Saturday, May 30, 2015

The Mystical Positivist - Radio Show #186 - 30MAY15

The Mystical Positivist is now a weekly radio show on KOWS-LP 107.3 FM, Occidental, CA. Listen live on Saturday evenings from 4:00 - 6:00pm, PST, via the web at KOWS Live Stream
This week's podcast features:
  • This week and next week we interview a panel of guests who are all presenters at the Conscious Family Festival 2015 event coming up in Santa Rosa on Saturday June 13, 10am—5pm at the Finley Community Center at the corner of College and Stony Point avenues. The diversity of the work that our panelists, both this week and next, will offer at the Conscious Family Festival bespeaks the amazing array of contributions that the Festival is bringing together. In the first hour we’ll speak with Elyse April, author of several books for children and parents, and the director of the Baul Theatre Company. In the second hour, we will speak with Beth Rachel, founder Intuitive Kids, and Dr. Robert Schmidt, spiritual director of Tayu Meditation Center and co-chair of The Conscious Family Festival.

    • Elyse April is a licensed (New York State) early-childhood educator, with a degree in Theatre Arts and an Early Childhood Education. A private school elementary teacher for ten years, Elyse has more recently taught theatre classes in a special program for youth-at-risk. She is a freelance publicist working on books for children and parents on family health issues. She is committed to the promotion of breastfeeding as a national priority. She is the author of several books for children and parents, including bi-lingual editions of We Like to Read, We Like to Eat Well, We Like to Move and most recently, Ready to Wean.

      A thirty-year student of Lee Lozowick, author of Conscious Parenting, Elyse is the director of the Baul Theatre Company, which has performed for years at a Renaissance Festival in Arizona, as well as in venues the U.S. and Europe. An actor and screenwriter, Elyse continues a serious study of improvisation with Alan Arkin, and conducts workshops in this field.

    • Beth Rachel writes: “Growing up I was a sensitive child and I experienced a barrage of what many would consider paranormal or psychic phenomenon. I would see my teachers aura and have preemptory moments like the time my dad forgot to turn his headlights on and I saw that we would be pulled over. I saw beings without bodies, I experienced frequent overwhelming emotions that made knots in my belly and regular tingling at my third eye and palms of my hands which was uncomfortable and itchy. My mom would try to help, she introduced me visualization and grounding. As I grew older I chose to study these things on my own. At age 17, I began a more formal education starting with dream work, tarot and stone study. I went on to attend the Berkeley Psychic Institute, deepening my ability for psychic reading. I was then certified as a Bikram yoga instructor and massage therapist, with complimentary elective courses in cranio sacral work, Breema shiatsu, and jin shin Jyutsu. I then went on to expand my education in metaphysics, intuitive anatomy and energy healing with 3 teaching certifications in Theta Healing TM. I have also been licensed to teach Vianna’s Rainbow children course. Since 2006 I have held a private practice consisting of private bodywork and Theta Healing TM sessions as well as teaching workshops in Theta Healing TM. It is a core belief of mine that energy awareness is the healing our world needs. As we become more attuned with ourselves, so do we with each other and nature, making the world a more harmonious place.”

    • Dr. Robert Schmidt, spiritual director of Tayu Meditation Center, met and began intensive, 24-hour study with Tayu Meditation Center founder Robert Daniel Ennis in 1977. After five remarkable training years, he received ordination as a minister of Tayu, and co-taught with his teacher until Mr. Ennis’ death in 1998. His work with Mr. Ennis included co-writing and publishing a book entitled God Is Gay: An Evolutionary Spiritual Work. Rob succeeded Mr. Ennis as Tayu spiritual director, a post he still holds, in collaboration with yours truly. With Stuart Goodnick and Jim Wilson he co-founded Many Rivers Books & Tea in Sebastopol in Sebastopol, CA, in 2002.

      Currently he’s collaborating with practitioners of many spiritual traditions to create the Conscious Family Festival, a community event scheduled for 2015 in Santa Rosa, CA. Along the way, Rob completed a Ph.D. in anthropological archaeology at UC Berkeley, where he was co-editor with his grad student colleague Barbara Voss of the award-winning Archaeologies of Sexuality, the first academic edited volume to examine the phenomenon of sexuality as a object of knowledge in archaeological contexts.
More information about The Conscious Family Festival can be found at:

Saturday, May 23, 2015

The Mystical Positivist - Radio Show #185 - 23MAY15

The Mystical Positivist is now a weekly radio show on KOWS-LP 107.3 FM, Occidental, CA. Listen live on Saturday evenings from 4:00 - 6:00pm, PST, via the web at KOWS Live Stream
This week's podcast features:
  • A telephone conversation with Taigen Dan Leighton, a Soto Zen priest and Dharma successor in the lineage of Shunryu Suzuki Roshi. Taigen first studied Buddhist art and culture in Japan in 1970, and began formal everyday zazen and Soto practice in 1975 at the New York Zen Center with Kando Nakajima Roshi. This led to his returning to graduate in East Asian Studies and study Japanese language at Columbia College. Through the 70s Taigen was also an award-winning documentary film editor in New York and San Francisco, including work for NBC News and Bill Moyers Journal. While editing TV news, it was necessary for Taigen to learn about the one who is not busy. Taigen left his filmmaking career in 1979 to work full time for the San Francisco Zen Center at the Tassajara Bakery, and he was ordained in 1986 by Reb Anderson Roshi.

