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: