain that energy, which is something that as a child, I wasn’t able to do.
This is why I was so sick as a child. I haven’t been sick (touchwood ) since being a teenager, like for many years, because you know, your body heals, when your mind heals, and your mind heals when your body heals. I think this is important.
The other thing that perhaps is useful, is moments of stillness and integration.
We are fed too much information. There is just too much information out there, books, YouTube, videos, what have you, and there is an overload, and we don’t give ourselves enough time to just be still, to do nothing. You know, to sit with your dog and pet it and just enjoy doing nothing, or to sit in the garden just relaxed. Such moments as those allow for creativity.
And if you remember, what I was speaking about, creativity is a fundamental part of the meditational technique that I work with. And creativity is missing in people’s lives because we’re too busy. And so, there is something else, I speak about, journaling, or creating a vision board where you, simply allow for creativity to manifest within stillness, or within the just doing nothing space.
Rick Archer: You were talking a minute ago about preparing the body to be able to sustain the intensity of the spiritual energy. And in your book that I was reading, you said the energy of the world is becoming more intense. And one thing that I just read, one more little thing for you because I see the world getting more positive and that we’re entering an era where light is more abundant, more present than it ever has been throughout recent history. And one thing that I keep encountering is people who actually weren’t even that interested in spiritual reality, maybe not at all, they’d like to watch football and have a beer and all of a sudden they had some kind of spiritual awakening, and they didn’t know what to do with it. It’s sort of like totally rocked their world. So I mean, in your teaching and your activity as a spiritual teacher, have you run into such people who have had a spiritual awakening for which they appear not to have been prepared? And have you been able to help them adjust to it and normalize?
Tony Samara: Yes, many, many people. And I believe that, as you said, the world is more positive, meaning that the situations around us are more difficult, but because we are challenged to make a choice, many of us make the choice to come back to an awareness that is very positive, meaning that we want to change, we don’t want to just be in limbo, we don’t want to just sit on the fence, we want to change.
And many people are doing that, without realizing why they’re doing that. It’s just an internal dialogue that is happening, perhaps on a subconscious level, that allows them to all of a sudden wake up one day and something is different, And they know they have to do things in a different way, yet often they don’t know how to do this. And then they begin searching.
And very often, many, people find something like meditation or some sort of technique, or healing modality, that changes their whole perspective, and this is something that I very much like to work with, in the retreats, how to create a space to goes beyond just the negativity of looking at the world as a difficult place, because so many people do that. So many people actually watch whatever the news, or football, or entertainment on TV, because on some level, the mind has been overwhelmed by the negativity of all the information that’s out there, or, and also the internal ones, you know, the negative belief systems.
And some people caught in this circle, sort of give up, many people give up and want to entertain their mind with all sorts of information. And this is why there are people that are watching the news, or connected to Facebook, or social media, and addicted to it all the time, because they’re too afraid to face that aspect of themselves that allows for this change.
But, I believe the positivity that is in the world today allows many to make a choice to step out of that Limbo situation where they’re just being entertained, and make a choice. Okay, I want to do things differently. They ask themselves, how can I do this in a different way? And then, as you know, if you begin to look for something that just simply appears.
Rick Archer: Yes, that’s true, seek and you shall find, it really works!
Tony Samara: It does, wherever your focus is, that’s where the energy goes. And that’s where manifestation happens. So I believe that we can manifest many interesting things, you know, even if it’s not directly learning techniques of meditation, it could be just situations, or people we meet, that make a big difference in our lives, and that helped us to take another step into a world that we perhaps would have never gotten into, if we didn’t meet those people.
Rick Archer: Yes, but when you say the energy of the world is becoming more intense, are you meaning like, my sense of that is, that the collective consciousness is rising in some fundamental way. And, it’s like, if you take the analogy of a forest, let’s say somehow, the ground in the forest became more fertile, it was becoming a lot more fertile for some reason. And all the plants would find themselves growing more quickly, both the weeds maybe, and the good plants. And so this is a sort of acceleration, to have all kinds of tendencies almost paradoxically, opposed ones negative, positive, and the drama is getting more dramatic.
Tony Samara: That’s exactly right. That’s exactly what I mean. You know, the contrast between everything is that it becomes so obvious. For people that are aware. You know, if you’re looking at the situation, that we know that’s there, because we need to make a choice, not because things are getting worse, but we need to make a choice to either, give up, or to move with the transformation, to allow that transformation to happen. So the forest is growing, and we have to grow with the forest, because we are part of the forest. We can’t just sit and pretend that everything is accelerating, and nothing is happening to us as individuals. And, if we go with that flow, then that’s the intensity, I mean, that things can dramatically transform now, more easily. We can change things more easily now than perhaps 1000 years ago.
For some reason. I believe that we are gifted, everyone that’s in this incarnation manifest in this world today, we are gifted. It’s not about it being a difficult time, it’s actually a beautiful time to learn about consciousness. And perhaps we’ve gone through these periods before, during the history of evolution, but I believe this time is even more powerful.
Rick Archer: I think it is. So I think what you’re saying is, it’s a time of great opportunity. Exactly. Yeah. I think somebody was telling me recently, it was somebody who speaks Chinese, I think, and they were saying that the symbol for crisis in in the Chinese language also contains the symbol for opportunity.
Tony Samara: Exactly, exactly. You know, if you’re not challenged, how do you grow? Because we’re all being challenged, as a humanity, all humanity is being challenged now, by the situations that we’re facing whatever they are, you know, like climate change, if you believe in climate change, some people don’t.
Rick Archer: Some people don’t question a belief. Some people believe in gravity.
Tony Samara: Some people don’t. But you know, all these things are not negative, as some, worry. Some people worry about it, some scientists, because I studied science in university, that was what I studied. And scientists said, you know, we’ve reached a point where perhaps we will never be able to go back. It’s reached a point where the crisis is so bad. It’s not reversible. But I don’t see it like that. I really see things changing dramatically in ways that we don’t recognize even in science today, because it’s much more complex, reality is much more complex than the linear perspective that science, the old science, not the new science has based itself on.
Rick Archer: Well, that’s not to say that these changes are not going to be dramatic. I mean, there was a glacier in Antarctica, which shows signs of melting and breaking up. And if it does, sea levels could rise 10 to 13 feet in a relatively short amount of time, which is going to displace 145 million people, it’s going to make the Syria problem look like a boy scout picnic or something. So you know, the world could be headed for some pretty intense things as these changes take place. But I think, concurrently, there is a spiritual awakening taking place. It’s just funny, and interesting to ponder the juxtaposition of this inner and outer change.
Tony Samara: Exactly. You know, I was watching something on a video a long time ago, and it was in Syria. And it was about a piano player playing the piano in the middle of the war zone. Wow. And it was so incredible. There was the contrast of bombs and houses destroyed and people in a sort of war, a confused state, and then this person was playing classical music on a piano. So, yeah, we are heading towards a situation where there will be extremes, and I do hope that the glaciers and Antarctica and all the ice doesn’t melt, like people are saying will happen, because it’s not just about the sea rising, it’s also about currents changing. In science, this is what they’re afraid of, you know, the currents changing means that the whole world’s ecosystem will just collapse.
Rick Archer: Well, if the Gulf Stream stops, then Great Britain is going to have a climate like Northern Canada.
Tony Samara: Yeah, exactly. Who knows what else? But you know, even in those moments, it is still possible to connect to consciousness. And this is what I was saying. In the beginning, even when there is starvation and war and pain, we still have access to consciousness that allows us an intuition and creativity to be like that piano player and to create music. As then music, which is the language of peace and the language that comes from the depth of one’s heart, to create music in this way hopefully inspires people. And of course, what inspired me, was to see someone in such a situation, giving his musical talent, giving this to the world rather than the confusion that is obvious when you’re in a war zone.
Rick Archer: Yeah, and I would not say even in those moments, I would say, especially in those moments. I think that if we lived in a heavenly world, people might not have the motivation to look within and strive for enlightenment, but when the going gets rough, people begin to feel that this is so unsatisfactory, there must be something deeper.
Tony Samara: Exactly, exactly.
Rick Archer: Well, we should wrap it up pretty soon. Is there anything else that’s dear to your heart that we haven’t had a chance to express. Last time I asked you that question, you mentioned diet. Do you want to give people a kind of an overview of your teaching activities, how you offer what you offer?
Tony Samara: Actually, I work online a lot.
Rick Archer: Yeah, that’s why we have to wrap it up, because you have some online webinar coming up in a few minutes.
Tony Samara: And I think this is an easy way for people to connect today. And so there are many programs that include not just idea behind the programs. It’s not just more information, but it’s also about transmission. So it’s an energetic experience.
Rick Archer: Do you feel that can be done online? Even though people are all over the world, is there definitely an energetic transmission?
Tony Samara: For sure. It’s like meditating, you know, the more people who meditate it doesn’t matter if they’re sitting in China or sitting in Chile, you know, there is a connection on this other level, this multi-dimensional level, that is very obvious. And this is why it’s so important that many people connect on this level.
It’s not just about the numbers, it’s the fact that we, well, this is for another interview, but we can move from one dimension to another, and within our perceptions, and really connect to what transmission means, just as we connect to the warmth of the sun, or the beauty of the ocean, you know, there is so much intuitive connection that happens also online. But of course, for those who want to work in a personal setting, I do this in retreats, that are usually in Portugal, (NB Since March 2020 all Tony’s retreats have been conducted online.)
Rick Archer: You and Mooji.
Tony Samara: For some reason, that’s interesting. I was there before Mooji moved there are some other people moving into Portugal. So it’s interesting. And I do believe it’s an amazing, beautiful place. It’s not just beautiful, but the energy is beautiful. So that’s where the retreats are held. I do some talks in the UK. And yeah, all the information is on www.TonySamara.com website.
Rick Archer: And I’ll be linking to that, obviously. Well, we’ll do another one one of these days. And, you know, I’m sure there’s plenty of points we could have discussed, and we’ll discuss them next time around.
So, thanks, let me make a few little wrap up points. So, I’ve been speaking with Tony Samara. And you’ve learned a lot about him in the last hour and a half. And you can go to his website to learn more. This is an ongoing series of interviews, as most of you know.
And if you’d like to be notified of future ones as they are posted, you could sign up for my email newsletter list on https://batgap.com
And also explore the menus there and you’ll see what else is offered, one of which is an audio podcast of the show. And if you’d like to listen while you can mute. And one other thing is that I’ve been speaking with a representative at YouTube. And there’s this thing where if you have 100,000 subscribers to your show, you get all sorts of special support and everything from YouTube. And I’m currently at 28,000 After seven years, but I’d like to encourage people watching to subscribe, they just hit the subscribe button on in the YouTube channel. https://www.youtube.com/@Batgap
That basically just means you’ll get an email once in a while from YouTube, notifying you of new shows on any channel to which you subscribe. But it’ll help BatGap a lot if you if you do that. It will help me get more support from YouTube and collaboration with them. So thanks for that. And thanks for listening or watching and thank you Tony. I really appreciate your time. I really enjoyed preparing for this and also doing it you’re an interesting guy to talk to.
Tony Samara: Thank you very much.
Rick Archer: So thanks, everybody, and we’ll see you next time.