Saturday, November 12, 2022

The Mystical Positivist - Radio Show #405 - 12NOV22

This week on the show we feature a pre-recorded conversation with Bruce Miller about his latest book, Uplift: How to Harness the Hidden Engine of Continuous Renewal, published this year by Miller eMedia.

After studying filmmaking and screenwriting at UCLA, Bruce Miller has spent his career as a brand strategist, media producer, writer, and marketing partner in an Atlanta brand development agency.

Beginning the 1970s, Bruce’s spiritual search led him to English author, performer, and teacher, Reshad Feild, as well as to his subsequent long-term relationship with Dr. Bhagwan Awatramani. This journey, as well a number of personal life challenges along the way, are told in UPLIFT in the context of the principle of the Octave.

Bruce and Reshad, with others, started The Institute for Conscious Life, the Mevlana Foundation, and later, Chalice Guild. In these schools, Bruce helped bring the work of Jalaluddin Rumi to America, now considered “the best-selling poet in the US.” This story is recounted in Bruce’s second book, Rumi Comes to America. Bruce also collaborated and edited Steps to Freedom, Discourses on the Essential Knowledge of the Heart based on talks given by Reshad Feild.

Bruce has led residential seminars on Sapelo Island in Georgia and Mendocino, CA on the knowledge of the Octave and Enneagram, ideas brought forth by P.D. Ouspensky and G.I. Gurdjieff, and the Law of Hazard, an understanding of risk and uncertainty from the work of J.G. Bennett.

Bruce’s first book, FORTUNE, Our Deep Dive into the Mysteries of Love, Healing, and Success, explored the karmic mystery of why stuff happens. Bruce has also written business books. Brand Story™ – How to Position Your Shoestring Start-Up Like a National Brand, draws on his decades-long professional career. He also co-authored Seven Superpowers, a parenting guide by Dr. Maria Gilmour.

Bruce is an avid sailor, yoga enthusiast, and has taught the turn of the Whirling Dervishes. His wife Karen is an ordained minister and chaplain educator.

More information about Bruce Miller's work can be found at:

Bruce Miller's I-Thou website: ithou.com.

Saturday, October 1, 2022

The Mystical Positivist - Radio Show #404 - 01OCT22

This week on the show we feature a pre-recorded conversation with Neil Douglas-Klotz about his latest book, Revelations of the Aramaic Jesus – The Hidden Teachings on Life and Death, published by Hampton Roads.

Neil Douglas-Klotz, Ph.D. is a renowned writer in the fields of Middle Eastern spirituality and the translation and interpretation of the ancient Semitic languages of Hebrew, Aramaic, and Arabic. He was for many years co-chair of the Mysticism Group of the American Academy of Religion. He currently lives in Scotland.

A frequent speaker and workshop leader, he is the author of several books. His books on the Aramaic spirituality of Jesus include Prayers of the Cosmos, The Hidden Gospel, Original Meditation: The Aramaic Jesus and the Spirituality of Creation, and Blessings of the Cosmos. His books on a comparative view of ‘native’ Middle Eastern spirituality include Desert Wisdom: A Nomad’s Guide to Life’s Big Questions and The Tent of Abraham (with Rabbi Arthur Waskow and Sr. Joan Chittister). His books on Sufi spirituality include The Sufi Book of Life: 99 Pathways of the Heart for the Modern Dervish and A Little Book of Sufi Stories. His biographical collections of the works of his Sufi teachers include Sufi Vision and Initiation (Samuel L. Lewis) and Illuminating the Shadow (Moineddin Jablonski). He has also written a mystery novel set in the first century C.E. Holy Land entitled A Murder at Armageddon.

He also recently edited five “Little Books” published by Hampton Roads, four devoted to a new selection of the work of Lebanese American writer, poet, and painter Kahlil Gibran, and one dedicated to Wild Wisdom, a collection of early ecological writers and mystics.

More information about Neil Douglas-Klotz's work can be found at:

The Abwoon Network website: abwoon.org,

Dances of Universal Peace website: dancesofuniversalpeace.org,

Neil Douglas-Klotz on Facebook: www.facebook.com,

Neil Douglas-Klots on The Mystical Positivist: mysticalpositivist.blogspot.com.

