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Rick Archer: Welcome to Buddha at the Gas Pump. My name is Rick Archer, Buddha at the Gas Pump is an ongoing series of interviews with spiritually Awakening people. I’ve done well over 400 of them now. And if this is new to you, and you’d like to watch previous ones, go to batgap.com. And look under the past interviews menu, where you will see all the previous ones organized in several different ways. This program is made possible by the support of appreciative listeners and viewers. So if you appreciate it, and we’d like to support it to any extent, important, and we appreciate your support. Incidentally, if you’re watching the video of this, and you see all these marks on my face, I had some pre cancerous skin things burned off a couple of days ago. So it looks like I’ve been attacked by an octopus or something. But it’s nothing serious. It’s just a precautionary thing and it’ll clear up. My guest today is very the shell on there. I’ll just read your little bio here first. There, there is a spiritual storyteller and Harvard educated scholar of comparative religion. She speaks and writes about spiritual culture, mindfulness in the modern world, and the divine feminine, and has been a speaker at the science and non duality conference in the US and Europe, Sister giant in Washington, DC, and other gatherings gatherings. Vera holds a master’s degree from Harvard Divinity School, where she studied comparative mysticism, and a bachelor’s degree from the University of Florida in religion and literature. She also happens to speak about four languages fluently. Her work, explores the meeting place of creativity, psychology and spirituality and is informed by insights from both Eastern and Western philosophies. Vera is a graduate of the Barbara Brennan School of healing and has been a student of Jason Sherman’s non dual healing work. She is deeply influenced by Buddhist and Kabbalistic lineages. Various recent work has been on the topic of holy darkness and exploration of the dark goddesses associated with transformation and initiation. Found in the world’s great wisdom traditions. The most well known of whom is the Hindu goddess Kali, there is a mother and a devotee of the mother. She’s working on her first book on the dark, feminine. So welcome there.
Vera de Chalambert: Oh, thank you so much for having me, Rick, you know, when you read the, I’m always wondering, like, whose bio is that? Why is it being read? And that person seems like they have something figured out. And that is absolutely not the case for me. So I am so grateful that you invited me and I’m not quite sure as you know why. But I’m really grateful to talk with you. And well, I
Rick Archer: am too. I first really became aware of you some months sometime earlier this year, when I was although I think you said we met at the sand conference. But I don’t remember that actually. But I was reading a thing on the sand conference, one of those sand Cafritz emails that go out with science and non duality conference emails. And it was so beautifully written, and that I had to email Murray to the organizer of the sand conference to ask who wrote this? And he said, Oh, it’s very the Shaolin bearer. And I said, Wow, it’s beautiful. It’s deep. It’s profound. It’s so nicely written, said, you know, have to get to know this person. So I started reading some of your stuff. And you wrote several articles about Kali, especially that one where that when a picture of Kali was projected on the Empire State Building, in my work. Cool. Yeah, it was, it was interesting. There are great articles. And I posted one to my Facebook page, and somehow rather, that caught Marianne Williamson’s attention, and then she ended up inviting you to sister giant. So in any case, you know, you’re kind of self effacing and a little shy and not used to all this publicity stuff. But I really think you have something to say. And, you know, I’m sure if we spoke 10 years from now, you’d have even more to say, but you know, we’re all works in progress. And what’s so funny about that? Sounds, I mean, says it sounds funny. But really, I mean, you’re very humble. And that’s, that in itself is a qualifier for being on this show, actually.
Vera de Chalambert: I’m not sure I’m not sure I’m humble. I just am very scared.
Rick Archer: Well, it takes humility to say that and, and it’s natural. I mean, there are some famous actors like you Yeah, Meryl Streep and people who still get butterflies when they have to do something in a public way. So it’s just a human reaction. Okay, so you have a very interesting story. And I thought it would be interesting to start with that story where you’re born some of your, you know, milestones growing up in terms of your growing awareness of God and spirituality and so on. It’s a fascinating story. So let’s, let’s start with that you’re born in Ukraine, the former Soviet Union,
Vera de Chalambert: exactly in the former Soviet Union. When I say that, I realize I’m older than I than I think. So I was born in the former Soviet Union. And I was born quite premature. And I’m only mentioning that because as I as I think about my life, I realized that’s actually a really big piece for me. As well, I’m like about two and a half months premature, and I spend a lot of time in an incubator. And I think that that affected me in a particular way is like this early, early trauma, where I didn’t, I didn’t have a sort of a built in container i, that my childhood was spent in this like, bound boundaryless place where I couldn’t tell where, where, you know, I was kind of feeling everything all the time, everything was kind of directly moving through me. And I think that there’s this way in which I’m still continuing to heal that, that gap, that kind of developmental gap of not having many boundaries, or healthy boundaries. So
Rick Archer: it would seem that someone who spends the first couple of months in an incubator isn’t getting a lot of touching and closest to the mother and all that that must happen.
Vera de Chalambert: Exactly. Yes, and so so I from as early as I could remember myself, there was really the sense of feeling everyone and kind of seeing everything from above a little bit. I even had this, I remember really early memory of like, looking into my hands and then zooming into inside my head into like this black box inside my head, and then just popping out. And that was like an experience that I think I was a body and when I was born, I had fasts, I was crippled as word with feet in and under. And I had casts for the first two and a half years of my life. And so I think the having the experience of being in the body, as I came into this, this world wasn’t very comforting for me. And so I just hung out elsewhere. And so if I, if I had to say, I would say that my path so far has been a path, into this body, into into incarnation, right, like learning how to how to how to become, how to tolerate how to tolerate the the muchness and the beauty and the heartbreak and the discomfort of this world. And so, also, I think that went along, or that kind of matched my very early sense of sensibility of moving towards the divine and I came from I lived in like this Jewish secular environment where God was poetry and art and protest and literature and my mother instead of reading the fairy tales would read me these like beautiful, heartbreaking poetry from Medina Tsutaya by not anok Martha but there are these these soul whalers of the Russian soul, if you will, right, people who have seen the shattering of their worlds who lived through revolutions, you know, and I think that really profoundly affected me. And I remember the first time I heard the word, God as a child, it was outside of the home somewhere, maybe like, you know, kindergarten situation, and it’s like, my whole body landed. It was like, oh, yeah, this is where I belong. And then I’ve been like a one trick pony ever since it’s like my only My only interest my only my only direction, my only my only devotion and in so many ways, you know? So when I was, as I was telling you, we talked a little bit before before our interview, and I grew up in the city called revolve, which before World War Two was actually a polar city. And a lot of Polish people loved and Martin Buber was born and raised there many incredible thinkers and scientists and so many people’s people love the city so much that many of them stayed instead of going back to Poland once this once the city became became Soviet. And that meant that there that I grew up in like a trilingual culture Russian Polish Ukrainian and I went to a polar school, and were every all the subjects were in Polish, and also what What we should know about Polish people is that they’re very deeply and devotionally Catholic. And although in the Soviet Union religion didn’t exist, it was a topic it was like a topic non grata. It was not really allowed welcomed, you could get into serious political trouble if you if you practiced any form of religion. There was there were nuns and priests coming into my school because it was a polar school teaching subversively religion. And for me, that was just that was like, that was heaven. That was all I ever wanted, and so secretly from my parents, because I figured that wouldn’t be so kosher. I studied with the nuns and the priests and had my first communion secretly went and had my first communion at like, 10, where I confess that I’m not actually Catholic, and, and maybe this is not very kosher of me, but and then and then the next, I came back home, and I told my parents and they didn’t know what to do with me. What do you do with this? Right? My dad was like, ya, my mother was like, I don’t know what to say. Okay, this is maybe very uncoachable because I was never baptized. So I went at the time, this is like, right as the this at this moment. Now, this is right, as the Soviet Union for breaks, breaks down, right. And there’s mass chaos, and there’s economic and social. I mean, really chaos, currencies changing all the time, people are wailing openly in the streets and digging through garbage dumps. There’s no bread, there’s no it’s like a real collapse of my world at the time. And you know, where were some kids kind of had have this narrative of if, when, when their parents have a divorce, there’s like this little voice that says, This is my fault that they got divorced, somehow, the way it landed in me was that it was my fault that the world around me was collapsing. That somehow that somehow I wasn’t, I don’t know, it pure enough that I could have somehow been better. And so after the Catholic Catholic, kind of First Communion I, they had mass baptisms at the time. And I snuck into a mass baptism in an Armenian Orthodox Church, because my mother’s father was Armenian. And I kind of kind of thought, oh, there’s a connection there. And so, you know, I had a baptism there, there were Baptists coming in, in stadiums, kind of doing the Holy Spirit thing. And of course, that was, you know, that was my life, I was sneaking away to try and find God everywhere. And then we were very fortunate to be to become political refugees at the time. And we emigrated my family and I, when I was 1211. To, to the to Florida. And when I came to Florida, this other world opened up, because you see, Judaism in the former Soviet Union was considered an ethnic identity, and national identity was something stamped in your passport that you had to hide most of the time, because there was sort of systemic anti semitism. And so that was not something you wanted. You wanted out there. So I, and it was very pervasive. I mean, even as children, people with the teachers would say, all the Russian kids raise your hands, all the Ukrainian kids raise your hands, right. So until it got to me, I didn’t want to raise my hand. This is something you wanted not to, you want it to fit in, you didn’t want to stick out, you didn’t want this to be your, your cross to bear, so to speak. So and then it came to America, where all of a sudden, not only was it okay to be Jewish, but it was a religion. Yeah, I mean, that was a great moment for me where I thought, Oh, my God, there was there was something about my lineage that could connect me to the Divine to and so and so then I kind of dove into into the Jewish tradition. And because I came to America, I didn’t speak English, I felt I felt like I was split and that my world was cut off somehow, in the sense that there was no way that I could communicate where I was coming from the gray and the heartbroken and the devastated and the, you know, and the shattered and then into the Florida, sunshine, smiling people, large supermarkets, you know, with 25,000 colors and cheeses and breads while I was you know, just coming of waiting. And I mean, this is so so interesting, waiting, it was like that moment where people were waiting in line for bread, I was waiting and that was my only responsibility as a kid right? for like an hour, an hour or an hour much more until there was no bread when you got to the front. So like these kinds of very difficult dissonance, there was a such a dissonance between my new life and America and the mud, my old life. I had such a difficult time finding my place. And, you know, integrating these various kinds of narratives that were that formed formed me. And so what happened then as I was becoming a teenager and felt like I so did not believe is that I drowned myself in books. And what I did is I went into the library and I read Every New Age book in the library, you know, and I read indiscriminately philosophy, religion, ROM Das, you know, everything I could get my hands on. And not surprisingly, that led me when I came to college. That led me into a pretty, pretty easy choice of direction, which was religious studies and, and comparative literature at the time as well. And I was extremely fortunate because I came to the University of Florida and at that time, the University of Florida had this emergence happening and the faculty of the arts and sciences and the medical school at UF had these incredible professors, who were all kind of profoundly interested in consciousness studies who are very deeply influenced by the work of Ken Wilber and who have formed something called the Center for spirituality and health. And had an issue. It was largely due to a patronage of Nicki singer. I don’t know if you know who Michael singer is doing but tethered soul so at the time, he wasn’t, he didn’t yet write a book. He wasn’t yet on the scene. But he already had this beautiful place called the Temple of the universe in the woods in Alachua, where he would invite lots of different spiritual teachers. And he was one of the patrons of the center, who made it and made it possible for the center to begin inviting some of the world’s great mystics and thinkers and spiritual teachers. And my mentor at the time was the director of the Center, his name was Shai Eisenberg, Sheldon Eisenberg, and he was really my first spiritual mentor. He was a renewal rabbi and a Wilbury, I will bury in kind of integrative integral theory thinker, he was the chair of the department of religion at the time, and he really took me under his wing and mentored me. And actually, it’s funny, I just learned David data also, he was one he was his first mentor as well. And so I became the student director of the Center, and with that, and, and, and somehow at that time arose, this community of students, where we all have the same longing, we all have that same thirst for, for spirituality for for embodied spirituality for for paradox, it was really interesting and who we got to meet where like, we had lunch with rom Das, and Father Thomas Keating was like inaugural guest. And, and I mean, it was just such a Reb Zalman would come and work with us. And this wasn’t like, oh, a moment or a talk, they would come and they would spend time with us. And they would do kind of a weekend long kind of workshops with us. So I really felt so deeply shaped by that time, both because by 1920, I read everything Ken Wilber ever wrote. So it was difficult to have a kind of magical mythical understanding of religion. And also because I began to, and it felt like receive transmissions from these elders from these incredible teachers in our culture, who I got to experience firsthand. And I really, and also kind of grew this community of students when we came together and had a contemplative community that formed at the time, it looked like, in a very simple way, like a wisdom circle, right, it was a very circular kind of process, but that we came together every Sunday morning, or Saturday morning, I don’t remember anymore and really shared our processes, and integrate, trying to integrate all these different practices that we were being given. For example, centering prayer, when father Keating came and taught us, right, we would do these practices together, we would, we would see how they, how they meet our ordinary human lives, and, you know, post teenage dramas, and it was quite an quite a profound shaping time for me. And then I went off. Then I went off to Harvard Divinity School, where, where I also got a lot of pieces, and I was really fascinated by on one hand, comparative mysticism, I was interested in how the experience of mystics across the spectrum of different religiosity and religions compared what did they all experience? What was the language that they used? And then on the other if there was this other academic part of me that really was interested in discourses of power, what are the you know, how does how does reason oppress? How does language trap us? And so somehow I feel like these things are continuously moving through the questions of power, the questions of how we form identity, and how do we connect to the real? How do we connect to the real. And so then I went off and studied for four years in the Barbara Brennan School of healing. And really, for me, that was the real Divinity School, my experientially, in the sense in which it was all about working with trauma, doing profound kind of psycho spiritual process work, where I didn’t just get to talk about being afraid, I got to scream it out and beat it out. And, you know, in kind of us use my body in the healing process. And so that was really the beginning of my kind of descend into, into what I think as my incarnation, I think, until that time, I was really living maybe from the heart, but maybe from the neck up. And it was in the Brennan school where there was a lot of core energetic work that was being done that I began to understand that I am located that this body isn’t something to because I understood it on a mental level, I mean, you know, integral theory and such, but not in an experiential way. And so I also began to become more and more sensitive to subtle worlds, and two subtle energy. realities.
