Yogacharya Ellen Grace O’Brian Transcript

This is a rough draft generated by Someone is proofreading it, but if you would like to proofread others, please contact me.

Yogacharya Ellen Grace O’Brian Interview

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 hundreds of them now. And if this is new to you, and you’d like to check out previous ones, please go to the past interviews menu on bat gap comm where you will see them all organized in several different ways. This show is made possible by the support of appreciative listeners and viewers. So if you appreciate it, and we’d like to support it, there’s a PayPal button on every page of the site. And you know, considering the number of people who watch it, even a small donation if enough people do that becomes significant. So, but we never want people to feel obligated or to strain in any way. So that’s our attitude. My guest today is yogacharya Ellen Grace O’Brien. Yogacharya means teacher of yoga, right?

Yogacharya Ellen Grace O’Brian: Yes, that’s exactly right.

Rick Archer: And Acharya is a teacher. Yoga Ellen is a teacher of meditation and award winning poet, writer, and the spiritual director of the Center for Spiritual enlightenment, a kriya yoga meditation center with headquarters in San Jose, California. She has taught Kriya Yoga nationally and internationally for more than three decades, and has received many service awards, including the Mahatma Gandhi award for the promotion of religious pluralism. ordained to teach in 1982 by Roy Eugene Davis, a direct disciple of Paramahansa Yogananda. Her messages, engaged enlightenment, an invitation to live an awakened creatively inspired and fulfilled life now, along with her service as a meditation teacher and esteemed yogacharya. Ellen is the founder of carry the vision, a community non violence education project, bringing meditation instruction to staff and children in schools, the prison population and other segments of society. She is the founder and president of Meru Institute providing healthy lifestyle education and leadership training in yoga studies, IR Veda and community service. And she is the host of the yoga hour, a weekly podcast with listeners in over 130 countries, I listened to quite a few episodes of that over the past week. Her latest book is the jewel of abundance, finding prosperity, through the ancient wisdom of yoga, we’ll be talking about that quite a bit today. But that’s not the only thing we’re going to be talking about. Because that’s not all of what Elon is about. But if we could start with that, and then we’ll we’ll branch off into other things. And you know, I read most of your book and listen to do some interviews about it. And kind of prosperity, or the lack of it is very much in the news these days, since we’re in the midst of a government shutdown. And a lot of people aren’t getting paychecks. And you know, we’re always hearing these statistics like the three richest Americans hold more wealth than the bottom 50% of the country. And most workers say they are in debt, and many believe they always will be 78% of full time workers said they live paid check to paycheck. And you know, in light of those statistics, I was kind of reminded of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, which probably many people have heard about which basically, he built this pyramid, which I’m showing on the screen now that initially we have these physiological needs, then safety, then sort of social needs love and belonging, then esteem and finally, self actualization. And Maslow kind of makes it sound like you don’t think about self actualization until all these other needs are met. And I think there’s some truth to that. I mean, if people are starving and scraping out a meager existence, they probably aren’t going to be thinking much about spiritual enlightenment. But anyway, with that as a starting point with what I’ve just said, Oh, and why don’t you just jump right in? And tell us what you think. And then we’ll take it on from there.

Yogacharya Ellen Grace O’Brian: Thanks, Rick, and thanks for the invitation to be with you today. I think that’s really a good place to begin in terms of looking at Maslow and one of the things that inspired the book for me is that you know, I work with many people who are on a spiritual journey. And learning how to pay the bills is seems to be an integral part of that. So you know, while it’s true that when situations are dire, a person is less inclined to think about meditating idea, think about how you’re going to live or how you’re going to survive. But there are many people today who are on a spiritual path. And the idea that we’ve had, you know, for a long time, and that many of the traditions promote that somehow the spiritual life is, quote, unquote, separate from our material existence, I believe is a fundamental error we have to get over. Because it contributes to that dualistic mindset that sets us up for so many problems.

Rick Archer: Yeah, and obviously, some traditions have emphasized things like poverty, as being conducive to spirituality. And Jesus said, it’s more difficult for a rich man to pass through the eye of a needle than it is, know for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than it is for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven. So this is sort of, in a way, in some traditions, is prejudiced against any kind of material, affluence or comfort.

Yogacharya Ellen Grace O’Brian: Yeah, as far as I could see, I mean, I’m not a scholar of world religions, but as far as I can see, you can find it in all of the traditions. And there, and you have to, you know, from my perspective, look deeper into what these awakened beings, you know, whether it’s Jesus or Buddha are really talking about, and, you know, they’re putting up a flashing red light, that is a good red light about, hey, you know, you, if you get attached to things and you name and fame and all of that, then it’s very difficult to develop the consciousness to enter that kingdom, how, you know, that higher state of consciousness, however, you want to say, if you’re attached, you know, to wealth and things name and fame. So there’s, there’s truth in that, but it’s sort of, I think, got people interpreted as that, that money in itself is bad. Riches, themselves are bad, fame is bad, you know, any of that. But it’s not the thing itself. Of course, it’s, it’s what we do with it, and how it’s a distraction, rather than something that can be integral to our path.

Rick Archer: Yeah. And then obviously, some have swung it in the other direction. I mean, some, some criticize the Catholic Church for being too opulent. And then there have been, you know, people like Reverend Ike, for instance, who seem to equate the number of Cadillacs you own with how spiritual you are. And there, there’s a whole thing of the secret, you know, using spirituality in some way, shape, or form to fulfill, you know, whatever desires you may have. And that left, some of those things have left a bad taste in people’s mouth. So how do we find a happy medium between and actually use the words attached when a minute ago seems to me that that’s the operative word, because you can be attached to poverty, and that’s not going to help you, you can be attached to great wealth, and that can be a problem. But whatever your circumstances, if you could not be attached to them, and we’ll let’s have you elaborate on what attached means, then, perhaps the circumstances aren’t such a problem.

Yogacharya Ellen Grace O’Brian: Yeah, I think that, you know, if our goal in life is to be awake, and I know, you probably want to talk about what I mean,

Rick Archer: when I say we need to flesh out these terms. Yeah. Yeah,

Yogacharya Ellen Grace O’Brian: if that’s the goal, you know, to be awake. And, from my perspective, you know, being awake includes making a positive contribution, you know, in, in this world that we’re living in, it’s, it’s not for me, it’s not the idea necessarily, of going away somewhere, you know, separating yourself out from the world, but to be awake in the world and to make a positive contribution. So, you know, for me, that’s, that’s the ideal that that we can learn to be in the world. We can learn to create or draw to us what’s needed, you know, to fulfill our purpose, what what we’re doing here, and, you know, resources are a part of that. So it’s important that that we learn how to do that and learn how to do it consciously and not get caught up in it, but I think it has to do with having a clearer sense of, you know, what your purpose is, and by that I mean higher purpose. Yeah,

Rick Archer: Well, speaking of higher purpose, well before I say that, I mean, obviously we have well, actually, this ties right into the question I was about to ask, which is that we all have different dharmas, right, we have different paths in life. And someone like Muhammad, or Baba Ji, who was part of your lineage didn’t do a whole lot in the world, he didn’t, or isn’t doing a whole lot in the world in terms of any overt thing. He’s not running a business. But such beings are said to be critical to the well being of the world. So it could be that someone’s Dharma is to be rather reclusive. And yet, one can still be making a great contribution if that is one’s dharma. Right?

Yogacharya Ellen Grace O’Brian: I would totally agree with that. But I’m just trying to make the the point that, you know, many people that I have talked to when they first come to the spiritual path, and that includes me, you know, I thought it was all about, you know, how do I get away from the world, you know, just like, it just seems so messy, you know, if I can just own myself into a higher state of consciousness, and I can go live in an ashram and you know, everybody will be kind and loving and meditative. And it just won’t be so messy. Well, you know, that’s just a false idea. It’s just as messy inside an ashram as it is outside as far as I know.

Rick Archer: Yeah, I’ve lived in them, it can be, you know, like, sometimes, the metaphor is used of rough stones and a tumbler, and they tumble around to the ashram until they all get smooth. So it’s sometimes the personality clashes in a space like that are kind of like that metaphor.

Yogacharya Ellen Grace O’Brian: Yeah, it’s it is it’s a crucible, it’s a good space to be in in terms in terms of that. But you know, I think we can, we can recognize that this awakening needs to happen, you know, right, where we are not by trying to get away from where we are.

Rick Archer: Yeah. Which is not to say that stretches of time, in a circumstance like that might not be a useful thing. But for most, most people, I don’t think are cut out for a lifetime of

Yogacharya Ellen Grace O’Brian: it. Yes, so Exactly. That’s a good way to put it. So for some, it is their dharma, it is their path. And it’s exactly right. But I think when we look at how many people there are, you know, there are not that many, many people are just in the world, you know, having families and jobs and, and doing that. So is awakening possible in that context? And is your job is your life is your vocation, part of your spiritual journey? And from my point of view, absolutely, yes. And even in the ashram, you know, people have jobs and as part of their journey to Yeah,

Rick Archer: I want to talk about the sort of four goals of life in a second, but just based on what you just said, that the universe comes to mind. You know, one’s own Dharma, because one can perform at one’s own Dharma, though lesser and merit is better than the dharma of another, you know? What is it that something about the dharma of another brings danger? So, you know, we might, yeah, we shouldn’t be envious of people who seem to be able to live in ashrams and you know, just, if we have kids and family, we shouldn’t feel like we’ve failed in our spiritual mission or any such thing. Because if that’s our dharma, it’s actually going to be more evolutionary for us than trying to do somebody else’s dharma.

Yogacharya Ellen Grace O’Brian: Absolutely. I think the verse says, If you even if you take up the dharma of another and succeed, yeah, it is, it is not useful, it’s better to fail, either, then to succeed in the work of another,

Rick Archer: right? It even says better as death in one’s own Dharma, try to take the dharma of another. So we’re throwing around this word dharma a lot. We haven’t defined that one. Why don’t you talk about the four universal goals of life that are drawn from the teachings of the ancient Vedas, and that will, in the process that will define dharma?

Yogacharya Ellen Grace O’Brian: Yeah, and I loved coming upon those goals in my, in my study in my journey, and they’re, they’re called the Photoshop ArtEZ. And of their thoughts that’s literally defined, we can say it means for the sake of the soul for the, for the sake of the higher self, however you want to think of that. And they’re, they’re four interrelated goals. And the first you know, as you mentioned, is dharma which I would define as is living with higher purpose and it’s, it has of course, you know, lots of meaning to it, we think of dharma and we think of the cosmic order, you know, the, the way, the that the sense of order in the universe out of which all ethics, spiritual path, everything coming out of that Basic fundamental law of the universe, this supportive reality of the universe itself. That is dharma. And so this as a life goal, I see dharma as, really first and foremost, which I see is universal for everyone is to wake up to that, you know that reality know what it is how we can cooperate with that. And And then secondarily, dharma is to discover what our unique path is, which we were just talking about, which is often called Swadharma. Which one’s unique expression that brings them in harmony with that larger reality. And second goal, which is what my book is about is art, which is defined as wealth.

Rick Archer: Before we go to art, let’s just, I think a lot of people struggle with what their unique path is, you know, what is my purpose in life? What should I be doing? I’m doing I’m doing this job, which I don’t like, and there’s something more important that I should be doing? And also, how does one find what one’s path is? If does everyone have a unique path? Are some people just meant to do regular mundane jobs? Or maybe, maybe they don’t see Monday? And if that’s your dharma, maybe you enjoy them?

Yogacharya Ellen Grace O’Brian: I think everyone does have a unique path of expression, because we’re all unique, that seems obvious to me, we look around, you know, we’re don’t we’re not duplicates. And so we have a unique expression. And I think, and people are exploring Dharma much more today, you know, it’s becoming a more popular term, like yoga. People are, you know, asking what’s your dharma or thinking, you know, it’s my dharma. But I find that like many things in the West, I think that the Dharma has become, quote, unquote, a thing. So people are quick to equate Dharma with vocation.

Rick Archer: I just did actually in my question.

Yogacharya Ellen Grace O’Brian: Yeah. And you know, and of course, in the, you know, in the Gita verse, we could kind of go there with it, but but my sense of dharma is that it has to do with the fundamental expression of our being, which you know, includes our, you know, our, our essential nature, and our karma, our dharma, our responsibilities in life, all of that is there. So I always advise people to kind of look at, even to look back in time look at their childhood, and look at those qualities that have always been there that have always been evident, you know, when you look at children, they’re so different. And they and they have, usually very, at a very young age, they have some kind of fundamental qualities that are evident, you know, some of them, maybe they’re very compassionate, you know, like, my older daughter was, you know, always interested in, you know, animals and had this compassionate nature about that. And, you know, then other children are, you know, they’re theatrical, they’re in the school play. Others are Artistics, others are things and athletic. All of that. Yeah. So I say, look back at, you know, what did the what did that represent those interests in those qualities, and when we think about that, when we look at well, and I call them divine qualities, where there’s like, Soul qualities, qualities of the soul, whether it’s, you know, wisdom or compassion, creativity, you know, peace, all those things. So when you begin to think about that trajectory of your life and expressing those qualities, if you look at it that way, first, that it’s about being and becoming, and then what you’re going to do, as a Dharma is a natural reflection of that as far as I could see.

Rick Archer: And maybe, in light of that explanation, your dharma can shift. Or you can find, you can discover a Dharma that was more subtle that you hadn’t realized, for instance, in my case, I love drumming. From the time I saw my first parade at the age of four, and I was pounding on tables. And finally, 10 years later, I got a drum set. And I played in rock bands until I was 20. And I love that. But then, you know, I decided to become a meditation teacher, and I just dropped the drumming thing like a hot potato and plunged into teaching meditation, which I liked. I liked a lot more. And that has kind of been my direction ever since. So I wouldn’t have foreseen that when I was four or five, 610 years old. I didn’t really get didn’t conceive of spirituality until I was about 17. And then everything shifted.

Yogacharya Ellen Grace O’Brian: Interesting. That’s very interesting. So Going from drumming and music in, in a sense, into some silence, I would guess

Rick Archer: it was a more subtle form of creativity felt like I was operating from a deeper level, and also doing something much more meaningful for me ultimately then spending my life playing and smoking nightclubs.

Yogacharya Ellen Grace O’Brian: Exactly. But still, but still connecting with people. Yeah,

Rick Archer: definitely. Um, let’s see. Okay, so Oh, yes, one more thing about dharma. You mentioned it, using the metaphor of a stream kind of this evolutionary stream of the universe. And there’s this, there’s this verse in The Gita that came to mind when you said that, which is what Krishna said, when Dharma is in decay, and a Dharma flourishes, meaning a Dharma mean, like anti Dharma flourishes, I take birth, age after age, to basically to restore dharma. So it almost seems like not only individuals, but the whole society and the whole of humanity can be out of tune with Dharma, there’s some higher purpose that we collectively as well as individually could be living. And we’ve kind of lost our way with that. And so then there needs to be some kind of restoration of our alignment with that higher purpose. Would you care to comment on that?

Yogacharya Ellen Grace O’Brian: I really liked that verse in The Gita. And, you know, many traditions have similar innocence prophecies like that, you know, when things get really bad, I’ll show up, you know, then that the avatar,

Rick Archer: save the day.

Yogacharya Ellen Grace O’Brian: So I think, and I think that’s been true, you know, when we look at history, there’s these, you know, awakened beings that have come on the scene and shined a light of hey, you know, this is this is what we are, this is this, how we can live in harmony with this cosmic order, with with Dharma, this way of righteousness, however you want to call it this is how we can express our highest nature and not our lowest nature. And so we’ve seen that, you know, in history, we can see those shining ones, but I think we have a blessing of living in a time when it’s not about a single avatar showing up. But that, you know, in the book, I call it the avatar influence, which is that, you know, many people are awakening today. And that’s what is needed, you know, you know, we now have, you know, the dissemination of enlightenment teachings all over the planet in a way that’s never happened before. And so there’s a opportunity for this global awakening. And for for that, that, which brings us back to dharma, coming from, you know, people everywhere, and that’s really what we need. And I think it’s fabulous to live in such a time.

Rick Archer: Yeah, you probably know that quote, by tick, not Han, where he says, The next Buddha, maybe the Sangha. Yeah, so the collection of people. So it’s not it’s it’s kind of a many to many dynamic rather than a one to many. Kind of Yes.

Yogacharya Ellen Grace O’Brian: Yeah. And I even quoted him in my book on that section where he said, you know, what, what we need today, I think he said, you know, what we have is homosapien, and what we need is homo conscious.

Rick Archer: Yeah. Nice. Incidentally, I want to mention, for those watching live that if you want to submit a question during this interview, go to the upcoming interviews page on And there’s a there’s a forum at the bottom of it, where you can submit a question, I think the upcoming news pages under the future interviews menu. Okay. Okay, so let’s get on to Arthur, let me just pose a question to you. I live in a community, which is Oh, I was in the TM movement. For many years, I still live in a community, which is one of the main hubs of that organization, even though I’m not involved in it anymore. And, you know, I have friends who became multimillionaires, and I have friends who are basically pushing 70 and in poor health and living on Social Security and don’t know how they’re gonna cope. And I think in large part, it’s been, well, different people have different aptitudes and so on, but a lot of people sort of just kept putting all their hopes and dreams and spiritual enlightenment and, you know, attending courses and not really sort of taking advantage of certain educational and professional opportunities. And maybe they’ve made a lot of spiritual progress. Not too many who would say they’re enlightened but in a way it’s Kind of sad, there’s still a lot of poverty. And also, this loops us back to something we were talking about, which is whether poverty should be associated with spirituality, which we’ve concluded it shouldn’t. But let’s talk about artha. And if anything I just said triggers some thoughts that you might like to share with people please, please speak them.

Yogacharya Ellen Grace O’Brian: Yeah, thank you for that particular reflection. And as here he talks about that course, the art of means wealth. And, you know, for me, it was like a breath of fresh air to discover, you know, in this ancient Vedic tradition, which my my path is, is that is has come from that, that to see that that wealth was actually considered an aim of life, but of course, it’s constrained by dharma. And the fourth goal moksha, which we’ll get to, I’m sure, hopefully, we’ll get to lifetime right.

Rick Archer: Who knows maybe in this interview or

Yogacharya Ellen Grace O’Brian: so, that was really breath of fresh air. And you know, for me, and you know, my guru Roy Eugene Davis is a direct disciple of Parramatta Yogananda. So I learned about Yogananda from him, and then, of course, reading Yogananda, his works and Yogananda was very practical. And so I mean, besides being, you know, focused on people be being self and what he called self and God realized, he was also very practical about people learning to use their he called it their wisdom, guided will, you know, to, to live life in an abundant way to do what they had come here to do. So, you know, for me, I think it’s really important that people can understand that it’s not just about learning to meditate. And and I also see that this goal of our to this goal of wealth, gets us into grappling with the world, grappling with our situation, which can help us expand our consciousness, which can help us learn about ourselves, you know, we bump into situations where we, where we learn, you know, some of those karmic imprints, you know, one of the questions that my teacher asked early on that was, it was a big question for me, he asked, you know, what would you do, if you knew that you had all of the resources available to you to do what you felt you wanted to do? And if you knew you could not possibly fail? Now, he wasn’t saying that, you know, it wasn’t one of those things like, you know, you can be anyone you know, you can be a rock star, you can be a movie star, or you can be head of CEO, what he was saying that he was just asking the question, as a way, I think, to help us and it did me at that time, think, oh, wow, there are certain ideas that I have in my mind about who I am and what’s possible for me and what’s not possible for me, and it just kind of blew that open for me. So I, I see the goal of art in the same way that it has that potential to help us uncover old ideas, old beliefs about ourselves about life itself, that are not useful to our spiritual awakening. So it can work in that way, as well. It can be a transformational path, and I think it’s meant to be

Rick Archer: Yeah, Marshy. Mahesh Yogi also had a similar attitude as to Yogananda Zen that he’s he used to talk about enjoying 200% of life 100% inner spiritual and 100% outer material. And he said that not only the two are the two not inimical to one another, but they’re complementary to one another.

Yogacharya Ellen Grace O’Brian: Yeah. And I think that’s why we have the four goals. You know, I mean, I, I think, of course, if we just had arta as our number one goal and we didn’t have Dharma, then you know, we would be too distracted to to have a strong enough inner inner life.

Rick Archer: Well, we also have no no scruples about how we earned money.

Yogacharya Ellen Grace O’Brian: Exactly. And of course, that’s a lot of what we see in our world. You know, that that’s what’s in the headlines. And so I think there’s an educational element to to arta as it is one of the porter charges about you know, not only how do we cultivate a mind that can help us As do the right thing in the right way. But how do we begin to teach ethics in a way that has to do with our evolutionary potential?

