Sunday, September 12, 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.

Saturday, July 24, 2021

The Mystical Positivist - Radio Show #386 - 24JUL21

This week on the show, we present a pre-recorded conversation with Zimbabwan healer, Mandaza Augustine Kandemwa. Mandaza is a spirit medium and medicine man from Bulawayo, Zimbabwe. In Shona, his native tongue, he is known as a Mhondora, Svikiro, and Gombwa. He was initiated through the tradition of the njuzu, the water spirits. Mandaza carries with him in his heart the Central African spiritual tradition of healing and peacemaking. He is known internationally for his loving presence and for his preservation of the old ways. He stands for Truth, Love, Justice, and Peace in this world. Mandaza was raised in a Christian home, trained as an educator, school administrator, and police officer in Apartheid Rhodesia, now Zimbabwe. During this time, he became actively involved in the liberation struggle.

Currently, Mandaza travels internationally offering teachings and healing counsel in churches, schools, prisons, and hospitals. He co-authored, with Michael Ortiz-Hill, Twins From Another Tribe, one of the few books that discuss Shona cosmology and traditional practices.

More information about Mandaza Kandemwa's work can be found at:

Mandaza's Website: www.mandaza.com,

Mandaza on Dharmagiri: www.dharmagiri.org,

Mandaza online seminar series: www.pathwayteaching.com.

Saturday, July 3, 2021

The Mystical Positivist - Radio Show #385 - 03JUL21

This week on the show, we present a pre-recorded conversation with Fiona Denzey, a long-time practitioner and teacher of the Gurdjieff Movements. Born into the Work, Ms. Denzey’s parents were founding members of the Gurdjieff Foundation of Toronto. At an early age, she was introduced to the Gurdjieff movements and received direct training from Mr. Gurdjieff's designated Movements teachers, Alfred Etievan and Jessmin Howarth. Ms. Denzey’s mother, Elsa, was an accomplished pianist who worked with many musicians from all over the world in a series of seminars exploring how to accompany sacred dance. Fiona Denzey, herself, has over 50 years of experience in the direct communication of Mr. Gurdjieff's Movements.

Of the Gurdjieff Movements, the Foundation of Toronto writes:

In the early years of his search, Gurdjieff spent time in various hidden monasteries and temples in Central Asia, where he experienced ritual dances and ceremonies. In studying their essential structure, he came to the understanding that these dances were being used as a language to express knowledge of a cosmic order. This language is a very exact one. Everything in it is measured, every movement has its right place, duration and weight. Combinations and sequences are mathematically calculated. Positions are arranged to produce definite, predetermined emotions or states. In the creation of such movements, every small element matters. Each detail has meaning, nothing is left to chance. Nothing is the result of mere imagination. There is only one possible gesture, attitude and rhythm to represent a given human or cosmic situation. Another gesture, another movement would strike a false note, would not produce the impression of truth. Should there be the slightest miscalculation in the composition, the truth is altered, the dance desecrated, and fantasy has taken the place of knowledge. In a lifetime devoted to study and questioning, Gurdjieff mastered the principles of this art and was able in his turn to use the movements as a vehicle for the transmission of his understanding.

(Note: the audio quality of the podcast is limited at times due to some connectivity issues)

More information about Fiona Denzey's work can be found at:

Gurdjieff Foundation of Toronto: Society for Arts and Ideas Website: www.gurdjiefftoronto.com.

Saturday, June 12, 2021

The Mystical Positivist - Radio Show #384 - 12JUN21

This week on the show, we present a pre-recorded conversation with Robin Bloor about his latest book, Gurdjieff’s Hydrogens – Volume 1: The Ray of Creation. About the book, he writes, “Gurdjieff clearly wanted his pupils to try to understand Objective Science. He left two accounts of it. One adorns the pages of In Search of the Miraculous; the other merges itself into the text of Beelzebub's Tales to His Grandson. He described its study as a necessity - one of five obligolnian strivings. And yet, most books about The Work steer clear of the topic. This book moves in the opposite direction.”

Robin was born in 1951 in Liverpool, UK. He obtained a BSc in Mathematics at Nottingham University and took up a career in the computer industry, initially writing software. From 1989 onwards, he became a technology analyst and consultant. He has thus been a writer of a kind ever since. In 2002 he was awarded an honorary Ph.D. in Computer Science by Wolverhampton University in the UK. He currently resides in and works from Austin, Texas in the USA. In 1988, after drifting through several work groups, Bloor met and became a pupil of Rina Hands. Rina was a one-time associate of J. G. Bennett, a student of Peter Ouspensky's, and later, a pupil of George Gurdjieff. Following Gurdjieff's death, she remained part of J. G. Bennett's group for a while. Subsequently, she formed groups both in London, where she lived, and in Bradford in the North of England-initially in conjunction with Madame Nott. She was an accomplished movements teacher and an inspirational group leader. She died in 1994 and is buried next to Jane Heap in a cemetery in North London.

Robin leads a group, The Austin Gurdjieff Society, in Austin, Texas. Robin is the author of To Fathom The Gist Volumes I – III which demonstrate methods of reading and comprehending the contents of G. I. Gurdjieff’s master work, ALL and Everything: "An Objectively Impartial Criticism of the Life of Man" or, BEELZEBUB's TALES TO HIS GRANDSON.

More information about Robin Bloor's work can be found at:

Austin Gurdjieff Society Website: austingurdjieffsociety.weebly.com,

To Fathom the Gist Website: www.tofathomthegist.com,

Gurdjieff's Hydrogens Seminar Series: Seminar Series,

The Seekers' Cafe Website: seekerscafe.org,

Robin Bloor's email address: robin.bloor @ gmail.com.

Saturday, May 29, 2021

The Mystical Positivist - Radio Show #383 - 29MAY21

This week on The Mystical Positivist, we feature a pre-recorded conversation with Professor Kate Crosby, author of Esoteric Theravada: The Story of the Forgotten Meditation Tradition of Southeast Asia. Theravada Buddhism, often understood as the school that most carefully preserved the practices taught by the Buddha, has undergone tremendous change over time. Prior to Western colonialism in Asia—which brought Western and modernist intellectual concerns, such as the separation of science and religion, to bear on Buddhism—there existed a tradition of embodied, esoteric, and culturally regional Theravada meditation practices. This once-dominant traditional meditation system, known as boran kammatthana, is related to—yet remarkably distinct from—Vipassana and other Buddhist and secular mindfulness practices that would become the hallmark of Theravada Buddhism in the twentieth century. Drawing on a quarter century of research, scholar Kate Crosby offers the first holistic discussion of boran kammatthana, illuminating the historical events and cultural processes by which the practice has been marginalized in the modern era.

Kate Crosby is professor of Buddhist Studies at King’s College London. Her work focuses on Sanskrit, Pali, and Pali-vernacular literature and on Theravada practice in the pre-modern and modern periods. Her other publications include Theravada Buddhism: Continuity, Diversity, Identity and The Bodhicaryavatara.

More information about Kate Crosby's work can be found at:

Esoteric Theravada at the Shambhala: www.shambhala.com,

Interview with Kate Crosby at Tricycle: tricycle.org,

Kate Crosby at King's College London: www.kcl.ac.uk.

Saturday, May 8, 2021

The Mystical Positivist - Radio Show #382 - 08MAY21

This week on The Mystical Positivist, we feature a pre-recorded discussion with returning guests Anne Sweet and Amir Freimann about spiritual transformation through conversation. As Anne and Amir have found in multiple conversations with a number of spiritual exemplars that the interviewer/interviewee dynamic can somehow dissolve and give rise to a truly intimate and profound shared experience. It is this shared, intimate, profound spiritual friendship that Amir and Anne are discovering is the most compelling aspect of their respective spiritual endeavors and at the very heart and soul of their work. We cover such topics as risk taking and vulnerability, the giving up of control, spiritual practice as the Art of Living a Life, and conversation as creating an invocational space.

Anne Sweet has been involved in spiritual life for over four decades. During that time, she lived for many years in ashrams and committed spiritual communities in India, the U.K and America. She has studied with both Western and Eastern teachers and completed thousands of hours of spiritual practice and enquiry. Anne writes, “I was no closer to finding what I was looking for, however, until 2004, when utterly disillusioned with spiritual life I struck out on my own and in the midst of an ongoing crisis and the intense period of self-enquiry that ensued, finally discovered the truth of my own Self beyond the personal identity.”