Rick Archer: Right, give us an example to that. How are you experienced that?
Vera de Chalambert: Well, I mean, on a large scale, it’s like, you go around thinking, okay, so even though I had these very expanded experiences, from a very early age, where I wasn’t located in my body, let’s say and I, you know, all kinds of things happened. And I always felt like I was someone in a liminal space between this world and the next. So that that’s, there’s so many kinds of experiences, right. But as working as a healer, which was kind of what I was doing at the time, it was like an entire new, it was as if, as if before it was there was like an intuition. And a general sense of something invisible being there, it began to be as concrete as like, a rock. So running energy began to be as real as having rocks thrown at me, for example, it wasn’t something intuitive or amorphous, I began to perceive what different people’s traumas look like in their field, sometimes I would be in a healing and, and these entire kind of movies would open up about someone’s life. Right? And then you would feel kind of, kind of I don’t know, you know, is this my projection? What is that? So I began to explore. I began to explore these more subtle realms. And yeah, it was, it was quite an interesting process. And I want to say I had I had experiences, pretty profound experiences, especially at a certain point of kind of psychic opening. When I was 18, I went to this retreat as kind of a silent retreat. And at some point, I think my container wasn’t strong enough to kind of tolerate what opened up for me. And, and it looks like, people kind of seek Enlightenment or awakening, but it looks like for me, a kind of a peak experience that my body couldn’t tolerate. Like I was in a kind of extended state, I went to sleep, I saw a bunch of dreams. And then, and then I went into a darkness. And I couldn’t turn off. I couldn’t turn off. My my, my awareness of it, and it felt like like an infinity like an eternity. And then new dreams came up. Like basically what happened was that for, for a whole night, I couldn’t turn off. And as when I woke up, I couldn’t tell if my body was real anymore. I kind of had this kind of break. And I remember like, laughing hysterically, and they came in people were coming up to me and there were you should leave and they didn’t, they didn’t feel comfortable with me leaving. But everything just kind of kind of
Rick Archer: broke open.
Vera de Chalambert: It broke, open, accepted, broke open in a very dissociated way. Right? I couldn’t tell what was real. I couldn’t tell what was happening. And I say, and that was a that was a nine to 1819. And I think that wasn’t very helpful for me. Actually. I think that the rest of my time was kind of From that point on was spend amending what kind of broke open prematurely integrating my personality and and luckily, I was at the time in a context where I had mentors and at the University of Florida. So so this is just like an overall background. And then after the Barbara Brennan School of healing, I started working with Jason Schulman, who’s really my my teacher who has this wonderful, wonderful Baba, for me, who’s not very known. And I’m not exactly sure why because he I think he’s one of the most integrated teachers on the scene.
Rick Archer: We’re looking at him and even before I knew that you were connected with him over the last couple weeks, we’ve been looking at him and thinking, Well, this guy looks
Vera de Chalambert: absolutely extraordinary, because he brought he bridges the theistic, which means the God centered narrative or spiritual way of being this devotional, God centered way with the non dual perspective, he is a Zen teacher, he is his lineage on one side Zen and then what happened to him was that the Kabbalistic Kabbalah opened up for him, because if you know anything about Kabbalah, you will know it is esoteric, it is impossible to understand it is. It is kind of heady. And and, you know, it’s difficult to touch with a 10 foot pole. But what happened in his case was that the entire lineage opened itself up to him and kind of began flowing through him in the direction of how to use that lineage and that wisdom for the, for healing in a healing way. And so he brought the Buddhist and the Kabbalistic together, and those two traditions have from from always then the sort of dominant down dominant, shaping kind of narratives for me, for example, I worked with Xcel Reb Zalman as I mentioned. And when I was 20, something 21. I was one of the youngest people to he used to be really, really interested in eldering and aging and saging. And I was one of the youngest people to do that work with him, because I was so interested also somehow, and where does wisdom come from? And so he worked, of course, a lot with a Kabbalistic lineages. And I felt I felt a kind of moving through me in some way. And when I met Jason, I mean, actually, I remember I just heard about Jason. And my, my entire body felt like Yes, and I went, and I Googled him, and I knew I had to work with him, it was like this, you know how it happens with teachers. It was really, he was mine. He was it was mine. And we’re doing, I did another three years of working with him. Really, really shifted the way I look at healing the way I looked at the awakening process.
Rick Archer: In what way did it shift?
Vera de Chalambert: It was, I stopped using the spiritual life and the healing process to get out of my pain. His work was like a deep invitation for radical hospitality to everything, very tantric, in its nature, really, in that way. And, and a real invitation to paradox to not resolving to not fixing things, to not using, to not using anything to save ourselves from reality, but rather, using everything that arises for deeper intimacy with what’s with what’s here. And it’s like a lot of the teachings that I got before intellectually, or even maybe spiritually began to be more began to be embodied, beginning to be embodied while I was working with him. And he has a number of really fantastic books. One of them is the instruction manual for receiving God and I really highly recommend it. It’s just a few seed seed passages that he’d come through him and I love it so much. So Jason was a really deep, deep part of my heart and foreign formative influence. And then, I went off to Paris, actually, I went off to Paris before that, went off to Paris with the love of my great love, who was a Frenchman. And very quickly, I had children which was another part of, of I feel initiation for me, motherhood. Talk about embodiment. You know, talk about spiritual teaching. Right? Everything that you’ve ever wanted to deny about yourself come straight up in your face and everything is triggered and sleepless nights it breaks you down, breaks you open And it really, it really brings you into the body and as a woman, you become the food. You become the food, you become this the of every kind, emotional, psychological, physical. That was extremely challenging for me, especially for me as my natural proclivity was not hanging out in this world, not knowing how to change the diapers, not knowing how to make the food and when not knowing how to do any of this human stuff that was so apparent to me. You know, and even though I could talk about like, embodiment, and I still do, and it’s still I still, this is still where I wrestle, so please don’t in no way do I do I want to say that I’m now beyond this, this is this is the territory that keeps moving through me over and over again. But at when I became a mother, it was particularly eloquent for me where, you
Rick Archer: know, you said something in the very beginning. And you’re alluding to it now also, which is that, I mean, if I could rephrase it, in my own words, it’s like, you know, we’re all kind of learning how to live on this planet. And it’s like, we I think we all have a sense that perhaps we came from somewhere else, or we ultimately belong somewhere else or something. And it’s, it’s intense here. And it’s difficult, and we never get a break in terms of having to learn and deal with stuff. So I mean, and as we were discussing the other day, when we were doing audio testing the you know, we’re all bozos on this bus.
Vera de Chalambert: I love that. So it goes over all bozos on this bus.
Rick Archer: Everybody’s kind of in the same boat. And if we think that someone else has it all figured out and doesn’t have any challenges that we’re just not seeing the situation clearly.
Vera de Chalambert: Yeah, you know, and frankly, what else what else but becoming intimately familiar with our own suffering, can can move us towards, towards service towards healing towards the awakening process? Because what does that mean, though? Awakening to what and what, you know, how many? How many more men does it take to go up the mountain, you know, to stare at walls, so So we’re awake. It’s not such a big deal. I mean, I feel like for someone who’s kind of more prone to expanded states of consciousness, I’m constantly like, so what? Yeah, right. And of course, there’s so many different qualities of experience. But really, it’s on some level for me, it’s always been like, cool. But so what like what now? Yeah. What now? So so we get an insight what now? How do we, how do we bring it down? How do we, how do we kind of how do we work with that broken and that human in us? You know that, That? That? That isn’t about some kind of other other state, but like here and now. And yeah,
Rick Archer: just this morning, I was listening to San Catherine’s panel from a couple years ago with Matthew Wright, Adam bucho. And Francis.
Vera de Chalambert: Oh, I love that so much. Better. That’s the best, I think it was the best sound panel ever. Oh, good.
Rick Archer: You listening to that? You heard you heard that. And they were kind of talking about this very point of the non duelists versus the sort of, you know, people who might be non duelists, meaning those who might tend to dismiss the whole thing as an illusion, and you don’t deal with your personal stuff, and, and all that stuff, versus those who kind of been there, done that and realize that, you know, Okay, what’s next, as you just said, is that you actually do have to deal with it all and kind of come down into it and learn how to live in it, and so on?
Vera de Chalambert: Well, I mean, it seems to me and I’m so grateful to be able to see this shift in our pop spiritual culture, I feel like that’s kind of an even in the non dual culture of whatever we, you know, the people that there seems to be this movement of integration, right, this kind of descent back down into into incarnation. And I think it’s like, there’s also this way in which, you know, we talked so much about the emergence of the feminine and in this time on the planet, I feel like, almost unanimously, everyone can feel it in some way. Right? And I write and think a lot about this. But But there seems to be almost this natural emergence of a spiritual teaching, through reality, through culture, through everything, where we are being made to face our reality here and now. Right, like we’re being brought back down into the mud into the Yaak into the mess into the heartbreak of it all and my God, thank God thank God. Enough, enough already with like, you know, blissing out in mountaintops and that’s not to say that we shouldn’t have deeply contemplative spiritual lives. We shouldn’t be must, but like, you know, Andrew Harvey always and Andrew Harvey. Always, always speaks about sacred activism right when when the when the passion and love of the mystic for God and the passion of the activist for justice come together this this third fire emerges within us that can actually be an offering to this world.
Rick Archer: Right? You know, the farmer throws his corn into the mud. And then and then gets much more corn that way. So
Vera de Chalambert: Well, anyone even I think in the in the yogic tradition, there’s this very famous name of, you know, no, no load, no mud, no Lotus. Yeah, no mud, no Lotus. And so my interest has always been in some way, like the feminine movement. You know, the masculine is the movement towards up and away towards transcendence. The feminine movement is down, into, into the body into our sensuality into desire into devotion, right? Like, I actually, so So yeah, we talked, even when we were talking to him in preparation, I said, you know, if I’m really nothing, if I’m anything, I’m like a devotee. Like, I’m, I’m at the feet of the Mother, I will worship I will. I know, I will wail I there’s like, I don’t, I don’t have anything to offer. But but those qualities, I feel like, you know, this, like heartbreak and longing of which my heart is woven. Right. And so that’s a really, that’s a really downward movement. i Yeah,
Rick Archer: I’m sure you’re not 16.
Vera de Chalambert: You said bhakta right like that. I have like this bacter. Yeah.
Rick Archer: Yeah. And I’m sure you’re not suggesting that has to be either or, oh, like, there are these two camps, you know, the up and down, and then it’s like, integration, both and
Vera de Chalambert: both both. And always, both. And, and, and for me, it has certainly been the initial movement is completely up, as you know, up and away. And that natural tendency, where I think we tend to use that as defense as a way to save ourselves from all of this muchness. And all of this pain, yeah. And so and but but it seems to me that my work emerges from this other place, it seems to me that what what is emerging on our planet right now is inviting us into this other place. Mostly, probably because this place the feminine really has been exiled. Because, because it must become integrated into our spiritual lives into our political, social, ecological realities. Right? Some I don’t remember who said Claire, Daikon, Daikon, right, she said, the exclusion of the feminine has led us to a world on the edge of collapse. The reemergence is going to be a dance to behold, interesting, beautiful quote, right. And so so it’s like, yeah,
Rick Archer: so hang on a second. So that what we’ve discussed for the last three or four minutes, I’m going to leave as a teaser, because we’re going to get into it much more. But I’m going to bring you back to your story. So you because I think the whole complete story is interesting. So you’re in Paris, you are raising these kids and life is great.
Vera de Chalambert: I have healings Healing Center and healing practice.
Rick Archer: Great kids great this great
Vera de Chalambert: all every you know, like that the fairy tale. The fairy tale. Yeah.
Rick Archer: And then you think a critical point was you went to some armor program. Right?
Vera de Chalambert: Yeah, you know. So what I should say fairy tale and a very deep sense that I’m containing, I can’t let go I’m containing I don’t containing it to not change. Like there was already a sense in which I was I was living with this rigidity in a rigid way which is actually very not not naturally who I am and how I am. But there was the sense of having to hold on
Rick Archer: right this this way. I don’t want to lose this. This is so great. I don’t want to lose it.
Vera de Chalambert: This is all I want. This is all I need. Like a completely desperate, like codependence with the moment with the reality and a kind of a real sense of like becoming somebody and not that I was really becoming somebody but in my head there was this real this real kind of like what should I be? What should I look like? How should I present myself to the world? Oh, I’m a healer No, oh, I should be wiser. Oh, I should like there was like Is this real, semi unconscious but really almost semi conscious like of wanting to become more perfect of wanting to become more serious more, more or less this mess that I am naturally and more appropriate in the French way and in the normal social way? And, and right, it was like this agenda that I was beginning to have and having more spiritual experiences. I remember having this weird thought like, oh, I should really create it was like this really weird. Like I should have a more serious meditation practice. Like I was trying. It was like compat I was compartmentalizing to make more of a perfect life. um you know and I Alma was come I came to Paris and I’m a comes to Paris once a year. And that wasn’t a big Alma prep fan. It wasn’t like, oh, let’s go see, you know, because there’s such a such a bhakti bhakti field around her so many people who are devoted to her and who really, you know, experience her as the embodiment of the Divine of the feminine of the mother. That wasn’t that wasn’t at all my my my story, I just wanted to go and get hugged. It seemed like a fun thing to do. You know? And of course, you know, so I I went into she comes and she spends like, a really long time and this a huge compound that she comes into this like, I don’t know, space. And just as I came in, and I walked into the space and like, I mean, I say it it’s funny to retell stories, but like, I found myself on my knees wailing like with all of my heart like wailing into the into the ground mother burned me up,
Rick Archer: which was kind of unanticipated, right, you weren’t a natural born whaler you were just sort of
Vera de Chalambert: like I was a very natural born way I’m a natural born whaler. My family would cry at dinnertime because I would be speaking about things I am like, when when someone reads poetry I will I will well, I have a natural bone born whalers that
Rick Archer: this wasn’t totally uncharacteristic of you. It wasn’t totally
Vera de Chalambert: uncharacteristic but I haven’t been but that moment in my life it was an uncharacteristic for that moment in my life. Yeah, it was it was spontaneous you had an interest it was spontaneous and Mother burn me up was not my language and burn me up for a person who was like containing it all to into you know, was definitely not what I was going for. And it was just like I kept repeating it and wailing and wailing it was like just it wasn’t stopping it like for a while I was just there on my knees and as I was saying it it was like on automatic like words were coming out and I kept thinking who was saying it and stop it I don’t mean it like there was a fear of like I don’t mean it I don’t mean it. What the fuck does it mean like it was like a very strange experience you know? Oh, yes. So and and then kind of the evening unfolded and it was this beautiful field and you know how it is with the AAMA with the AAMA energy and that the entire night there was this this this beautiful table of jewelry, you know, they sell things all around, yeah, prayers and all kinds of things. So you know, you’re all expanded, you might want to buy something, it’s really good for business, I’m sure. But there was this this table and I kept circling it there was there was these beautiful objects like jewelry and some other beads and and there were these this earring there that I that I kept looking at this beautiful golden earring with like stuff hanging off of it. And it was like I needed it so much. I kept going back and then I was like, I’m not going to be spiritual material. I’m not going to I’m gonna I’m not going to consume but that kept being pulled back to the table. So finally I asked the lady I said, Listen, this earring. Where’s the other one? And I would really like to try them on and she said, Oh, there is no other earring. This isn’t this. This is from the altar of Kali. This came from collies statue in tamas, ashram. Now don’t get me wrong. It’s not like I haven’t heard the name Kali before I was a scholar of comparative religion from from a distance at an arm’s length. I absolutely have known about this dark Hindu goddess and I wanted to have nothing to do with it like my, my Judeo Christian kind of consciousness. Really, really nothing. I just the hair on my hands stood up and I like bolted. I like got out of there. I didn’t want to have anything to do with a table or anything else. I didn’t exactly get the connection between online Cali either actually, that freaks me out. I remember I had no idea. And so you know, that was the night of Debbie bhava where she blesses people and marries people and blesses babies. And, and, and you know what I’m talking about? Yeah, anytime. And so then at the end of the night, what she does is she throws rose petals at people on people and said, you get our roses Bahamas. Tell me do you need to go take care of it. Okay, so I was I was just blissed out. And like, you know, showered by by the roses and made love Oh, what’s really interesting also, when you hug Alma, it’s like, it’s like it’s not some kind of a lovely peaceful hug. It’s like hug next hug next. Yeah.
Rick Archer: Especially like and in Paris. It goes. She paces it according to the so
Vera de Chalambert: it was really interesting is that she? She, she held me. She pulled me out. She pulled me back. And people tried to push me through and she like held on to me and she pulled me back in and I was like, oh, It just kind of held me for a while and and then I moved through. And Rick the morning it’s like morning, five in the morning, I guess it’s over six in the morning, I get into the car with a friend of mine, we get on a highway in the woods and maybe 10 minutes after I leave almost Darshan, a red car and we’re going at full speed, a red car comes out of its lane on a highway and at full at full speed ramps into into our, into our car. You know, and it’s like the traditional story life and slow motion, everything slows down. You know, you kind of have this weird life review, you know, you’re gonna die, you know, some kind of stuff and yeah, it was like, instant, instant answer, right mother burn me up. Here you have it? No, and I was I was, I found myself I was like, on the ground. I didn’t know if I was alive. I didn’t know if I was broken open. I didn’t, I had no sense of where I landed. But I felt I felt that same energy that made my, my hair stand up. I felt it like move through me. And in every cell of my body, I knew that my life would never be the same. And then very, you know, miraculously, except for being having hernias, you know, herniated disk and being dislocated. I was okay. You know, by miracle I mean, everyone who came on that scene said, This is impossible. This is a miracle. You had to seatbelt on, I presume?
Rick Archer: Must have
Vera de Chalambert: Yeah, and yeah. So very quickly afterwards, my life began to be you know, I call it I began to dance with Kali. Immediately, I could no longer work with people, the healing practice has to shut down all of the uncertainty within me that I was containing all of my confusion, all of my heartbreak, all of my, my kind of fear was I was being I was like, being shaken out, shaken up it like as if the accident shook up everything that was held down in myself held down in my heart held down, held down everything that was a no, not for me, not this, you know, and it all it was all beginning to come up. So I was like, shaking, shaking through every day. Right? Like, dislocated, completely overwhelmed, you know, like, I’m generally overwhelmed, because I’ve experienced so much and, and, and so deeply, very often, but this took it to a whole other level. So I couldn’t, you know, there, I don’t know. That began kind of an identity crisis, right? Like, who am I now? What do I do everything I thought I knew, I don’t know anymore. It was like I felt I it was like a really not, not a not an unusual or extraordinary encounter with death. You know, where we’re everything that doesn’t belong, and everything that that isn’t true, kind of has this natural way of shifting out, like there’s, and then then within, within months, maybe three months, my father passed away. And my father, I mean, it was like, a tremendous, tremendous shock. And within a week, my life in Paris closed down. Everything I built everything I knew, and and I moved back to the States with my family, and kind of another kind of stripping began, where I became, became a fatherless child. And in this other way of, of, you know, it was interesting because it was there I was just being stripped and just beginning to reconfigure my myself and just beginning to reconfigure my identity and just beginning to integrate something and kind of get a new sense of, of who I am or should be or whatever. And then that got that got shaken up again, burned up, right. And then as my father died, it began to, I began to feel this, this tremendous, deeper and deeper levels of pain and trauma surfacing in me, and I think was met when my father died, what began to happen is that I began to connect to like, ancestral trauma. My father was a Holocaust survivor. And I think that was very deeply in my in my field and in myself, and I remember that period felt very much like, like, like, traumas that I couldn’t tolerate that was beyond anything was coming up and out. And I think that was happened because it was just recently I was shaken up. And then I was shaken up against it was like deeper and deeper stuff. And then just as I was beginning to reorient myself, once again. I began to move through devastate In divorce, right and for someone who is, you know, confessedly a drama queen, meaning I don’t just feel pain, I feel like heart wrenching pain, right? Like, everything feels like like, you know, tremendous in my field just like joy and love and ecstasy, right. Like I have this ecstasy, agony place in me that that that is very big and tremendous. I have to say that death was nothing compared to what I was beginning what I’ve experienced with the divorce because really, the divorce shattered and threatened everything that I identified with the perfect mother, the perfect wife, I was far from perfect, but like in my head, it was my story, the fairy tale, the fairy tale was so such a profound part of my, of my kind of full self, right and like a belonging to a particular kind of world that was comfortable and affluent, and, and all of that being stripped all at once. And it was, like I said, about being burning, it felt like that entire period felt like I was being burned alive. And in fact, so profoundly so that I remember having visions of like being stretched like in those in those middle ages, torture devices, rack while being burned alive. One night, I had such an extreme, this was all psycho spiritual pain, right? The pain was so physically in my body, I passed out from pain, actually, that that night, the pain was so profound, and I had this like, I passed out from pain and and for maybe like, two, three days, I couldn’t feel anything at all. It was like my something in my brain kind of, you know, yeah. loaded and blew blew out, it was like I blew out my capacity to feel any more pain. And you just got
Rick Archer: rid of such a load of it, that you were given a brief respite from having to process it.
Vera de Chalambert: Maybe maybe,
Rick Archer: just want to interject here. I told I read that story about seeing Arma and say, Mother burned me up and then having a car accident and, you know, divorce and all this stuff that she said, I hope she doesn’t tell that story, because I wouldn’t want people to think that that happens to everybody who goes to see Alma or that it happens to everybody who gets involved in spirituality. And it does obviously,
Vera de Chalambert: I think I think that does actually not everyone who goes to see arm I think the you know, how the how the mystery unfolds itself, through us and how life humbles us and how the process of spiritual maturation how that unfolds for each one of us is completely unique. And our relationship with teachers in different fields of of, of, of grace is completely unique to all of us. But I would have to say to argue, or at least to question whether that doesn’t happen to everyone on a spiritual path,
Rick Archer: some degree and in different ways. I think it depends on how quickly you move and how how artful the process is, you know, whether you’re using a sort of a scalpel or a machete.
Vera de Chalambert: Yeah. And I realized now that I prayed for that, right? I bring it on. I did, I said, Bring it on, because so somewhere that bhakti placed in me that that place in me where I just wanted to offer myself up for like from from the earliest of ages, right? Like that was like the only thing I really wanted. I think what happened was when I came into the field of Arma, my deep yearning and my heart, the deep yearning in my heart that I was containing, couldn’t take it anymore. And the deep yearning in my heart to offer myself up to lay at her feet to to be her instrument, right to be burned up, began to move through me, right, even if consciously I couldn’t choose it, right. I couldn’t choose it. Some part of me chose it. Yeah. And so that began to kind of burn me up on the level that I think I have consented to, I consented to and the deepest part of my being. And so what was very interesting about that period of, you know, burning, was that I began to have I mean, the, the pain was so extreme. The pain was so extreme, I began to have visions and it was like, you know, sometimes you can do something to help yourself. Somehow I knew in some in some wives place within me that there was nothing I could do to save myself from what was happening to me. And my prayer began my prayer life began to change from I used to pray Mother, please help me help me help me like because I was in so much pain, and it seemed to be relentless. And I was a mother wasn’t like I could just like be in my ecstatic pain. I was like, I had to function. Right? My my, my prayer life when from mother helped me save me helped me to take me right like there was this this reorientation And that happened to like, Don’t ever stop. Until, until there’s nothing else to burn. Like I kind of, that’s all I began to want, it was like maybe a weird masochistic kind of thing. But it was like the places that I began to feel most intimate with life and most intimate with God were those places of radical heartbreak, where I couldn’t save myself. And God in her wisdom was kind enough to put me in a place where I couldn’t, I couldn’t save myself, where I had nothing to hold on to where were all of my old defense mechanisms and structures weren’t working anymore. You know, I mean, I had this this one experience, actually. And I wonder about it. I had a number of weird visions for that came when I’ve had tremendous pain, right. But one of them I was I was in in a supermarket like Apollo I don’t know what you have up there. We have a public supermarket and I was I passed by I passed by the the crabs, the crabs are what are they called lobsters. And, like, I don’t know what it was my heart just a cracked open like spilled over and I kept moving fast lobsters, but all I could feel suddenly it was like, the pain of the lobsters. And then then it went, it went into like, the larger and larger fields of pain, the pain of like the society we live in, of people having to survive of, of war and genocide. And like, was like, it was like, in some weird way, it just like all of the suffering of the world began to flood through, it started with the lobsters, but then it just kind of, and by the end, and life was just like, I went from the beginning of the aisle to the middle of the aisle, by the time I moved to the center of the aisle. I was like, I was like, I was being pierced from every direction, it was like, this is one of the very few times where my my physical world and my spiritual vision merged. And what I saw was gaping blood from all from gaping from me in all directions, and actually couldn’t tell if it was real or not. And I would, I could, what I thought is like, Oh my God, I’ve become a wound of Christ, right? Like it was had this kind of weird Christological feeling experience. And I was like, holding on, I couldn’t see anything anymore. I was just like shaking and holding on to the aisle. And like feeling this unbearable heartbreak and pain. And then like, as it’s like, I began to sort of feel orgasmic or an orgasm. So as I was standing there, like, heartbreak and then like this weird energy was beginning to move through me and I couldn’t see what was happening, like tears rolling down my face, like I had to make my way through the aisle out of the store, like in all of that’s continuing to move through me, I had to find enough, like, human concentration to drive myself from the store to my house, so that I could lay down. And that was maybe one of the most horrifying, terrifying, ecstatic, beautiful experience that I had that didn’t, I didn’t really I don’t know, a parallel to that. But, you know, I didn’t, I didn’t need to have my children that day, I just like, I stopped, it was something happened that was so tremendous, which, which I think began to, I don’t know, I don’t wanna I don’t want to analyze, but it was a profound experience for me. And those kinds of experiences for me began to unfold in that period a few times. And I almost wonder if that had to do with burning up karma or, or beginning to open me up in a way, which I couldn’t hold anything at bay anymore. Because I already had the language of, of intimacy with life of leaning in the tantric kind of, you know, saying yes to everything. I was even to, you know, way before I was even holding women’s circles and saying, you know, you have to use everything fear, anger, despair, heartbreak, use it, it’s all Shakti don’t turn away from it, like I got it. I got it in many different ways. But I don’t really think I got it in an embodied way until that began to kind of move through me in a more physical direct way.
Rick Archer: Well, you know, I was listening to some interview you did with CIT heads or one of those shows. And someone maybe wasn’t that one, someone someone asked you. I don’t know what the what your inspiration in life, what the purpose of your life, some such question like that. And you said, I just want to be used. I just want to be a servant of the Divine to as much as I can be. And you can correct me if that’s not quite the way he phrased it, but I can really relate to that. And I have a feeling I’ve often felt that once one makes that it makes has that intention and expresses that conviction to be there. Yeah, yeah, that it’s sort of like the divine says, okay, you know, we’ve got a live one here, let’s, let’s give her some juice, you know, I mean, let’s this person is willing to be an instrument. And so therefore, let’s transform this instrument as much as possible. So she can be maximally effective and really served to her full capacity. And so, you know, once you’ve sort of signed up for that, then it can, it can become very intense.
Vera de Chalambert: Yeah, certainly, it has been for me, I mean, this whole year has been like walking on water. And I feel like everything, everything I have to do with just you might someone that was well might might tell me, you have to walk on water now. And I’m missing what how I can do that. That’s not what I’m capable of. I will tell you that a year ago, you know, I mean, and this is also new for me. All of this, like being asked to do an interview. I mean, I always feel so phony and like, what, what does that mean? What do you have to you know? So, I will tell you that like, a year ago, I was still on my knees. I, you know, I was, I wasn’t sure what I have to offer, I came to the science and non duality conference and, and gave my first kind of talk about Kali, which happened to be randomly on the exact four year anniversary of my car accident. But I remember at the time, it was like, am I going to be what am I going to do? Am I going to be a substitute teacher? How do I make a living, but how do I who am I don’t have, you know, like, just in this, like, still total unraveling kind of in a way, right. And I will tell you that I started, I started saying this thing, which, which actually, you know, I would say, Mother, use me or kill me, use me or kill me, I use me or kill me. And I was like, it became a Mantra for a while. And I actually wrote an a bit arbitrary for myself. I was so kind of I wasn’t like, I was so in so much pain and so much sense. Like I have a non being used, it was like, so interesting, have not a feeling such deep separation and disconnection and at that particular moment, and I like wrote out, like the few things that I that I would be remembered for. And I saw, like, it just kind of saw through it. And I wrote this obituary. And then it was like, kind of this kind of, kind of completing, I felt like I needed to complete my life as it was before. There was I don’t know why, but it’s like, sounds weird. I’m kind of embarrassed by it, actually. But no matter and like the next day, I’m trying to see if I’m lying. Maybe the two days afterwards. I was at the ocean. I went at night, and I was letting up and I was looking at the stars. And then all of a sudden, it started raining sand on me. And I was like, What the hell? And I set up and a giant, like, huge turtle. Huge turtle like, I huge because sometimes they’re, you know, what are they called? They’re all over Florida. I forget what this kind of turtles are. You know, yeah, there’s turtles but this was like huge, like a mothership of a turtle at my feet was digging a nest very Can I just I said they’re in like, like, all for for an hour. Just looking at this at this mother turtle give birth. And I just thought that were there was something that was like an image initiation from an omen of some kind. Yeah, an omen of some kind. Like, she was a huge beach, she could have chosen anything. Like she came to my feet. You know, and afterwards very quickly, sorry, I lost my hearing. Very quickly, it seemed like overnight, you know, so I came back from sand I wasn’t sure what I was doing. And then the election happened. And this article that seems to be like fully birth Do you know in my head kind of came out and went globally viral all over it all. It takes America I’m with Holly Holly takes America it kind of took America kind of, you know, got translated into German and Russian. It was like such a crazy experience. And then, you know, Marianne Williamson read it somehow probably through you or somehow and she she called me up and asked me to come to sister giant and I was like, you have the wrong person. I don’t even know Buddy, what do you mean? And she was like, do not speak about yourself that way. Right? But like I was true. It’s true. And so And so somehow it like began opening doors, I began to be invited places I began, I began to you know, to this kind of different movement began to move through me and I cannot save I cannot tell you that Oh, I feel connected to my purpose. In fact, I would say that’s my deepest pain still not knowing if I am in fact being used, yearning to help the world more. You know that pain I am confusion that we all feel right now in the collective is also very deeply in me. But I can tell you that somehow my yearning to be an instrument is a million times clearer than it was. And it was so perfectly clear already. It’s like that yearning is becoming deeper and deeper. I don’t know if I if I’m actually being used, but I can tell you, it’s, it’s, it’s like the one prayer in my heart, you know, I
Rick Archer: think that people see that in you or else Or else, the fact that you are supposed to be used, causes the divine to, to inspire people who are able to connect you with a larger audience to do so if that weren’t, like, I kind of immediately got an impulse. Marianne Williamson did Zion retail, the sand covers, they’ve got your moderating panels this year, and all kinds of stuff. So people see in you the, you know, the ability and the capacity and the midst of spiritual maturity, to be an important contributor.
Vera de Chalambert: Thank you. I hope that that’s
Rick Archer: true. It’s really obvious and reading anything else
Vera de Chalambert: happening, which I think is actually really I don’t know what to do with that either. And I think that’s how it works, right? Like, that’s actually how life works. We’re given signs were given, if we listen deeply enough, it doesn’t matter what the prayer in our heart is, if we, if we are, you’re honest enough, and we’re able to listen, just in that in that place. Right, there’s a communication that happens with life directly right between between our US and her. But I’ll tell you something particularly interesting. So I’ve had some profound teachers who are not very popular, in fact, people who I really mostly worked with who have shaped me and profoundly transformed you know, who are my teachers and mentors? Aren’t are not known completely. You know, Jason Barbara, so many people, right, my teacher, Laurie Kean? So a number of people who, who may be beginning to be known, but not really. But in the popular in the dominant culture. The people that I felt most kind of affinity with, would be Andrew Hardy. nearby star. Well, Charles Charles Yeah, Charles Charles is great, but like I wouldn’t, you know, I always loved his work, but I didn’t know his work so much, actually, for a while and just trying to think. Well, let’s start with those two, because that’s who I’m Adam, Adam, Adam. bucho, for example, right. Matthew Fox.
Rick Archer: Any view that people want to look up these names?
Vera de Chalambert: Yes. Yeah. Yeah, exactly. So, Cynthia Cynthia Bourgeault. You know, I was hearing about since I was in Divinity School, like just just people who saw but what was what’s, what’s really particularly interesting is that those are the people. The people that I felt most connected to began reaching out to me. They were the ones posting my articles. You know, Andrew Harvey called me on the phone, Carolyn Baker. You know, like, I’m like, Who is this? Here’s like, this is Andrew, darling. And I was like, quiet. I just waved at him for like 15 minutes. He said, Don’t worry, never stop crying. This is the best conversation I’ve ever had. You know, but like, what’s amazing, and like, before I read, before I wrote, Kali takes America. I read nearby stars dark night of this translation of dark night of the soul. But it’s not just a translation. It’s also like her unique transmission of her interpretation of the dark night of the soul, by Saint John of the Cross. And that’s me, I feel like largely, the article emerged from it. And then she called me and helped me and supports me and mentor. There’s this way in which people who were dearest heart, just like these people out there who were like, celebrities, spiritual teachers, Who touched my heart on the inside, reached out to me on the outside.
Rick Archer: Yeah, well, that also struck a chord. I mean, I’m speaking
Vera de Chalambert: to you like, a few months ago, I was watching you will on YouTube, like, how is this happening? I hope
Rick Archer: you won’t stop. And I’m just, you know, like, we’re, we’re all bozos on this bus, remember? I mean, it’s funny. I mean, just because someone gets known because they have some sort of public audience or something. doesn’t mean there’s anything particularly remarkable about them. You know,
Vera de Chalambert: crazy. Yeah. You know, I mean, Marianne Williamson calling who is a little bit incredible and like, she is such an incredible actually example, if you like, for all the talk. For all the talk of uniting spiritual and public and human, our spiritual and human lives, right. All the talk of bridging and incarnating and integrating and embodying. She is the only Spiritual Teacher and Author who actually ran for political office.
Rick Archer: Yes, true. John Hoagland is who he ran for president. Oh, that’s right. Yeah.
Vera de Chalambert: Well, but still, like the only person to actually put her mouth money, where her mouth is. Yeah. It’s kind of
Rick Archer: impressive. So anyway, what do you think it was about the Kali article that struck such a chord? I mean, what did you say in that article? And that really kind of lit up everybody’s radar?
Vera de Chalambert: It’s such a good question. Well, I think that it just came out at the right time, because everyone was shocked. There was like a collective. So a lot of people I think, after I read the article, were like, Oh, you think Trump is Kali? And I’ve kept saying, no, no, no, I don’t think Trump is Kali at all. The quality this the archetype of Kali that I saw emerging through Trump winning the election, was actually through the complete shattering of our narratives. It was like such a tremendous shock for everyone. I think a shock for Trump himself, got elected to become president, no one expected it. It kind of it was a great disillusionment with our systems with democracy. You know, like it was a great dish, disillusionment, and actually, that’s the function for me, of this process of spiritual maturation. And of what holy darkness is all about. It shocks us into into reality it, it takes away our misconceptions. Our self deceptions is incredibly disappointing it like right like, all of those ways in which we puff ourselves up and tell ourselves the stories and know things and our, you know, our certain half certainties, right, it comes and it shakes it all up. And it leaves us in this place where life really happens in the in the uncertainty of it off all in this groundless nature of reality. And so. So I think what happened was that everyone felt that kind of a shattering of illusions that happened. I’m not saying there’s something great about Trump winning the election, I’m just saying it was such a surprise. It was it was such a disruption. It was such a disruption to the, to the orders of things. That I think there was a little tiny opening, you know, that began to let more more real feelings come through. And so I think me naming that connected with people. More than anything, and then the way that maybe I will vote wove in a little bit of pop culture with the passing of Leonard Cohen, that happened around that time as well, you know, and he he had this album called, it gets dark, you want a darker, and when he wrote when he wrote the song, when people heard the song, all their views of the album sounded, had some version of, oh, Leonard Cohen, he has given up he’s depressed. You know, but really what he was saying with that album was that, no matter it was almost like a prophetic song, he was saying, no matter how dark it gets, I am ready. He named me he 90 I am willing, I am a take me use me. It was like an offering an offering of that part of us. He says, he says there’s something in the human soul that yearns to serve when the emergency has become when the when the emergency has become articulate. And I think in a way we are living in this time, both with climate change and with with the political realities of the day where the emergency has become articulate. Right, and there’s something in a way in which I think I touched it and got triggered touched in all of our hearts. Yeah electively thinking about that.
Rick Archer: You know, I often think of I’ve kind of felt since the 70s, that we’re on the brink of some really dramatic changes in the world. And I’ve read books about this, as I’m sure we all have. There was one really interesting book by a lady named Moira Tim’s which is called prophecies and predictions, everyone’s guide to the coming changes. And she correlated. So are the ancient prophecies from way back from Egypt gone through with things that have actually happened, and then took took more of the prophecies to project what will happen if the sort of track record continues in terms of the, you know, the the veracity of these prophecies. But in any case, you think back to the Civil War, World War One, the Depression, World War Two, and you think, are we really in such dire times, compared to all these other times? I mean, what is what is so and yeah, go ahead.
Vera de Chalambert: Yeah, I said, that’s such a great point. And actually, there’s a book I forget what it’s called recently with the with the gentleman saying, Actually, we live in the best times that we’ve ever had. There’s less Yeah, yeah, now than than at any other time in human history. So
Rick Archer: So Let’s, all kinds of things less starvation, less poverty, it’s gotten gotten better in many respects.
Vera de Chalambert: So yes, that on one level that that’s interesting, it’s very interesting, especially interest, if interesting of true. And someone, somewhere is always living through an apocalypse, there is genocide, there is war,
Rick Archer: you know, sexual slavery, tons of that.
Vera de Chalambert: Children. Exactly. I mean, there’s what human trafficking, there’s such tremendous amount of suffering on this planet, such tremendous amount of separation and cruelty and violence. And I, and I don’t want to, to get into I don’t want to get into some kind of an idea that yes, you know, this is the end of the world and such things, because it doesn’t actually matter does it? It doesn’t actually matter whether the world is going to end or not, because somewhere the world is always ending. And every moment that arises in some way is also a death. It’s like to live fully and to live deeply, we have to be in such intimate relationship with death. But what is different about this moment, is that we our species has never threatened its own its own continuation on the planet, because this planet might be fine, no matter what we might be able to do to it. But really, we are threatening everything living on this planet in our own species. So in that way, since the development of the atomic bomb, I guess this is a new, a new level of engagement with our, with our, with our planet. And regardless of what happens to the planet. You know, I have to also tell you, and I don’t know how I don’t talk about that so much. But I began So again, I’m not a Hindu scholar. I didn’t know that much about Kali. I began to be interested in Kali after after I felt her emerge in my life. And then began to emerge in my in my heart, you know, but there are different kinds of archetypes of Kali began to give me what like visitations.
Rick Archer: Let me interject the question somebody asked, and then let me have you elaborate on that. Mark Peters from Santa Clara, California asked, Can you share how you’ve come to interpret the iconography of Kali in your own life? So that’s a good segue into what you’re about to say.
Vera de Chalambert: That’s a That’s a great question. That’s a great question. And in general, they’re gonna have a few of Kali is a great question. But I just want to say that that there is all these different other forms of the dark feminine that began kind of emerging and in this weird way, like where I would see something and be like, what is that and then find out that that’s actually one of the expressions of Kali or everywhere I go in different cities I get guided to, to, to icons of the Black Madonna, just like really interesting ways in which in which, in my life, it just like, and, and then and then there’s one. Well, okay, nevermind.
Rick Archer: I was thinking about this, and I’ve heard you, you know, in several lectures and then reading a bunch of your articles talking about the dark feminine. It almost seems a little sexist. Why should just the sentiment feminine, be dark? Is there a dark masculine? Is there? Is there a bright feminine? I mean, why lay all the darkness on the feminine?
Vera de Chalambert: Well, I mean, that’s such a great question. First, I want to say is that in a way, it’s not really feminine, masculine at all. For me, Kali, that quality of reality is beyond masculine and feminine. But that the like, the great mystery has a feminine kind of essence to it somehow, right? Like, it’s it pervades, it pervades. And so yes, it’s seen as feminine. And there’s also something about the feminine that’s naturally dark, I mean, the womb is naturally dark the Yoni I mean, it’s, it’s dark, the Earth, the damp dark earth, from which which gives birth to, you know, everything. Certainly our civilization, like its darkness and the feminine is, is very interconnected, the feminine, the dark, feminine is the full feminine, you know, I mean, Alan Watts used to start his lectures about Kali by, by an anecdote of an astronaut going up in space, and seeing going up in space and then coming back and everyone’s saying, so you went up there. What is God like? And him coming back and saying she’s black? Right, because that holding environment of that darkness of space, the way it holds our planet, the way that holds everything. So there is a very strong association between darkness and the feminine And Kali, there’s so many ways of speaking about Kali. And I would, you know, whatever I say will be a blasphemy just to somebody, I have a very particular kind of feeling and interpretation about it. So please don’t listen to me, this is just Vera, you know, the euro. The Euro stuff. So for me that quote that quality of reality that is, that is it’s like, okay, in like, when you think of the like feminine, let’s say, in the case of Mary, right, like the illuminated beautiful virgin that gives birth to Christ. It’s like such a comforting image and maybe as a child, or it’s an image that invites you into the spiritual life, it says, yes, yes, you suffer, we, all my children suffer, I’m with you, I’m with you, and your suffering, I will hold you, you know, call out to me and I will be there. And it’s an inviting image that that kind of first pulls us into the spiritual life, maybe, you know. And it’s important because that there’s some kind of a majesty a mystery, a magnetism, or erotic almost kind of a calling, that I think the feminine aspect of reality of kind of calls to us like that, that our hearts hear and respond to respond. Right. And, and very often it’s like that, that yearning for illumination, that yearning for for comfort, and connection and devotion somehow. But, but as we mature, it, they’re almost as this kind of a there see, it seems to be universal. And I say that’s universal, because in every culture and every spiritual lineage, we hear stories of what St. John of the Cross, for example, would call the dark night of the soul in the in, in other traditions, this would be the death before you die, but some kind of a period of deep crisis, which is necessary for spiritual maturation, and for the eventual eventual process of union with the Divine. And so it seems to me that the entry into that process into that process and what I mean by that is that process of direct relationship with reality, not through a teacher not through a idea, not through a book, not through a concept, but direct relationship with reality. To me, that’s what the dark feminine is. It’s like the it’s the quality of reality that initiates us into union initiates us into union with the Divine. And necessarily when you think of Kali and the forms of the dark, feminine in the Hindu tradition, caliche Chinamasa I don’t know Doom Avati will not do with it, which Kali Chinamasa in the Jamuna. Right, there’s this great thin emaciated old Collie with weapons Yes, 10 hands and all the weapons of war right and, and in the, in the Buddhist tradition, we have the great Dharma protect trusses, right. They are the great emanations of the dark, feminine to like the Dalai Lama has his own personal Kali expression of Kali, and she’s very fierce and, and there’s eka jati, who is the protectors of dogs and they are not for the faint of heart. They’re fierce, they’re surrounded by fire. They’re surrounded by clouds of smoke, because the smoke has to obscure the mind. Like in the Christian tradition, the Cloud of Unknowing we have to, to to enter the Cloud of Unknowing where our mind and our sense of self at all gets clouded so that we can begin to have union with the Divine and those weapons, those weapons, it’s because that’s what it feels like. That’s what it feels like to make contact with the real it’s, it’s not fun. It’s not cute. It’s not lovely. It strips you to the bone. It breaks your heart. It like cuts through illusion. It is a point it is for me the spiritual process is a process of deep disappointment. Jason Jason Schulman says, right everyone thinks spirituality is about light, love light and it is but it is also a process a process of becoming disenchanted with our illusions. Right and something has to do that and that will never be comfortable. And it also once that will never be comfortable and it is the ultimate comfort as well. Because then there is nothing that you have to save yourself from anymore. You know that wherever it is that you find yourself there, the mother is already holding you because you know that there’s nothing that you’re willing to turn away from any longer and that that the mother is there holding it all with you Um, tell me you wanted to say something.
Rick Archer: Yeah. I mean, tracing my own history of learning to meditate in the 60s when I was a teenager. And at first it was all just infusion of bliss and greater strength and energy and so on, because I had so bottomed out at that point. And then eventually, over the years and decades, you know, some real deep stuff had to be dealt with, and it wasn’t pleasant. And, you know, that still goes on in my life. And even though there’s still the infusion of, of bliss, and divine energy, there’s also the sort of ringing out of anything that that ultimately doesn’t belong there, you know, and, and girls will behave that way with people to have friends, for instance, online, you know, at first, it will be all sort of love and hugs and a wonderful scene. And then, you know, if you really get want to get close, then she starts really, you know, becoming more of a collie figure and really knocked it out of you. And so that seems to be a sort of a was an archetype of the spiritual path of, you know, first, it’s all sort of inspiration and beauty, and then you really got to go through it. But I think that there might be a final stage in the archetype, which is that you finally actually do, you know, process all this stuff, and kind of step out into the sunshine again. And maybe, yeah, union. And so it’s not always going to be like the stage of, you know, suffering and having your heart ripped apart.
Vera de Chalambert: And not, please understand, I’m not saying that it’s always going to be
Rick Archer: the right talk to you in 10 or 20 years, you can sing in a very different song,
Vera de Chalambert: I’m focusing on a very, very particular part of, of the spiritual narrative, actually, it’s a very, very limited and particular part. It’s where I, where I feel a resonance,
Rick Archer: very important part and one, it’s where
Vera de Chalambert: faith gap, I think there’s a gap in our collective spiritual pop spiritual culture there, we’re unwilling to look at the Chateau were unwilling to, to eat mature, right? I think this is emerging. It’s an emergent quality right now. This is why I think actually, you asked why about the article, I think it’s emerging. It’s not like VR decided to write an article. It’s like, there’s actually a particular archetype that’s emerging right now. And it’s emerging, collectively, right? We, we, we are going to be faced with a deep, deep, deep, rough reckoning of our collective karma on this planet. That is just a fact. Yeah. Right now, it’s just beginning. And I think that in the same way as this, this the power of the initiation of Kali, that power of being stripped down to only what’s real, you know, and that’s going to be happening for us collectively, because it must because this is, this is kind of what we need on a deeper sense as humanity so that we there needs to be a kind of a crucifixion that we enter.
Rick Archer: Here’s a quote from Andrew Harvey, that I think you had in one of your articles, you said, in preparation for the birth of the Divine, the entire human race is now going through a global dark night, which will result in a new humanity that has been humbled and chastened by tragedy, so that they open completely to the mystery of divine grace, there will be no resurrection of an embodied divine humanity without a systematic, perfectly organized, brutally complete crucifixion of everything in us, that keeps us addicted to the systems of illusion that are now rapidly destroying everything.
Vera de Chalambert: I mean, Andrew Harvey is such a prophet, if you need if you need to know anything about anything. You know, truly, and I believe that I felt that to be true. When I saw Kali on the top of the Empire State Building. To me, that was the sign of the time. And, and it’s not a it’s not about fear mongering or us being afraid or not afraid. It’s about that quality that I think if we’re lucky, if we’re lucky, we get to face you know, I say throat, we get to throw things up against death. Or we get to be thrown up against death, where we begin to see what’s really important, and where we can yield into it, where we stop splitting life and saying, I can only have these experiences and only those experiences spiritual or and good, but those other experiences not so interested. I want to keep them at bay. That’s for other stupid, uneducated, uninteresting unspiritual people, right? Like when when the spiritual life begins to be a defense, when a kind of a cloak of protection. That’s where we have to ask ourselves, is that really what is that really what we yearn for? Because I think there is a deep collective collective yearning for the real, that’s what we really most want. Even if it takes a burning up, even if it takes deep suffering, I think that in the heart of hearts, we’re all willing to offer it all up, just so that we can have the taste.
Rick Archer: And I think that there’s something real valuable in this conversation and what you’ve been putting out there with your articles, which is that if a person doesn’t know why this is happening to them, either individually or to the world to the collectively, it’s a whole lot worse than if you realize, you know, I’m going there’s a catharsis taking place here. And I’m just going to sort of see it through and, you know, feel deeply into it, and so on something good is happening, ultimately, you know, like, if the kid is having his ears scrubbed by his mother, and he thinks his mother hates him, and she’s punishing him, that’s different than if he realizes my mother loves me, and I must have dirt behind my ears, and I’ll just tolerate this.
Vera de Chalambert: I mean, this is such a, it’s such a, it’s such a vaster conversation really important, we should have started with that, actually. The first, the first spiritual truth, right, like the Buddha said is that life is full of suffering. So there’s a way in which we have to begin to have the right relationship with suffering, not as a punishment for something that we did that was bad or a karmic retribution, or, or something that’s unique to me and mine. But something that is universal, something something that is afflicting that is a condition for incarnation, suffering is the condition for incarnation on this planet, in this in this shape, of imperfect of imperfection that is human. So there will always be suffering. There’s nothing special about suffering, and if anything, suffering, suffering is a great tool of, of uniquor connection, right? Like knowing that I suffer and you suffer, and you are a bozo, and I am a bozo and you’re a holy mess, and I am a holy mess, and there’s no way of saving myself from that, I will, most likely we will have disease, we will be suffering, we will suffer from being away from our loved ones from not knowing what our purpose is, from being away from the Divine from, from being subjected to climate change, and to our loved ones dying, we will be subject to a number of natural suffering, which we cannot escape, but accepting that is vital. Yeah, for for for a beginning of the spiritual life, then, there’s also a way in which I think there’s something about suffering, and extreme suffering, that also has the potential to be to purify, and I am not into purification, I am into the murk and the mess, I’m not into purification at all, but it seems to me that there is a function of suffering that seems to, to bring us towards union to make us when we can no longer protect ourselves to make us yield to the divine. Right, there is something about it when I suffer and I suffer a lot and relentlessly and, you know, sometimes for you know, silly things sometimes in my like weird spiritual ecstasy, you know, but, but there is something about the movement of like, moving towards that suffering and allowing it to have its way with me, that feels very different than when I when I keep it at bay. And I don’t think that’s the only way I think, especially for those of us who have a lot of trauma in our system, it’s so important not to blow ourselves out, to be so gentle and so kind and so tender hearted, with the ways in which we suffer, you know, and to remember that however, suffering arises in our lives, it’s not an abomination. It’s not a domination. It’s something we need to recite, recycle and glorify, no, but that when you do look through through every tradition, there is something akin to the Divine itself, breaking itself open, offering itself being crucified something, you know, that the brokenness is an inherent part, not only of the human life, but almost of the divine life itself. A
Rick Archer: couple of thoughts. One is, God is not a masochist. I mean, he or she doesn’t inflict suffering to get, you know, get his Yars out. There was an evolutionary imperative in the universe, I think, and, and, you know, being sort of constricted and calcified and a limited perspective. Like you were saying in Paris, and you had it all together, everything’s cozy, everything’s right. But you needed to be broken out of that to have to move on to something bigger. And so there’s that also, Carly is not a demon Kali is a killer of demons. And
Vera de Chalambert: exactly Is the slayer of Demons. And there’s a lot of misconception in the in the, in the western world about Kali, She’s terrifying. I mean, as you can tell my own reaction to the very concept of you know ran away from was I ran ran ran out screaming Hill actually, in the Judeo Christian tradition if you if you remember well, the associations with God is all and fear. Yeah God appears in the same way as colleagues like clouds and smoke God appears as a pillar of fire and as a cloud. And of course, that part of God and the Jewish tradition is seen as the Shahina as the feminine aspect of the Divine to so I find that interesting. But that’s that natural fear we have of being naked before the divine, I think is a necessary and very important function of, of Kali coming in. I mean, like being, fear has an important function. Callie is terrifying. And it’s important for us to get in touch with our fears so that we’re not containing them. Right like she is she lets it all surface and she says you can’t turn away from that either. That too is my child, there is nothing which I will which I will exile so to speak. And the way in which the way in which she appears actually it’s so interesting, in one of the tantra in one of the tun tantric texts, there is a story of Kali, where you know, that do you have to be how much more time do we have? I don’t want to sort of Yeah. So there’s a really cool story where you know, you know, the, the, in the Hindu tradition, there is the divine masculine, which is Shiva and the divine feminine with us, which is Shakti. And so, Shakti, the Divine Feminine incarnates as Sati and then Shiva and Sati have this great love this great love affair. And then they, she Sati is the first incarnation of the divine feminine in the stories of kind of Hindu pantheon. And in the story, Satoshis father isn’t so cool about Sati marrying Shiva because Shiva is like the Lord of the Dead, he has dreadlocks, he is horrifying, he hangs out in cemeteries, he puts ashes all over his face that’s like so inappropriate, or father is like not having any of it. And so he has this great sacrifice to the gods to guadagni planned and he doesn’t want Shiva around his his very important flock of, of socially advanced gods. And so she does not invite invite them to the sacrifice. And, and Sati gets extremely angry because she’s disrespected, the feminine is disrespected here and Sally Kempton, I think, tells the story, it must be where I got where I got this actually. And so Sati is disrespected. And she begins to be very, very angry, and she wants to go to her father to express her anger. And Shiva says, No, you will not go anywhere. And now she’s disrespected twice by her father, and then by her husband. And in the text, what happens is that she turns into a ferocious, fearsome black goddess, in one of the stories that she turns into 10 Goddesses, one of whom is black and ferocious, but in this one story, she like she turns into this grey terrifying Goddess, and Shiva Himself becomes terrified. And he says, Who are you and what have you done to my beloved sati? And she says, Shiva, don’t you recognize me? This is my true form. I only make myself convenient and beautiful, so that you can take pleasure in it, but you will not disrespect me. And then she goes off and she, you know, throws herself in her father’s fire. And then it’s like a great drama that continues afterwards. But that’s to say that, that that’s so beautiful, even the God of Death himself was terrified in the face of pure reality. Pure reality is meant to be so terrifying that it strips us to only what is real. And I really love that and I to me, that’s what Cali does. Right? She she cuts through all the bull. And for me, you don’t know what it’s like for other people. I you had to take everything out of my cold dead hands. There is no part of me that would have been like, here. There was there was something like a grace that needed to come through. I mean, this was fierce race, you know, but there was a grace in this kind of face being faced with what’s that was what was most terrifying?
Rick Archer: Do you find that having been through so many waves of this process now that you are kind of used to the routine and you relinquish the grip more willingly? Are you still being wrestled with on a regular basis?
Vera de Chalambert: Oh, I wrestled I wrestled to the death every single time. You know, I mean, I can’t surrender. I can’t feel my heart. Sometimes. It’s always, always always a struggle. Also, I’m not in that, really. I’m not in that vulnerable place that I was for such for a few years anymore. Right. And I really was it wasn’t like I was. It wasn’t like, I needed to try to surrender. It was just like, what was, you know, I didn’t. There was just this a particular kind of saw an opening that was in me, as I was moving through that, you know, and I think that happens for all of us, when we just lose somebody, when we go through difficulty we, you know, Pema children in her book, when things fall apart, writes a lot about that there’s a particular intimacy with life that happens. So there was nothing unusual about that, you know, we all experienced that. But I think at this at this moment, I feel like I always pray, to surrender. That’s always my prayer. I pray to keep being polished, read the Sufi, say, so that the mirror of my heart keeps being polished, by joy, and by suffering, but whatever God wants of me, by whatever God wants to give me, I think I trust more and more, that whatever appears is, is that is the instrument of my spiritual process, right, is what I need most, to keep healing and awakening.
Rick Archer: There was a thought I was having a few minutes ago, and what we’ve just discussed a moment ago, brought me back to it, which is that, you know, this, the surface of the ocean is always going to be turbulent. That’s the way the surface of an ocean is. And if that’s all you know, is the surface of the ocean, and then the feeling is going to be it’s all turbulence is nothing but turbulence. But if you somehow accustom yourself to having depth, access to the depth of the ocean, at the same time, if that becomes abiding, then you know, this, the turbulence is much more tolerable. And I think that spiritual practice and spiritual maturity do that. Exactly. Yeah.
Vera de Chalambert: What’s really also interesting about that play and what you named so, so profoundly, I mean, that’s literally what Shiva and Shakti is what Shiva and Kali is, Shiva is all pervading, abiding, all silence and the sort of, we get, we are permeated with, with all abiding consciousness, right? And Shakti is the play of life is like the, the movement of life is everything that arises and, and, and falls away. And so, you know, actually, Shiva without Shakti is just Chava, which is a corpse. And so the ways in which those two come together in us, then the ways in which those meet in us the ways in which we were both able to become silent, right, like, make a relationship with that deep quietness and the ways in which then we allow ourselves to be penetrated by that. In our, in the dance of life. Right, I think that cooks us very, very profound.
Rick Archer: And as you know, you know, there are millions of people in the world, billions, who are buffeted by by the insanity of the world without necessarily having recourse to that deep silence. It’s very difficult for them. Now, you know,
Vera de Chalambert: it’s very difficult for me, for you to it’s very difficult for me, I mean,
Rick Archer: but you do have recourse to deeper silence, you have an advantage that many people don’t have. You know,
Vera de Chalambert: I really wouldn’t know how to compare, but I do know that. It’s really, so I’ve had experiences like peak experiences, which I wouldn’t I feel like I’ve had experiences of emptiness, which is kind of I’m not sure if that’s the same, but it’s only very recent for me, that I feel like I’ve been dropping into or had any experiences with like deeper? Silence very, very recent. Okay. It never.
Rick Archer: Yeah, but even if you I mean, I’m sure that that will grow it grow. It’s always growing for all of us. But at least you have if not the experience, I’m sure you do have plenty of experience, at least you have the intellectual understanding that there’s a deeper mechanics to this drama that we see playing out that there’s, you know, something very fundamental taking place. And that’s, that’s a solid in and of itself.
Vera de Chalambert: Yeah, yes. And as you’re saying, as you’re speaking, I’m also thinking that I think my way or like my proclivity, and maybe the way of the feminine is a little bit towards a bit of a different paradigm where it’s like, you’re not trying to counter chaos with silence, but rather, there, you know, like, there’s a way in which then the pain and the chaos of it becomes the medicine. I just, I just, I just posted on Facebook, I wish I had it in front of me something, something from Naropa. And he says, Actually, I will, I will find it and I’ll read it, because I think it’s pretty good. Because that kind of reorients it just a little bit so that it’s not like, oh, the silence versus all the mess, right? Yeah. But let me just tell you what it is. Good. I read it. And I just thought this is so so good. He says the emotions are the great wisdom, like a jungle fire, they are the yogi’s helpers, how can there be staying or going, what meant what meditation is there by fleeing to a hermitage so that so that there isn’t this kind of dichotomy that we set up silence versus the pain and suffering of the world, but that somehow, it’s like this deep relationship that we begin to grow to everything that is here, that is us, that is within us, that is reality, as much to our deep, the deep quality of who we have our essence in silence, as to this dance of, of the holy, right, the holy and the broken. So that maybe it’s not always, you know, like you do I have access to silence? Well, first of all, I don’t know that that’s actually true. I feel like more and more, I just drop in and feel everything that’s there. And it doesn’t necessarily feel very silent for me. Sometimes it does, sometimes it does. But, but sometimes in my deepest of dramas, where I am, like, on my knees wailing, you know, and where I’m confused and overwhelmed, and, and, you know, not at all in those awake, quote, unquote, states, that somehow just moving through that I meet a deeper calm than I ever knew.
Rick Archer: That’s a key point. You know, there is kind of a calm after the storm that it’s like, once you have processed a whole batch of stuff that needed to be processed, then you’re able to rest in a deeper, calm, a deeper silence, that that that buried stuff was obscuring or blocking in your experience. That That makes sense. Does that resonate?
Vera de Chalambert: You think that’s interesting? Yeah.
Rick Archer: I mean, you know,
Vera de Chalambert: this, I just went when, as I’m saying, I just realized, you know, it’s like there’s a number of models of kind of a relationship with reality. And I think that there’s always a question sort of a feeling in me that it’s not just arriving in some kind of a state, right, or some kind of a place that there’s like that there’s weird, weird, vaster process taking place. And that it’s like, A, yes, our nature and who we are and all of the stuff that happens, but then there’s a kind of emergence of CO emergence with the divine, right, like PRT to the shutdown, used to say union differentiates. Right, and it’s such like, there’s a sense in which rather than becoming rather than becoming, you know, like we imagined Like, less specific or less individual, somehow as we become more just naturally move towards more and more union with the Divine we actually also become I don’t know, there’s this this I’m now a little bit lost actually going on this and I agree with it. There’s, it’s not like arriving to some kind of like, you know, a place and now I’m awake and now I’m enlightened. And now I feel the silence and great, right like that there’s like, a way in which life is actually constantly trying to move through it. Sometimes I feel like an orifice. And actually, sometimes I feel like everything is an orifice. It’s like, like, like, like, and this pulsing of life and it’s relentless. And it’s like, yes, how to become the the orifice willingly and, and, you know, and relentlessly. And it’s like, somehow, in that there is this CO emergence that happens new things, like it’s almost like, life is evolving, or God is evolving, like, there’s this real kind of a process, that’s more than just I’ve arrived in an awakened state, or at least that’s how it seems from where I am now. Which is far from anything awake in any possible way. So let’s just be clear about that. Well,
Rick Archer: I mean, look at some of these characters, whom we admire as being fairly awake, are profoundly awake somebody like Arma, for instance, I mean, you know, that there is a very deep silence, and sometimes she describes her experience as being just like, nothing is happening. And, and, you know, everything is just the divine and, and so and but then there’s, you know, in terms of the manifest expression of that, there is this incredibly dynamic, charismatic personality, which is not plain vanilla in any way, shape, or form, but has actually become more vivid, more animated, more full of, of interesting qualities than, than the average person by far.
Vera de Chalambert: Well, I mean, I know that for me, I mean, I have I have very, very particular I think sensibility, so I’m not, you know, I don’t want to say that this is what it is just what it is. For me. It’s like, what I most value in the people who I considered my men consider my mentors, right both as like these more removed mentors, like like Reb Zalman, who I didn’t have a very deep personal relationship with but I’ve met and worked with and, and, and, and Jason Schulman Is that is that like, how extremely and profoundly human and imperfect they are? Yeah. Right. Like, there was never any there’s never any pretense or exaggeration or actually even, like, you know, that there that there is like the willingness to be completely themselves. And you can see that in like Cynthia Bordeaux, and all of these really wonderful, wonderful teachers, it’s like, they’re just so completely themselves, they’re like, letting their freak flag or their their imperfect flag, not freak flag, actually, but the flag of imperfection fly high. And I really, I really feel like, that’s that place of self disclosure as a human being, is really, really, really important for all of us. So that we get out of the, of the friend of mine just sent me something yesterday, of like, the, the totalitarian chains of shame. And, and, you know, separation from, from those very human beautiful parts of ourselves. Like, the more we disclose our humanity to each other, the more permission we will have. Yeah, to be who we are, and to allow that and to, to let people in our spiritual lives also just to be imperfect human beings living in perfect human lives, you know, like, there’s, there’s such mercy and that such forgiveness for our for, for humanity,
Rick Archer: the point that we’re circling around here, it’s a valuable point where we’re kind of nailing it, but it’s just that there’s ended up my friend Craig Holliday wrote a book called fully human, fully divine. And there’s tendencies in the spiritual community of these certain non dual facets of the spiritual community to de emphasize the human part. And, you know, to say things like, it’s all a story, or this and that kind of the same,
Vera de Chalambert: same place, which tends towards the transcendent masculine upward movement, rationally, right, and like, so. So in some way, they there’s a really strong call correlation between and the and so now it’s only beginning, right? Like it’s beginning to integrate. It’s beginning we’re beginning in, right, like there’s the evolutionary and the evolutionary run.
Rick Archer: And so the point I’ve been trying to get out here is that we should aspire for or appreciate the value of, or the necessity of full blast on both engines, you know, and that’s why I’m trying to bring in the silence thing not to overemphasize it or to, to use it as a place to hide out from the humanity, but that we can sort of go full blast in in and there we’re going to have a much bigger package than if there’s any kind of imbalance between the two.
Vera de Chalambert: Definite definitely, yeah, I myself tend to and I think this is where my I suspect, I suspect that because I went so full on into this one direction, you know, isn’t it called tamas in
Rick Archer: the dullness, the hiding quality? The Darkness also
Vera de Chalambert: like Ali is very tamasic. Yeah. So I went so deeply into this one way of proceeding Tantra is very tamasic, right? Like there’s this. So, because I went, I swung so much in this one direction. My sense is that as I continue growing and healing, there will be more of a balancing that will continue emerging, because that’s what I feel is actually happening for me now.
Rick Archer: Yeah. And that happens for all of us, you know, to think that awakening is some kind of monolithic, you know, place we arrive, where all the various pieces and facets of our personality, and our body and our emotions, and our intellect and all our senses and all this stuff have come in complete perfect alignment as our consciousness awakens is very unrealistic. It’s ridiculous.
Vera de Chalambert: It’s ridiculous. find examples of it, it’s, it’s ridiculous, I actually really, really, really have no interest in actually the terms awakening, Enlightenment, all of those things. It’s somehow insulting, right? Like these kinds of idealized images actually insulting to my heart. And I think, I think, you know, it’s so passe, it’s so over, if I if I have any sense of what’s to come, I think more and more real, more and more grounded, more and more embodied, more and more imperfect, is sort of what what we’re going to be seeing on the spiritual scene, I think, I think that it’s great to have insight, but the only thing that really matters is how we live it in our really ordinary, imperfect lives. Right? Like,
Rick Archer: I’m preparing a talk for the sand conference about the ethics of Enlightenment, and I’m also leery of the E word. But, you know, the point being that, I mean, there’s so many examples of people who are supposedly enlightened or supposedly awakened, who, you know, are really have not behaved in ways that one would hope or expect some higher spiritual development would involve, you know, and
Vera de Chalambert: do you think that it’s also because these people were placed in systems where they were expected to be not human, like, we’re not where they’re not allowed to be to express their imperfect humanity so that yes, so that they’re not just, you know, some kind of a projection of the collective culture or their group, but something you know, like a real human being trying to
Rick Archer: live some of them actually in private has explicitly said that they’re trying to, they don’t want to sort of expose that more human side of the I was watching us in a small room with Marsha, Mahesh Yogi and about two other people. And he was messing around with something drawing something and he put the marker down he got some magic marker on his God and he made it had to get up and leave the room and change Dodi’s and come back because he you know, he didn’t want to be seen with magic marker on his God. So
Vera de Chalambert: you don’t like and then and then we become or like, then there’s this investment in, in continuing to feed that idealized image to to the people who now are all hooked on you. There’s this like, really weird way in which I, you know, I mean, everyone always quotes this but you know, the, the next Guru, the Sangha is the next guru.
Rick Archer: Take not Han the next Sangha, the next, maybe the Sangha. Right,
Vera de Chalambert: right. There’s something of that sense, but there’s definitely I feel like this weird relationship between the teacher and a student on one hand is so powerful and necessary, or can be so, so tremendously useful. And on another level, it almost feels like it’s, it always outlived its usefulness and then turns into some kind of pathology. Or not always, but sometimes, like I always question at what point does it turn does it begin to? At what point does it outlived its usefulness?
Rick Archer: tendency for it to and and that’s something the individual has to decide, I think, because, you know, for many people, being with certain teacher for certain amount of time is very valuable. And then there’s a time when it’s valuable to leave, but that doesn’t mean everybody should leave. That doesn’t mean nobody should have a guru that the whole idea of a spiritual teacher is obsolete. I think. You know, that there’s a place for that.
Vera de Chalambert: Yeah, I agree. I agree. I don’t know. I don’t know. And I don’t think this is actually my field. So I don’t really know so much about this, but I just have some some kind of impulsive thoughts about that. Yeah. And I do feel like, like sort of meant spiritual mentorship. So sort of said, it’s important to have, that it’s important to have teachers and mentors in our life, and that it doesn’t necessarily have to be some kind of a guru on awakened person. Right, that there’s that kind of the kind of a spiritual friendship and relationship that develops with that with our teachers isn’t always doesn’t have to be that
Rick Archer: our rokocoko, it doesn’t have to be it can be more Eagle Attarian more sort of peer to peer, and everybody’s got something to contribute, every buddy’s got something to share. But at the same time, the same breath, you have to say that, well, some people actually have progressed for insight and there is a higher there is a spectrum of spiritual development, and you can’t wipe that out.
Vera de Chalambert: And in a certain point of your spiritual development, something is appropriate that is not appropriate. And another time of your spiritual development. And if we’re lucky, and if we’re, if we are grace, we are graced with the, with the teachers with enough integrity and kindness to to facilitate what needs to be facilitated in the appropriate time.
Rick Archer: And I would say, Maybe this will get draw us to conclusion but or at least a conclusion of this episode. But I would say that a real key ingredient is earnestness and sincerity. Two key ingredients, if you have both of those, and then you’re going to progress. I mean, look at you with with you’re sort of like on your knees earnestness, and and with sincerity in terms of willingness to sort of undergo whatever it took. And if you have both of those ingredients, you know, you’re going to progress quickly.
Vera de Chalambert: Yeah, I mean, I don’t really know. And I don’t I don’t even know if if progressing is the thing, you know, maybe, maybe, maybe all this emphasis on progress. You know, it’s like, that’s kind of a masculine tendency, wouldn’t you say? Like, oh, the spiritual life is so that we can progress so that we can achieve something so that so so I feel like, I know that so deeply in me, I want to progress don’t get me wrong. Yeah. But at the same time, there’s this like, other part of me that’s like, maybe I won’t progress. Maybe I, you know, like, maybe there’s a value to, to real surrender. And real surrender is like literally, literally not even having the agenda of progress. Right. Like of, of trusting that there is a deeper intelligence in life, a deeper intelligence upon that kind of that guides and unfolds, each one of our steps and each one of our spiritual lives. And that when we are in touch with that intelligence, it, it has its own idea of progress.
Rick Archer: That’s a key point. I mean, I was just gonna say, Yeah, I feel like I’ve been progressing all all these years, but not necessarily according to my agenda, or my conception of how it was gonna go. You know, I couldn’t have predicted or foreseen many things. But it has its own intelligence. And, you know, the whole process is one of surrendering more and more to that intelligence and letting it you know, there’s a there’s a saying Brahman is the charioteer. You know, letting Brahman take the reins?
Vera de Chalambert: It’s beautiful. Yeah, it’s beautiful. Yeah, and I know, for me, that’s definitely the constant orientation, the constant sort of direction, you know, like, how do I orient myself? How do I orient myself? How do I really, how do I offer myself up? How do I listen deeply enough so that I, so that that impulse, you know, like that impulse for you to something emerges from you. And then it takes you to that next breath to that next step to that next? Or like, I’m always just trying to listen deeply enough so that I can so that I can follow that impulse, right, like that true impulse, not some kind of idea that, Oh, I want to I want more of this now, or more of that now or so. You know, may we may we all because so guided by grace,
Rick Archer: Lord, make me an instrument of peace. Lord, make me an instrument of thy peace. Amen. Beautiful there. So I’ve really enjoyed this conversation and Um, thank you so much. Yeah, I’m sure we’ll have others because you’re gonna be progressing. And so oh my God willing. So I’ll see you in a week or two, the sand conference is coming up very soon, time’s flying. And anybody who can make last minute plans, go to the science and non duality conference page, or there’s even a page of it on my website under upcoming interviews where you can get a discount if you sign up. Through that.
Vera de Chalambert: You can watch the live stream, if you can’t go to the to the conference directly, you can watch the live stream and see all the mainstage talks. If you do if you’ve always felt like you wanted to be there, but for some reason are hesitating don’t hesitate, go. It’s all going to unfold. It’s like this beautiful field of miracles and synchronicity and soul connection.
Rick Archer: Really, I think this will be my eighth one. Wow. And there’s also a thing I don’t know if everybody can do this, or you have to have gone to the conference. I think anybody can do it, which is you can get them to send you the audios of all the presentations, like kinda little, you know, memory stick or DVD or something. And they’ll probably you’ll see a link for that on their website after the conference. But I did that over the course last year, I’ve listened to almost all the ones that I missed. Wow, that’s awesome. Yeah, listen to things while I ride my bike and cut the grass and stuff like that.
Vera de Chalambert: Rick, thank you so much. It was such a pleasure. And I look forward to seeing you again
Rick Archer: soon. Let me just make a couple of quick wrap up points. So I’ve been talking with to various Shaolin bear, I’ll be linking to her website. She hasn’t written a book where she’s writing a book, it’s not out yet. But if you go to our website, I’m sure you have some kind of thing on your site where people can Yeah, you do, where people can sign up to be to get your little email newsletters when you send them out. I get them. And you know, then people can be tuned into what Barrows doing. There also does interview she does it for for the sand website, and that she interviews some of the same people I’ve interviewed and others like Charles Eisenstein and Kabir, Minsky, whom I’ll be interviewing in a couple of months.
Vera de Chalambert: So Kabir, he’s so delicious, such a gift. Great.
Rick Archer: And I enjoyed your interview with him. And so you know, check you can get, you’ll be notified of those things, if you subscribe to various email newsletter, and what else that’s about it for. In terms of this show, it’s an ongoing thing, as most of you know, and if you would like to be notified of, of other ones as they are published, you can sign up for my little newsletter, there’s a link on the site, you get like one email a week. And there’s also an audio podcast of this and a bunch of other things. If you just explore the menus, you’ll see some useful resources.
Vera de Chalambert: Hey, can I end with a poem? Yeah, please. Okay, so this is this is just a poem that really, really touched my heart, and I think is quite appropriate for this time. It’s by Martha Postel. Wait,
Rick Archer: and it’s posted on Facebook this morning. I saw it. I got huge reaction. People love that. Go ahead, read it.
Vera de Chalambert: Do not try to serve the whole world, or do anything grandiose. Instead, create a clearing in the dense forest of your life and wait there patiently until the song that is yours alone to sing, falls into your open cupped hands and you recognize and greet it. Only then will you know how to give yourself to the world so worthy of rescue. So may we each find our clearing.
Rick Archer: Thank you. Let’s end it.
Vera de Chalambert: Thank you. Bye, everybody.