Rick Archer: Yeah. That’s an important point, maybe we should try to dwell on that a little bit more before we go on to some other points. The ethics thing is very important to me, I’ve helped to found an organization of professional spiritual teachers, because there’s been so much unethical behavior in the broader spiritual community. And we felt we needed to articulate a kind of code of ethics that students and teachers could aspire to. So that teacher students in particular, don’t look at teachers and say, well, he’s doing some scary stuff, but he seems to be enlightened, and I’m not, so I’ll just go along with it.

Rick Archer: But in any case, a lot of those scenes end up crashing and burning and ending up in disillusionment, and a lot of people hurt. This is a little bit tangential to our conversation, but you have any, any thoughts on all of that?

Yogacharya Ellen Grace O’Brian: I think it’s, it’s critically important. And I do think it’s part of the evolution of consciousness that we’ve seen in our lifetime, you know, because we, we have seen a lot of that, and, you know, what, unethical behavior in a spiritual by spiritual teachers and in spiritual communities that no, just like any other part of human life, you know, is, is like, it’s like, the very idea that, you know, in some spiritual community, those things are not going to happen is a dangerous idea. Because you’re dealing with human beings, you know, wherever you are. So, I think, to, to be raising consciousness and to be having questions about, you know, what kind of ethical insight, you know, do we bring into our spiritual communities? And what kind of ethical commitments do we have is, is incredibly important. And, you know, you know, we, we’ve been around if I can say that, collectively, rec, we’ve been around long enough to see some really positive transformation in that way, you know, like you say, and so at one point in time, you know, those things weren’t really talked about it was like, Okay, well, that’s the guru. And if that’s how the Guru is behaving, then you know, it must be something I don’t get. And we’ve seen a lot of destruction come out of that. And then also a lack of faith in the whole spiritual process itself, which has not been helpful. But today, you know, there have been a lot of communities and a lot of groups perhaps, like, like, the one that you’re a part of, that is just helping to raise consciousness to make, make it a safer place for people to be practicing and exploring.

Rick Archer: Yeah, it’s part of the zeitgeist, you know, with the me to movement and the, you know, experts a of what’s been going on in the Catholic Church, you know, people are fed up with that kind of stuff being associated with spirituality, and they just, they gathered, they don’t want anything to do with spirituality, or they want spirituality to become what it ought to be. And, you know, what the highest examples of it were? Yeah,

Yogacharya Ellen Grace O’Brian: exactly. And, you know, from my perspective, you, part of that is an educational process to know that you’re always going to be dealing with human beings and so people need to be awake, you know, going, when, whenever context they’re, they’re in and not, you know, check their, their intellect and their own ethics at the door.

Rick Archer: Yeah. And let’s jump to the Yoga Sutras for a minute because you know, the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali have the yamas and niyamas which were considered by him to be essential to the spiritual path and I’ll have you tell us what those are in a second and also other traditions, Buddhist and others have sort of codes of ethics that are considered to be essential to imbibe if you aspire to higher consciousness a higher spirituality.

Yogacharya Ellen Grace O’Brian: Yeah, and I mean that the the beauty and perhaps the difficulty I don’t think it’s a difficulty but it could be in terms of this conversation that we’re having is that in Ashley’s yoga sutra, the the higher spiritual law is given you know, for example, in the restraints, the the Yamas The first one is Ahimsa, you know, our non violence or non harming, but potentially doesn’t say, you know, you, you, you shouldn’t have an affair with your students. You know,

Rick Archer: we’ll get into the specifics, but yeah, he talks about You know, Brahmacharya there on that point, perhaps,

Yogacharya Ellen Grace O’Brian: yes, exactly. But it’s not that it’s really for and that’s why people you know, study with a teacher, as far as these yamas and niyamas are concerned, because then there’s the commentary that says, okay, in, in these situations, you know, this is how it would be applied. So when we look at, at harmlessness, for example, if you start at the physical level, you know, you don’t physically injure someone, you know, you don’t kill, and you don’t punch out your, your neighbor, though, those kinds of things. And, but then it’s looked at, as you know, that at the mental level, and we’re looking at our speech and our thoughts, you know, that can be harmful as well. So each one requires us to explore, you know, how it is to be applied. And, and that’s the way it should be it is the journey. So there isn’t a, there isn’t a list of specific, specific do’s and this is how you apply it. If that’s your path of learning as you go. Well, I

Rick Archer: think the whole yoga sutras was only 192 sutras or something. So obviously, he meant to lay out some main points and let us work out the details.

Yogacharya Ellen Grace O’Brian: Because I mean, it’s about consciousness. Right? It’s so you can’t have a prescription, that, in a sense, is going to decide you know, what’s happening in a living system, you have to learn how to apply these fundamental principles that are principles of mind and consciousness, you know, how to use them how to apply them, which is the way that that we would we would want it to be, but left open to interpretation. You know, it also, you know, leave some gaps in there in terms of how people look at it, like, you know, it is, what is harmful? What is not harmful, that sometimes is open to interpretation. One thing

Rick Archer: I think that’s interesting with all those points, the amaz and Yamas, and perhaps with many other points we can consider is that there are sort of levels of subtlety at which they can be considered. For instance, we’ve just kind of done that with a couple of another he talked about a lot with, with reference to prosperity is non stealing. What does that stay or something? It’s called?

Yogacharya Ellen Grace O’Brian: Yes, yeah. Stan? Yeah. And, obviously, we

Rick Archer: know what stealing is. And you know, so we should know what non stealing is. Well elaborate on that. And then I’ll make a point about that might be a subtler level of it, perhaps. Go ahead.

Yogacharya Ellen Grace O’Brian: Well, it’s interesting to consider that right there in the yoga sutra is a verse that points to wealth, and the nature of it. So this one on non stealing says that one who is established in non stealing experiences, the jewel of abundance, or all jewels come to that yogi, it’s you know, they’re, they’re translated variously. And so when we look at the levels of it at the physical level, of course, as you mentioned, I mean, most of us are pretty clear about stealing, you know, not not taking stuff that doesn’t belong to us, right. But I think, as with all of the Yamas, and niyamas, they’re meant to be a journey, in a sense of civilization of a deeper and deeper understanding of what that’s about. So it is, you know, it comes down to, you know, even like not envying, not taking somebody else’s idea and claiming it as your own, you know, there’s all those little subtle permutations of it, but it comes down to changing our mind really from lack to abundance because it it has this look at you know, if we’re engaged in some kind of form of stealing, which might get us into lying or acting unethically Why won’t actually be you know, maybe you know, walking away with something from somebody’s house. But you know, perhaps we’re we’re we’re aligning

Rick Archer: with truthfulness is another one of the things

Yogacharya Ellen Grace O’Brian: it truthfulness isn’t there to but perhaps where we’re lying about our income on our taxes or something like that, because we’re, we’re of the mindset that we need to do that in order to get to get right to get the money that we need. So what how I see it is these spiritual teachings are fundamentally about teaching us how to change our mind, you know, From that idea that, that we have to act unethically in order to get what we need. To me, that’s the the deep piece of it, because that’s about being disconnected from our own essence of being from the source of abundance, you know, within us somehow thinking, we have to manipulate others manipulate with the lie of the cheat, you have to steal, in order to get your needs met. And I think what the what’s going on with the yoga sutra is look at these patterns in your own mind that you need to be cleared up. If you really want to live an abundant life, it has to happen. Within you first, it’s a level of your own mind and consciousness.

Rick Archer: Yeah, I just can’t find it at my fingertips. I saw this great quote from Dostoevsky the other day about truthfulness and how I can’t find the quote right now. But how getting into the habit of lying kind of erodes you in a way so that you become more bass in every respect. you indulge in baser pleasures and this and that. And it’s sort of a slippery slope, where things just get worse and worse, if you. And there’s some cool stories in the Mahabharata and others about people who were so true to their word that if they said a thing, they just stuck to it, you know, even their entire life. And there was a story about Yudhishthira, who, you know, one of the Pandavas, who told a white lie, and as soon as he did his chariot wheels sunk into the mud, whereas previously, they had sort of hovered above it, if that’s a true story, but that whole tradition places a great deal of emphasis on truthfulness.

Yogacharya Ellen Grace O’Brian: Yeah, and then the power of the word is really what potentially is pointing to with truthfulness, you know, when it was established in truthfulness, their their, their words, more material. Yeah. Right. Yeah. And so, you know, here, again, we’re talking about very subtle metaphysical law, if you if you will, that has to do with, you know, our own belief systems, and how we’re manifesting. You know, what, what we believe, and it’s such a powerful teaching, and, and it’s about, you know, how do we live with a higher awareness.

Rick Archer: In fact, there’s a lot of stories in the Vedic literature about some sage who would say a thing, sometimes it was a sort of a curse. And because he said it, it had to come true. And he couldn’t even take it back. Because Because you so established, that’s how the whole think Srimad Bhagavatam came about some, some young sage cursed someone and said, You’re going to die of a snake bite, and that was it, the guy had to die of a snake bite, but he wanted to get enlightened before he did. So they spent the week narrating the Srimad Bhagavatam. But anyway, it’s cool, cool principle. They’re,

Yogacharya Ellen Grace O’Brian: they’re great stories, because, you know, we can start looking at, you know, what are we what are we saying? Are we using our speech? And, you know, are we contributing to life? Are we actually cursing, you know, others ourselves, with our speech and with our thoughts and causing, you know, life to weather around us or causing life, you know, to contributing to it’s prospering around us with our thoughts with our with our speech, and there’s a lot of power and a lot of power in our speech. And there’s more power in it, when we become conscious of it.

Rick Archer: Yes. That reminded me of that Jesus saying, Forgive them, Father, they know not what they do. They’re not conscious of what they’re doing. And but if we are conscious, then it’s, we’re more responsible.

Yogacharya Ellen Grace O’Brian: Absolutely, Absolutely.

Rick Archer: Like the judge would ideally get punished more than the person who doesn’t know right and wrong if the judge commits the same crime. On the point of stealing, that, take that one to perhaps a subtler level. There’s I think there’s a verse in The Gita which says that he who appropriates the authorship of action onto himself rather than realizing that it’s the divine, that’s performing the action is said to be a thief. So no, that might take it to the subtlest level,

Yogacharya Ellen Grace O’Brian: totally. And that and that gets in a sense back to non attachment, that they were in the beginning, you know, which is the idea of ascribing to the small self, the ego based self, you know, I am the doer and I am the owner of experience and I am I am the owner of the outcomes you know of don’t have that experience. Yeah, that’s a slippery slope, you know, of identifying with that ego based self as the doer, and the owner of experience, which, you know, just a little bit of investigation will tell us in the Gita, I can’t put the boat verse to now, but you know, there’s a teaching about the different factors of action, right. And, you know, one of them, which is called the fifth factor is always the mysterious, the addition to the unknown elements, you know, we have control over certain things, you know, over how we prepare, where we’re going to do what we do, you know, we, we have this Skype call, and we, we set it up, we set up the lighting, and, you know, we do our testing, and we, and you read my book in, you know, I, you know, I put purple on, so I look nice, and, you know, all of that, but, but we really have no control over whether the power goes out or not.

Rick Archer: And I’ve had that happen.

Yogacharya Ellen Grace O’Brian: Sure. So, you know, it’s just a simple example of, you know, there’s always something that is out of our control. And so to imagine, you know, that somehow we control all outcomes is just kind of ridiculous to begin with.

Rick Archer: Yeah. And that gets us into an interesting area, which I don’t know, I betcha in your tradition, you have a phrase for it, Mark Marsh used to call it supportive nature. But what he meant by that was, you know, that that’s saying, like, you got up on the wrong side of the bed or something like, nothing goes right for you, you, you hit the red lights, you don’t find the parking place, you know, all kinds of you just kind of born under a bad sign that was a song. Whereas others, you’ve seen things seem to go quite smoothly, it’s like unseen forces, as it were, are helping to orchestrate their life, and things just aren’t conducive to their success. That is kind of an in whole interesting mechanics of that we can get into, I think,

Yogacharya Ellen Grace O’Brian: yeah, in my tradition, you know, we talk about that as, as divine grace, you know, there there are the, the forces of nature, which we can learn about, you know, we study the Gunas, and the different qualities in nature, and how to learn how to cooperate with nature, but beyond that, is this crippa We call it grace, you know, this element of divine grace, that, that you also can open yourself to, you know, this, you know, in the tradition, traditional way, you know, we don’t, we don’t create grace, we don’t cause it, but we can certainly, there seems to be some some way that we can open ourselves to it, that there’s some there’s connection. In my tradition, I have heard the teaching that there’s a connection between self effort and grace, although self effort doesn’t cause grace. So it’s sort of a mysterious connection. And, you know, I’ve seen that in my life. And I think it’s just a matter of becoming receptive to that. Yeah, the more harmonized inside of ourselves or something,

Rick Archer: there’s that saying, God helps those who help themselves. And some gurus say, take one step toward me, and I’ll take 1000 steps toward you, you know, things like that. So we have to, you know, make the initial effort, perhaps. But then there do seem to be, I mean, just to get explicit, I know people who say that they have subtle perception, and that they actually actually can see sort of guiding what spirit guides or whatever they are kind of hovering around and orchestrating and kind of attending to people, even in ordinary circumstances. So if that’s true, then, you know, there is this subtler realm in which reside, subtler beings who are kind of involved in human affairs. And there’s that Vedic saying Satyameva, jayate, ace, truth alone or purity alone is Victoria. So the assumption here is that if you have if you amass more of that, then you will attract the support of the subtler impulses of intelligence that operate in nature, and it will make your life more successful or smooth.

Yogacharya Ellen Grace O’Brian: Yeah, and, you know, I’m potentially mux about, you know, one of the ways to raise consciousness, how clear the mind is to contemplate the consciousness of awakened beings. And so, sort of like you know, tuning in to a higher Consciousness higher vibration, if you will. And, you know, for me, it’s it’s, you know, my ordinary experience of that is if I allow myself to get too wrapped up at the, with the thinking mind and its swirling nature and versus, you know, when I can cultivate a clearer mind a quieter, more open heart than there seems to be that resonance in that connection. That’s really not about outer circumstances. But it, you know, life itself seems more supportive. But I I suspect it’s because I’m in a more receptive place. Yeah.

Rick Archer: Receptive is a good is a good word there because I think sometimes opportunities are subtle, and it takes receptivity and a sort of, kind of subtle discrimination or discernment to pick up on the, the correct course of action to take, you know, we’re not necessarily, it’s not necessarily announced with a bullhorn, we just have to sort of have a feeling of which way to go and intuitive feeling. And then that kind of works out.

Yogacharya Ellen Grace O’Brian: Yeah. Yeah, I wrote upon about my experience of kind of shifting from that, you know, just running around, running around in the mind versus being open to grace.

Rick Archer: Do you have that your fingertips would read? Or would it be hard to take you a while to find?

Yogacharya Ellen Grace O’Brian: I think I can find it, let me know. Okay. And yeah, it’s called fire in my heart. Some days, I sit near your fire, feeding it the kindling of desire, live in the way the Buddhist sand and the light will grow in you. Live in the way the Buddha said, and the light will grow in you. sorrow and joy come in, sit down together as friends, everything that is needed appears. Other days I forget about the light set out alone in the dark, ambitious prodigal, with damp wood, determined to start my own fire. When the invitation to the heavenly feast arrives from the universe, I politely decline. I have prepared a feast for you where you come? No, I’m too busy with matters of life and death. I insist on my own way saying no to love until no becomes sand in my mouth. Why all this suffering? I ask. Come sit by the fire. Forget about life and death, being and doing coming and going. Soon, the sitar will begin. Its notes will make you weep. For everything lost and gained for the extravagant mercy of the one.

Rick Archer: Great. That’s nice. Is that from your book, “The moon reminded me”?

Yogacharya Ellen Grace O’Brian: Yeah, that’s from “The moon reminded me”.

Rick Archer: Why don’t you hold that up for a second. There it is. Nice.

Yogacharya Ellen Grace O’Brian: Thank you. Yeah,

Rick Archer: I’ll list the link to that on on your page on BatGap.

Yogacharya Ellen Grace O’Brian: Thank you.

Rick Archer: A question came in might as well ask it. It’s a little bit out of context with what we’re talking about. But this was a big good point to ask it. So I think you know this feller. He knows you because he said thank you for your Sunday talks at the center. The energy exude is unfailingly cheerful and tranquil. This is Mark Peters from Santa Clara, California, he said Yogananda speaks of many visions and mystical encounters in his autobiography. Has this type of extraordinary experience played a role in your own unfoldment? If so, would you be willing to share an anecdote or two?

Yogacharya Ellen Grace O’Brian: Well, yes and no. So So yes. There have been experiences that I’ve had along the way. And, you know, just you know, experiences in meditation, breakthroughs and meditation, which allowed me to experience a shift in conscious wiseness which allowed me from time to time to have experiences of inner phenomena that I’d read about, you know, Inner Light inner sound, and, you know, potentially talks about those experiences as potentially faith building, you know, if you have some experience when you’re meditating, it can help you think, okay, you know, this is something that the sages wrote about, you know, wow, I’m having that experience. So. So that’s a yes, in terms of phenomena. And my know is that my, my teacher always said, you know, whatever you experience, forget about it, just just continue to go beyond that don’t, don’t get stuck in in phenomena or feel that, you know, you’re enlightened because you saw a light in your meditation. So. So the yes is having those ecstatic experiences can be faith building, but my know is from the tradition that I come from, there’s a, you know, keep keep on keeping on was the teaching of Lahiri Mahasaya, don’t don’t don’t get stuck in any of those places of phenomenon. So there’s those experiences in meditation. And then, you know, for me, there’s the eyes wide open experiences in the world, of seeing the nature of reality, in expression, and so, for me, those experiences are the most meaningful, whether it’s some apprehension of this divine grace, divine order, the nature of the mind, to where I feel my heart, I would describe it as my heart opening. And it’s an awesome experience of the beauty of life, the the tenderness of it, the vulnerability of it, the deep, shining core of it. That’s why I write poetry because I cannot put it into words. So I don’t know if that answered the question. I’m really grateful that you’re listening and that you sent your question, and I hope that was helpful,

Rick Archer: was helpful to me, I thought it was a good, good hands. You know, I mean, people have probably heard this before that, you know, flashy experiences, while they may be interesting and nice or not, yet, ultimately, and what we’re really aspiring to is kind of a 24/7 state of realization, which is not at all flashy. It’s just extremely natural. But it bears reminding sometimes, and sometimes when people have to do have some kind of flashy experience, they, they jump to conclusions in terms of how enlightened they are, or whatever. But it can be a bit of a pitfall.

Yogacharya Ellen Grace O’Brian: Yeah. And that’s why, you know, it’s been a blessing that my teacher is continually reminded us that those, those experiences do not mean that, you know, we have experienced the ultimate and we should just keep, keep going. And then I do want to say that, you know, as inspiring as the life of Armand Yogananda is, and of course, he’s inspired people all over the world. It is possible, then, of course, to compare ourselves and our meditation similar to his meditation, and how he describes his meditation. And, and that’s not so helpful, I don’t think. And so I think it’s useful to know that meditation, even as he taught, it is not about having ecstatic experiences. It’s about waking up.

Rick Archer: Yeah, that’s a good point. And I think it bears repeating that it’s not a good habit to compare oneself to others in terms of what we think we’re experiencing and versus what we think they’re experiencing.

Yogacharya Ellen Grace O’Brian: Yeah. Because you are so different, aren’t they? And I always say, you know, that it usually turns out that you’re you’re married to are your best friend is somebody who has very different experiences than you, you know, and so you think she’s, you know, that’s not happening to me, you know, how come? I’ve seen that so often with couples or people who are close or ever they’re, or they’re inclined, you know, maybe one is a is a bhakti. You know, they’re they’re off to Kyrgyzstan, and the other is a Yanni yogi, and it just,

Rick Archer: you know, like, a book. Really? Exactly. Yeah. Yeah. So I mean, you just said it. I was just gonna say people are wired differently and they have different aptitudes, different inclinations, different nervous systems and It’s only going to create confusion if you compare yourself with them. Even if somebody is having all kinds of extraordinary experiences, that doesn’t necessarily mean that they’re more enlightened or something. And it’s absurd to even ponder whether they are I mean, it doesn’t really help. I think, yeah, although I’ve been guilty of it myself, you know, you get kind of impressed.

Yogacharya Ellen Grace O’Brian: Yeah, and then it’s really problematic if we impress ourselves or ourselves. Yeah, that’s even worse.

Rick Archer: I will say I prefer to err on the on the side of considering myself less evolved than I may actually be. Alright, so so far we’ve discussed in terms of the four, what do they call those four things? Again, per sharknose?

Yogacharya Ellen Grace O’Brian: Yeah, pretty shocked us.

Rick Archer: Okay, so we’ve discussed Dharma and art. And we’ll probably come back to art a bit more. But the next one is karma. Which means pleasure, I guess. And probably when most people hear karma, they think of the Kama sutras. Probably there’s more to it than that. Right?

Yogacharya Ellen Grace O’Brian: Yeah. Although, you know, sexuality is certainly part of pleasure, we hope it is, and, and again, like wealth, you know, for people who come onto the path of yoga, philosophy and practice as a meditative path of Self Realization, God realization, this idea that wealth and pleasure are somehow included, as life aims is, is, you know, there’s a breath that usually when I introduce the pooterish artist, and I get to wealth, and then pleasure, you know, people would just like, there’s nervous laughter that breaks out in the room, you know, like, here we are in a meditation center, and now we’re going to talk about money and sex and, and how they are actually part of holistically living a spiritually conscious life. And so, you know, it makes sense, really, when we think about it, like, if you were a person who is an excellent meditator, and you’re quote, unquote, spiritually awake, and you’re miserable, and you don’t enjoy life, then what’s the point? You know, to me, it’s sort of obvious that enjoyment of life is, is critical to even following a path.

Rick Archer: Yeah, and like the other things, we talked about their different flavors and levels of enjoyment. I mean, you can experience a lot of bliss, in both in meditation and perpetually as a result of meditation. That’s a form of pleasure. And it’s, there’s a friend of mine who wrote a book called Happy for No Reason. It’s not, not like you’re indulging in anything external that’s causing this is happiness, it just is there in your heart and your experience, as, as a kind of a baseline.

Yogacharya Ellen Grace O’Brian: And as a life goal, you know, it’s, it’s tremendously instructive, because in order to actually enjoy life, we have to study the nature of our own mind, and learn about the nature of happiness and the nature of the soul. And, you know, as you as you were pointing out, you know, this beautiful book, 10, by the way, being happy for no reason, that, you know, we have that capacity. And ultimately, yoga points us in that direction, to learn how to distinguish between happiness that we experienced from a pleasure that we experienced from the senses, at one level of pleasure, pleasure that we experience from meeting a goal, for example, in life, we feel happy when we accomplish something, happiness that we experience. When we serve, you know, when we do something to care for others, and the happiness that we experienced, that’s inherent to our being that is the bliss of the soul. So learning about those distinctions and where they lead are actually essential to us. Really enjoying life. Because we we know and, I mean, that was part of my, you know, pre getting onto the path, the journey of just being disappointed. I was just like, disappointed. Wait a minute, you know, I have this I got that I did this I achieved that and, but there’s something missing and you know, I didn’t really know at the time you know, what, what was missing was myself, you know, and of course myself wasn’t missing itself is never missing, but my ability to connect to myself was not there. And I didn’t know who I was. And so I was, you know, seeking that enjoyment of life completely externally. And so as a life goal, it is really essential to learn about where we find happiness and where we ultimately find bliss and how I manage changes everything.

Rick Archer: Yeah. Would you say? I’ve heard it said that anything that we? Well, there’s that there’s a greater Punisher, you can probably quote it, you know that. It’s not for the sake of the wife that the wife is dear, but for the sake of the self, the self is there, and then not for the sake of the friends or whatever, but for the sake of the self, and he takes off a whole bunch of different things and says in every case, that, that whatever fulfillment we derive from the outer experience is actually a reflection of the inner fulfillment.

Yogacharya Ellen Grace O’Brian: Yeah, yeah, exactly. And what what we love in life, and even in that, quote, in the Upanishads, wealth is included in that one,

Rick Archer: for the sake of the wealth that the wealth is there, but for the sake of the self,

Yogacharya Ellen Grace O’Brian: exactly. And it’s such a beautiful, quote, you know, that, that what, what we really love is that the self, we love that the, the bliss of the soul, and we love the beingness, the, the the life, when we when we love another, we’re loving that essence of being. That’s the truth of it. Yeah,

Rick Archer: I think a good example that might illustrate that point is, you know, if we consider someone, let’s say, who’s very wealthy, and has, you know, a very attractive spouse, and a beautiful home, and everything that they could want materially, and yet there, they have severe insomnia, or they’re really ill, or something like that, then they can’t enjoy any of those things. Whereas, if a person is sort of feeling wonderful inside, you know, just full of happiness and bliss, intrinsically, naturally, then, you know, even living in very simple circumstances, that person tends to be happy and tends to enjoy the things that they have.

Yogacharya Ellen Grace O’Brian: Yeah, and really, as a practice, it’s, you know, as I was mentioning, it’s learning about kind of different levels, if you were a different levels of happiness, what what brings us what and what’s temporary and what’s not. And once we get that distinction, you know, we can, and this is a basic in the, in the, in the Vedic system, the you know, this is that, like a basic step of awakening is on hooking, when we begin to see through conditions as the source, right of our happiness, or our security, that’s a that’s a point at which we really enter more deeply into the path and I was talking about my own journey of, you know, dis disappointed, you know, what’s going on here, and you know, that, that that’s a place where a lot of people come, that’s an it’s an entry to trailhead, right, it’s entry onto the path where we feel we’re suffering, because we don’t know how to find happiness. And so we have an understanding that that which we gathered, that we’ve been able to bring to ourselves, has not brought the quality of lasting happiness that we’re looking for, you know, don’t immediately disappoints. Because it changes the subject to change. So that awakening to that doesn’t mean that we don’t enjoy the things in our life anymore, which I think is an important distinction. You know, it’s not that we have to shun our favorite flavor of ice cream, or, you know, that things that we enjoy, or that we have, that we appreciate. It’s that we just become become aware of the distinction of the quality that we’re looking for, of happiness that is unconditional, can only be found within us.

Rick Archer: Yeah. So just because something is transitory doesn’t mean you shouldn’t enjoy it. But, you know, there have been notorious examples of people who tried to make transitory things perpetual. You know, the Romans would have orgies, and they would, you know, it was kind of too graphic to describe that they, they would do certain things so that they could continue eating and stuff like that. So, you know, enjoy your meal, but then that’s fine that that came and went, but still, there’s this baseline of fulfillment that doesn’t depend on whether you get this meal or that meal or whatever.

Yogacharya Ellen Grace O’Brian: Exactly. And we don’t we don’t ascribe our well being our happiness or security to those things. Because that’s the mistake, you know, that keeps people you know, just tethered to that, you know, looking for the next? The next thing the next, you know, lover the next job, it’s going to ultimately do it. So, you know, it’s just unhooking from that, you know, because the teachings tell us and most of us know, in our own experience that that’s just, it’s a source of sorrow and suffering to make that mistake, that error is fundamental error.

Rick Archer: Yeah, you know, I read those statistics in the beginning about how people are living paycheck to paycheck, and they’re in debt and everything else. Well, you know, at Christmas time, every year, they always show on the news, these mob scenes and malls and stores, and they talk about how much people are shopping and everything, and you see these people fighting over the latest bubble. And, you know, I sometimes when that I see that kind of thing, I think, well, you know, probably, that’s why a lot of them are in debt, they’re just, you know, craving this stuff, which they probably don’t need. And then the new the new iPhone, you gotta get, and so on. And so, you know, if you’re, if you’re looking for all your fulfillment, and these outer circumstances, chances are, you’re just you may you may compromise your, your financial health.

Yogacharya Ellen Grace O’Brian: Yeah, it’s really a good point. And there’s two things I want to say about that, and hopefully, I don’t lose them. You know, one is that it’s compensation, you know, I mean, we all do it in some way. And you’re describing it in a big way, right compensation people trying to make up for maybe how they haven’t been with somebody, or, you know, show somebody that they love them, by getting more and giving more gifts, or, you know, what, whatever, so that the points to this life, aim of enjoying life appreciating it, you know, in ways that are about the soul, you know, for the sake of the soul. And then also, this, the other piece, I wanted to mention, when you talk about living beyond our means, also as a way of compensation, right for not being connected to ourselves and in doing what, what brings us joy, what has hard and meaning, then we get into these behaviors that I would call stealing. So going beyond our means is, is actually, you know, stealing, you know, from ourselves and in in a big way, you know, in the way like in our country that we’re so in debt. You know, we’re stealing from future generations, and we’re stealing from the environment itself, the way that we plunder the earth. So, you know, this article, in my mind has tremendous ramifications, in terms of how we live.

Rick Archer: Very good point. It may sound harsh, but I sometimes think of those who are obfuscating the whole environmental crisis, and, you know, climate change and Elos being guilty of intergenerational genocide, because there are going to be very severe consequences to this whole thing. And if we’re sort of so living for the moment, or for the next quarter, or for, you know, a quarter in terms of quarter of a year, or for the next election that we want to win that we ignore. We lose the big picture, then we’re stealing big time.

Yogacharya Ellen Grace O’Brian: Exactly. And there is no real wealth in that, because you’re always chasing the next thing. So to find out about what real wealth is, in my mind is a critically important to awakening on our planet.

Rick Archer: Yeah. And, you know, also, those short sighted ways of being that we just described are also stifling possibilities. They’re stifling potential solutions, which could be much more wholesome. But you know, economic like, and it also talks about truthfulness. I mean, there was a book called Merchants of Doubt, and it talks all about how the cigarette industry hired all these PR firms and everything to sow doubt about whether cigarettes cause cancer, they knew that they cause cancer, but they wanted to make their money and sell their cigarettes and that some of the very same PR firms are working for the anti climate change in interests, the oil company is now telling lies in order to feel read.

Yogacharya Ellen Grace O’Brian: Yeah. And in greed is really at them. At the core of it, you know, if we, if we look all the way down, it’s greed that’s at the core, but below greed is the is the insatiable, you know, ego self, right? That’s always trying to satisfy satisfy itself and its longings but it cannot be satisfied from that level of reality. So that that is why it’s, you know, it’s critically important that people wake up. It’s the most important thing that that is needed. Get on our planet at this time, because from that level, the problems won’t be solved.

Rick Archer: Yeah, I’m glad we’re coming around to this point. And in case, I mean, it’s worth just dwelling on it for a moment. And that is what we’re saying here is that ultimately all the world’s problems are a manifest symptomatic of undeveloped consciousness and that if consciousness, individually and collectively were sufficiently developed, most of these problems would, or if not all, would just kind of solutions would be found either they would just disappear, because we wouldn’t be intentionally creating them or we’d find means of ameliorating them.

Yogacharya Ellen Grace O’Brian: I believe that. And I think it ties into that fourth goal, if I can say that, so

Rick Archer: I’m thinking we should get to that on a brighter note,

Yogacharya Ellen Grace O’Brian: as moksha, you know, that we’re here to awaken you know, the, to experience liberation of consciousness from this identification with this small self with the ego self, we’re here to, you know, find freedom from that. And in this lifetime, you know, so to move out of this framework of spirituality that enlightenment is, you know, for some special people in another time or some future time, or that this avatar, this person’s gonna come is going to save the world. So that, look, you know, these four goals that we’re talking about, they’re universal goals, and they’re for everybody. And you know, guess what, besides Dharma, and arta, and Kama, we have mugshot, like, Okay, we’re here to wake up. And as you were just saying, you know, that we can see is the critical factor of, you know, how do we not plunder the earth? How do we stop going to war over our differences? And, you know, we wake up and one, we wake up to the fundamental connectedness of everyone and everything. Yeah,

Rick Archer: yeah. Do you think that the per shirt is that’s the word right? per shirt is? Yeah. Before before? Yes, things? Are they in any way sequential? Or did they sort of rise simultaneously? Just the way the limbs of our body kind of grow simultaneously?

Yogacharya Ellen Grace O’Brian: I think that’s it’s a, it’s a yes. And so, yes, there’s, in my mind, they’re yes, they’re sequential. And yes, they’re simultaneous. So, so I don’t, I don’t think that it’s useful to you know, hold them like, Okay, first we do Dharma, then then we do our to, then we do, comma. And then, you know, if we’re lucky, we have time in our life when we’re retired, and we start focusing on on moksha. You know, my teacher often tells the story that people would say to him, Well, you know, I figure that, you know, when I’m getting ready to leave this body, you know, because everyone is already enlightened at the core of their being, you know, that’s our s our essential truth, then I’ll just wake up to that on my way out and, and his response about that was always well, that’s just cutting it too close. And better. And, also, if you, you know, I’ve ever been with someone making their transition, that’s not the time when you you want to, you know, try to be, you know, accomplishing that goal. You want to do it before and of course, that’s what all the traditions say. So, I think there and Phil Goldberg, who wrote the foreword to my book, he likened the poor shore to, to the four legs of a table, so that there they they can bring a balanced approach to our everyday life in our our spiritual pursuits. But given all that, so yes, they they are, they’re intertwined. They’re interdependent. And, you know, we could have talked the whole show about, you know, how they’re intertwined and interdependent, but there also is some something to be said about the sequential nature of how the, the Hindu tradition the Vedic tradition has, has looked at stages of life, in terms of dharma as a as a young person when you’re getting your ethical education and your your moral and spiritual values that are inculcated as a young age and then you become, you know, a householder in the world and you’re learning about wealth. And I always think it’s interesting if we look at that sequential one. That means that the, what would be called the Four stroller stage retirement stages when you start looking at pleasure which is, which is interesting to me. Because, you know, perhaps it’s that we have a greater capacity to see the actual nature of beauty in life. I don’t know, I haven’t completely thought that went through that, but I’m thinking about it. And then look, Shaw is, you know, Moksha when you can focus more attention on so that that is there, but it is not there all at once, and some of those periods of life perhaps have a greater orientation,

Rick Archer: those? Yeah, it does. You know, I was thinking like, if we’re, let’s say, we’re doing a regular meditation practice, then Moksha is growing, I mean, the live, the samskaras are being worked out. And, you know, consciousness is getting the mind is becoming more clear. So we’re, the liberation is being cultured or it’s growing may not be complete or final, but that there’s something in that direction. And as you do that, naturally, you’re going to be more aligned with Dharma, you’re going to perhaps have more energy and creativity, which will help with Arthur and you’re going to sort of feel better and enjoy and your senses are going to be more clear. So you get there’s more capacity for comma, and, you know, so they’re all going simultaneously.

Yogacharya Ellen Grace O’Brian: Absolutely, that was a beautiful way to describe it, that that is how I see it, if you’re, if you’re moving along on the spiritual path, you can’t really help but sort of lift all the legs of the table up,

Rick Archer: you know, if you pull one leg of a table, the others are gonna come along.

Yogacharya Ellen Grace O’Brian: And that’s right. That’s right. That’s right. And if you don’t have one in there, you know, you’re going to be off kilter. And so that that’s a beautiful way. And that’s, that’s been my experience anyway, you know, have have come, as I mentioned, in the beginning, I thought, Well, okay, I’m gonna just meditate and sort of get out of this whole thing. But no, yoga brings you back into the world to live a spiritually conscious life and, you know, has you engaging in life in a purposeful way and in an enjoyable way. And, you know, ideally, that light of Moksha is, is, is there, you’re making progress toward it, but it’s also a goal that I think we need to keep in front of us. Otherwise, we get all about accomplishing something, even on the spiritual path in order to accomplish something spiritual, right? Yeah.

Rick Archer: Um, perhaps we could talk about service a little bit. You know, I used to always, not always I used to have, I know, when I wasn’t as happy person as I am. Now, I, I very much kind of like, was inspired by the idea of not getting incarnated anymore, just getting out of here you have done with it. And then, you know, over the years, I’ve felt that, well, you know, we’re all instruments of the Divine to one degree or another. And if, and, obviously, if God is on the presence of God is really the essence of everything. And then then we are like, a sense organ of that. And, and if if we can serve, if we can be, can sort of an instrument of some sort of divine plan, then what’s the rush? You know, I mean, I saw this YouTube video of some old yogi and someone asked him about reincarnation, he said, I don’t care. So whatever God wants, I’m happy to just serve. So I don’t know, you have any comments on

Yogacharya Ellen Grace O’Brian: that subject? Beautiful, beautiful way to put it. Yeah. And to me, that’s, like, you know, serving without attachment to results and serving, you know, for the, for the joy of it, you know, to gorgeous, beautiful poem where you said, I awoke and, and discovered that, you know, service was joy. And so, it, it’s the opportunity that is given, you know, to choose to love and to serve, to participate, that is, that is it, you know, but when we get attached to what we’re doing, you know, looking for the results in it, trying to live, you know, liberate ourselves as a as a side benefit, or, you know, whatever the idea is about it, you know, ultimately that gets in the way of the, of the joy.

Rick Archer: Yeah. Another thought that’s been kicking around my head as I was reading your book and listening to your, your various talks is that um, I’ve heard from physicists that at the level of the vacuum state or the kind of the most fundamental level of creation, there’s more latent energy and each cubic centimeter, then there is an entire manifest universe at an express level. And, you know, if, if there’s a correlation between conscious Since in its in its ultimate sense, and what physics understand to be the ultimate reality, then the, our own being our own consciousness ultimately is a tremendous repository of energy. And we might also throw in creativity. And so you know, if we can have access to that, and if we can get the sort of the pipeline connected between that and our active life, then that obviously has tremendous relevance to affluence, because it gives us the wherewithal to, to accomplish more.

Yogacharya Ellen Grace O’Brian: It does, and I would say, to accomplish with joy, so there’s a different quality of it. And I don’t mean that it’s never hard. Or it’s never difficult, or it’s never challenging, but when you’re my experiences, when I when I feel connected to that creative energy of the universe, and you want to call it that somehow connected into this stream that is bringing forth the divine idea, divine insights, or I feel somehow I’m, you know, connect, I’m in the right place at the right time. And can I just in this dream of it, that, that there’s a sweetness to that there’s a joy to that, that’s different than, you know, striving after a result, even though there’s the inspiration to do something, to, to offer something, there’s a way of being in it, which is finding some delight in the way, you know, sometimes I’ll put it this way, sometimes I feel like, in my life, I’m just doing the best that I can to keep up with grace.

Rick Archer: It’s great. Kicking and screaming,

Yogacharya Ellen Grace O’Brian: when it sometimes is like that. And, I mean, I used it one time, I described my, my spiritual life, like a breech birth, you know, which wasn’t really a great metaphor for me, but you know, sort of like going into my life, you know, but first and then, you know, like, seeing, wow, you know, seeing so much in, in hindsight about this life force, you know, that was active and in my life and moving into experiences and, and awakening, but I was looking at it, you know, in hindsight in, you know, sort of my life and my rear view mirror. So at some point, I said, No, you know, let me just, you know, open my eyes, you know, to what is here right now, and not be looking so much in hindsight and figuring it out. Let me just be awake, you know, like, what, where it is?

Rick Archer: Yeah. The thing you said about joy kind of reminded me of a verse. I think it might be from the Brahma sutras, but it’s it’s contact with Brahman is infinite joy. And a nice metaphor for that is like, if you’re lying in a bathtub, and you’re lying, you’ve been lying still for a while, you may not feel the warmth of the water, but if you start sloshing around, it starts to feel really warm. So somehow, you know, we’ll take that verse for the good of yoga Kuru Karmani, established in being perform action. When action is performed, well established in being it kind of stirs up the bliss.

Yogacharya Ellen Grace O’Brian: Yeah, it does it and Yogananda I think, probably paraphrasing that verse said, you know, this side of the transcendental field is every new joy. And, you know, life

Rick Archer: this side of it, he said, this,

Yogacharya Ellen Grace O’Brian: yeah, this night, meaning, you know, here we are in this expressive field. And that, in that expressive field is evernew joy. That’s the expansive nature of Brahman it’s evernew

Rick Archer: marshy is to say that the purpose of creation is the expansion of happiness. And, and if we take the word leela, which means play, why do you play because it’s fun, it makes you happy? Yeah. So if that’s true, then we’re kind of fulfilling the, the very purpose of creation by by, you know, living in such a way as to be more joyful.

Yogacharya Ellen Grace O’Brian: Yeah, for me, there’s a quality of greater aliveness in that in and I don’t, and I don’t mean that as again, you know, we talked about this earlier like happiness that comes from externals, but just the experience of for me, you know, the the beauty of life, the tenderness of life, the love that is present bring such you know, joy to my heart and my being and even in the midst of sorrow. And it is there, you know, in the deepest sorrow when you experience someone passing from this realm, you know that you love, the way the heart breaks and the tenderness and the sense of presence that is there, to me is part of the beauty and in the deep way, part of the bliss even.

Rick Archer: Yeah, and is not symptomatic of being a schlep in terms of your level of conscious. I mean, there’s also to beautiful stories of great saints and sages who, you know, experienced appropriate grief and so on when, when someone dear to them died.

Yogacharya Ellen Grace O’Brian: Yeah, exactly. Yeah. So even in the midst of sorrow, there’s is the quality of being that can remain, that’s what

Rick Archer: I’m trying to say, doesn’t get perturbed.

Yogacharya Ellen Grace O’Brian: And, and it’s big enough to allow the sorrow to be so I think it’s a mistake, you know, people often make on the path that they’re not supposed to feel grief, they’re not supposed to feel anger, they’re not supposed to feel sorrow. Well, you would, I don’t get that. It seems to me, you would be sort of ossified you’d be mummified? Why would we want to not have emotion? You know, I think that, that what those teachings are about is that you don’t want to be stuck in that, you know, the potentially reactive quality of an emotion but it’s not that you don’t forget to say, it’s not that we don’t want to feel at least that’s not true for me.

Rick Archer: Yeah. When I was about 19, or so. And I had been with a girlfriend who had previously had a problem with heroin. And we, we kind of broke up because I was going for meditation and wanted to go on long courses and stuff, and she wasn’t interested. And I and I looked like she was going to go back to her previous lifestyle. And I was kind of upset by that night. I went to my TM teacher, and I told her what was going on? And she said, Be an ocean. Which is that one, one phrase? helped a lot.


Beautiful Yeah, it gave me chills when you said that.

Rick Archer: There’s a verse from the Isa Upanishad, which has always puzzled me a bit and you deal with it very beautifully. I’ve heard you talk about it in some of your interviews, the verses they enter into blinding darkness who worship a video that’s a big difference into still greater darkness, as it were, do they enter who delight in video? I’d love to hear your commentary on that.

Yogacharya Ellen Grace O’Brian: Yeah, that the issue Punisher, then it really says it all it is kind of em. It says surprising one, I like it for that reason, because we you know, we’re familiar with many scriptures that say, okay, you know, in the world, you’re going to have trouble. You know, don’t don’t put your hopes there. And you’re going to have trials and tribulations and you’re not going to find it there. So you’re not, you know, forget about the world. So we’re used to that. But here’s the here’s one that says, Okay, you’re going to have trouble in the world. But in the inner life, Vidya this knowledge from within, if you’re only focused there, you’re going to have more trouble. And so that’s one of those things where it was teachings that you say what? You know, really, I mean, I thought that I thought it was all about that. And so for me that that Upanishad points to the Middle Way, which is that it’s neither in the world, nor is it exclusively in the inner realm of meditation. That, that we have to find this balance of, you know, really being awake in the world. So that’s means to me.

Rick Archer: Yeah. And just another possible interpretation of it. I’ve seen people who have focused so exclusively on the inner that they became not only dysfunctional, but kind of crazy with with reference to the outer Unhak actually had to be brought down in some way or, you know, given sedatives or something, because there’s just Dobin without proper integration.

Yogacharya Ellen Grace O’Brian: Yeah, that yeah, I’ve certainly that the danger of you know, spinning out right in, in not being able to ground the spiritual experience in the world. So

Rick Archer: I had a couple of friends who actually committed suicide who just kind of went on off the deep end, so important, stay balanced.

Yogacharya Ellen Grace O’Brian: Totally. And, and, you know, again, it’s, it’s that both, both are necessary. So you know, that we’ve heard that saying is, you know, it’s easy to be a saint on a mountaintop, right? And, for me that’s about is possible to think that we’re more enlightened than we really are. Just by isolating ourselves in our own inner world, but in the world of relationship. You know, we get to learn about our edges, we get to learn about our foibles, we get to, we get to unlock, you know, some of our some scars, some of the patterns in our mind that, you know, if we were not perturbed, and if somebody wasn’t pointing it out to us, or rubbing up against us to ignite that fire. We might not know that about ourselves.

Rick Archer: Yeah, I’ve lived in monastic settings for years, and you can get very idiosyncratic, you can get just very sort of hung up in your own mindset, without proper checks and balances as you might have in an actual relationship. And, you know, it was very good for me to get married and a little hard on my wife at first because I was such a nutcase. But, you know, she’s very practical and down to earth. And she was in the corresponding program for women, but somehow maintain greater practicality than I did. But in any case, I mean, just the the crucible of sort of that close relationship where you just can’t get away with your BS. It can be very evolutionary, if you don’t run away from it,

Yogacharya Ellen Grace O’Brian: you know, I have found it to be so and I feel very fortunate, you know, to be married to a man who’s also you know, a yogi on spiritual path. You know, we have different, we have different gurus, we’re in different traditions, but the intention is still the same. And so, you know, for us, our marriage has been a gift to our awakening path.

Rick Archer: How are we doing on time you? You okay?

Yogacharya Ellen Grace O’Brian: I’m good. Okay, good.

Rick Archer: So there’s few questions that you sent me in as notes that I think would be just good to ask, because they’re really good questions. And I probably wouldn’t have come up to them, come up with them myself, but it’s not all of them. Do you feel we’ve sufficiently described what the awakening processes you pose the question, How would you describe the awakening process to someone who isn’t sure what you mean by that?

Rick Archer: Let me just add a little sub note to that question. A lot of times people refer to their awakening, I had my awakening. I, as much as I dwell on this topic, I often think, what do they mean by that? Exactly? You know, it’s like using the word liquid, I drank some liquid that could be in any number of things.

Yogacharya Ellen Grace O’Brian: Right? So you know, for me, and, and that tradition of Kriya Yoga that I’ve, you know, studied in practice for many years, awakening is coming to know, not just know about, but know directly, in your own experience, know about and know, through experience realization that what you are, you know, as a spiritual being, you know, being able to observe the nature of the mind and the nature of reality, have insight into that but also direct experience of it. So, it and for me, it that’s a this awakening process is something that happens over time, I’m and I know that there are people who do have spontaneous experiences of waking up and they’re just awake, and, but in my experience, and that of many people I have met over time, it’s a gradual process of the mental field becoming clarified. And so that inner light of consciousness, and becomes perceptible is no longer obscured by the thinking mind the sense mind.

Rick Archer: If you don’t mind my asking, has that happened for you?

Yogacharya Ellen Grace O’Brian: Yeah, I mean, of course, over time, you know, it’s sort of like a sunrise. Yeah.

Rick Archer: When did it exactly rise?

Yogacharya Ellen Grace O’Brian: Yeah. So it’s that, you know, what I can say is that over the years, it’s become more clear to me my I am reactive nature is much less. So you know that has that has settled down. So I think it’s possible for people to wake up and become self realized, you know, to know who they are. Because they they know about it and they experience it directly. But then you know, is that full on enlightenment? No, I don’t I don’t see it that way I just see is a process of awakening, you know who you are. And then you know, there’s karma to work out. And there are some scars in the mental field that are yet to be cleared. And so in my experience, you know, do do I know what I am? Yes. Do I see the nature of life and reality? Yes. Is there more? Yes, I believe there’s more.

Rick Archer: Yeah, I think sunrise is a good metaphor. I just checked my weather app. And the sunrise this morning was at 727. But I know it was light before then. But it wasn’t as light as it was when the sun I guess, first peeked over the horizon. And it wasn’t, and that wasn’t as light as it is now. Or it’s like, you know, 140 in the afternoon here. So it’s probably a good metaphor. I mean, there. Many people do say, and maybe you could comment that there is a moment, which is really the the watershed moment or the turning point for between not being awake and awake. But that there’s still a great deal of refinement and evolution yet possible. Rupert spyera sent me an email recently, I said, there’s there’s an end to the path to God, but there’s no end to the path in God.

Yogacharya Ellen Grace O’Brian: Oh, that’s beautiful. That’s beautiful. Yeah. Yeah. It makes me just kind of stop and breathe and reflect on that. I think one of the questions about liberation about enlightenment is, you know, whether there’s a steady state of that, you know, and certainly there are, you know, the witness and the sages say, Yes, you know, and the, and the technical nature of the yoga sutra and, and other scriptures say, Yes, you know, there there’s a point at which the mental field not only the thinking mind, but the the body that the intellect becomes So, purified, you know, we would say so sattvic in its nature, that it is is similar to that of the the light of the self, which then can shine through it completely. And there’s an awakening energetically, you know, of when the way in which the person then no longer falls back into forgetfulness or falls back into delusion.

Rick Archer: You know, Joan Shiva put the Shiva pita Harrigan talks about reaching the Makara point, or Mokoro, maybe it’s pronounced, at which point that energy can’t go down again. And there’s that verse in The Gita that you just reminded me of the stage of steady intellect. This intellect is said to be like a candle that does not flicker in a windless place. So it reaches a sort of a silence or a steadiness that’s not perturbed by external circumstances.

Yogacharya Ellen Grace O’Brian: Yeah. So in terms of my experience, on the path that it is, again, you know, it’s like a like the sunrise there’s there’s progress towards that steadiness towards clarity. And, you know, I was having a conversation about the with Edwin Bryant, who has a commentary on yoga sutras, beautiful commentary, and, and he was talking about how our spiritual journey is really about sattva sizing, he made up that word, sizing our life and the mental fields, you know, it. So becoming more and more illumined more and more clear. So that’s how, you know, I see the journey. Yeah.

Rick Archer: In terms of the Gunas they say Thomas’s has a hiding quality, obscuring quality, whereas subtler is kind of, I guess, translucent, you would say it doesn’t, doesn’t obscure the self and that’s why the whole deal about you know, ethical behavior and purification and yoga and so on. It just it’s not that you couldn’t possibly have a glimpse of the self or even a professional one with more Thomas Rogers in the system, but it’s just less likely.

Yogacharya Ellen Grace O’Brian: Yeah, it makes sense to me. That’s one of the things that I that’s one of the reasons why I fell in love with yoga because they didn’t have to check my intellect at the door, you know, in these things made sense to me about the mechanics of it, you know about how it works, and then you start to test it out in your own experience, and you find that, oh, yeah, you know, I can see that I can see how that works, you know, my mental field is becoming brighter, you know, I am able to experience the rising of a samskara, you know, and there’s a little bit of a pause space in there now, where there, there wasn’t before, you know, there was just wrong, you know, that the the snake bite coming out, right? You know, and now you know, it’s it moves us slower. So there’s a, there’s a choice point in there. So there, there’s, there’s things that that that we can observe. But but one of the things I like to say is that one of the things I found refreshing about yoga, of course, was the teaching that spiritual practice is not about creating a spiritual condition. You know, I talked about sattva sizing, which I like that word is about sort of making our life more peaceful, more luminous. But we’re not doing that because we want to become spiritual, we’re doing that. Because we want to be able to express more fully, you know, that which we already are.

Rick Archer: Yeah. Well, that’s kind of what spiritual should mean, anyway.

Yogacharya Ellen Grace O’Brian: That’s what I think. Yeah, yeah. But there is a lot of confusion about that, you know, and it’s easy to fall into that trap that somehow, you know, I’m going to, I’m going to become spiritual. You know, when I, when I meditate, or, you know, if I, if I follow the yamas and niyamas, I’ll become a spiritual person. Oh, you just become a cleaning person trying to be spiritual.

Rick Archer: It was a very funny guy named JP Sears, who has been on BatGap, who has, has this whole spiel, hold the sticky does about big, ultra spiritual, he’s written like, you know, 12 and a half steps to becoming Ultra spiritual, and he makes all these funny YouTube videos.

Yogacharya Ellen Grace O’Brian: I’m gonna have to look for that. I think having a sense of humor about it is, is really helpful.

Rick Archer: Yeah, you’ll see him on that. If you look in the BatGap index, you’ll see look up Sears, remember Sears Roebuck? What do you think about people, let’s say who were enlightened or awaken to whatever degree to a significant degree. I always avoid that the word you know, because it has this sort of superlative static connotation and I always kind of feel like that could be further refined, but but let’s just use it for the time being. And and yet, then they begin to succumb in older age to Alzheimer’s or so as Robert Adams did. Do you think that they lose their inner awakening as the physical instrument deteriorates? Or is it somehow awake to itself regardless of what happens to the body at that stage?

Yogacharya Ellen Grace O’Brian: Yeah, that is when I think there is a view full on my husband’s Guru is Hari das baba, baba Ji, they call them founder, you know, Mount Madonna, community mount Madonna center. And in one time, he had a question, you know, for Baba Ji about that, which was similar to you know, why do these things happen, you know, to people who are awake and things happen to the body and, and Baba ji said, the body has its own karma. Yeah, I thought, oh, that’s just such a brilliant way to express it. So the self, you know, that that which we are, who does not have karma, but the body in the mind, your mind, of course, is a reservoir of karma. But the body itself when you think, you know, there’s just cause and effect at the, at the physical level, that of course, the body would have karma and the mind too, but that doesn’t mean that the Self does.

Rick Archer: Sure, but yoga, aspires to purify the body and make it a more fit instrument for the realization of the Self. So then the question is, once the self has been realized, what and that but then the body begins to deteriorate or maybe you have a stroke or Alzheimer’s or you’re impaired in some way. It’s sort of seems like you’re reversing the process of preparation, that yoga under undertook. And do you could you therefore lose the realization or somehow once one has realized one is independent of whatever happens to the body?

Yogacharya Ellen Grace O’Brian: That’s what that’s what I think that that the realization does not have to be subject to the body. Now, ideally, you know, I think our spiritual practice does remove some of those karmic influences, you know, that’s one of the goals right? So I mean, that’s why you are sort of, you know, focus on healthy body healthy mind so that we can be awake, we can live a long time we can experience liberation in this lifetime. And and I have seen, you know, many very healthy Yogi’s, you know, who have adopted the lifestyle, my own teacher among them, you know, who is in his, his late 80s. And he’s very bright and healthy body healthy mind. And ideally, that’s, that’s what we want want to see. But, you know, is the, if there is karma left in the body, or the mind, does that take away from the awakeness? Of the of the self? I wouldn’t think so. And I don’t think that, you know, that, that is necessary to super impose that, you know, outer on the inner experience.

Rick Archer: So it just impairs the ability to function in certain ways, but it’s not necessarily going to impair the self record. Because it does say in the Gita, for instance, the self realizes itself by itself. It’s not like we realize it as if it were a thing that we separate from it could realize.

Yogacharya Ellen Grace O’Brian: Yeah, and then if, you know, if you go down that if you take that path of, you know, well, if somebody has this happen physically, you know, then it takes away from their elimination, then then it also kind of tweaks the goal of, you know, somehow we’re looking for perfect body perfect mind. Yeah. He means, you know, in enlightenment, but that’s not the standard,

Rick Archer: right? Yeah. Then obviously, there were all kinds of cases like Rama dying of cancer and experienced a lot of pain, but apparently, from what he said, having no no influence on his realization.

Yogacharya Ellen Grace O’Brian: Yeah, it’s just beautiful to read his story. Yeah. And, you know, in the, you know, like, people say, I’m dying, you know, where would I go?

Rick Archer: That’s what I think that’s what he says, Please don’t leave us. Where would I go? Yeah. And then, of course, you know, they’re the kinds of things that that Yogananda talked about in his book of, you know, inner acting with Shri up to Shuar after he had died. And you know, him being very much alive and just sort of in a different or an a subtler body. So is that whole consideration? Yeah, yeah. Which is an interesting one in itself, because, you know, some people feel like, well, there is ultimately no personal self. Therefore, when when the body dies, there isn’t going to be anything left. And reincarnation is nonsense, because that would imply that there’s something or someone to reincarnate. But I could explain that away. But would you like to give it a crack?

Yogacharya Ellen Grace O’Brian: Well, I don’t have a memory. I don’t have a memory of another lifetime. So I don’t I don’t know. I will say that it makes sense to me that that the mind, you know, carries the blueprint. And so and I think it was the Dalai Lama who said that, you know, just because the body dies, we don’t have evidence that the mind does as well. Yeah. You know, been people confuse the mind with the brain, you know, the brain dies with the bodies the physical organ, but there’s no evidence at this point that the mind dies and along with the mind is where the the karmic storehouse is. Which, you know, according to the theories of reincarnation would give rise to another birth. So, yeah, to work out those impressions. Those karmic impressions. Yeah, it’s to me, it makes sense, you know, just just observing nature, the cyclic nature of things, you know, why would we be any different? Why would we be separate and apart from nature, that is birth and death and birth and death.

Rick Archer: Plus, there’s tons of evidence in terms of little kids having detailed recollections of past lives and they look up all the evidence in this kid’s talking about what kind of plane he flew in World War Two and who his buddies were and what his name was. kinds of stuff. Yeah.

Yogacharya Ellen Grace O’Brian: And I, you know, I’ve had, you know, some experiences that, you know, you don’t know whether you, at least I don’t know, you know, whether I manufacture that in my mind or whether it’s really a spiritual insight, you know, I had my saw my father, you know, after he left his body, and that’s a common experience for people, by the way. Oh, yeah. People don’t talk about it because it sounds you know, to get crazy, but It’s an interesting phenomenon. And you know, I wasn’t looking for him. It wasn’t trying to have a seance or anything like that. But you know, he just showed up and I could, I could see. It wasn’t like a physical appearance. But it was a subtle realization that, that that’s, that’s who it was. And it was a really beautiful experience for me actually, because my father was agnostic, and I was always this, you know, I, I don’t know about reincarnation, but I came in with spiritual yearnings. And so I was in a family without religious, inclination or spiritual inclination. And so I often think, well, on purely on a psychological level, I was there to balance out. But yeah, and so, but, you know, he didn’t, he didn’t really oppose my journey, but he, he didn’t really seem to have that for himself. And so when I saw him, you know, after he had left his body, that the insight that that came the communication that came, was him just showing up and saying, Well, it’s true. And it was like, it was like a blessing. So you know, whether that just came from, you know, some pattern in my mind, you know, I don’t, I don’t really know, except that I know how the experience felt. For me, it was very faith building for me to have that experience. Yeah,

Rick Archer: I’m inclined to believe it. And, and it’s just like one of those things that I think it’d be good at getting more and more into the popular culture these days, people are just, there’s so many TV shows about this kind of stuff. And I think people are just beginning to get it under their belts, you know, that this is the way the universe works. And, you know, it’s, whereas quite some time ago, one might have been burned at the stake for believing such things or whatever. You know, it’s just like the whole society is evolving to more profound understandings of things. Yeah. Was there anything that you think you might have wanted to say that we didn’t get to? I’d like to read in closing or anything that, you know, I don’t know, half an hour from now, after we hang up, you’re gonna say, well, wish we thought of that?

Yogacharya Ellen Grace O’Brian: Well, probably, it’s probably that that was that will be there. But you know, prompts are always a great way for me to, to just say what I what I can’t say. So maybe,

Rick Archer: while you’re looking for the poem. Let me just sort of make some closing remarks so that I don’t have to make mundane remarks after I read your beautiful poem. So you’ve been everyone who listening has been or watching has been listening to an interview with yogacharya Ellen Grace O’Brien. And she’ll have a page on On which I’ll link to her books and her websites. One of her websites I’m showing on the screen right now. That’s one whom I’ll be linking to. And then another is about to book. Another is there it is, there’s Ellen’s website was Ellen Grace O’Brien dot com. Yes. And you have another one for the CSE, which is the center that you run in San Jose. Good. And obviously, people can get in touch with you through those and you travel around and you give courses and you have regular weekly meetings there in San Jose for those who live in the area. And so people get in touch with

Yogacharya Ellen Grace O’Brian: you. Right and things happening online. So all that is on those webinars and stuff like that. Yeah, at the Ellen Grace O’Brien dot com. So that’s great. So this is a little poem about the awakening journey. And it’s also from the moon reminded me in the heart is a well in the heart is a well filled with the sound of silence. Drink from it. One taste changes everything. How do I know? The day I stopped sitting on the edge and fell in told me this? The day I stopped sitting on the edge and fell in told me this

Rick Archer: nice one. Yeah, okay. Well, thanks so much, Ellen. I’ve really enjoyed both preparing for this interview all week and then spending this time with you.

Yogacharya Ellen Grace O’Brian: Thank you so much, Rick. It was really a pleasure for me and an honor to be on your program and and I really want to thank you for all the that you put into this website. It’s really an inspiration and the work that you do I mean preparing it’s not you know just the conversation that’s heart to heart soul to soul but also that you you know spent the time that you did learning about your my work and the work of others that you bring on to the program. Deep bowels, and thank you for that.

Rick Archer: I got to multitask. So like this afternoon, I’ll be out cross country skiing in the woods, listening to something rather, I kind of do that, you know, cutting the grass and whatever else. It’s a nice way to sort of keep your attention on this stuff and prepare for these interviews.

Yogacharya Ellen Grace O’Brian: It’s wonderful, wonderful work and I’m glad it’s it’s prospering and just encourage people to keep on supporting it.

Rick Archer: Oh, thank you very much. Okay, thank you to those who have been listening or watching and we will see you next week.