Michaels and Johnson ~ Expansive Hearts and Minds with Tantra

May 10th, 2013

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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.

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Concentrating the Hell Out of Mind: Jhana

March 29th, 2013

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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.

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Announcing the Living Hero Radio Show ~ WGDR.org

January 5th, 2013

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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, Jari Chevalier

Codes of My Kin

June 22nd, 2012

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Are you experienced? Sharing this personal essay about tripping as a teenager, which came out in Reality Sandwich this week. Bring back any memories for you? Thoughts? I wish to engage in dialogue with people about transcendent personal experiences. I find people are shy to speak of such things. But please do speak of them anyway! Read it here http://www.realitysandwich.com/codes_my_kin

Comment here or on the Reality Sandwich site.

You Are Their World: Cultivating Global Peace With Your Children

February 29th, 2012

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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) ISBN-10: 1591811767

What’s Left? Reflections on the 2011 Left Forum

April 6th, 2011

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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

Interview with Dr. Martha Stout

November 3rd, 2010

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" . . . 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!

Leave your comments about this program here:

Thanks for listening!

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Election Day Exchange with Living Hero Suzi Gablik

November 2nd, 2010

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Living Hero Suzi Gablik is composing a new blog post and asking friends and fellow writers this question, which I received yesterday:

Last night, instead of trick or treating at the neighbor's house up the road, I watched 60 Minutes instead, a program of interviews in towns and with people who have tragically lost businesses and jobs. It was very painful to watch. I have seen quite a bit of this kind of media coverage done across the country. The people being interviewed can't stop crying, including even the men. Parents who can't send their kids to college. The bleakness in people's eyes is excruciating. And then $3 billion dollars (repeat, 3 billion) just spent on election attack ads. Has the human race always been this way? What do you think? How do you suppose Tutu and the Dalai Lama manage to chuckle over human foibles and frailty? Do you believe the human spirit will ultimately prevail? Or are we, as Derrick Jensen says, f-ed?   (Sent on the eve of the invasion of the body snatchers.)

Quote by Desmond Tutu from my blog: Now 79 years old and ever cheery, another world-renowned black leader, the Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu, recently told Time magazine that the chief lesson he has learned is that "the texture of our universe is one where there is no question at all but that good and laughter and justice will prevail...In the end, the perpetrators of injustice or oppression, the ones who strut the stage of the world often seemingly unbeatable--there's no doubt at all that they will bite the dust." And then he roars with laughter: "Ha-ha-ha-ha-ha. Wonderful!" So what do you think? Has the Archbishop Tutu discovered the culminating secret of the universe, or is he just singin' in the rain?

Full blog post containing Tutu's quotation, 10-30-10 http://virgilspeaks.blogspot.com/2010/10/waiting-on-big-flip.html

Here is my response to Suzi:

In truth, everybody’s is right and nobody knows anything.

Derrick Jensen is right that we’re f-ed, Tutu is right that goodness will prevail. You are right to worry. And I am right to see things in the context of very vast pictures. For instance, this very second people are being tortured somewhere(s) and elsewhere(s) people are having fantastic orgasms looking into each others eyes. Right this second planets are being born and stars are blowing apart: end of an eon.

In our own lifetimes on Earth, in the 20th-21st centuries, extraordinary, beautiful, and heartwarming happenings of many kinds have taken place; some people have behaved in magnificent ways to one another. And at the same time horrible, sick, twisted, maniacal and catastrophic events have taken place and people have been cold, punitive, destructive to one another. Tears of sorrow and tears of joy flowing, flowing all the time. At some point there will be no more humans here. There will be something else going on. This universe cannot and will not be otherwise.

We don’t know much about the nature of our existence; for example, if there is anything more to luck than blind luck, or if we can have any influence whatsoever on whether or not we could miraculously survive a carpet bombing, running through with mind serene and coming out unscathed by heavy shrapnel.

The mind can be all defended or all relaxed or very nimble and flexible. What difference does it make? I have seen that it can make a lot of difference, so I cultivate my mind and body to be healthy, strong, resilient. And still, I could be hit by a truck later today or ravaged by microbes two months from now.

We can reliably cultivate ourselves so we could be wise, helpful, comforting, even when others are in panic, rage, or icy authoritarian rigor. We can help soothe those whose luck has run out. We can share what we have that is good. We can expand our minds and hearts to have many choices of apertures and ways of looking that we can access to stay wise, helpful, and comforting. It’s worthwhile doing that.

For some singing in the rain is only natural, for others it is very annoying to watch.

This world, the big picture world is forever in states of flux of dark and light, forever turning itself inside out through both creation and destruction. Sometimes we find ourselves in the midst of the destruction: it’s in the nature of things. Why shouldn’t we? Who are we to escape that part of the universe forever? Every polarity we can think of love-hate, light-darkness, good-evil, miraculous-impossible, is always simultaneous in the whole. It’s all flickering and flowing and moving as one and we are part of that. It’s all congruent and necessary. There is always peace somewhere; don’t forget that. And depending how you look at things 3.141592 . . . is a numeric linearity that just will not stop: and this could frustrate a person’s desire to see an end to it. But to someone else it is a marvelous expression of how every single simple circle that ever was has an outline that you can continue to follow around and around without end. Or not. Ugh, big deal. Or yes, a very big deal.