Anne lives and works in Sydney, Australia with her partner Dr Jesse Shore. Together we have created Sweet+Shore, an art/science collaboration. She is also an exhibiting solo artist under the name of Anne Penman Sweet and is represented by Rebecca Hossack Gallery, London. Most recently, Anne has been creating a website called The End of Seeking: demystifying the spiritual path - a straightforward, no frills, no cost, guru-free guide to Self- knowledge, which aims to assist the (often weary!) seeker, not from a teaching position in the usual sense, but as a fellow traveler and spiritual friend.

Amir Freimann was born in 1958 and grew up in a village in Israel. After studying Tai Chi, medicine, and the Philosophy of Science, he lived for two years in a Zen monastery in Japan and for more than two decades in a small community with a spiritual/philosophical orientation in the United States called EnlightenNext. These days Amir lives with his wife, Ruti, and Corgi (their dog) in the village where he grew up, earns a living by translating pharmaceutical papers from Japanese to English, serves as executive director of an NGO called The Education Spirit Movement and writes books. He has published two books on the connection between formal education and philosophical/spiritual inquiry, Education: Essence and Spirit and Education: The Human Questions, as well as his recent, Spiritual Transmission: Paradoxes and Dilemmas on the Spiritual Path. In 2018, he began studying for a Ph.D. at the University of Haifa and writing a Doctoral dissertation (and a book) on the subject: Enlightened Life - a Phenomenological Study of Spiritual Masters.

Note: a Video version of this conversation is available here: www.YouTube.com

More information about Anne Sweet's work can be found at:

The End of Seeking website: www.theendofseeking.org,

Anne Sweet's website: www.annepenmansweet.com,

Sweet + Shore Collaboration website: www.sweetandshore.com,

Amir Freimann's website: The Freedom to Question,

Amir Freimann on Facebook: www.facebook.com,

Spiritual Transmission at Monkfish Book Publishing Company: www.monkfishpublishing.com.

Saturday, May 1, 2021

The Mystical Positivist - Radio Show #381 - 01MAY21


This week on the show we feature a pre-recorded conversation with Trevor Stewart, practitioner and writer in the Fourth Way tradition. Trevor Stewart has experience in both the Zen Buddhist monastic and Gurdjieff Work buy-a-farm-and-try-to-fix-it-up traditions. A longtime Beelzebub's Tales practitioner, he leads private online study groups. He presents regularly at the annual international All and Everything Conference, has written for Parabola Magazine, and is a returning guest on The Mystical Positivist podcast. In daily life, he runs a design and build firm in Portland, Oregon.

In our conversation today we discuss two of Trevor’s recent papers for the All and Everything Conference, A Universal Language: Gurdjieff’s Exact Language and New Tools for Insight into Beelzebub’s Tales and Unity and Multiplicity: Observation, Remembering, and Objective Consciousness in Beelzebub’s Tales. We cover how Gurdjieff’s writings demonstrate and reflect the operation of our minds while at the same time training us to stand beyond this operation, how Dual and Non-Dual perspectives show up in the Tales, and points of tangency between Buddhist and Fourth Way understandings of Awakening.


More information about Trevor Stewart's work can be found at:

All and Everything Conference website: aandeconference.org,

PDF: A Universal Language: Gurdjieff’s Exact Language and New Tools for Insight into Beelzebub’s Tales,

PDF: Unity and Multiplicity: Observation, Remembering, and Objective Consciousness in Beelzebub’s Tales,

Lucid Cubed blog: lucidcubed.wordpress.com,

JNT Design & Build website: www.jntdesignandbuild.com.

Saturday, April 24, 2021

The Mystical Positivist - Radio Show #380 - 24APR21


This week on the show we feature a pre-recorded conversation with Ji Hyang Padma, author of Field of Blessings: Ritual & Consciousness in the Work of Buddhist Healers. Ji Hyang believes that we are hungry for a direct experience of the sacred in this culture. We try to fill the void with technology, and its “quick fix” of images and information. This leaves us hungry for true connectivity. We don’t need more information. We need more appreciation. Gratitude opens the heart, and gives our life meaning; it becomes a form of spiritual experience that gives us strength. Field of Blessings explores how meaning-making can be approached by deep examination of the stories of our lives, which bridge the gap between the inner world and the outer world, giving shape to our experience. How can these narratives be spoken, written, or embodied? Ritual is the story brought-to-life, and a powerful vehicle for spiritual transformation, for reconnecting people with an embodied wholeness. Ji Hyang Padma shows that Chöd, Medicine Buddha practices, and other Tibetan rituals are used by healers to evoke sacred energies, radical empathy, and to contact deep archetypal realms of the psyche.