Sunday, September 18, 2022

The Mystical Positivist - Radio Show #403 - 24SEP22

This week on the show we feature a pre-recorded conversation with OM C. Parkin about his upcoming October West Coast US visit and his recent book, Intelligence of Awakening - Navigating the Wisdom Path, published by Gateways Books & Tapes.

OM C. Parkin is a renowned European wisdom teacher and the founder of the mystery school, Enneallionce, and Gut Saunstorf, a modern monastery. His books also include The Birth of the Lion and The Digital Age - A Critical View from a Wisdom Perspective.

OM embodies in his work the link between Eastern non-duality and Christian mysticism, of depth psychology and philosophy, beyond the limits of religions and confessions. He often references the tradition of Advaita Vedanta, which has been revived in the 20th century by Shri Ramana Maharshi, Shri H.W.L. Poonja, the American Gangaji, and others. OM acts in the tradition of these teachers and by being rooted in early Christian teaching. His work in the tradition of silence can be described by three functions: teacher (of wisdom), healer (of the soul), seer (of the heart). He has been supporting people to find their true nature for more than 30 years and founded the modern Satsang movement in Europe.

OM will be touring the West Coast of the US in October. Public and semi-public events include a book reading at Many Rivers Books & Tea in Sebastopol, CA, on October 8th, 2022, at 7pm, a private darshan at Tayu Meditation Center in Sebastopol, CA, on October 9th at 3pm, a gathering at the Ojai Retreat Center on October 13th, and a visit to Triveni Ashram in Paulden, Arizona.

More information about OM C. Parkin's work can be found at:

OM C. Parkin website: www.om-c-parkin.com,

OM C. Parkin upcoming US visit: OM C. Parkin West Coast US Tour,

OM C. Parkin at Gateways Books & Tapes: www.gatewaysbooksandtapes.com,

OM C. Parkin previously on The Mystical Positivist: mysticalpositivist.blogspot.com.


Saturday, September 17, 2022

The Mystical Positivist - Radio Show #402 - 17SEP22


This week on the show we feature a pre-recorded conversation with returning guest Ken McLeod. Among the topics explored in this conversation are the engagement in spiritual practice with beings and deities, how to negotiate when entering into the ontology of a spiritual system, how to pray, the valuation implicit in focused attention, and the release of control in the deepening of a spiritual practice. This episode is another installment in an extended conversation that we have been having with Ken over the last couple of years.

After learning Tibetan, Ken McLeod translated for his principal teacher, Kalu Rinpoche, and helped to develop Rinpoche’s centers in North America and Europe. In 1985, Kalu Rinpoche authorized Ken to teach and placed him in charge of his Los Angeles center. Faced with the challenges of teaching in a major metropolis, he began exploring different methods and formats for working with students. He moved away from both the teacher-center model and the minister-church model and developed a consultant-client model. Ken is the founder and director of UnfetteredMind.org. He is the author of Wake Up to Your Life: Discovering the Buddhist Path of Attention, The Great Path of Awakening, An Arrow to the Heart, Reflections on Silver River, and his most recent book, A Trackless Path.


More information about Ken McLeod's work can be found at:
 
Unfettered Mind website: www.unfetteredmind.org.

Saturday, September 10, 2022

The Mystical Positivist - Radio Show #401 - 10SEP22


This week on The Mystical Positivist, hosts Stuart Goodnick and Rob Schmidt feature a podcast they recorded on July 9th, 2022, for the Western Baul Podcast Series entitled Fourth Way Magic: How Hermetic and Indigenous Traditions Interface with the Gurdjieff Work. The podcast description is as follows:

The Fourth Way is a Western spiritual tradition founded by George Gurdjieff, a mystic of Greek and Armenian origin who taught in Russia, Europe, and America and died in 1949. The system he developed out of his own spiritual search, which is shrouded in mystery, is completely unique and geared toward working with a modern mindset of “waking sleep” in the West. The Fourth Way Tradition has been considered by some to be humorless and dogmatically committed to a rigid system of practices and ideas, but this ignores Gurdjieff’s own flexibility ranging from playfulness to penetrating compassion. Today’s speakers are dharma heirs of Tayu Meditation Center’s founder Robert Daniel Ennis, whose teachings were anchored in the Fourth Way but ranged widely beyond that source material. In recent years, Rob Schmidt and Stuart Goodnick have explored and adopted practices from the western hermetic magical traditions and indigenous traditions including African and native Californian. In this talk they will discuss how the work from these traditions can enrich and expand the indispensable foundation they honor from the Fourth Way.

Rob Schmidt and Stuart Goodnick are the spiritual directors of Tayu Meditation Center. Rob has made contributions to the practice of anthropological archaeology and currently runs Tayu’s spiritual bookstore in Sebastopol, California, Many Rivers Books & Tea. Stuart is an executive in a Fortune 500 company and plays the shakuhachi (Japanese bamboo flute) as a spiritual practice.

More information about Tayu Meditation Center can be found at:

Many Rivers Books and Tea Website: www.manyriversbooks.com,

Western Baul Podcast Website: westernbaul.org.


Saturday, June 25, 2022

The Mystical Positivist - Radio Show #400 - 25JUN22


This week on the show we feature a pre-recorded conversation with returning guest, Zen teacher, Brad Warner, about his latest book, THE OTHER SIDE OF NOTHING: The Zen Ethics of Time, Space, and Being, published this year by New World Library. In the West, Zen Buddhism has a reputation for paradoxes that defy logic. In particular, the Buddhist concept of nonduality — the realization that everything in the universe forms a single, integrated whole — is especially difficult to grasp. In THE OTHER SIDE OF NOTHING, Brad untangles the mystery and explains nonduality in plain English. To Brad, this is not just a philosophical problem: nonduality forms the bedrock of Zen ethics, and once we comprehend it, many of the perplexing aspects of Zen suddenly make sense.

Drawing on decades of Zen practice, he traces the interlocking relationship between Zen metaphysics and ethics, showing how a true understanding of reality — and the ultimate unity of all things — instills in us a sense of responsibility for the welfare of all beings. When we realize that our feeling of separateness from others is illusory, we have no desire to harm any creature. Warner ultimately presents an expansive overview of the Zen ethos that will give beginners and experts alike a deeper understanding of one of the world’s enduring spiritual traditions.

Brad Warner is the also the author of numerous other titles including Letters to a Dead Friend about Zen, Don’t Be a Jerk, and Hardcore Zen. A Soto Zen teacher, he is also a punk bassist, filmmaker, and popular blogger who leads workshops and retreats around the world. In addition to his books, his writing appears in Lion’s Roar, Tricycle, Buddhadharma, and Alternative Press. He also hosts The Hardcore Zen Podcast and talks about Zen almost every day on his YouTube channel.

More information about Brad Warner's work can be found at:
 

  Hardcore Zen website: hardcorezen.info,

  Brad Warner on YouTube: www.youtube.com,

  THE OTHER SIDE OF NOTHING at New World Library: www.newworldlibrary.com,

  Brad Warner on Wikipedia: en.wikipedia.org,

  Brad Warner on Twitter: twitter.com,

  Brad Warner on Facebook: www.facebook.com,

  Hardcore Zen on Facebook: www.facebook.com.

Saturday, May 21, 2022

The Mystical Positivist - Radio Show #399 - 21MAY22


This week on the show we feature a pre-recorded conversation with Dean Sluyter, author of The Dharma Bum’s Guide to Western Literature, published this year by New World Library. Some of us were lucky enough to have one passionate, funny, inspiring English teacher who helped us fall in love with books. Add a lifetime of teaching Dharma — authentic, traditional approaches to meditation and awakening — and you get award-winning author Dean Sluyter. With droll humor and irreverent wisdom, he unpacks the Dharma of more than twenty major writers, from William Blake to Dr. Seuss, inspiring readers to deepen their own spiritual life and see literature in a fresh, new way: as a path of awakening.

Dean Sluyter (pronounced “slighter”) has led meditation workshops and retreats throughout the US since 1970, at venues ranging from Ivy League colleges to maximum-security prisons. For thirty-three years he taught English and Literature of Enlightenment at the Pingry School. He lives in Santa Monica, California, where he sings with the Threshold Choir, plays old songs on the ukulele, and happily zips about on his Vespa.


More information about Dean Sluyter's work can be found at:
 
Dean Sluyter's website: deansluyter.com,
 
The Dharma Bum's Guide at New World Library: www.newworldlibrary.com.