William Blake said that “a fool sees not the same tree a wise man sees.” To my reckoning, it is wholesome for our souls to see things in vast terms, to be expansive, and also to be very humble.

Nobody knows what a tree is. Can anybody tell me how the seed of a tree knows how to unfurl and grow up out of itself and form wood and bark and self-organize systems that circulate water and sap, that can draw nutrients up from the soil and turn light into energy for itself to carry on and thrive? Does anyone know what all this stuff is growing up out of the stuff? It’s all a giant mystery and here we are in that mystery together, some snatching and fighting, some giving and holding hands.

What do you think about these things?

Leave comments here:

Thank you for sharing your thoughts.

©2010 Jari Chevalier

Conference Report:: Horizons: Perspectives on Psychedelics

October 1st, 2010

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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

Gabor Maté at The Rubin Museum in New York

July 18th, 2010

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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.

©Jari Chevalier

Interview with Ellen Bryson

July 7th, 2010

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Ellen Bryson is the author of The Transformation of Bartholomew Fortuno, a novel about being different, being human, and finding redemption. She holds a BA in English from Columbia University and an MA in creative writing from Johns Hopkins in Washington DC.

Ellen Bryson began as a professional modern dancer, working in Cleveland Ohio and Boston Massachusetts during the late 1970’s and early 1980’s, then shifted her focus to the philanthropic field where she worked for over a decade in both private and community foundations, culminating in national work for the Council on Foundations in Washington DC. A world traveler, she has lived in the middle eastern country of Bahrain and in Argentina South America, where being an outsider both in language and culture, helped inform the message of this, her first novel. She currently lives in San Diego, CA with her husband and is considering a move to France.

We talked about:

The world's thinnest man, Bartholomew Fortuno ● Working back from the ending ● The dream that prompted the book ● The perception of beauty ● Freedom or captivity ● Maternal impression ● Iell Adams, the mysterious bearded woman ● P.T. Barnum's Fiji Mermaid ● The symbolic birds ● What art does for us ● The will to change ● The comic layer of a strange, dark world ● The author's future plans

Enjoy the show! (The interview is about 28 minutes.)

Listen at your convenience!

Click through to buy The Transformation of Bartholomew Fortuno right from this site in the Amazon sidebar widget to the left.

Visit: Ellen Bryson's website.

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Interview with Gabor Maté

May 3rd, 2010

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"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.

Visit: Dr. Maté's website.

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Interview with Anne Wilson Schaef

February 1st, 2010

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Know anyone who keeps doing things everybody knows aren’t good for them, others, or the environment? Our guest for February, Anne Wilson Schaef, is an expert facilitator in overcoming multiple addictions. Anne takes an unconventional, whole systems approach to awakening and healing people in light of their familial heritage and societal context.

“I think that a part of our work as human beings in this life is to bring as much as we can of our unconscious into consciousness so that we know what we're dealing with and we have the opportunity to heal it . . . ” says Anne Wilson Schaef in this interview.

We talked about:

Leaving psychotherapy behind ● Process addictions and substance addictions ● Surprise! Our society is an addict ● Addiction and schizophrenia ● A progressive and fatal disease ● Can we recover? ● The elements of a successful intervention ● Wisdom and native humility ● The way of science and technology ● The pseudopodic ego ● Escape from Intimacy ● Political dimensions of dysfunction ● The crucial question on the planet ● The trouble with dualism ● The twelve steps and power ● Can billions of people heal?

Enjoy the show! (The interview is about an hour and 7 minutes.)

Listen at your convenience!

Click through to buy some of Anne Wilson Schaef's books on Amazon right from this site in the sidebar to the left.

Visit: Anne's Boulder Hot Springs Inn & Spa at Boulder, MT And her website: LivingInProcess.com

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Interview with Terry Riley

December 4th, 2009

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“Death costs a fortune, but life is free,” writes Living Hero Terry Riley, in a lyric for his composition Missy Gono. Riley is a true original, recognized worldwide for first bringing minimalist musical composition into circulation in 1964 with his now classic In C and thereby influencing a new generation of avant garde composers and acid rock bands. Dedicated to a life of deep listening, composition, and inspired performance, Terry joins us to share his insights into art, a healing spirit and life.

We talked about:

The inner experience of originality ● Terry’s Time Lag Accumulator ● Dipping into a sound current ● Music and altered states ● Creativity, discipline, spirit and nature ● Psychedelics and spiritual practice ● Our world and our path to healing ● Urban sound and sensitivity ● Raising kids in a creative household ● Terry's ongoing relationship with his works ● His creative influences ● Imagination as an aspect of intelligence ● Music as philosophy and a model of the world ● The story of Missy Gono ● 6500 pipes in the wee hours at Disney Hall

Enjoy the show! (The interview is about 40 minutes.)

Listen at your convenience!

Click through to buy some of Terry's CDs on Amazon right from this site in the sidebar to the left.

Visit Terry's website at terryriley.net

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Interview with Jonah Lehrer

July 1st, 2009

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Listen in on an illuminating conversation with science writer and author Jonah Lehrer as he shares insights on the work of eight historic creative geniuses and how contemporary neuroscience can lead us to more conscious and fulfilling lives. Lehrer is author of Proust Was a Neuroscientist and How We Decide and a frequent contributor to national magazines featuring his articles on what we're learning about the brain and how our minds work. He also hosts the highly regarded blog The Frontal Cortex.

We talked about:

Insight, intuition and introspection: roads to discovery ● Self Comes to Mind: collaborative work among artists and scientists ● Some common ground among cutting-edge creative artists ● Truth in fiction ● Metacognition and its pay-offs ● Getting better at the marshmallow task ● Making better decisions ● Asking the right questions of contemporary neuroscience ● The right side of our kindergarten report card ● Torturous moral dilemmas ● How to kill a rat with pleasure ● Some of Jonah's goals as an author

Visit: jonahlehrer.com and The Frontal Cortex

Enjoy the show! (The interview is about 46 minutes.)

Listen at your convenience!

Click through to buy Jonah's books on Amazon right from this site in the sidebar to the left.

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Interview with Dr. Richard Davidson

November 1st, 2008

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The Living Hero program presents an interview with celebrated neuroscientist, Dr. Richard Davidson. Dr. Davidson is a William James and Vilas Research Professor of Psychology and Psychiatry at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He directs the Waisman Laboratory for Brain Imaging and Behavior where he conducts research on the short- and long-term effects of meditation practices on human emotion and the circuitry of the brain.

He holds a doctorate from Harvard University and has published more than 250 articles, chapters and reviews. The founding co-editor of the new American Psychological Association journal, EMOTION and he has also edited 13 books.

One of Dr. Davidson's most valuable findings is that happiness and compassion are trainable skills that can be developed, just as we can learn to play a musical instrument; that it is possible to train a mind to be happy and peaceful.

We talked about:

• What prompted Dr. Davidson's career path • Meditation as a path of transformation • The different forms of meditation • How meditation changes the brain • Meditation in health and in education • Long-term effects of meditation on brain function and gene expression • Meditation and Christianity • How to learn more about Dr. Davidson's work

Numerous honors and awards of distinction have come to Dr. Davidson, including the most distinguished award for science given by the American Psychological Association – the Scientific Contribution Award. He has also received the Research Scientist Award and the MERIT Award from the National Institutes of Mental Health (NIMH); and many other honors recognizing his groundbreaking contributions.

In 2003, Dr. Davidson was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and in 2004, to the Wisconsin Academy of Sciences, Arts and Letters. In 2006, he was named one of the 100 most influential people in the world by Time Magazine.

Davidson maintains a close, collaborative relationship with Tibet's spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, the world's best-known practitioner of Buddhist meditation. The Dalai Lama first invited Davidson to his home in Dharamsala, India, in 1992 after learning about Davidson's innovative research into the neuroscience of emotions. Dr. Davidson has had the opportunity to study the brains of many of the world’s most advanced meditation practitioners.

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Visit these websites for more information:

Waisman Lab website

U of Wisconsin Psychology Department website

Enjoy the show! (The interview is about 25 minutes)

Listen at your convenience!

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Interview with Robert Stickgold: Sleep, Memory, Creativity & Dreams

January 15th, 2008

Welcome to the Inaugural Living Hero Podcast!

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Sleep, Memory, Creativity and Dreams, an interview with Dr. Robert Stickgold

• How sleeps helps us learn • Creativity and stress • Meaning and insight • Deep sleep and consciousness • Sleep and meditation • Lucid dreaming • Symptoms of sleep deprivation

Enjoy the podcast! (you can download the mp3 file, which will play in iTunes, RealPlayer, Windows Media Player and other media players). The interview is 57 minutes. You can also listen to it right here by double clicking on the purple media player below.

AND SOME BREAKING SLEEP RESEARCH NEWS: By demonstrating that worms sleep, David M. Raizen, MD, PhD, Assistant Professor of Neurology, in collaboration with other researchers at the Penn Center for Sleep have not only demonstrated the ubiquity of sleep in nature, but also propose a compelling hypothesis for the purpose for sleep.

They propose that sleep is a state required for the nervous system to grow and change, there must be down time of active behavior.

Other researchers at Penn have shown that, in mammals, synaptic changes occur during sleep and that deprivation of sleep results in a disruption of these synaptic changes.

Listen whenever it's convenient!

Want the 21-page transcript of this first Living Hero interview in PDF format? Just ask! Please use the questions/comments box on the right side bar and leave me your name and email so I can send it to you.

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