Ji Hyang Padma is currently a CPE Chaplain Resident at the University of San Francisco Medical Center, and combines an academic and professional career with her role as a Zen teacher. Ji Hyang has done intensive Zen training and teaching in Asia and North America for 20 years, 15 of these as an ordained nun. She has completed several 90-day intensive retreats in Korea and North America. She also teaches Zen workshops annually at Omega Institute and Esalen Institute. While her practice has been situated within the Korean Zen tradition, she has had the benefit of studying with teachers across a wide spectrum of Buddhist lineages.

Ji Hyang has also served as Director of Spirituality and Education Programs at Wellesley College, and Director and Abbot of Cambridge Zen Center, one of the largest Zen Centers in the country. Additionally, she has served as a meditation teacher at Wellesley College, Harvard University and Boston University. She is gifted at finding an entry-point into practice for people who are just beginning their journey. She is also the author of Living the Season: Zen Practice for Transformative Times.


More information about Ji Hyang Padma's work can be found at:

Mountain Path website: www.mountainpath.org,

Ji Hyang Padma on The Mystical Positivist: On Buddhist Healing,

Ji Hyang Padma on The Mystical Positivist: Living the Season.

Saturday, April 10, 2021

The Mystical Positivist - Radio Show #379 - 10APR21


This week on the show we feature a pre-recorded conversation with Christopher Pinard, author of Celtic Mythology for Kids: Tales of Selkies, Giants, and the Sea. Chris' interest in folklore and mythology began at a very young age when his mother first read the stories of the Mabinogion, Eddas, the Irish Mythological Cycle, and various collections of folk tales. Over the years, his passion for the subject matter deepened, which resulted in his authorship of articles online and in magazines. His deep interest in folkways is buttressed with an educational background in psychology and history. In our conversation, we cover Chris’ early awakening to the world of mythology, his personal synthesis of a pagan practice based on the Norse and Celtic traditions and deities, and the transformative power of the allegories found in traditional tales.

More information about Chris Pinard's work can be found at:
Chris Pinard on Owlcation website: owlcation.com,
Celtic Mythology for Kids on Amazon.com: www.amazon.com.

Saturday, April 3, 2021

The Mystical Positivist - Radio Show #378 - 03APR21


This week on the show we feature feature a pre-recorded conversation in which Ken McLeod and Jim Wilson return to continue our discussion from several weeks ago. In this installment we go deep on the question allegorical thinking and the modern mind's difficulty with allegory. Only here will you find the subjects of Star Wars, the Borg from Star Trek, Game of Thrones, the function of feeling in allegorical mentation, abiding peace as a consequence of deep practice, and the challenge of describing Tibetan Deity Practice to a Western Mind weaved together in an engaging conversational quartet.

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.

Jim Wilson was a monk and abbot under the direction of his teacher Seung Sahn, a Korean Chogye sect Zen master. He served as a Buddhist Prison Chaplain, studied western philosophy, co-founded Many Rivers Books & Tea in Sebastopol, conducts a website devoted to syllabic form Haiku, and has penned and published many books of poetry. In recent years his spiritual practice has centered on the Quaker Christian tradition. In addition to his many poetry volumes, he has published several books on spiritual matters, including On Trusting the Heart, a commentary on a famous poem by the third Zen patriarch, and An Annotated Edition of a Guide to True Peace.


More information about Ken McLeod and Jim Wilson's work can be found at:
 
Unfettered Mind website: www.unfetteredmind.org,
 
On Trusting the Heart - A Commentary on the Xin Xin Ming: On Trusting the Heart,
 
An Annotated Edition of a Guide to True Peace (2nd Edition): Guide to True Peace,
 
Shaping Words Poetry Website: shapingwords.blogspot.com.

Saturday, March 27, 2021

The Mystical Positivist - Radio Show #377 - 27MAR21


This week on the show we feature a pre-recorded conversation with Jundo Cohen about his latest book, The Zen Master's Dance: A Guide to Understanding Dogen and Who You Are in the Universe. In The Zen Master’s Dance, Jundo Cohen takes us deep into the mind of Master Dogen—and shows us how to join in the great and intimate dance of the universe. Through fresh translations and sparkling teaching, Cohen opens up for us a new way to read one of Buddhism’s most remarkable spiritual geniuses. In addition to his book, we discuss at length the benefits and opportunities in maintaining a largely online sangha tradition.

Jundo Cohen is a Zen teacher and founder of the Treeleaf Zendo, a Soto Zen community using visual media to link Zen practitioners around the world. Treeleaf serves those who cannot easily commute to a Zen center due to health concerns; age or disability; living in remote areas; or work, childcare, or family needs; and provides zazen sittings, retreats, discussion, interaction with a teacher, and all other activities of a Zen Buddhist sangha, all fully online without thought of location or distance. Jundo was born and raised in the United States but has lived in Japan for more than half his life. He was ordained and subsequently received Dharma transmission from Master Gudo Wafu Nishijima and is a member of the Soto Zen Buddhist Association.


More information about Jundo Cohen's work can be found at:

Treeleaf Zendo website: www.treeleaf.org,

Jundo Cohen on the Soto Zen Buddhist Association website: www.szba.org.

Saturday, February 27, 2021

The Mystical Positivist - Radio Show #376 - 27FEB21


This week on the show we feature a pre-recorded conversation with Theresa Dintino, author of the newly published book, Membranes of Hope: A Guide to Attending to the Spiritual Boundaries that Keep Life Systems Healthy from the Personal to the Cosmic. The membrane is a permeable boundary with intelligence and discernment that allows in or keeps out that which it senses is appropriate for the lifesystems within it. Spiritual, etheric, or bioenergetic membranes encase and enclose lifesystems, from the cells in our bodies to the cosmos around us. They contain, protect, and inform our personal souls, families, villages, the Earth, and extend out into the universe. The role of the spirit worker has always been to tend to, support, and keep these membranes strong and supple so that what is held within them not only survives but thrives. In this book, Theresa defines this revolutionary concept and offers the reader tools to learn how to engage in this work at any level they wish to participate.

Theresa Dintino is the author of eight books and serves as a guide and spiritual mentor to many. While attempting to reclaim and restore her ancestral medicine lineage, the Italian Strega tradition, Dintino was surprised to be “claimed” by the West African Dagara tradition of stick divination. Honored by this invitation, Dintino pursued it, and in 2011 was initiated into this potent form of divination. Besides her family and daughter, this turned out to be the greatest gift of her life. Stick divination helped Dintino find her way back to her own lineage and enables her to help others find and restore theirs. This beautiful practice of Dagara stick divination continues to offer countless gifts. In multiple divination sessions, Dintino was taught about the spiritual membranes that protect, nurture, and inform lifesystems.


More information about Theresa Dintino's work can be found at:

Strega Tree Divination website: stregatree.com,

The Ritual Goddess website: ritualgoddess.com,

Nasty Women Writers website: www.nastywomenwriters.com.

Saturday, January 30, 2021

The Mystical Positivist - Radio Show #375 - 30JAN21


This week on the show on the show we feature a pre-recorded conversation with two of our favorite guests, Ken McLeod and Jim Wilson. Today we tackle a number of questions that have been bubbling up from the early days of Christianity through to the Reformation and into the modern epic. Topics include Faith versus Works as a path to salvation, what happens when Mythos is projected onto Logos, the distinction between Belief and Faith, how practice depends upon context, the practice of asceticism, and the relationship between allegorical thinking and the opening of the heart.

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.

Jim Wilson was a monk and abbot under the direction of his teacher Seung Sahn, a Korean Chogye sect Zen master. He served as a Buddhist Prison Chaplain, studied western philosophy, co-founded Many Rivers Books & Tea in Sebastopol, conducts a website devoted to syllabic form Haiku, and has penned and published many books of poetry. In recent years his spiritual practice has centered on the Quaker Christian tradition. In addition to his many poetry volumes, he has published several books on spiritual matters, including On Trusting the Heart, a commentary on a famous poem by the third Zen patriarch, and An Annotated Edition of a Guide to True Peace.


More information about Ken McLeod and Jim Wilson's work can be found at:
Unfettered Mind website: www.unfetteredmind.org,
On Trusting the Heart - A Commentary on the Xin Xin Ming: On Trusting the Heart,
An Annotated Edition of a Guide to True Peace (2nd Edition): Guide to True Peace,
Shaping Words Poetry Website: shapingwords.blogspot.com.

Saturday, January 9, 2021

The Mystical Positivist - Radio Show #374 - 09JAN21


This week on the show we feature a pre-recorded conversation with Father Joseph Azize, author of the 2020 book, Gurdjieff: Mysticism, Contemplation, & Exercises. Father Azize is a priest in the Maronite Catholic Church, working chiefly in the Chancery. He is also an honorary associate at the University of Sydney. For twenty-three years, he was a practicing attorney for the Commonwealth of Australia, serving at one time as acting Senior Assistant Director of Publications. He has published academically in three areas: ancient history, litigation law, and now in religious studies, and has also written some music for use in the Maronite liturgy.

In Gurdjieff: Mysticism, Contemplation, & Exercises, Azize explores the mystical dimension of the Gurdjieff work and details the evolution of Transformed-Contemplations in the later stages of Gurdjieff’s teaching. Our conversation examines the meaning of the mystical in Fourth Way practice, the use of Transformed-Contemplations to metabolize the finer energies necessary to stabilize presence, the relationship of Transformed-Contemplations to the Prayer of the Heart, and more.


More information about Father Joseph Azize's work can be found at:

Joseph Azize's website: www.josephazize.com.

Saturday, December 5, 2020

The Mystical Positivist - Radio Show #373 - 05DEC20


This week on the show we feature a pre-recorded conversation with Richard Whittaker in which he brings his considerable interviewing skills to bear on interviewing The Mystical Positivist hosts, Stuart Goodnick and Robert Schmidt, Spiritual Director of Tayu Meditation Center. Richard Whittaker is the co-founder, with Rue Harrison, of the non-profit "Society for theReCognition of Art" and founding editor in 1998 of the magazine works & conversations. Earlier he founded The Secret Alameda [published from 1990-96]. He is also the West Coast editor of Parabola Magazine. Although Whittaker has a background in philosophy [BA] and clinical psychology [MA] and has done graduate work at the GTU in Berkeley, his connections with art go back over forty years including photography, ceramics, painting and sculpture.

More information about Richard Whittaker's work can be found at:

works & conversations online: www.conversations.org,

Interview with Richard Whittaker on ServiceSpace: www.servicespace.org.

Saturday, November 28, 2020

The Mystical Positivist - Radio Show #372 - 28NOV20


This week on The Mystical Positivist, we feature a pre-recorded conversation with Zoketsu Norman Fischer and Ken McLeod framed by two key questions. The first is whether mystics or mystically inclined practitioners have responsibilities to society and the World, and if so, what might those responsibilities be. Out of this question comes an extended exploration of what it means to be a mystic, the nature of the world in which we practice, the distinction between direction and goal in spiritual practice, and spiritual practice as learning how to die.

The second question is of the great spiritual questions, for which ones have we found the answers and for which ones do the questions remain? Out of this comes reflections on the role of questions themselves, the nature of divinity, the mystery of the passage of Time, the impending meeting we all have with Death, and how to prepare for Death as the cessation of all conceptualization.

Zoketsu Norman Fischer is an American poet, writer, and Soto Zen priest, teaching and practicing in the lineage of Shunryu Suzuki. He is a Dharma heir of Sojun Mel Weitsman, from whom he received Dharma transmission in 1988. Fischer served as co-abbot of the San Francisco Zen Center from 1995–2000, after which he founded the Everyday Zen Foundation in 2000, a network of Buddhist practice group and related projects in Canada, the United States and Mexico. Fischer has published more than twenty-five books of poetry and non-fiction, as well as numerous poems, essays and articles in Buddhist magazines and poetry journals. His most recent book is The World Could Be Otherwise: Imagination and the Bodhisattva Path.

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 Norman Fischer and Ken McLeod's work can be found at:

Norman Fischer's website: www.normanfischer.org,

Ken McLeod's website: unfetteredmind.org.

