Saturday, May 30, 2020

The Mystical Positivist - Radio Show #363 - 30MAY20

This week we feature a pre-recorded conversation with Richard Whittaker about the nature of Aesthetic Thought, the connection of Numinous in artistic expression, and the exquisite sensitivity of the human instrument when unmediated by conceptual association. 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.

In answer to the question of why he started an art magazine, Richard says:

A central motivation was my dismay at what I found missing in the art world as I began exploring it in 1980. [Before I'd simply done art on my own.] Nowhere did I find any resonance in the writing of critics and art theorists for what Bruce Nauman expressed (with considerable ambivalence) in an early piece: 'The true artist helps the world by expressing mystic truths.' Such an elevated thought could not be taken seriously in 1980. In 1967, the ground for such a proclamation was already very shaky. Was it a joke? And yet my own experiences in the face of beauty (especially of light) were such that I felt compelled to find a way of honoring them. Surely, the experience of the presence of the numinous had not gotten old. It had only gone missing somehow. What I found lacking in art world discourse was not difficult to find when I turned to artists themselves. A common understanding was often near at hand. And here was the material I wanted to help get into circulation through the public space of a magazine. "Since then, my focus has widened to include broader examples of the transformative power of creativity used in the service of a greater good. This possibility is not limited to artists. AK Coomaraswamy's formulation, taken from his study of traditional societies, puts it well: 'The artist is not a special person, but each person is a special kind of artist.'

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

works & conversations online:,

Interview with Richard Whittaker on ServiceSpace:

Saturday, May 23, 2020

The Mystical Positivist - Radio Show #362 - 23MAY20

This week we feature a pre-recorded conversation with Hokai Diego Sobol in which we discuss the function of spiritual teaching and how this function is impacted when the primary means of communication is an electronic format such as Zoom. Among other topics we also discuss the nature of the Vertical Dimension and how access to this domain corresponds with the alignment both physically and energetically of the Body, Heart, and Mental Centers of the human organism.

Hokai Diego Sobol started practice and study of Buddhism in 1985. After 10 years of exploring Buddhist thought and practicing martial arts, while broadly learning from sources Eastern and Western, mainstream and fringe, Hokai became a practitioner and eventually instructor in the Shingon esoteric tradition of Japanese Vajrayana, under the private tutelage of Ajari Jomyo Tanaka. Hokai founded the Mandala Society of Croatia in 1999. Continuing to explore and cultivate his own Buddhist practice, Hokai maintains an ongoing conversation with a number of teachers and senior practitioners. Starting from 2012, he focuses on mentoring individuals to deepen their practice in the context of their lives – those who pray, learn to meditate; and those who meditate, learn to pray. Hokai’s areas of special interest include mystical principles and esoteric practices in daily life, sacred apprenticeship, and deep semiotics. He is based in Rijeka, Croatia.

More information about Hokai Diego Sobol's work can be found at:

Hokai Sobol's website:,

A ceremony put together by Hokai during the Corona Virus Pandemic: Medicine Buddha Ceremony,

Hokai Diego Sobol on Twitter: @hokaisobol.

Saturday, May 16, 2020

The Mystical Positivist - Radio Show #361 - 16MAY20

This week on The Mystical Positivist, we feature a pre-recorded conversation with Amir Freimann, author of Spiritual Transmission: Paradoxes and Dilemmas on the Spiritual Path and a doctoral researcher on Living Transcendence: A Phenomenological Study of Spiritual Masters. In this wide-ranging discussion we explore the nature of the yearning for the mystical and of the spiritual path. We also discuss what it means to live a life abiding in an ongoing experience of the transcendent, in contrast to a life punctuated by transient peak experiences of the transcendent. Amir Freimann was born in 1958 in a kibbutz and grew up in a small village in Israel. At the age of 17 he became deeply interested in spiritual-existential questions about the nature of consciousness, freedom, self and the Whole. He served in the Israeli army and became a pacifist after participating in the 1982 Lebanon War. He then studied medicine but at the end of the 5th year of his studies decided to devote his life to spiritual awakening. He spent 2 years meditating in a Zen monastery in Japan and over 20 years doing intense spiritual practice and engaged in philosophical-spiritual exploration in the community of EnlightenNext in the USA. In 2009 he left the community and moved back to Israel. Shortly thereafter he began interviewing prominent spiritual teachers and their students, which led to the publication of Spiritual Transmission, which is his first book in English.

Note: the video of this conversation can be found at

More information about Amir Freimann's work can be found at:

Amir Freimann's website: The Freedom to Question,

Amir Freimann on Facebook:,

Spiritual Transmission at Monkfish Book Publishing Company:

Saturday, May 9, 2020

The Mystical Positivist - Radio Show #360 - 09MAY20

This week on The Mystical Positivist, we feature a pre-recorded conversation with Zoketsu Norman Fischer and Ken McLeod exploring key questions in contemporary Buddhist Dharma, Western spiritual practice in general, and the potential for transformation in multiple directions inherent in the modern crises of the COVID-19 Pandemic and Climate Change. Among the topics considered are how senior spiritual teachers are dealing with the challenges of the current pandemic, the commodification of spiritual technology in the contemporary Western world, and the distinction between seeking results within the horizontal dimension of life versus the cultivation of depth within the vertical dimension. In addition we touch on the growing importance of technologies such as Zoom in maintaining spiritual connectivity, and we conclude with reflections on what we have come to value and reevaluate after decades of spiritual practice.

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 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.

As sometimes happens with energetic conversations with spiritual practitioners transmitted over electronic media, we had an unusual number of unexpected cell phone calls and Zoom breakdowns throughout the recording. Some of this has been edited for continuity and some left as we all experienced it. However, these interruptions do not detract from the quality of the discussion.

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

Norman Fischer's website:,

Ken McLeod's website: