Hinduism / Sanatana Dharma, Interview, Society, Spirituality

Episode 36: Vedic Living — Interview with Akshay Kanade

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Krishna and the Cow

“Veda”

means “knowledge” and

“Sanatana Dharma”

is a more accurate term for “Hinduism”. Why? “Hinduism” was a colonial term given to ‘those living near the Indus River’, and, as another point of gentle contention — there is not a real basis for the Aryan invasion or civilisation, so that is most likely based on colonialism, too. (However, we still use it in our episode, as it’s a familiar term and also is still embraced by many). But, for the record…

“Sanatana”

means “eternal”

and “Dharma”

means “natural way”.

Thus, Hinduism is not a religion nor even the best terminology to use. Anybody, regardless of race, class, caste, career, gender, or global location on the map can follow the “eternal, natural way”! Lao Tzu also wrote the Tao Te Ching, which is indeed the “eternal, natural way”. Buddha also found the “eternal, natural way” and taught it for 40+ years. So there is a harmony amongst all dualistic so-called divisions that simply seek to emanate the same message, brought forth through different languages and cultures and times.

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Akshay Kanade was born in India and now lives in New York City. How can a man working on Wall Street live in tune with the Vedic mind, body, and spirit? This seems quite tricky from my point-of-view, as a modern woman living in London! It is said that the main attributes that use up Prana the quickest are forcefulness and speaking. Ask anybody living in the city how gentle they are to themselves and to others, with actions, speech, and mind. It’s commendable that we can still live this way in 2019. Akshay talks with me about his ventures with Sanatana Dharma and shares the breadth of his knowledge with us.

He outlines that there are four main goals of living the eternal, natural way:

Dharma – hard to translated directly, but is can be said: as living a moral life with duty; doing what one is supposed/meant to do with dilligence. It upholds both the individuals in society and the entire universal cosmos.
Artha – economic and material well-being as a baseline for every human being
Kama – wishes or passions of the senses
Moksha – liberation from the cycle of birth and death

This ties nicely into the Dharmic literature, as a whole, being a basis for human living. They are considered “Apaurusheya” or “authorless”. The literature fits into either of these two categories:

Shruti – “Heard” or “Perceived as an eternal sound” and written down immediately once heard

Shruti literature includes The four Vedas – Rigveda, Yajurveda, Samaveda, and Atharvaveda; Upanishads; Brahmanas; and Aranyakas

Smriti – “Remembered” or passed down through a disciplic succession and eventually written down

Smriti literature includes: The Mahabharata; Ramayana; The Puranas; Sutras; Panchararatras; Dharma Shastras; and more

Within the Vedas lie texts on Ayurveda, or the science of keeping the body in good health and balance. Ayurveda is still being refined until today and encompasses: regulating diet, meditation and psychiatry, admistering correct medicines, massages, and advice on personal lifestyle/habits.

Akshay and I even touch on whether or not the gods, goddesses, and historical figures in the Dharmic literature were real figures. History is always up for debate, so, you can decide; yet Akshay gives compelling evidence that Lord Ram, for example, was indeed real based on archaeological evidence.

Without giving too much away, please listen to our episode! If you can be so kind as to leave a review on iTunes, this would really help our show move forward.

*Akshay has innumerable resources available for Vedic living and Dharmic learning, so please get in touch with him on LinkedIn.

 

Interview, Psychedelics, Plant Medicines, Entheogens, Society, Spirituality

Episode 35: Psychedelic Integration — Interview with Greg Lawrence


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This is Greg Lawrence, a psychedelic integration specialist based in LA, California.

He works with his clients to prepare them and integrate them with plant medicines, experienced extensively with: Ayahuasca, San Pedro, Bufo/5-MeO-DMT, NN-DMT, Kambo, Iboga, Sananga and Psilocybin/magic mushrooms.

Listen to our conversation to hear about psychedelic care and a professional perspective on psychedelics and the mind.

Visit Greg at www.psychedelicintegrationspecialist.com

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A word about the mind…

The mind

is the most fascinating place to pay attention to — because it’s the only real reliable tool we have on experiencing “the world”. The fact is, the world “out there” is really the world “in here”. How do you know you exist, right here, right now and that all that you’ve been through, as a human being, up until this point, is genuine and reliable? Because you’ve experienced it, and you’re sure about it!

That’s why it’s positive to be healthily skeptical when others, whether that be friends or authority figures, tell you what they think is true. Why is this? Because most people never deeply explore their own minds or pay enough attention to what the mind is doing or is capable of and thus pick up all their information and beliefs/preferences/paths/notions of the world from others by copying, mimicking, and blindly trusting the status quo of the society that one is in. For example: our western society believes in material science at the moment, based on the progression of the people we admire from our recent past and the European Renaissance: Albert Einstein, Stephen Hawking, Benjamin Franklin, Niels Bohr, and so on. They have made the “big list”, and so the information they present is the most accessible to our consciousness. Our societies contain hundreds of thousands of scientists, many of them unrecognised but still working away — so what makes these guys right and correct? Science is just another game to interpret reality, just like modern spirituality (and every other major category of pursuits, by the way) because it creates experts that rise and fall, giving information away to societies, when new discoveries are made. Life is constantly being updated. Why? Because of the inevitable human experience of the mind! So, if you experience that the sun comes up everyday and you see/know that — trust it. But there’s a point where you have to say “I don’t know” if there are other solar systems, or that the Milky Way is actually this-sort-of-shape, because “I don’t have access to a telescope” and “I certainly haven’t been there!”. Overall, your experience will let you know what is true, and over time, your mind’s projections, outsourcing, and all the second-hand-truth you accumulate from other people will become obvious to you.

Consider this:

All your ups and the downs….
And your good and bad moods…
And your beautiful material items, like flowers, incense, and food…
And opinions, values, and emotions…
Every idea and interpretation…
Each bodily movement and sensation…
Every dream at night…
Aspiration, goal, intuition…
Thought, emotion…
Unfortunate or fortunate event…
Spiritual connection with God…
And even the weather, other people, rooms, natural landscapes and nature…
Is all an aspects and projections of your mind! You created this. Literally. Every other mind in the world also helped create this. The entire world is just made up of mind(s). The world could not exist without you. Or me. Or Joe who helped build the Eiffel Tower. Or Nancy the nurse who helped save Joe at the hospital when he fell off the Eiffel Tower.

So, it’s up to you from here to decide whether or not there is any separation between anything or anybody and if the world is really “out there” or “in here”.

Even more, when you realise that the mind/consciousness is the greatest mystery of all time and that all the things you have assumed were “out there” (such as your friends, family, boss, animals, and even the roof over your head) are actually of your own creation, then you begin to appreciate and value the way you see and experience the world to a greater degree. Thus, a lack of separation between yourself, people, and objects begins to form and you can say, “yes, this is all me!” So, hatred, anger, and delusion can be overcome, eventually, because there are no other people and no external circumstances. They are all you.

There comes a time in human evolution, with maturity, that we can choose to take psychedelics and entheogenic plants to have a look at our own consciousness and its experiential power and capabilities. This can be for many reasons, some of which include:

Healing or getting unstuck
Seeing new perspectives in the material and non-material world
Self-discovery and playful fun
Career advancement for creativity/inspiration

Psychedelics can answer questions like:

What emotions have been covered up, due to trauma and past experiences?
What new shapes, colours, or ideas have been hiding from our baseline awareness?
What is spirituality and what is God?
What is consciousness itself?
Are there different dimensions, beings, and worlds than we are used to?

Working with a small group of trusted people or a guide is advised when taking psychedelics/plant medicines. Your judgment and discretion must always come first when engaging with such substances, because they alter awareness and consciousness and are ultimately life-changing and can have lasting effects for weeks to years in duration.

Om namah Shivaya, may all beings be happy, may all beings be free, and may all beings lose their relative selves and become one with consciousness. Om.

Buddhism, Hinduism / Sanatana Dharma, Interview, Philosophy, Society, Spirituality

Episode 29: What is Advaita Vedanta? — Interview with Swamini Brahmaprajnananda


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As Swamini’s guru most eloquently put it: ‘In psychology there is no solution to the human problem. In Vedanta, there is no problem.’

Swamini was classically trained as a modern psychologist and moved her consciousness forward, based on the limits she saw within this framework. Thus, she trained under her Advaita Vedanta guru and master, H.H. Sri Swami Dayananda Saraswati ji — renowned as the best teacher of his time until his death in 2015.

Advaita Vedanta is an ancient body of wisdom which has two functions: to realise God/Brahman fully and to live day-to-day life well. Advaita aims to realise non-duality and also relies on the Vedic Upanishads as core guides to truth and realisation. Thus, we see these two functions in action: direct recognition of God and also living a wise life.

As a follower of Advaita Zen (also called neo-Advaita), I have gained a deep intellectual understanding of non-duality, the formless, emptiness, and being. However, the experience or manifestation of these has been few and far between, leading me on a more gradual approach to enlightenment via the Buddhist path — because I found that I was still suffering, or experiencing dukkha (dissatisfaction) in my everyday life.

As a seer of this, Swamini points out to us what neo-Advaita lacks in terms of longevity for the awakener, which my direct experience has also taught me. She elaborates on these points in our episode with ease and grace:

1. Neo-Advaita lacks lineage, gurus, and disciples
2. Simple reliance upon the Netti-Netti method (Not-this, Not-this)
3. Based on the individual human being only, without a larger context
4. De-emphasis on the importance of a guru, prepatory practices, and maturity of the student/seeker
5. No scriptural basis, as scriptures point out ‘what cannot be figured out by my own perception or logic alone’

We also go over Hinduism in relation to Advaita and whether Buddhism and Advaita share the exact meaning in the face of spiritual awakening, where I believe that they do and Swamini believes they do not… unless we interpret the Buddhist Dharma in the correct way

Listen, enjoy, and send your questions to me at curiousbodhi@zoho.com and find Swamini at www.discoveratma.com and on The River of Wisdom Podcast.

 

Buddhism, Interview, Society, Spirituality

Episode 28: Music & Buddhism — Interview with Bill Protzmann


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Welcome Bill Protzmann to the show!

Bill has a wealth of experience with Buddhism, spanning back 30 years; along his spiritual path, he has come to view making music and specifically playing the piano, as embodying Buddhism and being in the moment.

There is a Zen proverb that says that the best way to enlightenment is through laughter… because you’re thinking about nothing! The second best way to enlightenment is through music… because you can’t guess the next note or how you will feel when in the middle of a composition.

Music has a way of being right there with us, and this feeds into the performer even when he’s practicing. We do mess up, we do feel fear, and we do feel all the emotions connected with our audience and what we’ve written — our “private world” is shattered when we play with and for others. Music connects ourselves to ourselves and each other to each other.

Though he has done a plethora of interviews, our episode must be unique, as Bill lets his personality flower as we connect as two musicians on the Buddhist path and even touch on a bit of quantum physics, issues in the United States, entrepreneuriship, and tips on music and podcasting.

As a beginner of piano at the age of three, Bill has come to be now involved in music care, which is a therapeutic approach to using music as a tool to aid in mental and physical wellbeing.

He runs both www.practicalheartskills.com and www.billprotzmann.com where you can find out more about music care in San Diego, California.

Buddhism, Philosophy, Society, Spirituality

Episode 27: Realisations Lately…


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In this episode, I go over briefly which insights I’ve had recently; they tumbled out and snowballed into one after another after another. In hopes that it provokes something in you — when you’re most yourself, most relaxed, or even during intense activities, you can catch the ways in which life hands you what you need to be shown without the cloudiness of the everyday mind.

I distinguish “insights” from “thoughts and feelings”, because “thoughts and feelings” come and go — even the sense of “self” thinking a thought or performing an action. There are often times when we are daydreaming about a beautiful image — or even a horrible situation — and we’re lost. Gone.

Insights are like flashes of things we haven’t seen or experienced before. Yet, they come and go also. They are gone just as the “thoughts and feelings” but have a positive impact upon future perceptions, judgments, and actions.

Listen above! May all beings be happy, free, and peaceful.