Saturday, September 26, 2020

The Mystical Positivist - Radio Show #371 - 26SEP20

This week on the show, we present a telephone conversation with Barbara Du Bois. Barbara Du Bois, Ph.D., longtime teacher of Buddhadharma, is known for the clarity, freshness, humor, and fearless love with which she shines a frank Western light on the path. Her principal gurus are Padmasambhava, Milarepa, Machig, H. H. Dudjom Rinpoche, and H.E. Garchen Rinpoche. Barbara’s lifetime of service includes work with disarmament, African refugees from colonial regimes and genocide, United Nations social development, feminist scholarship and teaching, and initiating an indigenous women’s peace movement during active civil war in Africa. She holds the doctorate from Harvard University and has taught at undergraduate and graduate levels as social scientist, psychologist, and psychotherapist. Barbara is also a visual artist and author of Light Years: A Spiritual Memoir (Laughing Vajra, 2011) and the newly published Brave, Generous, & Undefended: Heart Teachings on the 37 Bodhisattva Practices. She currently resides in Arizona.

More information about Barbara Du Bois' work can be found at:

Barabara Du Bois at White Cloud Press: www.whitecloudpress.com,

Brave, Generous & Undefended at the Garchen Store: www.garchen.store,

Light Years on Amazon: www.amazon.com.


Saturday, August 22, 2020

The Mystical Positivist - Radio Show #370 - 22AUG20

This week on the show, we present a pre-recorded conversation with Hersch Wilson, author of Firefighter Zen: A Field Guide to Thriving in Tough Times. Hersch is a thirty-year veteran volunteer Firefighter-EMT with the Hondo Fire Department in Santa Fe County, New Mexico. He is also a story-teller, committed to explaining how First Responding can change how we see and experience our own lives. In his “real job” he is a writer, speaker, and consultant. In the past twenty-five years, Hersch has worked extensively with leadership teams from a variety of organizations including Kodak, IBM Japan, Altria, The United States Postal Service, the CIA, Kraft Foods and Baxter Healthcare to name a few. He has co-written three national business best sellers with Larry Wilson, including the awarding winning, Playing to Win!: Choosing Growth Over Fear in Work and in Life.

His latest project, based on thirty years as a volunteer firefighter, is helping individuals and organizations see the world as firefighters do and learn how to thrive through traumatic and stressful times.

Hersch attended Colorado College and graduated with a BA in English from the University of Minnesota. Prior to becoming a writer and consultant, Hersch was a dancer and actor. He performed in Canada, Switzerland, and the United States. He has also worked as a flight instructor and commercial pilot.

More information about Hersch Wilson's work can be found at:

Hersch Wilson's Website: www.herschwilson.com,

Hersch Wilson on Medium: medium.com,

Hersch Wilson on YouTube: www.youtube.com.


Saturday, August 15, 2020

The Mystical Positivist - Radio Show #369 - 15AUG20

This week on the show, we present a pre-recorded conversation with Robin Bloor, author of To Fathom The Gist Volume III: The Arousing of Thought. In this book, Robin demonstrates a method of reading and comprehending the contents of G. I. Gurdjieff’s master work, All and Everything: Beelzebub’s Tales to his Grandson. Our conversation ranges from some practical insights from The Tales, to the nature of Objective Art, to an introduction to the subject of Objective Science.

Robin was born in 1951 in Liverpool, UK. He obtained a BSc in Mathematics at Nottingham University and took up a career in the computer industry, initially writing software. From 1989 onwards, he became a technology analyst and consultant. He has thus been a writer of a kind ever since. In 2002 he was awarded an honorary Ph.D. in Computer Science by Wolverhampton University in the UK. He currently resides in and works from Austin, Texas in the USA. In 1988, after drifting through several work groups, Bloor met and became a pupil of Rina Hands. Rina was a one-time associate of J. G. Bennett, a student of Peter Ouspensky's, and later, a pupil of George Gurdjieff. Following Gurdjieff's death, she remained part of J. G. Bennett's group for a while. Subsequently, she formed groups both in London, where she lived, and in Bradford in the North of England-initially in conjunction with Madame Nott. She was an accomplished movements teacher and an inspirational group leader. She died in 1994 and is buried next to Jane Heap in a cemetery in North London.

Robin leads a group, The Austin Gurdjieff Society, in Austin, Texas. Aside from the usual movements and Work activities, the group specializes in the study of Gurdjieff's writings and the study of Objective Science, as articulated by Ouspensky in In Search of The Miraculous, and by Gurdjieff in The Tales.

More information about Robin Bloor's work can be found at:

Austin Gurdjieff Society Website: austingurdjieffsociety.weebly.com,

To Fathom the Gist Website: www.tofathomthegist.com,

The Seekers' Cafe Website: seekerscafe.org,

Robin Bloor's email address: robin.bloor @ gmail.com.