Saturday, April 9, 2022

The Mystical Positivist - Radio Show #398 - 09APR22


This week on the show we feature a pre-recorded conversation with Roger Jackson, author of Rebirth: A Guide to Mind, Karma, and Cosmos in the Buddhist World, published this year by Shambhala. This first-ever guide to ideas and practices surrounding rebirth in Buddhism covers the historical context for the Buddha’s teachings on the topic, explains what Buddhists believe is actually reborn and where, surveys rebirth-related practices in multiple Buddhist cultures, and considers whether all Buddhist traditions agree about what happens after death. The book also addresses interpretations of rebirth in modern Buddhist contexts and recent scientific attempts to document reincarnation in conversation with Buddhist beliefs. It is, in short, the first truly comprehensive overview of rebirth across the major Buddhist traditions, written by a leading scholar and teacher of Buddhism.

Roger Jackson is Professor Emeritus of Asian Studies and Religion at Carleton College. He has nearly 50 years of experience with the study and practice of Buddhism, particularly in the Tibetan Buddhist tradition. His special interests include Indian and Tibetan Buddhist philosophy, meditation, and ritual; Buddhist religious poetry; religion and society in Sri Lanka; the study of mysticism; and contemporary Buddhist thought. Roger is a highly respected and beloved scholar, Dharma teacher, and writer. He has authored many scholarly books and articles, and is a frequent contributor to Lion’s Roar, Buddhadharma, and Tricycle magazines.


More information about Roger Jackson's work can be found at:
 
Rebirth at Shambhala Publications: www.shambhala.com,
 
Roger Jackson at Lion's Roar: www.lionsroar.com,
 
Roger Jackson at Tricycle: tricycle.org,
 
Roger Jackson at Carleton College: apps.carleton.edu,
 
Roger Jackson on The Mystical Positivist: mysticalpositivist.blogspot.com.

Saturday, March 26, 2022

The Mystical Positivist - Radio Show #397 - 26MAR22


This week on the show we feature a pre-recorded conversation with Dr. Asa Hershoff about his development of what he calls the 5-Element Energy Healing and Elemental Psychology system. This system posits a three-self model of the human being (Spirit, Essence, and Persona) in which the Essence has five modes of being corresponding to the five traditional elements (Ruler, Creator, Lover, Warrior, and Guru). These modes are in turn reflected in the Persona as expressions of Empowerment, Loss, and Shadow. One therapeutic aim of this system is to support practitioners in moving from a Persona-centered life to an Essence-centered life.

Asa Hershoff has practiced Mindbody medicine and Vajrayana concurrently for 40 years. Completing the traditional Tibetan 3-year meditation retreat under the auspices of Kalu Rinpoche, he was later ordained as a lay Lama. A pioneer in the Canadian holistic health movement, he is founder of the Canadian College of Naturopathic Medicine (1978) and currently author of 3 books on holistic health. Asa has developed Elemental Psychology as an integration of Vajrayana, humanistic psychology, bioenergy medicine, and a pan global perspective on the 5 elements. This transformative methodology of self-healing, therapy, and spiritual growth is represented in his many current book projects, You: True & False and The 5 Ways of Wisdom.


More information about Asa Hershoff's work can be found at:
 
Asa Hershoff's website: www.asahershoff.com,
 
The 5 Wisdoms website: www.the5wisdoms.com,
 
5 Element Energy Healing website: www.5elementenergyhealing.com,
 
Asa Hershoff's Healing Practice website: www.drasahershoff.com,
 
Asa Hershoff on Facebook: www.facebook.com.

Saturday, February 26, 2022

The Mystical Positivist - Radio Show #396 - 26FEB22


This week on the show we feature a pre-recorded conversation with returning guest Ken McLeod in which we continue our ongoing discussion about the degree to which a transactional mode of being permeates our lives, relationships, and spiritual practice. We explore goals in relationship, the transactional as the currency of the Horizontal Realm, what a non-transaction way of living might be, and the unconditioned nature of the Vertical Realm.

After learning Tibetan, Ken McLeod translated for his principal teacher, Kalu Rinpoche, and helped to develop Rinpoche’s centers in North America and Europe. In 1985, Kalu Rinpoche authorized Ken to teach and placed him in charge of his Los Angeles center. Faced with the challenges of teaching in a major metropolis, he began exploring different methods and formats for working with students. He moved away from both the teacher-center model and the minister-church model and developed a consultant-client model. Ken is the founder and director of UnfetteredMind.org. He is the author of Wake Up to Your Life: Discovering the Buddhist Path of Attention, The Great Path of Awakening, An Arrow to the Heart, Reflections on Silver River, and his most recent book, A Trackless Path.


More information about Ken McLeod's work can be found at:
 
Unfettered Mind website: www.unfetteredmind.org.

Saturday, February 12, 2022

The Mystical Positivist - Radio Show #395 - 12FEB22


This week on The Mystical Positivist, we feature a pre-recorded conversation with returning guest Stephen Aronson about his new book, The Search for Meaning and the Mystery of Consciousness – A Psychologist’s Journey Through Gurdjieff and Jung, published by Karnak Press in 2022. This book explores the existential questions of reality, one’s purpose for existing, attention, consciousness, and the nature of the Universe all from a scientific and psychological perspective grounded in over 40 years of practice in the Gurdjieff work.

Stephen Aronson is a psychotherapist with an eclectic training background ranging from cognitive behavioral therapy to the alchemical approach of Carl Jung. His spiritual life has been a search for verification of a deeper reality underlying the ordinary world of our senses. His personal aim has been to find a reconciliation between science and spirituality which would allow reconciling the concepts of Universal Intelligence with rationality. The arcane language of specialized methods, although necessary for advanced training, is often a barrier for those seeking an initial understanding. After dozens of years in Jungian analysis and four decades of study and practice in the system of transformational psychology introduced to the West by G. I. Gurdjieff, he has sought to find an approach to illustrate these deep and complex ideas and methods in common language and universally shared experiences.

Steve lives in rural Maine where he retired in 2013 from forty-three years in the private practice of psychotherapy, education, and training. He has published on the work for G. I. Gurdjieff in Proceedings of the Annual All and Everything International Humanities Conference as well as in Parabola, a magazine dedicated to myth, tradition, and search for meaning.

More information about Stephen Aronson's work can be found at:

The Seekers Café website: seekerscafe.org,

Stephen Aronson at The Gurdjieff Club: Preparation for the Third Line of Work,

Stephen Aronson on The Mystical Positivist: Show 350 - 08FEB20, and Show 332 - 20JUL19.


Saturday, January 15, 2022

The Mystical Positivist - Radio Show #394 - 15JAN22


This week on the show we feature a pre-recorded conversation with returning guest Ken McLeod in which we delve more deeply into the nature of the Vertical and Horizontal dimensions of life, what this means in the context of spiritual practice, the nature of transaction as the currency of the Horizontal realm, how we might relate to a spiritual practice in non-transactional terms, and what it means to say that a spiritual path is a “way of living”. This episode is another installment in an extended conversation that we have been having with Ken over the last couple of years.

After learning Tibetan, Ken McLeod translated for his principal teacher, Kalu Rinpoche, and helped to develop Rinpoche’s centers in North America and Europe. In 1985, Kalu Rinpoche authorized Ken to teach and placed him in charge of his Los Angeles center. Faced with the challenges of teaching in a major metropolis, he began exploring different methods and formats for working with students. He moved away from both the teacher-center model and the minister-church model and developed a consultant-client model. Ken is the founder and director of UnfetteredMind.org. He is the author of Wake Up to Your Life: Discovering the Buddhist Path of Attention, The Great Path of Awakening, An Arrow to the Heart, Reflections on Silver River, and his most recent book, A Trackless Path.


More information about Ken McLeod's work can be found at:
 
Unfettered Mind website: www.unfetteredmind.org.


Saturday, December 4, 2021

The Mystical Positivist - Radio Show #393 - 04DEC21


This week on the show we feature a pre-recorded conversation with Michael Allswang, author of Symbolism: Modern Thought and Ancient Egypt. After much study, reflection, and also visits to many ancient Egyptian monuments, Michael has come to the conclusion that the development of consciousness was the essential project of the priests of ancient Egypt, and that one of the means they used to achieve this end was the expression of spiritual truths by means of symbolism. Modern thought and ancient Egypt are both based on symbolism.

Michael Allswang, after obtaining degrees from UCLA and the University of Wisconsin at Madison, made his career as manager of Documentation Services for software companies in the U.S. and France. At the same time, he was, and still is, an independent writer, translator, and researcher in the fields of ancient civilizations, Egyptology, psychology, and spirituality. He has published various articles on these themes in European periodicals. He is also the translator of Pierre Gordon's The Original Revelation. He now makes his home in both Paris and Provence in France.


More information about Michael Allswang's work can be found at:
 
Michael Allswang on BookBaby: store.bookbaby.com,

Michael Allswang on Facebook.com: www.facebook.com.

Saturday, November 27, 2021

The Mystical Positivist - Radio Show #392 - 27NOV21


This week on the show we feature a pre-recorded conversation with Elliot Cohen, author of The Psychologisation of Eastern Spiritual Traditions: Colonisation, Translation and Commodification. This essential book critically examines the various ways in which Eastern spiritual traditions have been typically stripped of their spiritual roots, content, and context, to be more readily assimilated into secular Western frames of Psychology.

Dr. Elliot Cohen is a Chartered Psychologist and Senior Lecturer in Social and Interdisciplinary Psychology at Leeds Beckett University, UK. He worked as a Psychotherapist for several years and then worked in Psychiatric units and therapeutic communities in and around Manchester; specializing in Psychodrama, Dramatherapy, Music Therapy and Mindfulness-Based Therapies. He is the current Secretary of the British Psychological Society’s Transpersonal Section and an active member of the Discourse Unit, which promotes more critical/radical approaches to Psychology. Elliott has traveled extensively around the Far East where he studied Daoist, Buddhist, and Hindu philosophy. He is an authorized teacher of Buddhist meditation and Mindfulness-Based Approaches from the Dhamma Nikethanaya Buddhist Academy.


More information about Elliot Cohen's work can be found at:
 
Elliot Cohen at Leeds: www.leedsbeckett.ac.uk,

Elliot Cohen on Academia.edu: leedsbeckett.academia.edu,

Elliot Cohen on Facebook.com: www.facebook.com,

The Psychologisation of Eastern Spiritual Traditions at Routledge: www.routledge.com.

Saturday, November 20, 2021

The Mystical Positivist - Radio Show #391 - 20NOV21


This week on the show we feature a pre-recorded conversation with Steve Taylor, author of Extraordinary Awakenings: When Trauma Leads to Transformation. In this book Steve shares dozens of amazing stories of individuals who “woke up” to profound transformation following bereavement, deep depression, suicide attempts, addiction, military combat, imprisonment, or other intense encounters with mortality. Along with the amazing stories of shifters he shares throughout the book, Taylor uncovers the psychological processes that help explain these miraculous awakenings.

Steve Taylor is a senior lecturer in psychology at Leeds Beckett University, and the author of several best-selling books on psychology and spirituality. He is a past chair of the Transpersonal Psychology Section of the British Psychological Society. His other books include The Clear Light, Out of the Darkness, Back to Sanity, The Calm Center, The Leap, and Spiritual Science. He also writes blog articles for Scientific American and Psychology Today.


More information about Steve Taylor's work can be found at:
 
Steve Taylor's Website: www.stevenmtaylor.com,

Steve Taylor on Facebook: www.facebook.com,

Extraordinary Awakenings at New World Library: www.newworldlibrary.com.

Saturday, October 30, 2021

The Mystical Positivist - Radio Show #390 - 30OCT21


This week on the show we feature a pre-recorded conversation with Richard Payne, editor and contributor to the 2021 Shambhala publication, Secularizing Buddhism: New Perspectives on a Dynamic Tradition. This collection of essays explores how secular values impact Buddhism in the modern world, what versions of Buddhism are actually being transmitted to the West, whether it is possible to know if a given interpretation of the Buddha's words is correct, and whether "Secular Buddhism" is purely a Western invention. Contributors to this volume include Bhikkhu Bodhi, Kate Crosby, Gil Fronsdal, Kathleen Gregory, Funie Hsu, Roger R. Jackson, Charles B. Jones, David L. McMahan, Richard K. Payne, Ron Purser, Sarah Shaw, Philippe Turenne, and Pamela D. Winfield.

Richard K. Payne is the Yehan Numata Professor of Japanese Buddhist Studies at the Institute of Buddhist Studies in Berkeley, California. During his dissertation research into tantric fire ritual (Homa) on Mt. Koya in Japan, he also completed training as a Shingon priest (ajari). Clustering around his core research program on tantric ritual are broader theoretical concerns about the conduct of such research. This includes the study of ritual across cultural boundaries and over long durations, and the use of language in tantric Buddhist ritual. He also serves as editor-in-chief of the institute's annual journal, Pacific World, and is the chair of the Editorial Committee of the Pure Land Buddhist Studies Series. His other publications include, Pure Lands in Asian Texts and Contexts: An Anthology, co-edited with Georgios Halkias (2019); Language in the Buddhist Tantra of Japan: Indic Roots of Mantra (2018); and Homa Variations: The Study of Ritual across the Longue Durée, co-edited with Michael Witzel (2016).


More information about Richard Payne's work can be found at:
 
Richard Payne at the Institute of Buddhist Studies: www.shin-ibs.edu,

Richard Payne's Blog: criticalreflectionsonbuddhistthought.org,

Secularizing Buddhism at Shambhala: www.shambhala.com,

Mystical Positivist episodes with contributors to Secularizing Buddhism and related guests:
 
Gil Fronsdal,

Stephen Batchelor,

Roger R. Jackson,

Kate Crosby.

Saturday, September 11, 2021

The Mystical Positivist - Radio Show #389 - 11SEP21


This week on the show we feature a pre-recorded conversation with returning guest Ken McLeod in which we discuss the role of Imagination in spiritual practice, the distinction between the Vertical and Horizontal dimensions of life and the modern struggle to imagine the Vertical dimension, how we might imagine a non-transactional embodiment of spiritual practice, and much more.

After learning Tibetan, Ken McLeod translated for his principal teacher, Kalu Rinpoche, and helped to develop Rinpoche’s centers in North America and Europe. In 1985, Kalu Rinpoche authorized Ken to teach and placed him in charge of his Los Angeles center. Faced with the challenges of teaching in a major metropolis, he began exploring different methods and formats for working with students. He moved away from both the teacher-center model and the minister-church model and developed a consultant-client model. Ken is the founder and director of UnfetteredMind.org. He is the author of Wake Up to Your Life: Discovering the Buddhist Path of Attention, The Great Path of Awakening, An Arrow to the Heart, Reflections on Silver River, and his most recent book, A Trackless Path.


More information about Ken McLeod's work can be found at:
 
Unfettered Mind website: www.unfetteredmind.org.


Saturday, September 4, 2021

The Mystical Positivist - Radio Show #388 - 04SEP21

This week on the show, we present a pre-recorded conversation with author, Peter Russell, about his latest book, Letting Go of Nothing: Relax Your Mind and Discover the Wonder of Your True Nature (An Eckhart Tolle Edition). Peter Russell is an author, speaker, and leading thinker on consciousness and contemporary spirituality. He believes the critical challenge today is freeing human thinking from the limited beliefs and attitudes that lie behind many of our problems — personal, social, and global. His mission is to distill the essential wisdom on human consciousness found in the world’s various spiritual traditions and to disseminate it in contemporary and compelling ways. Russell earned a first-class honors degree in theoretical physics and psychology — as well as a master’s degree in computer science — at the University of Cambridge, England. He also studied meditation and Eastern philosophy in India. He coined the term global brain with his 1980s bestseller by the same name in which he predicted the internet and the impact it would have on humanity. He is the author of twelve books including Waking Up in Time and From Science to God.

More information about Peter Russell's work can be found at:

Peter Russell's Website: www.peterrussell.com,

Letting Go of Nothing page: Letting Go of Nothing,

Online course on Meditation: How to Meditate - Without Even Trying.

Wednesday, September 1, 2021

Rationality as a Necessary Ally to Mystical Experience

Recently in an online discussion, the thesis of our podcast came up and was the subject of some back anf forth comments. We state:

The thesis of the show is that rationality is in no way the antithesis of deep mystical experience, in fact, we assert that it is a necessary ally.

I realize that this description is provocative, and it is provocative in the sense of provoking the sorts of questions that came up in my recent online conversation. One objection that this formulation tends to provoke is that the thinking mind cannot by its nature know or understand presence or awareness.

I certainly agree that the "thinking mind" cannot be aware of, know, understand, or access presence, but I do not equate rationality in the sense we use it in our podcast introduction to the "thinking mind". Nothing can know presence (i.e. make presence into an object) because presence is the ultimate subject. In our use of the term, rationality is more akin to "awareness of distinction" whereas thinking mind is composed of sequences of verbal and imaginal symbolic forms which may or may not map onto memory formations born out of direct embodied experience.

Awareness of distinction can be useful in a number of ways in support of mystical experience. One of these ways is awareness of the nature of distinction, of the ultimate emptiness of distinction, and (paradoxically) of the distinction between distinction and presence. This mode of the awareness of distinction is the basis of the classic "Neti Neti" practice in which we respond to each and every verbal formulation our thinking mind throws up to try to objectify presence with the reminder "Not this, not this". The process continues until the mind exhausts itself and our attention can abide in a profound silence.

Another way in which awareness of distinction is useful is to help make subtle aspects of our embodied experience conceptually accessible. Though our fundamental nature may be knowing presence, in this realm of time and space, we manifest in bodies and enjoy gradations of embodied experiences that range from the very course to extremely sublime. But not all of these experiences are necessarily conceptually accessible. A simple example of this is to consider a palette of shades of the color yellow. When seen as a collection of shades, we can easily distinguish between different tones of yellow. However, if we are shown these same colors one by one, we will typically have a difficult time recalling which color is which.

Another example that I have found in the study of Japanese bamboo flute is the degree to which I can distinguish, recall, and reproduce extremely subtle variations in tone color today after more than 20 years of practice compared to what I was able to distinguish in my early days with the instrument. When our experiences are conceptually accessible, we have the possibility of returning to those experiences as a matter of choice. In my early days of playing the Shakuhachi, I might accidently find myself in a relatively transcendental place of playing, with very little sense of how I got there. Now, with years of practice and a host of injunctions planted in my memory by my teacher, I can access those places by will (needless to say, there are plenty more places like that for me to work on).

This musical example is a good analogy for spiritual practice. At The Mystical Positivist, we hold that the aim of our spiritual practice is to "live transcendence," that is, to bring the abiding awareness of the truth of our ultimate nature into our day-to-day embodied experience. As such, it is useful to learn to make the subtler aspects of our embodied experience conceptually accessible so that we can reliably return to such experiences "as the spirit moves us." The rational mind is constitutionally incapable of knowing anything per se, but it can help to organize and direct our embodied attention so that we can reliably bring an experience of the transcendental into our most ordinary of daily activities. This is the sense in which we mean that the rational mind is a necessary ally in the mystical quest.

Saturday, August 7, 2021

The Mystical Positivist - Radio Show #387 - 07AUG21

This week on the show, we present a pre-recorded conversation with author, Pamela Logan, about her latest book, Compassion Mandala – The Odyssey of an American Charity in Contemporary Tibet. Pamela Logan can usually be found with her head in the clouds, moving uphill. At the age of 19 she took up karate while pursuing an engineering degree at Caltech. She later got an aerospace PhD from Stanford; but then left her career as a scientist to investigate the warrior tribes of the eastern Tibetan plateau, in a region known as Kham. Not long after that, she worked for the China Exploration & Research Society restoring Tibetan temples and probing Silk Road ruins. In 1996, Dr. Logan was named Woman Explorer of the Year. The following year she started Kham Aid Foundation, a nonprofit that operated for 14 years assisting people in eastern Tibet with their needs for education, health care, cultural preservation, and economic opportunity.

In 2007, Logan started a third career when she took a job with the US federal government as a cleaner-upper of radioactive contamination at the Hanford site in Washington State. Later she moved to a different agency where she her job is to stop federal contractors from gouging American taxpayers. In her spare time, she still teaches karate and continues to advance the cause of assistance to Tibet through publication of books and articles that raise awareness of the needs of Tibetans. She now holds the rank of fifth degree black belt and teaches at Boulder Shotokan Karate. In 2020, responding to the COVID-19 pandemic, Logan began producing a series of training videos called “Karate at Home, Alone.”

Logan is also the author Among Warriors and Tibetan Rescue. She is an accomplished public speaker, having delivered invited lectures at Columbia University, Wellesley College, Royal Geographical Society of Hong Kong, Asia Society, Explorers Club, Foreign Correspondents Clubs in Hong Kong and Beijing, and others.

More information about Pamela Logan's work can be found at:

Pamela Logan's Website: www.pamela-logan.com.