May 10th, 2013
Bring heightened awareness and an expanded capacity for pleasure into every aspect of your daily life.
Mark A. Michaels and Patricia Johnson are a devoted married couple who have been teaching traditional and contemporary approaches to Tantric sexual practices together since 1999.
Michaels and Johnson are multi-award-winning authors of The Essence of Tantric Sexuality, Tantra for Erotic Empowerment: The Key to Enriching Your Sexual Life, and, most recently, Great Sex Made Simple: Tantric Tips to Deepen Intimacy and Heighten Pleasure, which just won the 2013 Gold Medal from Independent Publisher Book Awards in the Sexuality/Relationships category.
They’ve also produced instructional DVDs and a meditation CD set: all of these and more can be found on their website tantrapm.com
Michaels is a lawyer, playwright and translator. He translated and adapted Goldoni's The Mistress of the Inn for the Roundabout Theatre Company, and co-wrote The Thrill of Victory, The Agony of Debate, which premiered at New York's Primary Stages. Johnson is a retired professional operatic soprano who toured as a performer throughout the United States, Europe, and South America.
March 29th, 2013
Join some of the West's great adepts of Jhana, Concentration Meditation Practice. Jhana is an extraordinary human potential of the mind with deep and lasting rewards of peace, freedom, clarity, agility . . . and mastery. However, Jhana is especially exquisite in its preparatory role in the life of a meditator, bringing about capacities and factors of mind that prepare us for insight knowledge; direct, unshakeable experiential knowledge of the nature of reality.
Our jhana teachers and guides are, in order of their photographs, above:
Shaila Catherine, who has been practicing meditation since 1980, with more than eight years of accumulated silent retreat experience. She has taught since 1996 in the USA, and internationally. Shaila has dedicated several years to studying with masters in India, Nepal and Thailand. Shaila Catherine has practiced under the guidance of Venerable Pa-Auk Sayadaw since 2006. She is author of Focused and Fearless: A Meditator’s Guide to States of Deep Joy, Calm, and Clarity and Wisdom Wide and Deep: A Practical Handbook for Mastering Jhana and Vipassana. Shaila Catherine founded Insight Meditation South Bay, a Buddhist meditation center in Silicon Valley (www.imsb.org). Click here for Shaila's schedule of retreats.
Leigh Brasington, a former computer programmer and now teacher of Jhana retreats, is currently at work on his first book, the working title of which is The Buddha's Jhanas. Click here for Leigh's resume and find all his resources and his retreat schedule at his website leighb.com
Dr. Judson Brewer, Assistant Professor of Psychiatry at the Yale School of Medicine and Medical Director of the Yale Therapeutic Neuroscience Clinic, is a board-certified psychiatrist who has been investigating the neural underpinnings of Mindfulness Training and its clinical efficacy for disorders such as addictions. Dr. Brewer received his AB from Princeton University and MD/PhD from Washington University in St. Louis. After training in mindfulness meditation during medical and graduate school, he shifted his focus from animal models of stress, to the elucidation of neurobiological mechanisms underlying the interface between stress, mindfulness and the addictive process.
Tina Rasmussen, PhD, learned to meditate in 1976, at the age of 13. In 2003, she completed a year-long silent solo retreat. In 2005 she was ordained as a Theravadan Buddhist nun by Ven. Pa Auk Sayadaw of Burma who later authorized her to teach. Tina is the co-author of Practicing the Jhanas (with Stephen Snyder). She has worked as a professional coach and OD consultant for more than 25 years. She completed her Ph.D. in 1995, and has authored several published books on humanistic business practices.
Stephen Snyder, JD, began practicing Buddhist meditation in 1976, and has had a daily meditation practice since. He practiced for 20 years with several Western Zen masters, participating in more than 50 retreats and receiving several ordinations. In 2005, he completed a retreat with Ven. Pa Auk Sayadaw of Burma, who later authorized him to teach. Stephen is the co-author of the book Practicing the Jhanas (with Tina Rasmussen). Stephen has been a practicing lawyer and mediator since 1987.
Tina and Stephen are a married couple, and offer teaching and retreats to students worldwide. For more information about them, please visit their website at www.JhanasAdvice.com.
February 4th, 2013
Minds are malleable, sensitive and responsive to influence, pressures, shaping and conditioning by family, educational inputs, life stressors, advertising and media messaging, repetitious uses of language, and intensive social expectations and atmospheres.
This Living Hero show features numerous experts from the 2012 film Four Horsemen, plus the larger-than-life figures of George Lakoff and Jeremy Rifkin; and an extended interview on memes, otherwise known as value structures, cognitive maps, mindsets and worldviews, with consultant and educator, Don Beck.
Dr. Beck explains the Spiral Dynamics theory that says newly emerging human mindsets reach beyond egalitarian views to holistic, integrative and comprehensive understandings that "transcend and include" all past forms of knowing and can thus discriminate among them to find the wisest, most workable approaches in any given situation, depending on all factors and people involved, accurately reading the mindsets of the people in conflict and collaboration, and facilitating peace.
Under the intense global pressures of plutocracy and toxicity and as more people become literate about worldviews and the ways that minds are shaped, more perceptive, holistic and integrative mindsets are emerging.
Features music by Brian Eno and John Cale, Leonard Cohen, Laurie Anderson, Stephanie's ID and more . . .
For more information and to watch The Four Horsemen film, visit http://buy.fourhorsemenfilm.com/
To watch the full talk "The Empathic Civilization" by Jeremy Rifkin visit The Ross Institute for Advanced Study and Innovation in Education's You Tube Channel and The Ross Institute for Advanced Study and Innovation in Education.
Find out more about the work of George Lakoff and about George Lakoff's DVD How Democrats and Progressives Can Win.
And visit Spiral Dynamics and Don Beck.
TAGS: “value memes” “cognitive maps” “Four Horsemen” “George Lakoff” “Don Beck” “Spiral Dynamics” “frames of mind” “human development” “corporate media” “financial crisis” “predatory capitalism” “Ayn Rand” “mind control” “Gillian Tett” “progressive education” “depression rates” “Michael Hudson” “Clare Graves” “value systems” “models of good and evil” “human nature” “corporate media” “banking elite” “International Monetary Fund” Orwellian media “value systems” “Jeremy Rifkin” “Empathic Civilization” holistic integral
January 21st, 2013
Profound messages on parenting for peace with engaging and inspiring stories told by Arun Gandhi, the 5th grandson of Mahatma Gandhi, excerpted from his talk “Lessons From My Grandfather” with musical interludes in the first half-hour and practical evolutionary parenting guidelines of Parenting for Peace author Marcy Axness, PhD. Music from the Until the End of the World film soundtrack, from Bobby McFerrin’s Beyond Words, DJ Spooky, and from the Brooklyn-based trio, Archie Pelago.
Show produced by Living Hero Radio Show and Podcast producer,
Segment One :: first half-hour:
Features stories from Arun Gandhi’s talk “Lessons from My Grandfather,” with musical interludes.
Segment Two :: second half-hour:
Features a long excerpt from the 2008 Living Hero interview with Marcy Axness, PhD, with musical interludes.
Segment Three :: third half-hour:
Completes the interview excerpt with Marcy Axness, PhD and offers commentary by Jari Chevalier and music by the Brooklyn-based trio, Archie Pelago.
Segment One :: first half-hour Special:
Terry Riley. “In C” Bang On a Can, Cantaloupe Music, 2011. 45:30
Bobby McFerrin. “Pat & Joe” Beyond Words, Blue Note, 2002. 02:11
Graham Revell. "Finale" Until the End of the World, Warner Bros, 1991. 0:58
Bobby McFerrin. “Monks/The Shepherd” Beyond Words, Blue Note, 2002. 02:48
Graham Revell. "Love Theme" Until the End of the World, Warner Bros, 1991. 0:45
Bobby McFerrin. “A Piece, a Chord” Beyond Words, Blue Note, 2002. 03:46
Dj Rekha Presents: Sunil Sehgal. “Fakir (DJ Spooky Vocal Remix),” Fakir, E1 Music, 2009. 04:57
DJ Spooky. “Measure By Measure” The Secret Song, Thirsty Ear, 2009. 03:41
Segment Two :: Second half-hour:
Archie Pelago. “In the Room” Forthcoming release . . .
Segment Three :: Third half-hour:
Archie Pelago. “Archie Pelago Live Mix For Mary Anne Hobbs” Self-produced, 2012. 25:38
TAGS: Mahatma Gandhi, Arun Gandhi speech, parenting tips, parenting guidelines, early childhood development, radio, podcast, audio, commentary, Marcy Axness, interview, Archie Pelago, child abuse, exemplary parenting, Parenting for Peace, “Lessons from My Grandfather”, social change, social justice, attunement, prenatal care, pregnancy, birth, self-discipline, “anger management,” skip ultrasound, parental education, child care, infancy, nursing, stories
January 14th, 2013
Listen as experts speak about how psychedelic plants found in rainforests are being used in the treatment of addiction in, Trips Beyond Addiction, featuring the voices and stories of ex-addicts, researchers and treatment providers sharing their experiences and fascinations with these medicines. Show produced by Living Hero Radio Show and Podcast producer, Jari Chevalier.
With Dimitri Mobengo Mugianis, Bovenga Na Muduma, Clare S. Wilkins, Brad Burge, Tom Kingsley Brown, Susan Thesenga, Bruce K. Alexander . . . and other important voices active in the field of healing with these native medicines.
Trips Beyond Addiction first aired as the first half hour of the inaugural Living Hero Radio show on WGDR-WGDH fm in North-Central Vermont on January 12, 2013. The complete 90-minute show is available for streaming here and on Soundcloud (search: WGDR Living Hero 01.12.13).
Trips Beyond Addiction has a score of tunes by Jari Chevalier, riffed on and performed by Cosmo D from the band Archie Pelago.
Also with music by The Cinematic Orchestra. The Living Hero station ID music bed is from the start of Terry Riley's In C. And musician Bovenga Na Muduma played the sample of the native Bwiti instrument the Mugongo.
INTRODUCTION: Ayahuasca and Iboga are rainforest hallucinogens. They are traditional sacraments used in the tribal cultures of the Amazon and of Central West Africa, respectively, and in the past, these tribal medicines were taken by many members of the traditional societies of the regions where they naturally grow.
Now, these same compounds, sometimes referred to as entheogens for their power to evoke "mystical experiences," spiritual awakenings, powerful self-confrontation and aroused conscience, are being investigated scientifically to gain understanding of their extraordinary power and efficacy in treating addiction in contemporary Western society.
Musical Works in Trips Beyond Addiction
Title Artist Album Label Year
All Things, The Cinematic Orchestra, Man with a Movie Camera, Ninja Tune, 2003
Needle and the Damage Done, Indra, In Between, Self-produced, 2012
Trips Beyond Addiction, Jari Chevalier ~ Improvisations and Performance by Cosmo D (unpublished/self-produced), 2013
Reel Life, The Cinematic Orchestra, Man with a Movie Camera, Ninja Tune, 2003
Dawn, The Cinematic Orchestra, Man with a Movie Camera, Ninja Tune, 2003
TAGS: ayahuasca iboga addiction psychedelics hallucinogens MAPS entheogens “Dimitri Mobengo Mujianis” “Clare Wilkins” “Bovenga Na Muduma” podcast “transcending dependence” “Brad Burge” “psychedelic research studies” sobriety healing “overcoming addiction” conscience “personal growth” wisdom “rainforest medicines” “shamanic medicines” “opiate addiction” “opiate withdrawal” “get off opiates” “spiritual transcendence” “pain medication dependence” “prescription opiate dependency” heroin oxycontin “drug addiction”
PHOTO CREDIT: Ashley Fisher
January 5th, 2013
Hello Living Hero People!
In contemporary life, people who effectively take a creative and unconventional path, who find ways to resist that which is destructive, unwholesome or lacking in integrity are to be considered heroic and visionary!
Artists, researchers, activists, authors, wisdom figures ~ with musical accompaniment and interludes ~
May we enjoy moving from a toxic, alienated and fragmented culture to one of holistic integrity and social cohesion.
Join The Living Hero Radio Show and Podcast Facebook page to comment on and contribute to our shows!
@LivingHeroPod on Twitter!
See you there! Share ~
For the greater good,
Podcast Video [1:01m]: Play Now
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February 29th, 2012
Hankering for a whole new world? Well, Dr. Marcy Axness' Parenting for Peace: Raising the Next Generation of Peacemakers is your ticket: it highlights all that's amiss in how we currently raise children in America and models an emerging holistic worldview in which human beings can blossom into confident, benevolent people.
Dr. Axness reminds us that "we are the soil in which our children grow." Are we spiritually developed and psychologically mature enough to provide the conditions that truly nourish our babies and children?
Discussing every aspect of parenting from how biological life unfolds to how teenagers can be respectfully supported in their pressures, challenges and growth, Axness' brilliant synthesis makes it clear that parenting must be front and center in any successful movement for widespread social wellness. By "taking responsibility for how we invite in, welcome and incarnate our next generation" we engage in social action, and put ourselves in charge of change.
This witty, poetic, fact-loaded and wise book reveals and exposes all the ways people are currently damaging youth, specifically in contemporary Western-style society. It also suggests just how swiftly and comprehensively mothers and fathers who are parenting for peace can revolutionize our world through a conscious, concerted approach.
You'll also understand the details of why we must revise the way we carry, birth, and engage with children at every stage of their development and, to do so, how we must swim against strong social currents that have deliberately undermined the holistic health of children to make for good workers and consumers, to ensure social stability for a corporate state.
Dr. Axness' deep, comprehensive and effective questioning of contemporary medical, educational, and ideological social mores and establishments calls upon parents to turn the tide.
Axness acknowledges that parenting for peace is the most important and challenging job of your life; "this ideal of parenting for a generation of peacemakers is so demanding, so sophisticated, and demands such a level of maturity, we are culturally only now barely up to the task."
And yet, in many ways, this daunting and demanding task calls upon us merely to be more loving, aware, easeful and natural. Axness teaches us how to gauge ourselves in the midst of our greatest challenges. At the end of each chapter, there are age-specific tips for embodying and practicing the central principles of her teaching: presence, awareness, rhythm, example, nurturance, trust, and simplicity (P.A.R.E.N.T.S.).
By the end of this paradigm-busting book, you will know that every opportunity to bring physical, emotional, psychological and spiritual security and well-being to a child is a powerful action in service to the living world.
Listen to our interview with Marcy (September 2008) here.
She also appears in our special program Where's the Imagination?
©2012 Jari Chevalier
Paperback: 443 pages
Publisher: Sentient Publications (January 30, 2012)
April 25th, 2011
Narcissists and Sociopaths live to dominate and thrill to win. They can excel marvelously anywhere ruthlessness is rewarding.
And recent research brings us new understanding of just what these serious emotional disabilities are; what causes them, how prevalent they are, and how studying them helps us to draw the connections between psyche and society.
Join host/producer Jari Chevalier as she talks with experts Dr. Nina W. Brown, Dr. Linda Martinez-Lewi, social worker Lisa Charlebois, Dr. Philip Zimbardo, Gabor Maté, MD, Dr. Sandy Hotchkiss, Dr. Scott Baum, and Dr, Martha Stout. Narration includes in-depth research and synthesis of the work of these and many other researchers and healers.
Learn just how and why narcissists and sociopaths might be a bigger part of your life than you imagine. We focus on the many factors of unreality inherent in these personality structures and how they spin unreality into the world.
April 6th, 2011
Four thousand people attended the largest annual conference of left and progressive intellectuals in the world over the weekend of March 18-20, 2011. It was the 7th annual Left Forum, at Pace University in lower Manhattan. A thousand speakers, 300 workshops, panels and dialogues on international politics, class war, social justice issues, corporate abuse of power and the ravages of financial deregulation attracted academics, anti-capitalists, socialists, artists, journalists, activists and anarchists to forge bonds of solidarity for social change. They had their choice of up to 45 panel discussions per seven program periods, plus two stellar plenary presentations covering the conference theme “Towards a Politics of Solidarity”.
Internationally known presenters such as Richard Wolff, Stanley Aronowitz, Cornel West, Laura Flanders, Barbara Ehrenreich, Francis Fox Piven, Benjamin Barber, John Nichols and The Yes Men, keen-sighted and eloquent in their analyses and reportage of problems, activists working for change, graced the conference mainstage.
So why were only a few presentations really strong on inspiration and insight for how to foster growing unity among progressives, how to build consensus on outlook and method to bring unity of action to fruition?
For the most part, I heard the need for solidarity answered with a call for solidarity, a need for a new paradigm with a call for a new paradigm. In the face of mounting world catastrophes and collapses, this is just a little like singing, “100 bottles of beer on the wall” together.
I suspect even right-wing spies who no doubt sat among us were underwhelmed by such tautologies. What could they report back that the leftists were planning to do? Top secret: They say they’re going to get together and take down power systems, make demands for multiracial, multicultural harmonious living, end top-down ersatz democracy, rid societies of oppression and exploitation, create equal opportunity and abundance for all . . . .
But there we all were, “together” at the conference, and if there were any coherent plans for how this vast harmonious concert of united humanity is to subsume current power structures and create a better world, I didn’t catch wind of them. Maybe I just went to the wrong rooms.
Because, in fact, I witnessed several quite bristly moments of disharmony, one among panelists on stage and one among audience members, the latter threatened physical aggression, with me shouting “stop!”
And throughout the weekend, there was more accord on explicating societal ills and defining authoritarian power structures than on fresh orientations or practical strategies for building a just and fair society.
Also, to my chagrin, I did not hear discussed what is actually the most significant divide among progressives, the rift between secular atheists and spiritually-oriented progressives. The latter were tellingly under-represented in the Left Forum programming. It appears the two groups do not break bread together, nor smoke the peace pipe around the same campfires.
And, of course, there are those progressives who wouldn't be caught dead or alive at either the Left Forum or at a gathering of, say, the Institute of Noetic Scientists, whose conference attracts the “conscious evolutionary” progressives.
And so the palpable spiritual desertification of our culture, if we could even be said to have a culture at all here in the US, was not considered a key part of the discussion of political, economic or social problems at either of the two Left Forums I’ve attended (2010 and 2011).
But I wonder if spiritual poverty and spiritual heartbreak is of central and essential relevance to our movement and to the urgent global problems so eloquently elucidated and enumerated at the Left Forum.
There were only a couple of classroom panels focusing on spiritual topics. One featured three Christian ministers speaking to a relatively small audience about the radical nature of their congregational work. Another panel, which I did not attend, featured Gary Null, et. al., who may have approached some of the issues I am pointing to here.
The very fact that the spiritual left and the academic left do not, for the most part, speak to each other in public (and that this fact was not deliberately brought forth in the widely attended plenary talks at this year’s Left Forum) speaks volumes about just how intractable a problem achieving solidarity really is among progressives.
How can we speak about solidarity or lack thereof without coming to grips with this glaring dissonance? Not only was this, our biggest rift, left unaddressed as a central topic in any panels I attended, I heard no direct conversation about any of the perennial divisions among progressives—all the little fractures and slices of worldview from Marxists to progressive democrats, to Green Anarchists—and so, where could be the insightful analyses of what human needs give rise to strong ideological identifications and encampments or how such divisions might be transcended? And without such understanding, how are we to begin to approach a more global vision for connecting with those who are not the least bit progressive at this time?
Instead, the need for solidarity was addressed through kudos for Egyptian and Wisconsin demonstrators, through applauding these truly heroic examples and models of solidarity for social justice and regime change, but at a time when neither of these groups have lasting victory to show for their efforts, the kind of social progress that can deal with human greed, aggression, power, supremacy . . . .
There were accolades and strong applause for the solidarity represented by pizza orders called in to feed Madison, WI demonstrators, from unknown ideological comrades watching Madison protests via internet and TV around the US and the world.
Yes! hot pizza pies are significant and meaningful gestures of solidarity, and yet eerily disappointed was I that radicals at the Left Forum did not dig up and chew on the roots of what lasting solidarity really is, the metaphysical elements of brotherhood and sisterhood and what gives rise to them beyond the common enemy, those intangibles that provide persistent courage and energy to power through and prevail in the face of destructive forces that oppose the best in us.
In my experience of the conference only Cornel West went there and so it thrilled me when he said, in speaking of the people of Iraq and Afghanistan: “We actually love those brothers and sisters. And isn’t it something that to believe that is to be radical.” That’s it; that’s right! He actually used the L-word, the seemingly forbidden word that represents a force that knows no bounds or divisions and no obstacles, a force more powerful than all the evils in our way. Bravo, Cornel West! The audience exploded with applause for him.
Why not speak of this in depth and more often? Why the separation of intellect and soul? Can't we get over this?
Is it because this is what gets you good and killed if you start talking about it as an unmediated birthright (Lennon, MLK, Jesus . . .) and start speaking of its lack as the root cause of social injustice?
Other than West’s statements, the general disengagement from the L-word and its meaning as the clarifying, fundamental aspect of life that we must exercise, strengthen and engage in ourselves and each other to full capacity, is the daunting fact that left me bereft, because only by addressing the lack of love amongst progressives and others will we be set to balance and transform our stagnation and galvanize a metaphysics of solidarity. This is how to arrive at a resolute set of actions, with strong and flexible bonds of brotherhood, with loving care and tenderness as our foundation; this is what's necessary for us to overcome rampant toxicity at every level—all of this was crystalized for me by what was lacking at the conference, an understanding of just why progressives are in their perennial underdog position in the struggle for justice.
Are we embarrassed or afraid to love big, bold and colorful? Are we ashamed to speak of abiding love as the energy of our bonds? Are we all just too depressed, anxious and desiccated inside? Can we wholeheartedly live up to taking care of ourselves and each other? Are we too heartbroken by life experience to let love flow and overspill, to beam love in the direction of the future where we will pioneer into 21st Century and excite all those around us to do the same? Are we paralyzed by the evil we have witnessed and continue to witness every day around us? All I can say is that if love is flowing in our hearts and nervous systems, let it not be confined, disguised, or kept too private now; we need it now more than ever.
I am listening for it, looking for it (the L), and yet I hear rampant cynicism, depression and despair. Love is lively, confident and bright. I appreciated the moment when Joel Kovel said in his presentation that “you need faith if you’re going to transform the world.” This is correct. But what is faith?
Faith is not religion, emotion or belief. Faith is a basic trust in life and the forces of existence, a trust in one’s organic sense of what is real and correct, and a trust in the underlying forces and processes of a universe of implicate law and intelligence, exceeding our feeble comprehension. We have to reawaken our capacities to listen, intuit and trust in life's true essentials.
Investigative journalism, accurate assessments and indictments, as well as multiple forms of resistance are surely needed, but we also need more time to be quiet, to be outdoors in wild places, to welcome our own changes, to be creative and make mistakes, to refresh ourselves and to get over our pasts, so that we’re not projecting personal rage from offenses of long ago onto current outrageous situations. Because all that makes for is conflagration, not skillful, creative and radical means that can show the way to the unwise.
The super-communicators of this year’s Forum were Cornel West and John Nichols. The old adage that “it’s not what you say, it’s the way you say it,” reasserted itself fully in the delivery of these orators. They activated bonding forces of solidarity, speaking emphatically with grace, rousing emotion, tempered to below the boiling point.
And yetl, did we not still long for gifts of real imagination at this conference? The cutting-edge is dull, getting perennially stuck at a horizon all too familiar, with too many conflicting views and goals, too much in-fighting. What will cut through to a higher order, to overcome dysfunction in our world.
Lip service is often given to the role of artists and creatives, but were there any artists on the Left Forum plenary panels? No!
At the scale of global society, with nearly seven billion people on the planet now, and with enormous challenges and forces in play, why are all these brilliant thinkers not entirely engaged with just how human beings will function, seven billion strong, as the current imperialist and plutocratic structures are disabled and dismantled, as we would like them to be?
The most clearly desirable practical ideas mentioned were worker cooperatives and relocalization, breaking up of multinational conglomerate financial systems, such as the IMF and the World Bank, reregulating investment banks, decentralizing governments into smaller regional entities and a global redistribution of wealth and power.
These are all ideas in common currency on the left. For those of us not invited to the table at progressive think tanks, it would be galvanizing to us to get feasible pictures of how the society we ideologically want would actually work, how things would be different in our daily lives and how those differences would make dangers we now face shrink back and resolve, how the redistribution of wealth and power would actually be achieved.
And if the answer is that nobody really has such things worked out, even in in their own minds, then how smart is it, really, to convene at this time, to have all these people burning all this fossil fuel to come together just to criticize the yellow brick road and the men behind the curtain? Shouldn’t we all be working locally and personally to open up our visionary capacities so we can see the way forward and then get together to share views and arrive at plans?
The word revolution was certainly in the air at the Forum, but it takes a whole lot more than a word to convince significant numbers of people to revolt. Combat revolutions require sacrifices of lives and materials; and history has shown that even successful people's revolutions can be followed on by regression to old ways.
This is exactly why “the spiritual left” calls for inner revolution, for psychological change, for freedom from addiction, for personal authority and integrity, so that social progress springs from authentic habits of holistic thinking and living, from the resolution of inner conflicts, and freedom from the irritation, discontent and wanting of the immature human spirit.
Everywhere on the Left we are inundated with daunting facts rather than energizing tactics. Facts about the toxicity of what we breathe, drink and eat, stats on the alarming rate of wealth being sucked up the ladder, rallying calls for the redistribution of wealth – So where is the unified, coordinated redistribution-of-wealth strategy? "Tax the rich"? Is this it?
Did anyone at the Left Forum say international general strike? I didn’t hear it. How much personal and moral authority would it take for, say, 25% of people around the world to shut down the global economy and governments and take charge of every aspect of their own lives, as a group, in solidarity? We could do this, just as soon as we are actually ready to handle it.
But how do unemployed people living on government checks strike? Are they going to refuse to pick up their government checks? Are they really interested in bringing down the government that is the teat they’re attached to for food and drink?
And what about employed people or entrepreneurs, up to their eyeballs in debt, kids, cars . . . what would get them to step out of line to bring down the system and build a new world? What do you think? That going to happen if we have no solidarity or plan that encourages these people to drop out of this way of life and stand together?
In which rooms at the conference were they talking about all this?
There were many details given about corporate abuses of power and how Citizens United will effect elections and bring even more corporate power to lawmaking and military authority, more evidence that we are being strangled and poisoned notch by notch, that while we hem, haw, dilly and dally, Fascism is taking hold and tightening its grip.
We were also privy to many specifics and particulars of the escalating environmental devastation of our biosphere and the denial of corporate/governmental power to recognize the urgency and respond. To be environmentally responsible means abandoning a legacy of exploitation and greed with biblical underpinnings, as well as high-stakes investments in growth and expansion of businesses based on extraction, domination and exploitation of natural ecosystems. To be truly environmentally responsible would mean that predatory capitalist system would be finished and the elite standards of living that everyone in the Left Forum audience is used to would be cut way, way back. Ready to rally for that? Just how many people would be put out of work in that scenario? Even if workers were to take over those businesses as coops, how would they run such businesses if they weren’t going to exploit land or other people?
We want to end the wars, close nuclear power plants, stop hydrofracking and tar sands operations, stop offshore drilling. Are you ready to live without fossil fuels? Ever gone hiking and camping? Ever live like a monk or a nun? No? Do these things now and then let's have a radical conversation.
We were told that Fox News is the most watched television news program and that the Wall Street Journal is the most read newspaper; that the messengers on the Right are ever-so-disciplined, consistent and pervasive in their backward messaging.
But isn’t it also true that Republicans are divided on many issues? We were told that half of Republicans identify as Tea Party supporters and the other half poll more like Democrats on the subject of social programs. So, the truth is that they don’t know what to do either and they don’t agree with each other or stand together on a lot of issues. There are pro-choice, pro gay marriage, fiscal Republicans, for example.
So why were there not concentrated analyses of just what our central messages are and why we are so unclear, undisciplined, inconsistent and ineffectual? Why were we not looking judiciously at ways to create lasting solidarity across platforms, across aisles, across all the blurred and shifting lines of the masses of suffering humanity? Why can’t we think bigger and more holistically than we do?
Artists, spiritual elders, and futurists are the visionary systems thinkers with big-picture capacity, long-range vision, and inner resources of satisfaction, but there were no artists or futurists on the plenary stage. Why not?!
Ladies and gentlemen, brothers and sisters, prodigious minds of erudition and passion, where was the much-needed attention to remedying ideological territorialism, which so afflicts the movement for justice and for sanity? Are we to remain defined primarily by what we are not, by what we oppose, by our anti-corporate and anti-capitalist rage, slogans and declarations?
Must it be our destiny to be in the role of yelping underdogs, fighting with our softie-hearted kid gloves in a class war that is totally rigged, where nothing can be done without capital and where we are perennially undercapitalized and forced to fight a losing battle, when in fact we are lovers not fighters? Why was there not more talk along these lines?
I say we've got to change the game in our own lives and who wants to hear that?! Let us no longer recognize the value of paper currency! Let us be defined by our creative vision and leadership, making obsolete, in both word and deed, the shackles of unwholesome societal projects! Disengage! Pull out! Disobey! Divest yourself of everything you've got sunk into the toxic, unreal world. Occupy the land. Leave the cities and get with the land to learn from and work with those who know how to live in harmony with the land.
Laura Flanders said something very important at the conference. She said, “Reality is what we need to grapple with.” This is truly of the essence. And it’s the same reality for progressives, as it is for those on the right. Dissociation from reality is the most pervasive human problem we are called to overcome now, in every social class, at every age, and in every culture and country on Earth.
Our true unity is actually found in our ignorance and weaknesses, in the pain of our confusion, ineptitude, psychological immaturity and disengagement from the Earth, in our not knowing what to do. The energetic network for mass solidarity is actually the shared experience of modernity and industrial civilization and its discontents, its craziness, its falsities, and our shared struggles of being neither here nor there.
Meanwhile everyone is pretending to know more than they do know and to be stubbornly right in that! We are together in our hidden existential pain. We will be strong when we can present a viable structuring of society that gives everyone the time and resources to address their dissociation from reality, to deal with hurt and the possibility of deep healing for future generations, to approach reality afresh, as ones who have learned a great deal since the start of the industrial era, with only perhaps a few elements of it worth keeping. Let us be eclectic about what we have learned; let's keep gems of wisdom and abolish all our many errors of ways and means.
No one can do this while they are on a rat-wheel “workin’ for the man,” when they are caught up in competition, envy and fear. And “the man” can’t do it either, not when he’s in domination mode, waging war, exploiting underlings, setting policies that don’t serve the universal needs of people, scarring the land and pillaging seas for profit. These are people sadly out of touch.
All too few of us can approach and stay engaged with reality if we are living within today’s world structures, which are so very damaging to the spirit. This is why monks and nuns are given protection to be reclusive; they are doing the work of inner alignment with reality. More and more of us could disengage from academia and all forms of institutional and establish work and turn inward to contact reality, living very simply and without fanfare. As we do, we need less and less of what the techno-monopoly world has to offer, seeing it as a sorrowful waste of the gift of life. All people might be touched by reality and therein find rest, peace.
Are we willing to lay down our careers, positions and possessions if that’s what needs to be done to reach our most cherished goals?
Imagine if 85% of the world’s population were highly educated and psychospiritually mature. Anarchy might work. It would not be such a chaotic situation. But if 85% of the world’s population is ignorant, dependent and immature, anarchy is completely untenable, because people cannot self-manage and they will not be trustworthy to look after each other and other forms of life.
A favorite slogan of the Situationists during the European social upheavals in 1968 was "Be Realistic. Demand the impossible.”
Reality itself is demanding that we transcend, create, surpass former limits and that is the natural way of the universe anyway, with or without us. What seems “impossible,” out of reach, is so because our psychospiritual development and its conditions are too undeveloped to live up the moral sense or the creative potential that is ours, but which is very intimate. This demand for alignment with intimate reality is knocking inside all of us but the most severely crippled souls, those very people who so often find their way into positions of power. When are we going to answer to the intimate truth instead of to the magnetic psychopaths who dominate and manipulate through ignorance and lies?
The growth humanity needs now has nothing to do with the growth of an economy or the provision of “creature comforts,” nor with rallies and the fall of governments. It is about deepening and strengthening of our capacity to meet reality and be wholeheartedly aligned with it, to be realized people, working with natural law as our law.
Can we imagine that the basis of our entire global culture is to achieve what is generally considered “the state of enlightenment,” but which is simply alignment with reality?
Will the academic left get with this? If so, you might just be out of a job, professors. How would you like to build a cob house with a bunch of us and put in some gardens and greenhouses?
And, will “the spiritual left” please leave off with the UFOs and aliens, crystals and runes, drug trips, crop circles, reptilian humans, astrology, mystery cults, power of attraction workbooks, drum circles, fortune tellers, pagan rites . . . and meet with intellectuals and just folks around the campfire for some practical architecture?
Now, will the evangelists and the rednecks, addicts, doctors, pharmacists, lawyers, gangsters, secret agents and casino owners turn away from false doctrines, false flags, guns and poisons? What? No? Will you be ransacking our brand new mud and straw villages? Really?
Don’t you want to admit that the native peoples were the advanced minds, the wisdom figures, and that the Europeans were the neurotic, puerile savages?
Can we get a wee bit smarter and more radical now?
Making our demand Life’s demand, taking this upon ourselves as a species, across all borders, boundaries and divisions, is deeply political in nature and also deeply spiritual: these go together. Once you’re fully involved in reality, you won’t have time anymore for consumer business or celebrities, nor will you harbor a shred of interest in the circus of electoral politics.
Bio-psycho-social-spiritual integration and development, dynamic growth, holistic health and clear mind-sight into and through the old and the present has the potential to bring not only the fractured left together, but humanity as a whole.
The imperative for reality changes the human project entirely. We simply cannot go back to sing Jack and Jill, play musical chairs and Ring around the Rosy now. We simply cannot sing anthems, run marathon rat races or have the fruits of our love and work go to war and waste.
The whole stage-set will be dismantled when we are over the silly stories of this theater! All of us, together, over it, over it now! Dull, ditzy, dusty old stories!
Victor Hugo famously said "Greater than the tread of mighty armies is an idea whose time has come." And the time as come, fellow human beings, to acknowledge that when enough of the human race grows up and perceives reality, the seemingly endless cycles of invasion, exploitation and domination of peoples and planet will be obsolete.
There are not enough jails, money or uniformed men to contain, hold back and push down an idea whose time has come.
It is the whole construct of reality that is crumbling and dying around us. Goodbye. Good night. Good luck. Awaken.
©2011 Jari Chevalier
February 28th, 2011
There is tremendous hypocrisy among people who claim they want fundamental change. If able people who consider themselves progressive would use the time they currently spend on complaining or entertaining themselves or drinking or smoking pot and doing other drugs; if they would work diligently to get themselves healthy in body and mind; if they would refuse all but simple, wholesome, unprocessed foods they cook at home; if they exercised hard; and if they would have nothing to do with banks and investment firms, which are the very torsos of the behemoths they claim to abhor; we’d be off to a pretty good start.
If people who claim they want fundamental change would clear the smoke and mirrors of their own minds and lives and look reality squarely in the eye, would stop buying products that come in packages, which are hyped through advertising (you’re paying for that hype!), would put all their TVs into their cars and drive their cars to their nearest state house or public square, lock them up and walk away, never to return for them; we’d be getting somewhere.
If people would put the energy they put into raging against the machine into ridding themselves of their bad habits of consumption; for example, consuming ridiculous quantities of sugar, which is poison for the human body . . . and would stop buying the next gadget, stop exposing themselves to advertisements, stop consuming all non-durable, disposable, mass-market items, in fact, stop all their self-destructive activities; we’d see marvelous moves in the right direction. In short, if people would give up their own bullshit, we’d have a very different picture before us.
Look, real progress now requires a healthy integration of intellectual, creative, psychological and spiritual progress, not mechanistic, technological progress, fueled by ignorance, narcissism and greed.
When people make it their jobs to break their own addictions and bad habits, and rid themselves of hypocrisy; when they strengthen and mature, when their minds are no longer puerile, we’ll be looking at progress. Because from that kind of personal authority, there is really no end to what can be overcome and achieved in changing the macro level. As J. Krishnamurti said, you are the world.
©2011 Jari Chevalier
November 24th, 2010
Living Hero Gabor Maté, MD appeared today on Democracy Now with Amy Goodman. This conversation focuses on the explosion of ADD and ADHD in children within the past ten years.
Follow this link to the interview.
And here, again, is the interview we conducted for the Living Hero program earlier this year and the article we published about Dr. Maté's live appearance in New York at The Rubin Museum of Art in July.
He delivers a crucial message to all of us about how the structures of contemporary Western society are doing damage to the developing brains of children, injuring our humanity and causing rampant mental/emotional disturbances.
November 3rd, 2010
" . . . understanding this problem [sociopathy] creates an entire paradigm shift in the way we view human nature."
--Dr. Martha Stout
This episode of our program brings you an interview with Dr. Martha Stout, clinical psychologist and bestselling, award-winning author on the subject of sociopathy. For twenty-six years, she served as a Psychology Instructor in the Department of Psychiatry at Harvard Medical School and also taught at the Massachusetts School of Professional Psychology, Wellesley College, The New School for Social Research, and the National Institute of Mental Health. Dr. Stout has worked at Massachusetts General Hospital and McLean Psychiatric Hospital. She is author of The Myth of Sanity, The Paranoia Switch, and The Sociopath Next Door: The Ruthless Versus the Rest of Us, a National Bestseller and winner of a Books for a Better Life Award.
Listen at your convenience!
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Thanks for listening!
October 1st, 2010
Several hundred people gathered for the 4th annual Horizons: Perspectives on Psychedelics conference at the Judson Memorial Church on Washington Square South on September 24-26.
This conference surveys the current research and social issues in the field of psychedelics. Readings by John Perry Barlow from Birth of a Psychedelic Culture and Don Lattin, author of The Harvard Psychedelic Club, provided historical context and Cosmo D set the atmosphere with a performance of textured cello improvisation over original electronic rhythms to open the weekend.
Why has psychedelic research been discriminated against in academia? Dr. Torsten Passie took us through the reasons. He showed slides of tribal people lying back all together with their eyes closed: not very productive! A Western capitalist worldview, which requires relations with nature to be utilitarian and depth of feeling to be kept private is not likely to embrace the potential value of trance states, the sharing of dreams, or the hallucinogenic experience.
Furthermore, ecstatic experience through psychedelics can engender direct, unmediated experience of the divine in oneself and in all of nature. This does not comport particularly well with the teachings of the Christian church, which holds forth that each and every one of us needs Jesus Christ to mediate our salvation.
Psychedelics deconceptualize and deconstruct entrenched value systems and, therefore, authority over truth is destabilized. So let's add that those who socially engineer and control populations don’t much care for that sort of thing. It becomes a real problem for those in power when people tap into a larger, more satisfying and holistic sense of reality, endemic to their own true natures, accessed intuitively.
Dr. Passie does not expect interest in psychedelics to spread beyond a small, secret society in the foreseeable future.
Dr. Jeffrey Guss, who heads up a current study at NYU on psychedelics in the reduction of cancer anxiety with very positive psychospiritual results, agrees with Dr. Passie that psychedelics will not become mainstream in society and he doesn’t believe that they should, that they are not for everyone.
But, standing in disagreement with these men on this point is independent Manhattan and Sag Harbor-based psychologist in private practice, Neal Goldsmith, PhD. Along with organizer Kevin Balktic, Dr. Goldsmith facilitates the conference. His sense is that to move into an age beyond post-modernism, one integrating the Cartesian split, psychedelics may play an important role.
He speaks of his own transformation through psychedelic experiences and how it altered his personality theory and views on personal growth and change. He describes a step-wise developmental process with dramatic growth to a new level of development after periods on a plateau. In essence, he says the issue is not to change a pathology, but to form genuine trusting relationships through which his clients can re-identify with their core selves. The person you were born, before you “punted” to a compensatory Plan B, personality, to get by in early childhood, is who you really are. Healing is getting back to that core self.
He's seen that transformative developmental change takes a long time and is very difficult to sustain in this culture. A combination of transcendent and cathartic approaches are most effective, and in this, psychedelics can be catalysts to insight, although insight alone, he says, only goes so far.
The large-scale collective process of what he calls psyche-ology, the study and healing of soul, is really concerned now with successfully joining mechanistic, scientific and technological knowledge with the realities of human psychosocial needs.
Eric Davis, a current PhD candidate, author, speaker and radio host discussed inner and outer Cartesian dualities by way of a metaphor, a mobius strip on which the material at some point turns over into the spiritual, the secular into the sacred and vice versa, in a flow.
There is a hunger in our culture (with its resistance to all things mystical) for the ritual and ceremonial context in which the hallucinogen Ayahuasca is taken by tribal peoples from the rain forests of South America; and this is likely why Ayahuasca has become so popular in North America in recent years.
Davis also pointed to Roland Griffiths’ 2008 Johns Hopkins study which proved that the use of psychedelics gives rise to religious experience (“No shit, Sherlock,” he said, “we knew that!”) And so the open question is: what does a secular, materialistic research model do with this scientific confirmation? And does moving the psychedelic experience into the psychopharmaceutical, clinical environment of the lab, perhaps diminish its potential for healing self and society?
The scientific approach is valuable, Davis upholds, because of the nagging questions it prompts us to ask about the brain. For instance, if you’re going to coin terms like “neurotheology” as a way to account for the experience of God, then you must also account for déjà vu, clairvoyance, and many other experiences of the mind.
For scientists to be seriously engaged in psychedelic research they eventually must take the psychedelics themselves. And that could just stimulate changes in the scientific approach itself. We may find ourselves up against our culture’s addictions to limiting ideas.
Psychedelic use for the treatment of addiction was reported on by researchers Matthew Johnson and Mary Cosimano of Johns Hopkins University who are currently investigating psilocybin in the treatment of nicotine dependence.
Most striking was the presentation by Clare Wilkins, director of Pangea Biomedics in Tijuana, Mexico on the remarkable properties of Ibogaine, a hallucinogenic root from Gabon, Africa that reverses addictions to opiates; such as heroine and methadone, as well as to cocaine, methamphetamine, alcohol, nicotine, and all manner of addictive behaviors and neurotic thoughts.
Ninety-two percent of clients who enter the clinic leave free of their chemical dependency, and without any withdrawal symptoms. Eighteen percent are still living without their drug of choice after six months, and this is a remarkable liberation rate. The hallucinogen gives addicts a real chance at choice. While exactly how ibogaine works is still unknown, there is clearly repair to brain receptors and an adjustment in neurochemistry.
She describes Ibogaine as a “relationship interrupter,” accomplishing “shame washing, empowerment, and the reawakening of the body’s intelligence.” Ibogaine “enables you to look at your life and eliminate anything that is not serving you.” Self-harm becomes self-care. “You fall back in love with yourself, with others and with life. It brings love back into the equation.”
Several of the non-academic speakers praised visionary experience and its influence on art, music, fashion, film, eco-consciousness and the integration of Eastern and Western mysticism. Annie Oak spoke about her grant-making organization, the Women’s Visionary Congress, and how this multigenerational community of “psychedelic women” support one another in their ongoing catalytic work as artists, healers, activists and visionaries.
But some brought up the dark side and limitations of psychedelics. Associate producer of the annual Bioneers conference, J.P. Harpignies, reminded us that in the 60s many a psych-ward and hospital was packed with LSD casualties. And poet, Dale Pendell, while acknowledging that we have yet to complete the psychedelic revolution, that the Earth is in need of a deep and radical cure, also cautioned us to consider that psychedelics are not effective on narcissism. In fact, with their tendency to stimulate messianic fantasies in some people, psychedelics may have contributed to the rapid rise of Me-ism in society.
Jill Harris of the Drug Policy Alliance urged the Horizons audience to come out about their psychedelic experiences, to break the taboo and share stories. “They have been important to us; they have mattered.” Let’s be vocal about how transformative these drugs can be and about the fact that prohibition doesn’t work. At the 40th anniversary of the War on Drugs, “it’s time to set the exit strategy.”
Heading home through Washington Square park at twilight, the great stone arch with its bold, engraved quotation was all lit up:
“Let us raise a standard to which the wise and honest can repair. The event is in the hand of God.”
Washington spoke those words to inspire his delegates to aim high in the writing of the Constitution of the United States. It was crafted, in this spirit, over the next 17 weeks.
And I thought, yes, here it is, the time Washington expected for the wise and honest to repair to those standards. And it will be, indeed, up to the wise and the honest to do the job.
“There are methods for changing social policies,” Neal Goldsmith tells us, “and we’ve got to power through, shoulder to the wheel, and do the work.”
©2010 Jari Chevalier
September 11th, 2010
"We are trying to create heroes, rather than simply acknowledge, document, reward heroes."
-- Philip Zimbardo
This program brings you a conversation with the legendary Dr. Philip Zimbardo, one of the most distinguished psychologists of our time.
Dr. Zimbardo has served as President of the American Psychological Association. He designed and narrated an award-winning PBS series, Discovering Psychology. He has published his work in more than 50 books and 400 professional and popular articles. His books include Shyness, The Lucifer Effect, and The Time Paradox.
A professor emeritus at Stanford University, Dr. Zimbardo has spent 50 years teaching and studying psychology. World renowned for his controversial Stanford Prison Experiment, Dr. Zimbardo is currently President of The Heroic Imagination Project.
Enjoy the show! (The interview is about 40 minutes.)
Visit Phil Zimbardo's sites:
Listen at your convenience!
July 18th, 2010
Living Hero Gabor Maté, M.D. appeared on July 7th at the Rubin Museum of Art in New York City to kick off a seven-part series of live events related to The Tibetan Book of the Dead.
Dr. Ramon Prats, curator of the contemporaneous Bardo exhibition, conversed with Dr. Maté on stage and then invited questions from the audience.
Dr. Maté is author of In The Realm of Hungry Ghosts: Close Encounters with Addiction. He explained that the hungry ghost realm is a symbol for a state of being, part of the Wheel of Life, described in The Tibetan Book of the Dead. This is a state of unquenchable longing and craving, a state well-known to the addicts Dr. Maté treats in Vancouver, British Columbia’s downtown eastside.
Maté began by stating that 2500 years ago Buddhism presaged almost every discovery of contemporary neuroscience. For example, it has been scientifically corroborated that neurologically there is no abiding self to be found in body or brain. This is one of the central teachings of the Buddha. What we perceive as a continuity of self is but a stream of micro-second mind-states, which can be remembered; electrical information that follows patterns conditioned by former mind-states.
These brain circuits were fundamentally conditioned by our earliest experiences. Maté says that the “anti-infant North American ethic,” which permits a parent to just let their infant cry and cry to exhaustion, conditions that infant to become a human being resigned to a world that “just doesn’t give a damn.”
The addicts he works with have all been severely abused, and without exception all the women have been sexually abused. These people’s minds and brains have been deeply conditioned to expect to live in a hostile, dangerous, uncaring world.
Gabor Maté says there are two fallacies currently operating in the treatment of addicts in our society and that both of these fallacies erroneously take society off the hook of responsibility. The first one is the fallacy of choice, the idea that addicts choose to be addicts. They don't, he says, and the whole legal structure, the systems that punish them would have to come apart if you correct this fallacy.
And the second fallacy is the genetic disease fallacy. Addiction is not a result of genetic potentiality, but of the combination of nature and nurture, of genetic potential and the conditioning forces of the environment.
All of Dr. Maté’s various books underscore the importance of early attachment relationships in the formation of human lives. A healthy attachment in early life brings about a self-regulated, satisfied, and socially connected adult. In the abused child, these circuits don’t form properly and the person is then likely to replace those necessary healthy attachments with self-destructive ones.
The Buddha taught that habit energies wrestle the untrained mind. And so, strengthening the mind with the training of concentration, of self-observation, gives people an opportunity to perceive their own thinking-and-feeling processes and thereby realize that there’s more to us than our conditioning.
The consistent observation of one’s own mind can have the power to create new neural circuits that can override the conditioned patterns established in early experience. Based upon actual self-awareness, such mindfulness helps to create emotional balance, spiritual ease, and an increased capacity for self-regulation.
Dr. Maté reminded the audience that Christ had said: you can do everything I can do; and that Buddha nature and Christ nature are actually human potentials. What makes these potentials realizable is getting the conditioned mind and false attachments out of the way.
One of the questions posed by an audience member was about free will. “Freedom of choice is relative and it’s conditioned,” Maté said. What promotes free will? What liberates people? When it comes to individuals working on their own, what promotes choice is awareness; among people it is compassion. Stress hormones, on the other hand, interfere with our power of choice.
In the spirit of compassion, Dr. Maté acknowledged the difficulties people, especially Westerners, have in cultivating mindfulness. He confessed that he, himself, has not sustained a meditation practice and admitted that he is actually terrified of his own mind because of the traumas he endured as an infant.
Speaking further of Western culture, he referenced Sogyal Rinpoche, who wrote The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying, based on the traditional Tibetan Book of the Dead. Sogyal Rinpoche says that Westerners, in general, have an active form of laziness, one in which they cram their minds so full of stimuli that there’s no time at all to confront their relationships.
Maté turned things around a bit and asked the audience a question, “What would you think if someone in your life kept on boasting: ‘I’m the greatest; I’m the most creative; everyone wants to be like me’? You’d think this person is really insecure! At the heart of the American dream there’s a terrible insecurity.”
Can we get over our vain insecurity? Both Dr. Prats and Dr. Maté spoke of how the term “rebirth,” found in Buddhist literature, refers to a process of recreating ourselves (our patterns of thought and perception) moment by moment. The Buddha taught humanity how to not rebirth that same pattern of self; how to free our minds; how to die without dying, to let the painful conditioning of our minds die back as our bodies live on, so that we may realize a liberated state and live out of our deeper nature.
How common it is to live without living. But to die without dying is rare.
May 3rd, 2010
"We used to have wisdom without science; now . . . we have science without wisdom."
—Dr. Gabor Maté
Physician, activist, author, educator and public speaker, Gabor Maté, MD, is widely recognized for his contributions to the field of mind-body medicine. He has eloquently and persuasively called for a reevaluation of our most pervasive and debilitating ills in light of whole-systems stressors so often borne in utero, infancy and early childhood and the attendant, recurrent patterns of suppressing emotions of hurt and anger into adulthood. Gabor Maté is a compassionate doctor whose 20-year career as a family physician and his current work with HIV-positive addicts in Vancouver, BC, equips him with direct knowledge and empathic experience. He is the author of In the Realm of Hungry Ghosts: Close Encounters With Addiction, When the Body Says No: Understanding The Stress-Disease Connection and Scattered: How Attention Deficit Disorder Originates And What You Can Do About It.
We talked about:
Whole person nourishment and attunement ● Why early life quality is so critical to society ● Stressed parents, emotional repression and disease ● What is the role of addiction? ● The mind-body supersystem and why modern medicine won’t recognize it ● Maté’s definition of addiction ● Free will and free won’t ● Denial and our addicted society ● Consciousness-raising and the miracle of a healing path ● The divine feminine and gut feelings ● Sensitivity and resilience or hardening and rigidity ● The Bully Syndrome and the truth about bullies ● Stuck where our needs were not met ● Ayahuasca and the swift road to healing and liberation ●
Enjoy the show! (The interview is about 46 minutes.)
Listen at your convenience!
Click through to buy Gabor Maté's books right from this site in the Amazon sidebar widget to the left.
Dr. Maté's website.
September 1st, 2009
State-run schools don't educate; they inculcate. They dumb people down! John Taylor Gatto gives us a stunning synopsis of his tireless scholarship and long-term experience as an award-winning guerilla educator in New York City public schools.
John Taylor Gatto resigned from school-teaching in the op-ed pages of The Wall Street Journal, the year he was named New York State Teacher of the Year. Since then, he has traveled three million miles lecturing on why we should abandon and subvert public schools, which deliberately ruin minds and mold lives of obedience to the system. Schools thwart imagination, self-reliance, and individuality and make good, dependent slaves of the industrial-consumer state.
Gatto is author of Dumbing Us Down: The Hidden Curriculum of Compulsory Schooling; The Underground History of American Education and, most recently, Weapons of Mass Instruction.
We talked about:
The only thing anyone can teach ● The official outlook on human nature ● The chilling Western philosophical movements behind forced schooling ● Compulsory schooling and the University of Berlin ● Sacrificing justice and quality of life for predictable stability ● School, economics, and the social classes ● Overproduction and hyperdemocracy ● Power and the methods of power ● The crime of removing classics from the curricula ● How we will transform ● Superstar entrepreneurs who dropped out of college ● Liberty and the tyranny of measured time
Enjoy the show! (The interview is about 51 minutes.)
Listen at your convenience!
Click through to buy John's book son Amazon right from this site in the sidebar to the left.
August 1st, 2009
Sex and pleasure expert, Stella Resnick, PhD joins us to encourage, inform and delight you! Dr. Resnick is author of The Pleasure Zone: How We Resist Good Feelings and How to Let Go and Be Happy.
She is a clinical psychologist in private practice in Beverly Hills, CA and currently serves on the faculty of the Santa Barbara Graduate Institute. Formerly President of the Western Region of the Society for the Scientific Study of Sexuality, Dr. Resnick is a Diplomate of the American Board of Sexology and an AASECT Certified Sex Therapist, CE Provider, and Clinical Supervisor, Stella has appeared many times on TV including the Oprah, Leeza, and Montel Williams shows, CNN Live, The O’Reilly Factor, KCBS’ Morning News, and UPN’s Evening News. Her seminar on The Pleasure Zone is featured in the PBS television series Body & Soul in the segment "Ode to Joy".
Stella is frequently quoted in popular magazines; such as, Reader’s Digest, Women’s World, Vogue, Cosmopolitan, Playboy, Self, Redbook, McCall’s, Men’s Fitness, Men’s Health, Glamour, Mademoiselle, Family Circle, Parenting, and the Utne Reader. She has written numerous professional papers, and authored cover stories for Self, New Age, and Psychology Today magazines.
We talked about:
Demonizing pleasure in a history of domination ● Fear of peace, fulfillment and pleasure programmed in our nervous systems ● The 8 Core Pleasures and how we resist them ● Pleasure and the stages of human and societal development ● Infant needs and our tenacious early experiences ● Societal health and childhood sexuality ● How we learn to be human ● Two kinds of discipline and your pleasure ● Relearning how to be sexual ● Of what is sexuality an expression? ● Bridging the gap between heart and libido in adult partnerships ● A role for conscious breathing in your life
Enjoy the show! (The interview is about 52 minutes.)
Listen at your convenience!
Click through to buy Stella's book on Amazon right from this site in the sidebar to the left.
May 24th, 2009
Our society suffers from an urgent need for greater empathy, for citizens with the emotional capacity to “feel with” others and sense what life is like for people in circumstances different from their own. Thought leaders, authors, and futurists Howard Gardner, Riane Eisler, Daniel Pink, and many others, have all placed empathy and ethics on their short lists of requisite qualities for a healthy future.
Personal contact with other human beings in need has proven to quickly and reliably foster such emotional brotherhood. Contact volunteering is a win-win-win proposition. It serves the needy, the volunteer, and the organizations that exist to provide care to the needy.
About half of adult Americans volunteer in some form, but only 8% regularly volunteer for personal contact with the needy. To derive the many benefits we describe below, volunteers must have this personal contact and must do so for four or more hours per month.
Benefits to Individual Health:
Loneliness and isolation pose significant human health risks rivaling those of cigarette smoking, obesity, lack of exercise and high blood pressure. One-on-one human contact volunteers overcome these risk factors, and live longer and healthier lives. They enjoy greater self-worth, self-esteem, and pleasure. They suffer less stress, chronic pain, fatigue, drug and alcohol abuse, overeating, anxiety and depression.
Benefits to Societal Health:
“Strangers” of different religions, races, ethnicities, educational and financial come in contact with each other on a regular basis, and bridge their differences, forming bonds of care, understanding, and trust. Volunteers bring increased job performance, social skills, and productivity back to their workplaces. When unemployed people volunteer, they suffer less depression and feelings of helplessness, and they find new jobs sooner.
How does volunteering work to bring these benefits?
Human beings are biologically hardwired for caring, cooperation, and goodness. When people engage in helping behaviors, they experience well-being, the feeling that things are as they should be. Opening one’s heart and giving to others in need activates the helper’s brain to release pleasure-and-joy hormones: dopamine and endorphins, and these initiate a cascade of physical and emotional changes for the better.
How can we encourage more people to engage in contact volunteering?
Leadership, leadership, leadership! Studies have proved that most people need to be asked repeatedly, and convinced by others, to volunteer. Business and governmental leaders can help in this enormously. Here’s how:
• Reduce health insurance premiums for those who do contact volunteering
• Allow employees to volunteer during work hours
• Promote the benefits of contact volunteering through all media outlets
• Model the excellent habit of volunteering and talk about it! Public figures, leaders, heros and “stars” step up and lead this win-win-win movement!
©Jari Chevalier, 2009
October 1st, 2008
The Living Hero podcast welcomes our distinguished guest, clinical psychologist and bioenergetic analyst, Scott Baum, Ph.D.
Dr. Baum is a licensed Clinical Psychologist and a Diplomate in Clinical Psychology. He is also a certified Bioenergetic Therapist, and a member of the Faculty of The International Institute for Bioenergetic Analysis. He has been affiliated with the DiMele Center for Psychotherapy since 1994.
Scott Baum views psychotherapy as an experiential, problem solving process. He believes that the deepest, fullest, and most complex understanding of a person’s problem yields the best, most creative and enduring results.
We talked about:
• The premise that underlies bioenergetic analysis
• A more refined view of stress
• How human beings are biologically organized
• What goes on in a bioenergetic session
• Males, fathers, patriarchal society, power and the unknown
• The disparity between mothers and fathers
• Why men don’t ask for directions
• Healthy narcissism, narcissistic disorders and the true self
• A dividing line among therapists
• What’s possible with therapy
• How to learn more about Bioenergetics.
Visit the website for the New York Society for Bioenergetic Analysis
Enjoy the show! (The interview is about an hour)
Listen at your convenience!
September 1st, 2008
The Living Hero show is very proud to present an interview with Marcy Axness, Ph.D.
Dr. Axness is an early development specialist who writes and speaks internationally on parenting, society, and the needs of children. She is an authority in such wide-ranging fields as neurobiology (brain development), prenatal and developmental psychology, attachment theory, and consciousness research. Marcy’s particular specialization is in very early development--beginning even before conception--and she is one of the world’s few experts in prenatal / neonatal issues in adoption. She is a professor at Santa Barbara Graduate Institute and has a private practice in Los Angeles, counseling parents and prospective parents.
We talked about:
• Raising generation PAX
• Quantum parenting
• The fundamental question every human is always asking
• The peace-creativity connection
• P-A-R-E-N-T-S, Marcy's parenting To-Dos
• The surprising single strongest predictor of a child's healthy attachment
• The dominant reality engine of our time
• How to behaviorally reduce ADD and ADHD
• What drives the viscious human cycle
• Tapping into the unseen dimensions of experience
Visit Marcy's website at http://www.marcyaxness.com
Enjoy the show!
Listen at your convenience!
May 12th, 2008
In our movement toward wholeness and maturity, perhaps the most fundamental challenge—and our goal—is the acceptance and embrace of our freedom. To live as sovereign individuals, so that our highest authority is our own sense of what is right, and knowing that we hold the wisdom to assess for ourselves the particulars of a situation, means that we fully trust ourselves and are willing to stand alone, if and when necessary.
Since creative people are so often ahead of their time, we must really know, as an experience deep in our bodies, that our assessments of relationships are right; and this deep, inner knowledge gives us the courage to be harbingers of what may one day also be discovered by the masses. Galileo knew he was right; Blake knew; Einstein knew; Walt Whitman . . . the great ones knew.
This type of innate knowledge comes through the experiences of intuition, inspiration, epiphany, and insight. These are spiritual experiences: understanding moves through you energetically, so that you see something and feel the rightness of it at the same time. This spirituality is fresh and personal; it exists apart from any particular theology or ideology.
Sadly, living without a personal spiritual connection to life and the freedom it supports is the grim lot of most people. Lives lacking a genuine, experiential spiritual foundation tend to oscillate between controlling others and being controlled. Without the spiritual ground of experience which is the very will of freedom, the prospect of freedom is just too much for people, and power is the woeful tether by which they aim to feel secure.
Erich Fromm's Escape from Freedom explores the widespread aversion to freedom and persuades us that sadomasochistic tendencies underpin it. "It is always the inability to stand the aloneness of one’s individual self that leads to the drive to enter into a symbiotic relationship with someone else. It is evident from this why masochistic and sadistic trends are always blended with each other. Although on the surface they seem contradictions, they are essentially rooted in the same basic need. People are not sadistic or masochistic, but there is a constant oscillation between the active and the passive side of the symbiotic complex, so that it is often difficult to determine which side of it is operating at a given moment. In both cases individuality and freedom are lost."
Later in his book, Fromm relates that these destructive tendencies to escape from freedom result from the thwarting of the individual’s sensuous, emotional, and intellectual expansiveness in childhood. These perversions are the torque our spirits take from the suppression of our exuberance, curiosity, and creative will in childhood and, which can continue all our lives. By continuing to suppress our natural tendencies to explore, move and stretch our bodies, imagine, try things out and invent, we perpetuate our pain and give rise to yet another generation of frustrated human beings stuck on a see-saw of power relations.
Here's the remedy: reactivation of our creative and expressive pleasures goes straight to the root of perversions of spirit that we witness in our lives and our societies. Encouraging our children and each other to spend more time puttering and tinkering with things out of curiosity, creativity, and imaginative play, fostering our spiritual connection to life through observation, meditation, and the many means that help us to do this, and providing ourselves with the conditions for the experience of intuition, inspiration, epiphany and insight will all feed the hope of a new humanity that has the courage for real freedom.
©Jari Chevalier, 2008
March 8th, 2008
When you focus and hold your attention on a single object or on your own mind-body processes, you are meditating. An age-old metaphor for thought, captured in the phrase “a train of thought,” can be helpful in differentiating thought from meditation.
If you are riding inside a train of thought, carried along in it, you are thinking; but in meditation, you are watching multicolored train-cars passing through the station of your mind. You are observing thought, rather than being carried within it.
When you become adept at meditation, the station may be quiet for stretches of time: no trains. Sometimes you faintly hear a train approaching from a distance, yet it does not end up coming through . . . your attention dissolves it and it never arrives.
Why set aside time in our busy lives to recondition our minds through meditation?--To be awake, yet quiet, peaceful, aware and focused. Peace. Awareness. Focus.
So, why aren’t more people meditating? Well, actually, we are. But for those who aren't, it may be because changing our habits is hard, even when new habits can mean the difference between life and death. For instance, in many studies of patients who have undergone coronary bypass surgery, only one in nine people, on average, adopts and stays with a new exercise and dietary program.
Trying to change our habits requires a lot of attention. At first, looking closely and steadily at things as they are, as one does in meditation, can lead to feelings that many people find uncomfortable. So they opt to avoid really looking. But, if you will persist, stay with yourself, hang in there and refine your observational abilities through the practice of meditation, you will find that the mind is, in fact, not as hardwired as you thought.
Aside from the many health benefits of meditation, which are now widely known and accepted, meditation strengthens your ability to modulate your own reactivity, so that you do not resort to self-destructive coping mechanisms; such as, drinking alcohol or other palliative forms of escape from the feelings that can arise while facing reality. You also are less reactive to others, kinder, more compassionate.
Meditation gets to the root of distress and equips you to live a more wholesome, meaningful, relaxed and insightful existence, even when uncertainty, hurt feelings, or doubt come through the station.
In a world of meditators, we would find many social problems dissolving and evaporating. Big-picture and long-view thinking, grounded in wisdom, would be commonplace. Consideration of and reverence for the natural world would be central. Enjoyment and fulfillment in life’s simple pleasures would be written on our faces. Appreciation of diverse cultures, habitats, spiritual expressions and perspectives would be manifested in steadfast investment in and preservation of them. A large-scale maturation of the human animal, a new evolutionary stage would be evident everywhere.
©Jari Chevalier, 2008
February 13th, 2008
For the sake of this exploration, let’s just agree to use the word holic for an addicted, compulsive, obsessed individual. In spite of knowledge (a holic knows what is healthy, reasonable and good) she “loves” stuff that is ultimately self-destructive and cannot forsake indulgences for health or well-being, cannot manage, even through force of love or will to stop repeating damaging behaviors.
Now, let’s consider, in contrast, a holistic person. This person’s actions, whether they be in the realms of buying, eating, traveling, pleasure or work, are an integral part of a conscious life, borne out from the person they wish to be, the contribution they wish to make, and the world in which they wish to live. Such a person is capable of self-soothing and self-regard and lives with a genuine love of life. Such a person feels responsible.
People generally either soothe their existential angst and cope with life through a healthy selfhood (holistic) or through a set of defenses and fixes (holic).
Since I'm posting this on Valentine's Day eve, I have some love questions for us:
Is it love to buy someone chocolate, if sugar decays internal organs like it does teeth? Is it love to send dozens of cut roses here and there, if tons of hydrocarbons are thus released into our shared strained atmosphere? How about diamonds and that whole business? How about greeting cards, the paper industry pollution involved, the shipping and trucking of all that? Fine dining on fois gras—does this force-feeding of geese to fatten their livers deliver a culinary treat for our true love?
A holistic person thinks of these things. A holistic person sees the inseparable connections among all things in reality.
The phrase Just Do It made famous by Nike, a corporation notorious for sweatshop labor practices and all manner of exploitation, has perhaps provided us with an apt mantra for our times: Just Don’t Do It!
If we have told ourselves to change our habits and yet haven’t—guess what?—we’re holic and the waters are rising, the world is heating up—and how are we going to stop ourselves from doing the self-destructive things we’re in the habit of doing?
Join me as I take this on and share what I'm doing on these posts from time to time. I am upping the ante on myself to be ever more holistic.
Please click through to this article and then write to me and let me know what you think—could this environmental nightmare really be true or is it some mistake, a gross exaggeration?
©Jari Chevalier, 2008
January 28th, 2008
In our language, we have two similarly named thresholds of awareness. One is the subliminal, “that which lies below,” that which we generally refer to as the subconscious. The other is the sublime, which we speak of mostly at times when we have briefly transcended that upper limit, when we are momentarily sent “over the top” with feeling, with awe, surprise or beauty, surpassing our usual realm of sensation and awareness. People have been known to faint from being unable to sustain the sublime.
We would not know these boundaries if we didn’t, in unusual states and circumstances, access what is beyond them. Symbols, metaphors and buried memories do break into consciousness from the unconscious. And we do have wondrous and sublime experiences in nature, through love, in beholding our own newborn child, in moments of discovery, and through the experience of insight.
These thresholds of awareness frame not where you have been and what you have done, but the range of perception and feeling you were fit to bear, whereever you went and whatever you did.
Our ability to access both the subliminal and the sublime is integral to our capacity to accept and bear their truth and their gifts. These thresholds in the self are not fixed. They can go from brick walls to accessible doorways to a mere change in the landscape within yourself. As you develop yourself as a human being and become someone more psychologically mature, of greater spiritual fortitude, your range of awareness and capacity to feel into both the subliminal and the sublime will grow. You will be able to experience more feeling without fear, awkwardness, overwhelm or discomfort. You will also be much more in touch with the tremendous creative and integrative forces that are within you.
How do you open the range of your awareness and enlarge your capacity to feel and know more of your own life’s forces and riches? The best ways I know involve yoga, creativity and meditation.
©Jari Chevalier, 2008
November 15th, 2007
E.O. Wilson, one of our most brilliant living heroes, preciently wrote in his 1999 bestseller, Consilience, "Thanks to science and technology, access to factual knowledge of all kinds is rising exponentially while dropping in unit cost. It is destined to become global and democratic. Soon it will be available everywhere on television and computer screens. What then? The answer is clear: synthesis. We are drowning in information, while starving for wisdom. The world henceforth will be run by synthesizers, people able to put together the right information at the right time, think critically about it, and make important choices wisely."
Many other luminaries have echoed this call for synthesis. One of Howard Gardner's Five Minds for the Future is "Synthesizing Mind," and Daniel Pink devotes a chapter of his recently released A Whole New Mind to "Symphony," the ability to draw together details from many different disciplines while holding in mind the big picture and what it takes to achieve harmony, balance, and beauty.
This whole-brain capacity has been the gifted and treasured realm of artists, writers, philosophers, and spiritual leaders all along, but these are realms of activity that our culture has not rewarded financially. Is this going to change now? How will we see this change?
This blog is devoted to providing a forum for the exploration and discussion of these and related topics. I invite your thoughts and wish to know specifically whom you would most like to hear from in an interview or panel discussion and what your most burning questions on these topics are.
November 12th, 2007
I have recently read Howard Gardner's Five Minds for the Future. His role in this book, I think, is as a futurist, steering educators, administrators, parents--all of us--towards evaluating curricula in terms of the Five Minds, so as to meet the pressing global human challenges ahead successfully. Einstin's adage: "Imagination is more important than knowledge" strikes me as being along the same lines. Similarly, it's not what you say but how you say it, as in one's tone of voice and the look on one's face. Imagination, and the tone & feel & spirit of things are aspects of the right brain and are typically associated with "feminine values." If you look closely at the Five Minds and what it would actually mean to develop and apply them universally, as paramount in education and society, you are looking at a profound shift in cultural and commercial values. Disciplined, Respectful, and Ethical minds are all more mature and spiritually engaged than what we find in the current competitive paradigm of big business and the "military-industrial complex." Synthesizing and creative minds are more right brain in nature and are, therefore, considered "feminine" in their values. If you actually get to the heart of what he is saying and listen closely, you hear the voice of an enlightened thinker calling for wisdom. If you are also able to synthesize and extract the essence here, you meet him where he lives, in his deep commitment to human development and the hope of realizing greater human potential through education. I'll leave you with a quotation from the book (sorry, no page number handy): "As far as I can see, short of peace pills or widespread extirpation of those brain nuclei or genes that support aggressive behaviors, the only possible avenue to progress lies in education, broadly conceived."