    Taigen practiced and resided for years at San Francisco Zen Center, Tassajara monastery, and Green Gulch Farm Zen Center. He also practiced for two years in Kyoto, Japan, 1990-92, translating Dogen with Rev. Shohaku Okumura, and practicing with several Japanese Soto Zen teachers, including one monastic practice period. Taigen founded the Mountain Source Sangha meditation groups in Bolinas in 1994, then added branches in San Rafael and San Francisco. He received Dharma Transmission in 2000 from Reb Anderson.

    Taigen is author of Zen Questions: Zazen, Dogen, and the Spirit of Creative Inquiry, Faces of Compassion: Classic Bodhisattva Archetypes and Their Modern Expression, and Visions of Awakening Space and Time: Dogen and the Lotus Sutra. He is co-translator and editor of several Zen texts including: Dogen's Extensive Record; Cultivating the Empty Field: The Silent Illumination of Zen Master Hongzhi; The Wholehearted Way: A Translation of Dogen's "Bendowa" with Commentary; and Dogen's Pure Standards for the Zen Community: A Translation of "Eihei Shingi". He has also contributed articles to many other books and journals. His latest title is Just This Is It: Dongshan and the Practice of Suchness.

    Taigen teaches online at the Berkeley Graduate Theological Union, from which he has a Ph.D., and he has taught at Saint Mary's College, the California Institute of Integral Studies, University of San Francisco, University of Creation Spirituality, and in Chicago at Meadville Lombard Theological Seminary and most recently for four years at Loyola University Chicago. Taigen was an elected member of the Board of San Francisco Zen Center, which he chaired for three years. He has been active in many interfaith dialogue programs, including conducting Buddhist-Christian dialogue workshops, and he also has studied Native American spiritual practice. Taigen has long been active in various Engaged Buddhist programs for social justice, including work against the Death Penalty and sustained Peace and Environmental activism.

    At the beginning of 2007 Taigen relocated to Chicago, and now is Guiding Dharma Teacher for Ancient Dragon Zen Gate. He lives with his wife in the north side of Chicago, and enjoys the lively cosmopolitan qualities of Chicago. Through his sangha, Taigen works to develop accessible practice and training programs in the Chicago area.
More information about Taigen Dan Leighton's work can be found at:

Saturday, May 2, 2015

The Mystical Positivist - Radio Show #184 - 02MAY15

The Mystical Positivist is now a weekly radio show on KOWS-LP 107.3 FM, Occidental, CA. Listen live on Saturday evenings from 4:00 - 6:00pm, PST, via the web at KOWS Live Stream
This week's podcast features:
  • An in-studio conversation with Andy Ferguson, author of Zen’s Chinese Heritage: The Masters and their Teachings, a book in which he translated the teachings of more than 150 ancient Chinese Zen masters. The book is widely used as a reference book in academic and religious culture circles. Andy Ferguson graduated Phi Beta Kappa in Chinese studies from the University of Oregon in 1973. The same year he moved to Kyoto, and subsequently to Taipei, where he studied Japanese and Chinese respectively. He first entered and traveled in mainland China in 1978, before the economic reforms, and subsequently lived in Singapore and Hong Kong where he worked as the Manager for East Asia for a US company. At that time he began locating and studying a wide variety of Chinese historic cultural sites, especially temples related to the Chinese Chan tradition. 
    He has also produced a two hour video DVD about Chinese history and culture. He lectures frequently on Chinese culture to community groups in North America and is one of a few Americans who gives lectures in China to groups on topics of historical interest. With his long-time friend, author and translator Red Pine, Andy has photographed sites for virtually all the early Zen masters of the Chinese Chan tradition, from Bodhidharma down through many generations of teachers. He was the first American to attend the annual ceremony honoring Bodhidharma at his burial temple, Empty Form, in North China. His recent book,
    Tracking Bodhidharma: A Journey to the Heart of Chinese Culture, traces the life and influence of Bodhidharma, the First Patriarch of Chinese Zen.

    Currently Andy is working on climate change issues, especially issues related to Sonoma Clean Power. He advocates for new heat pump technologies that could transform the energy scene in the West County area, making people’s lives more comfortable while moving off fossil fuels entirely.
More information about Andy Ferguson's work can be found at: