Saturday, April 4, 2020

The Mystical Positivist - Radio Show #356 - 04APR20

This week on The Mystical Positivist, we feature a pre-recorded conversation with two of our favorite guests, Ken McLeod and Jim Wilson. Speaking from our respective bunkers of the California Shelter-In-Place order, we will touch upon the relevance of spiritual practice in an age of social distancing, as well as the possibility and freedom inherent in moving discourse beyond mere critique and contradiction.

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 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:,

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:

Saturday, March 28, 2020

The Mystical Positivist - Radio Show #355 - 28MAR20

This week on The Mystical Positivist, we feature a pre-recorded conversation with Diana Rowan, author of The Bright Way – Five Steps to Freeing the Creative Within, published this year by New World Library. Diana Rowan is a Creative Alchemist and founder of the Bright Way Guild, a virtual learning environment dedicated to transforming and inspiring a global community of creatives. The classical inquiry of “what makes a good life?” has driven Diana from her youngest years, and sharing her hard-won discoveries with others is her mission. Having recovered from a soul-crushing case of stage fright and other challenges, Diana believes that by shining light on the darkness we fear, we can all become courageous purveyors of bright knowledge and live the good life.

Diana was born in Dublin, Ireland to college student parents, setting the stage for a lifetime of lively learning and seeking. Soon thereafter, her father became a diplomat for the Irish government, taking his family all over the world in a cosmopolitan pilgrimage. Respect for the arts has always been second nature in Diana’s family, along with a deep streak of mysticism embodied by her astrologer mother.

This unusual combination of intellectual seeking, cultural bridging, mystical opening and artistic engagement are the hallmarks of Diana’s life, whether that be in composing music, teaching, writing, or choosing a wine. Diana holds an MM in classical piano performance and a PhD in Music Theory.

More information about Diana Rowan's work can be found at:

Diana Rowan's website:,

Diana Rowan on YouTube:,

The Bright Way Guild on Facebook:

Saturday, March 21, 2020

The Mystical Positivist - Radio Show #354 - 21MAR20

This week on The Mystical Positivist, we feature a pre-recorded conversation with Rory Miller, author of Living in the Deep Brain – Connecting with Your Intuition. Rory Miller is a seventeen-year veteran of a metropolitan correctional system. He spent seventeen years, including ten as a sergeant, with the Multnomah County Sheriff’s Office in Portland Oregon. His assignments included Booking, Maximum Security, Disciplinary and Administrative Segregation, and Mental Health Units. He was a CERT (Corrections Emergency Response Team) member for over eleven years and Team Leader for six.

His training has included over eight hundred hours of tactical training; witness protection and close-quarters handgun training with the local US Marshals; Incident Command System; Instructor Development Courses; AELE Discipline and Internal Investigations; Hostage Negotiations and Hostage Survival; Integrated Use of Force and Confrontational Simulation Instructor; Mental Health; Defensive Tactics, including the GRAPLE instructors program; Diversity; and Supervision. Rory has designed and taught courses including Confrontational Simulations; Uncontrolled Environments; Crisis Communications with the Mentally Ill; CERT Operations and Planning; Defensive Tactics; and Use of Force for Multnomah County and other local agencies.

In 2008 Rory Miller left his agency to spend over a year in Iraq with the Department of Justice ICITAP program as a civilian advisor to the Iraqi Corrections System. He has a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology, a blackbelt in jujutsu and college varsities in judo and fencing. He also likes long walks on the beach.

His writings have been featured in Loren Christensen’s Fighter’s Fact Book 2: The Street, Kane and Wilder’s Little Black Book of Violence and The Way to Blackbelt. Rory is the author of Meditations on Violence: A Comparison of Martial Arts Training and Real World Violence; Violence: A Writer’s Guide; and Facing Violence. His latest book, Living in the Deep Brain was published in 2019 by Wyrd Goat Press.

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

Chiron Training website:,
Rory Miller on YouTube:

Saturday, March 7, 2020

The Mystical Positivist - Radio Show #353 - 07MAR20

This week on The Mystical Positivist, we feature a conversation pre-recorded on February 28th, 2020 with Rupert Spira. From an early age Rupert Spira was deeply interested in the nature of reality. At the age of seventeen he learnt to meditate, and began studying and practicing the teachings of the classical Advaita Vedanta tradition under the guidance of Dr. Francis Roles and Shantananda Saraswati, the Shankaracharya of the north of India, which he continued for the next twenty years. During this time he immersed himself in the teachings of P.D.Ouspensky, Krishnamurti, Rumi, Ramana Maharshi, Nisargadatta, and Robert Adams, until he met his teacher, Francis Lucille, in 1997. Francis introduced Rupert to the Direct Path teachings of Atmanada Krishnamenon; Jean Klein and the tantric tradition of Kashmir Shaivism; and, more importantly, directly indicated to him the true nature of experience.

In his meetings, Rupert explores the perennial, non-dual understanding that lies at the heart of all the great religious and spiritual traditions, such as Advaita Vedanta, Kashmir Shaivism, Hinduism, Buddhism, Mystical Christianity, Sufism, Zen etc., and which is also the direct, ever-present reality of our own experience. This is a contemporary, experiential approach involving silent meditation, guided meditation and conversation, and requires no affiliation to any particular religious or spiritual tradition. All that is required is an interest in the essential nature of experience, and in the longing for love, peace and happiness around which most of our lives revolve.

Rupert is author of: The Transparency of Things – Contemplating the Nature of Experience (2008); Presence, in two volumes – The Art of Peace and Happiness and The Intimacy of All Experience (2012); The Light of Pure Knowing – Thirty meditations on the Essence of Non-Duality (2014); The Ashes of Love (2016); Transparent Body, Luminous World – The Tantric Yoga of Sensation and Perception (2017); The Nature of Consciousness – Essays on the Unity of Mind and Matter (2017); and The Essence of Meditation Vol. I – Being Aware of Being Aware (2017). He is also a notable English potter and studio potter with work in public and private collections.

Rupert Spira will be LIVE STREAMING his upcoming Mercy Center Retreat from March 20th - 27th, 2020. For more information, use this LINK.

More information about Rupert Spira's work can be found at:

Rupert Spira's website:

Rupert Spira's YouTube Channel:,

Rupert Spira's Ceramics Website:

Saturday, February 29, 2020

The Mystical Positivist - Radio Show #352 - 29FEB20

This week on The Mystical Positivist we speak in the studio with our good friend Christine Skarda, an ordained Tibetan Buddhist nun, a philosopher and scientific theorist whose professional career has spanned the fields of philosophy, neurophysiology, and cognitive science. She has both drawn on and contributed to the insights of these fields in her quest to understand the nature of perception. This quest eventually propelled her out of the research laboratory and onto a meditation cushion, where Skarda turned to methods of inquiry drawn from the Tibetan Buddhist tradition to study the perceptual process from another angle. An ordained nun, Skarda has by now spent over a decade and a half in meditation retreat in the United States and India under the guidance of some of the greatest living members of the Tibetan Buddhist tradition including His Holiness the Dalai Lama and His Holiness Chetsang Rinpoche. She returned to America in 2007 and continues her retreat in California. Occasionally she leaves retreat to lecture or teach to a diverse audience, offering her scientific background to Buddhists and her Buddhist insights to scientists and philosophers

In the first hour of this unusual conversation, Christine describes the relationship of imagery to intensive Tibetan Tantric Practice and her cataloging of how key Tantric imagery appears in a variety of traditions. In addition, we get into the nature of emergence and dissolution as it pertains to modes of Being in Tantric practice. In the second hour, we discuss the unique nature of verb structure in the ancient Greek language of Homer and Plato and how such a process-oriented form in this language makes it unusually well suited to take on the philosophical problem of Being.

More information about Christine Skarda's work can be found at:

Christine Skarda's website:

Christine Skarda in Lion's Roar magazine:

Saturday, February 22, 2020

The Mystical Positivist - Radio Show #351 - 22FEB20

This week on The Mystical Positivist, hosts Stuart Goodnick and Rob Schmidt feature a recording of a talk that they gave at Many Rivers Books & Tea on Thursday February 20th, along with some additional remarks recorded in the studio after the talk. Entitled “Defusing the Human Comfort-Seeking Missile”, the pre-talk publicity described it this way: "What provides comfort to the afflicted? What provides comfort to those who are dissatisfied despite possession of material wealth, fame, or power? How does comfort differ from joy, equanimity, or happiness? These are some of the themes this talk will explore. Most 21st century western cultural imperatives strongly reinforce natural inclinations to seek out comfort and avoid discomfort. The cultural imperative of our time, to seek out that which we hope will comfort us, manifests powerfully as a host of technologies intended to ease human life, technologies that simply did not exist throughout most of the human story. Labor-saving devices were just the start. Now we have algorithms to find experiences and even mates that will satisfy desires without challenging our own foibles. Yet despite the undeniable benefits of some of these technologies, and despite generally longer lives and greater health, we see little evidence that human happiness has increased in recent generations."

Genuine spiritual traditions offer methodologies and ideas designed to affect the inner life rather than outer circumstances. Such methodologies were the only game in town in past times when changing the material circumstances of life was impractical if not unimaginable. In a time when skepticism toward religious and spiritual authorities seems not simply justified but even necessary, is there a path between cynicism and hope for something that will help us touch the higher dimensions of the inner life? Join us for consideration of such possibilities.”

Rob Schmidt, Ph.D., and Stuart Goodnick co-direct Tayu Meditation Center, owner and operator of Many Rivers Books & Tea. They studied intensively with Tayu founder Robert Daniel Ennis, and are working to complete a book of his teachings this upcoming year called, Living Life As A Work Of Art: The Spiritual Work of Robert Daniel Ennis.

More information about Tayu Meditation Center can be found at:

Many Rivers Books and Tea Website:,

Conscious Family Festival Website:,

Tayu Meditation Center Website:,

Old Many Rivers Blog:

Saturday, February 8, 2020

The Mystical Positivist - Radio Show #350 - 08FEB20

This week on The Mystical Positivist, Rob and I present a conversation pre-recorded on February 2, 2020, with Stephen Aronson, Fourth Way group leader, writer, and retired psychologist. Steve received a Ph.D. in clinical psychology from the University of Connecticut in 1970. He taught as assistant professor of psychology in the early 70’s at Arizona State and Alfred University.

In 1982 Steve experienced a ‘vision’ that was an overture to a series of synchronous events culminating in his discovery of the Gurdjieff Work. He has dedicated his inner search to the methods of G.I. Gurdjieff since that time, accepting the responsibilities of ‘leading’ groups studying this system. Steve’s immersion in ‘spiritual’ psychology led him to an interest in esoteric religion, particularly esoteric Christianity, and a recognition of the universality of the core of all traditions. It also profoundly influenced his understanding of the structure and function of the human psyche and his practice of clinical psychology. He has made a number of presentations to the All and Everything International Humanities Conference and participates in groups in Portland Maine, Moscow Russia and Toronto Canada. Steve is a founding member of The Seekers Café, a website supporting an online community dedicated to creating an effective portal to genuine spiritual practice.

In this fascinating discussion, Steve provides an extended meditation on the developmental origins of the seemingly vampiric inner voices of negativity which plague our default modes of conscious experience, as well as a discussion on the ways in which intentional Work on Self can bring in the necessary sunlight to dissolve such automatic factors. This is long form conversation at its best.

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

The Seekers Café website:,

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

Stephen Aronson on The Dr. Lisa Show: Viewpoint, #96.

Saturday, February 1, 2020

The Mystical Positivist - Radio Show #349 - 01FEB20

This week on the show we converse in the studio with Ken McLeod, founder and director of, a website offering resources on practical Buddhism. Ken trained in the Tibetan Buddha-dharma, translated for his teacher Kalu Rinpoche, and has written books that translate and comment on Tibetan texts. His books include A Trackless Path, Reflections on Silver River, An Arrow to the Heart, and Wake Up To Your Life. Ken’s work focuses upon making the Buddha’s teachings relevant and accessible to western practitioners.

In today's penetrating conversation, Ken elaborates on a recent posting on his blog about Vajrayana and Archetypal Imagery. Rather than concerning ourselves with the ontological status of Buddhist cosmologies (i.e. are they real?), Ken describes in detail how archetypal imagery acts on much deeper parts of us to instill or imprint the possibility of peace and freedom beyond both the conceptual and the emotional. In addition to all of this, Ken and Rob provide a spiritual analysis of the recent movie, The Two Popes.

More information about Ken McLeod's work can be found at:

Saturday, January 25, 2020

The Mystical Positivist - Radio Show #348 - 25JAN20

This week on the show, Rob and I speak by telephone with Roger R. Jackson, the John W. Nason Professor Emeritus of Asian Studies and Religion at Carleton College in Minnesota, where he taught the religions of South Asia and Tibet. He has published many articles on the philosophy, ritual, meditative practices, and poetry of Indian and Tibetan Buddhism, and has written or co-edited several books, including The Wheel of Time: Kalachakra in Context; Is Enlightenment Possible?; Tibetan Literature: Studies in Genre; Buddhist Theology: Critical Reflections by Contemporary Buddhist Scholars; and Tantric Treasures: Three Collections of Mystical Verse from Buddhist India. He latest book is Mind Seeing Mind: Mahamudra and the Geluk Tradition of Tibetan Buddhism from Wisdom Publications. He is also the past editor of the Journal of the International Association of Buddhist Studies and the Indian International Journal of Buddhist Studies.

In this conversation Professor Jackson provides an overview of the Mahamudra tradition in various Tibetan Buddhist traditions and discusses some of the larger questions that have emerged in the Tibetan tradition (as well as many other traditions). Such questions include the nature of negation as it pertains to emptiness, ethics and the Mahamudra, and the role of reason in the practice of Mahamudra. Professor Jackson succeeds in making a very deep and complex topic approachable by the listener.

More information about Roger Jackson's work can be found at:

Saturday, January 18, 2020

The Mystical Positivist - Radio Show #347 - 18JAN20

This week on the show on the show, we speak by telephone with J. Brent Bill, a Quaker minister, retreat leader, writing coach, and photographer. He’s written more than twenty books including Holy Silence: The Gift of Quaker Spirituality, Mind the Light: Learning To See With Spiritual Eyes, Life Lessons from a Bad Quaker: A Humble Stumble Toward Simplicity and Grace, and Finding God in the Verbs: Crafting a Fresh Language of Prayer. Brent has served as a local church pastor, denominational executive, seminary faculty member, and go-cart track operator. He lives on Ploughshares Farm, which is forty acres of former farmland being reclaimed to tall grass prairie and native hardwood forest in Indiana.

His latest book is Beauty, Truth, Life, and Love: Four Essentials for the Abundant Life. "Do you long to live the abundant life that Jesus promised his followers? If so, then you will want to weave the threads of beauty, truth, life, and love into the tapestry of your life. When these essentials are each present in some measure in our relationships, ministries, vocations, and life choices, then we are more likely to find ourselves living a good and abundant life with God."

More information about J. Brent Bill's work can be found at:

Saturday, January 4, 2020

The Mystical Positivist - Radio Show #346 - 04JAN20

This week on the show on the show we present a pre-recorded conversation with Brad Warner about his latest book, Letters to a Dead Friend About Zen. Brad Warner is the founder and head teacher of Angel City Zen Center and Dogen Sangha Los Angeles. He is the author of the popular Hardcore Zen blog as well as several other books on Zen Buddhism including, Hardcore Zen - Punk Rock, Monster Movies, & the Truth About Reality; Sit Down and Shut Up - Punk Rock Commentaries on Buddha, God, Truth, Sex, Death, & Dogen's Treasury of the Right Dharma Eye; and Don't Be a Jerk - and Other Practical Advice from Dogen, Japan's Greatest Zen Master. He plays bass in the hardcore punk band Zero Defex (0DFx), is the star of the movies Shoplifting From American Apparel and Zombie Bounty Hunter M.D., was director of the film Cleveland’s Screaming! and is a former vice president of the US branch of Tsuburaya Productions, the company founded by the creator of Godzilla.

Brad moved to Japan in 1993 where he began studying Zen with the iconoclastic teacher Gudo Wafu Nishijima. After a few years, Nishijima ordained Brad and made him his dharma successor.

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