Teachers

Teachers
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“A true spiritual teacher does not have anything to teach in the conventional sense of the word, does not have anything to give or add to you, such as new information, beliefs, or rules of conduct. The only function of such a teacher is to help you remove that which separates you from the truth of who you already are and what you already know in the depth of your being”  –Eckhart Tolle

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Psychotropics
Terence McKenna

Teaching Galleries
On Death
The Artist


Stanislav Grof

Website, Holotropic Site
"If I am the father of LSD, Stan Grof is the godfather. Nobody has contributed as much as Stan for the development of my problem child." --Albert Hofmann, the discoverer of LSD-25
Stanislav Grof, PhD is a Czech psychiatrist widely known for both his psychedelic therapy experience and for his holotropic breathing program. The promising the results of psychedelic research Grof began in 1956, along with his personal LSD experiences, convinced Stan to devote his remaining career to the exploration of 'non-ordinary states of consciousness', specifically states that can bring a person healing from previous traumas and spiritual growth. In the early 1970's, with LSD research largely ended, Stan and his late wife Christina developed a specific model of holotropic breath work - combining breathing with music and body work - to induce these same non-ordinary states of consciousness, a model which has since been built into the Grof Transpersonal Training program by teachers Tav and Cary Sparks. Stan Grof now spends most of his time teaching and writing and is currently a Professor of Psychology at the California Institute of Integral Studies (CIIS) in the Department of Philosophy, Cosmology, and Consciousness in San Francisco, CA, and at Wisdom University in Oakland, CA.
"In one of my early books I suggested that the potential significance of LSD and other psychedelics for psychiatry and psychology was comparable to the value the microscope has for biology or the telescope has for astronomy. My later experience with psychedelics only confirmed this initial impression. These substances function as unspecific amplifiers that increase the cathexis (energetic charge) associated with the deep unconscious contents of the psyche and make them available for conscious processing. This unique property of psychedelics makes it possible to study psychological undercurrents that govern our experiences and behaviours to a depth that cannot be matched by any other method and tool available in modern mainstream psychiatry and psychology. In addition, it offers unique opportunities for healing of emotional and psychosomatic disorders, for positive personality transformation, and consciousness evolution." --Foreword to the MAPS edition of LSD: My Problem Child (October 2005) by Dr. Albert Hofmann
What's been helpful: Stan Grof's hands-on experience with psychedelic psychiatric therapy has made him an valuable resource in these days of a re-emerging interest in psychedelics. His interviews appear in numerous documentaries on the subject, including Little Saints (posted here) and The Substance: Albert Hoffman's LSD (not yet posted but recommended for a good tour of LSD's history) as well as on websites, podcasts and YouTube channels. Stan Grof is a perfect example of the accomplished, open-minded scientist I find of interest these days, men and women pushing, pulling or dragging their selected disciplines into new connections with our expanding understanding of consciousness and reality. Dr. Grof's comments are always quiet and measured, yet full of obvious intelligence, experience and humor; a good example is this SAND presentation, Proposal for a Radical Revision of Psychiatry, Psychology & Psychotherapy. And if you've caught my earlier posts on psychedelic art, you'll understand why I was delighted to discover another trove on Stan's website - of his own work! (NSFW) Then I found out about his latest book, HR Giger and the Zeitgeist of the Twentieth Century, and it immediately went to the very tippy top of my summer reading list. What will an LSD-informed psychiatrist who produced those images have to say about the work of HR Giger(?!)..... wow, you can't even make this stuff up.

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Chris Fields

Website

(From Dr. Fields' website) "What is information? What makes it meaningful? What is memory? What are objects? What is time and space? What is causation? I mainly work on these questions from a scientific perspective, with the aim of developing predictions precise enough to be tested experimentally. It seems to me that all of these questions revolve around the single question: "what is a boundary?" Hence all of my work, including my investigation of the boundaries of scientific disciplines, attempts to understand how boundaries are drawn and what they look like. I mainly work on these questions from the perspectives of physics (some background on the physics of boundaries) and cognitive neuroscience (some background on the cognitive neuroscience of boundaries). I've also explored this question of boundaries using visual art."
"I think there is a definite pressure building in the scientific community toward the idea that awareness has to be a fundamental assumption. That we really do have to drop this business of awareness per se being generated by a particular organization of neurons … or a particular organization of something else, any kinds of material objects…We should have dropped this whole business of material objects in the early twentieth century. It became very clear in the early twentieth century that there aren't any material objects. … There can't be if any of our science is correct." -- Chris Fields in How Close is Science to Understanding Consciousness? (SAND)
What's been helpful: As I've written about before, one of the first videos I encountered post-awakening was from SAND (Science and Nonduality) titled How Close is Science to Understanding Consciousness? In the video, a panel comprised of Chris and four other scientists discuss this topic under the facilitation of teacher A.H. Almass. The video had me hooked at once, hungry as I was for discussions on the nature of consciousness, but I especially noticed Chris' contribution. I'm not sure if it was the combo of sandals, surf shirt and Santa beard or if it was the clearly articulated yet complex ideas ... it was probably the shirt. But what I came to appreciate about Chris' presence generally is how it speaks of a community willing to look beyond traditional academic definitions of expertise when bringing discussions about consciousness to an audience. SAND does a good job of curating their content and I appreciate how they are using their stage to showcase independent scientists working in the field of consciousness research, especially when it brings forward voices like Chris Fields. SAND appears to host most of his video content - I especially liked the ideas Chris discussed in this presentation at SAND 2016. But if you'd rather dive into details about such topics as 'unitary quantum theory as a formal framework for a theory of consciousness', then you simply must check out his website (whew!).

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Ram Dass

Website, YouTube, Facebook, Twitter

Ram Dass (aka Richard Alpert) is a (former) Harvard professor, spiritual teacher and author who initially became known for his role in shaping the counter-culture movement of the 1960's - first as Professor Alpert, who helped stage both the Harvard Psilocybin Project and Good Friday Experiment (and got fired from Harvard for his troubles) and later as Ram Dass (re-named by Hindu guru Maharaj-ji), who went on to create numerous foundations and projects devoted to serving the spiritual growth of others. His 1971 book Be Here Now is still considered by many a 'must read' for the spiritual explorer and the 1964 book The Psychedelic Experience: A Manual Based on the Tibetan Book of the Dead (with co-authors Tim Leary and Ralph Metzner) is still an important reference manual for psychedelic psychonauts. Today, 87 years old and still dealing with challenges related to an earlier stroke, Ram Dass continues to teach from his home in Maui, often sharing his thoughts and preparations for dying and death; his new book with co-author Mirabai Bush, Walking Each Other Home, explores this topic with conversations and meditation.
“You are loved just for being who you are, just for existing. You don’t have to do anything to earn it. Your shortcomings, your lack of self-esteem, physical perfection, or social and economic success – none of that matters. No one can take this love away from you, and it will always be here.” --Ram Dass
What's been helpful: I heard a lot about Ram Dass before I heard anything directly from the man himself; case in point my post on The Harvard Psychedelic Club (which I'd highly recommend), a book devoted to discussing the cultural importance of four men during the 1950's and 60's - Ram Dass, Tim Leary, Huston Smith and Andrew Weil. Come to think of it, I'd be hard pressed to think of a teacher who hasn't referred to Ram Dass at some point - either his teachings or this counter-culture role. Of course all these references got me curious, which is why I recently took time to watch the 2013 documentary, Fierce Grace, and learned a bit more about why Ram has been such an influence on so many who are in turn influencing me. Ram Dass' devotion to and interest in the lives of others shines through in this film; there are several glimpses of how powerfully his presence has affected and helped others, along stories of how perfectly placed he was to be center stage during the heyday of the psychedelic 60's. But more interesting to me personally were the moments throughout the film where Ram shares the details - both hard and humorous - about living with the physical and mental challenges resulting from a massive stroke in 1997. Ram Dass has long taught on the subjects of aging and dying and this interest has been brought into sharp focus by the recent years of his life. I look forward to reading and listening to his open-hearted and experienced teachings on this topic as I prepare for my own (physical) death in the coming years.

... "We're all just walking each other home." ...

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Helen Palmer

Website

Psychologist, teacher and author Helen Palmer is the developer of the Enneagram model which profiles nine distinct personality types - the Perfectionist, the Giver, the Performer, the Tragic Romantic, the Observer, the Loyal Skeptic, the Epicure, the Protector and the Mediator - the idea being that understanding our 'type' helps us clarify what we observe about ourselves - and others - and in turn this clarity helps us let go of rigid thinking and responses. (Want to discover your Enneagram type? Here's the test.)
“It is important to stress the ways that people are different from each other, because so much of the suffering that we experience in our relationships with other people is caused by the fact that we are blind to their point of view.” ― Helen Palmer, The Enneagram: Understanding Yourself and Others in Your Life
What's been helpful: Until recently, the sciences that had most excited my sense of curiosity about 'the unknown' were along the lines of astrophysics and quantum mechanics until I became aware of the deep influence of philosophers and psychoanalysts on the thinking of many of the very scientists constructing these new models of reality. Helen Palmer is another such example - a psychologist and teacher who is informing the thinking in her field with a deep spiritual awareness. In this short SAND presentation, Our Intuitive Capacity for Spiritual Wisdom, Helen's personal stories and professional expertise combine for an interesting teaching on how to use the tools of psychology to observe self. And I recognize in her Enneagram model many of the same types of egoic conditioning patterns discussed by other teachers, making this another of the tools we can choose from as we seek understanding during our inner journeys. Helen's 2014 ConsciousTV interview, Relationships Matter - The Enneagram Tells Us How, is another good introduction to the Enneagram model and how it developed.

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Rupert Sheldrake

Website, Youtube, Facebook, Twitter

Five years ago the well-known TED / TEDx organization kicked up some controversy by taking down the TEDx videos from two speakers under guise of policies against 'pseudoscience', yet failing (to my knowledge) to present any compelling examples of such in either presentation. Not surprisingly, BANNING (!) the videos had the effect of generating attention, protests and petitions until TED reinstated the content - all of which served to bring much attention to the work of author Graham Hancock and biologist and former Cambridge professor, Dr. Rupert Sheldrake... Oops.
“I am all in favor of science and reason if they are scientific and reasonable. But I am against granting scientists and the materialist worldview an exemption from critical thinking and skeptical investigation. We need an enlightenment of the Enlightenment.” --Rupert Sheldrake, 'The Science Delusion"
What's been helpful: Though Rupert Sheldrake has a list of books and academic achievements under his belt, the greatest benefit of running into Hancock and Sheldrake early in my post-awakened state was simply hearing two well-educated and well-spoken professionals rip a hole in the fabric of traditional scientific thinking. Though their theories had been dismissed by 'establishment' as pseudoscience, I could hear for myself that both men seemed to be making a reasonable case with clearly presented evidence. Was it really necessary for TED to be the 'adult' in the room and take away the information before we hurt ourselves with it? (Clearly this type of censorship just pushes ALL my buttons.) But the whole affair, especially when reading about it three years later, after all sides had weighed in and new evidence had emerged in support of both theories, was a good reminder of the unseen forces shaping the ideas that will be 'allowed' in any commercial forum.

While the whole TED thing prompted me to pick up some of Hancock's books, I didn't become familiar with Sheldrake's work until I started listening to the 'Trialogues', a series of wide-ranging discussions with Rupert Sheldrake, Terence McKenna and mathematician Ralph Abraham (available on Rupert's YouTube channel). I haven't yet fully unpacked Sheldrake's theories on morphic resonance fields but his newest book, Science and Spiritual Practices: Reconnecting Through Direct Experience has made it to my summer reading list for the positive reviews coming from the nondual community. A quick peek reveals the book is yet another invitation from an experienced fellow traveler to experience the divine through a number of spiritual practices - meditation, gratitude, relating to plants, ritual, singing/chant, connecting with nature and pilgrimage to holy places. Sheldrake's unique take on this message is to present the scientific findings that validate each of these practices as bringing measurable and beneficial changes to the mind and body of practitioners. (Look for a post in the "Books" section this summer.)

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Wrapping up this round of posts on the arts with a few more, beginning with these short video clips in which six teachers share their perspectives on the role of art and the artist in society. Teachings of this type have deeply informed my mindful journey back into the world of form and have helped me to glimpse the larger human story embedded in all works of art and creation.

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Terence McKenna
'Art & Artists'
"I have great hope now for art produced by the interaction of human beings and computers."
Deepak Chopra
'The Role of the Artist in Society' (excerpts from the documentary 'Mythic Journeys')
"The artist is the social conscience of a society."
Dr. Carol Becker
'Art's Role in Society'

"Society has to be able to observe itself … and what allows a society to do that are the producers of art and culture"

Eckhart Tolle
'On Conceptual Art'

"The moment you give it your complete attention, every little thing is alive and miraculous and beautiful."

Jordan Peterson
'Why You Need Art in Your Life'

"A real piece of art is a window into the transcendent."


Rupert Spira
"'Why Make Art?'
"The purpose of art is to take the senses on a journey back to the source of perception, which is pure awareness."

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What happens to our sense of ‘me’ after death? Does our consciousness reincarnate in another form to live another life? How should we prepare for our death – and what does that even mean? Insights of the type shared by these six teachers in this video gallery helped me discover a new perspective from which to grapple with such questions about the transformation that is death.

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Alan Watts
"A Happy Death"
In this 8-min excerpt from one of his many lectures, Alan invites us to embrace the other half of the natural rhythm that is death.

"You can only die well if you understand this system of waves… that you are just as much the dark space beyond death as you are the light interval called life. These are just two sides of you because 'you' is the total wave. See, you can't have half a wave. Nobody ever saw waves which just had crests and no troughs. So you can't have half a human being who is born but doesn't die; half a thing. That would only be half a thing."

Shakti Maggi
"Nothing Dies, The Endless Kaleidoscope"
Though the video quality is less than ideal, Shakti Maggi's concepts on death and 'reincarnation' (my term, not hers) come through with the loving clarity that is her hallmark in this short 4-min. video.

"The body, it is simply a movement of energy arising from the stillness of your being …[during death, this movement] will be simply receding back into stillness."
Adyashanti
"Death: The Essential Teachings"
In this 5-min. video, Adyashanti describes how the process of aging can lead to the wisdom and freedom of letting go.

"But certainly, enlightenment is absolutely intrinsically linked with death. There is no deep lasting liberation without death, without dying before you die, without the psychological self giving way. They're intimately linked; you don't get one without the other. They're absolutely linked together."

Rupert Spira
"What Happens to Awareness After Death"
Rupert explains why we experience different states of awareness and offers a description of 'reincarnation' (my term, not his).

"Remember, the body is an appearance in the mind. So when the body dies, just a particular localization of consciousness disperses… Consciousness doesn’t dissolve."


Terence McKenna
"Life And Death"

A 6-min lecture snippet in which Terence comments on the origins of the body and exploring the after-death space with psychedelics.

"So I think what biology is, is the intrusion into 3-dimensional space and time of hyper-dimensional objects. And the other clue to that, that seems an argument for it, is that we do have this thing called 'the mind' but we can't find it anywhere. It doesn't seem to be anywhere… [at death] I think probably these objects retract back into hyperspace - higher space ... we clothe ourselves in matter but we are not matter and so to actually complete a human cycle of existence, you have to go into death. It's where you came from..."

Eckhart Tolle
"How Will You Experience Death?"
In this short excerpt from a radio interview, Eckhart talks about a choice the consciousness will face after the body's death.

"What is left is simply consciousness. Temporarily, perhaps, it will still have - not a physical form but exist as a separate form … the choice may be there of taking on another body or of removing yourself completely. There are many people now - those who are ripe for realization - if you sense within yourself, you will feel whether or not you want to live again."

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Jude Currivan

Website

Jude Currivan, Ph.D., is a cosmologist, futurist, planetary healer and author. She has a Master’s degree in Physics from Oxford University specializing in quantum physics and cosmology, and a Doctorate in Archaeology from the University of Reading researching ancient cosmologies. Jude has traveled to more than 70 countries, worked with wisdom keepers from many traditions, and been a life-long researcher into the scientific and experiential understanding of the nature of reality. The author of five books, her latest is The Cosmic Hologram: In-formation at the Center of Creation.
(on studying both archeology and cosmology) "... I never saw a disparity between the two. What I saw was a different language. And I also saw a bit of a sidetrack over the last couple of centuries when science, which was sacred science ... chose to look into just the physical realm. And there's almost a schism between that wholeness, which is what cosmology's all about, and the literal physics of the physical realm. And we've gone down that route - and it's a route that's brought us amazing technologies - but it's a route, in a way, that's also dismembered our collective psyche. And I feel now we're on the verge of remembering who we really are and I'm very excited... I wanted to write the latest book, The Cosmic Hologram 60 yrs ago because what it's sharing is how I've experienced 'realities' all my life but I couldn't write it until now because the evidence wasn't there until now... What the science is showing is what the ancient spiritual awareness has always been; that all that we call reality is intimately, fundamentally, innately interconnected... It's truly revealing that the deepest nature of reality is indeed unified." --Jude Currivan, from the SAND video 'The Emergence of Consciousness Evolution'
What's been helpful: Like many of the other scientists SAND invites, Jude Currivan is an exceptionally articulate and engaging speaker who expertly intertwines recent discoveries from the physical sciences with ancient wisdoms. As I've written before, it's the sciences that reignited my own curiosity about the nature of consciousness so it's a delight to encounter (yet another!) teacher who speaks to the emerging alignment between scientific and spiritual models of reality. Though I can sense the message of interconnection various discoveries are revealing, I rely on these spiritually-aware scientists to turn my intuition into understanding by unpacking the specifics and Jude does so in a way that's both entertaining and informative. Jude's website hosts only a small amount of content but there are numerous YouTube interviews available, as well as her five books. Besides the video linked above, another of my favorites is this 25-min. presentation from SAND, Break Down or Break Through ~ enjoy!

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Shakti Caterina Maggi

Website, YouTube, Facebook

After studying with Bodhi Avasa, Shakti Caterina Maggi began helping others awaken to their true nature as One Consciousness in 2003 and currently offers retreats and meetings in Italy, Europe, and online. “The opportunity to meet what we are, and to embody it in everyday life, is the very meaning of life itself – not as human beings who seek God, but as the Divine itself experiencing itself through the human experience.” Shakti began to hold true satsang in 2011 and more recently, partnered with therapist Giusi Carrera to create seminars exploring non-duality in the world of therapy. Though based in Italy, Caterina also offers a number of teachings for English speaking audiences, which are found on her YouTube channel.
"When you firstly see what you are, Silence or Nothingness, this revelation appears as a window opening to the Reality of Being. When the window opens up you see to be this Silence in which everything appears. All is suddenly shown in its clarity: you see that you yourself are the background of Life itself and all that appears is an experience that is manifesting from and as your Being. When you firstly see what you are, Silence or Nothingness, this revelation appears as a window opening to the Reality of Being.When the window opens up you see to be this Silence in which everything appears. All is suddenly shown in its clarity: you see that you yourself are the background of Life itself and all that appears is an experience that is manifesting from and as your Being." --Shakti Caterina Maggi from her post Integrating Awakening and the Mind's Pendulum
What's been helpful: About all I know so far of Caterina's teaching is what I've seen in the few videos appearing recently on the SAND website after their 2017 conference in Italy - but that's been enough to make me a fan. She has such an open and loving way about her as she teaches, especially when taking questions from her audience. Though she's based in Italy, it looks like she's started offering more retreats stateside and I highly recommend all the videos (and articles) posted on SAND (and her website) to anyone in need of a little Italian-accented balm for the psyche. A few more of my favorites: The Crisis of Waking Up, Embodied Awakening and The Disappointment of Love and Love

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Matt Licata

Blog, Website, Facebook

Matt is a psychotherapist, spiritual friend (to all), writer, and teacher based in Boulder, Colorado. Over the last 25 years, Matt has trained in psychological and spiritual methodologies and practices, in North America, India, and Nepal. His work incorporates Western developmental theory, depth psychological, as well as contemplative, meditative, and mindfulness-based approaches to personal and interpersonal growth, emotional healing, and spiritual transformation. Matt recently published his first book, The Path is Everywhere: Uncovering the Jewels Hidden Within You and writes frequently for his blog, A Healing Space
“When your inner world is on fire and you are burning for resolution, it is tempting to conclude that something has gone wrong, that you have failed, that you are flawed, and that you are unworthy of love. The questions are surging, the longing is unbearable, and you are still aching to find some relief. You are exhausted, but this is no ordinary exhaustion. It is sacred. It is the end of one world and the beginning of another. Stay close. In these moments, which may always arise in the heart of an open, sensitive human being, slow way down. Touch the earth, look up into the sky, listen to the song of the unseen. Dare to consider that things are not always as they appear. Today may not be the day for answers, but to finally let your heart break open to the vastness of the question. You are not a project to be solved and you were never unhealed. With eyes wide open, see that you could never lose the way. The unfolding of the heart is the work of a lifetime and there is no urgency on the path of love.” ― Matt Licata
What's been helpful: I came across Matt's posts on the SAND website and found his writings full of good pointers to the compassion I needed for the experience of losing my (nonexistent) egoic self - for losing the stories I thought brought purpose to life. As Matt writes in his post, The Path is Everywhere, "this (awakening) journey will inevitably require an encounter with the darkness and will thus not be all that popular. There are no quick steps...". I now look for Matt's posts, knowing they'll provide warm encouragement for continuing to face 'the darkness' that holds the feelings of confusion, frustration and failure that I and many others will intermittently encounter after answering the call to awaken. Here are links to a few more of his SAND posts: It's OK to Allow Yourself to Fall Apart, The Disappointment in Waking Up and Transforming Fear Into Your Ally

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Julie Yau

Website

Julie Brown Yau, Ph.D., SEP, is a certified NARM (NeuroAffective Relational Model) practitioner living in California. Julie has a diverse 30-year background in spiritual, psychological and somatic traditions which she combines with Eastern wisdoms and the latest neuroscientific and psychosomatic findings in her work with clients and groups. Julie provides support to the actively dying to awaken to the multilevel cosmos. She is also the director of education and program development at CCALS and lectures for hospitals, schools, and SAND audiences.
“Until recently, trauma was thought of as an occurrence from extraordinary events such as acts of terrorism, human rights violations, war, and so forth; yet trauma may occur from any event that overwhelms our capacity to cope, and leaves us unable to recover our sense of connectedness. Trauma is a normal part of life. Trauma often occurs in our early years when we are lacking the necessary resources to fully recover. Early trauma is the constellation that forms the limited self. This limited self continues to recreate itself throughout life, often hidden in the unconscious, until the trauma is resolved. Traumatic states have the power to throw us into deep despair, yet are also capable of radical transformation, in which compassion and expanded consciousness may emerge. --Julie Yau, from the SAND video 'Spiritual Dimension of Trauma'
What's been helpful: With great compassion and clarity, Julie Yau helped to educate me about the nature of trauma. Not the trauma of the big events - bombings, natural disasters, wars - most of us imagine when we hear the word, but the trauma we all carry within our bodies. Julie teaches her audiences how this suffering originates, how we disassociate from it, how it gets stored in the body until it can be embraced and then finally, how to accept and heal from it. It was hearing the truth of her teaching that helped me discover another level of compassion for the difficult thoughts and emotions I was experiencing post-awakening.

Trauma, the Imaginal and Awakening - this video was my introduction to Julie's teachings and the first time I heard an explanation of how early trauma creates the separate sense of self. Julie shares a number of her insights on suffering in this video before illustrating her teachings through the inspiring story of a man experiencing the dying process. The SAND YouTube channel hosts additional videos featuring Julie's teaching.

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Cheri Huber

Website, Twitter
“You've been taught that there is something wrong with you and that you are imperfect, but there isn't and you're not.” --Cheri Huber, from her book There Is Nothing Wrong With You
Cheri Huber, author of 20 books, has been a student and teacher of Zen for over 35 years. In 1983, Cheri founded the Mountain View Zen Center, and in 1987 she founded the Zen Monastery Peace Center near Murphys, California. She and the monks at the Monastery conduct workshops and retreats at these centers, other places around the U.S., and internationally. In 1997, Cheri founded Living Compassion, a nonprofit organization whose primary work is the Africa Vulnerable Children Project, based in Zambia, where the project team has been helping the people of Kantolomba turn a slum of 11,000 people into a self-sustaining community. And Cheri also hosts a weekly podcast, the Open Air Radio show. Links to all this work and more are available on Cheri's website.
“At some point, now or later, you're going to have to risk being you in order to find out who that really is. Not the conditioned you, not the you you've been taught to believe you are, who you 'really' are. And this perhaps will be the scariest, the most loving, the most rewarding thing you have every done." --Cheri Huber
What's been helpful: At a time when I was first fully realizing just how intractable egoic conditioning can seem, serendipity handed me Cheri's book, There Is Nothing Wrong With You. After I zoomed through the book - which is all I know so far of her teachings - Cheri became one of what I call my 'comfort teachers', those whose words are especially good at helping me find my inner kindness. Her books are published in a style she calls 'loose organization'; short chapters printed in various large-text fonts and illustrated with simple line drawings, almost more of a note format at times. This makes her book both easy to read (it's like binging on compassion!) and good as a quick reference full of short lessons. There Is Nothing Wrong With You is 230+ pages of positive affirmation delivered with a sense of certainty that I found pulling me along and I'd recommend it to anyone in need of a boost during their spiritual journey.

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Dorothy Hunt

Website

Dorothy Hunt, a psychotherapist since 1967, is also an author, poet and a nondual spiritual teacher practicing at the request of Adyashanti. She is serving as the as Spiritual Director of Moon Mountain Sangha and also founded the San Francisco Center for Meditation and Psychotherapy. Dorothy has posted several articles and poems on the SAND website and also has a few videos available on their YouTube channel from previous conferences.
“How long have you been standing at the edge of the Unknown, wanting to realize or consciously embody what is true, but time and again distracting yourself? You may have had glimpses into your own timeless Presence. Yet, right at the edge of shifting identity, right at the edge of awakening more deeply, the mind keeps selling its wares, its fear of the unknown: “Don’t go any further.” “You’ll disappear.” “You will die, or if not, you will go crazy.” “You will not be able to function.“ And so you keep finding ways to postpone discovering or living more fully as What you truly are by remaining attached to the stories of what you are not.” --Dorothy Hunt, intro to the SAND video Standing at the Edge of the Unknown.
What's been helpful: After awakening, I was relieved to find dozens of spiritual teachers and scientists available (via the web) to help make sense of the shift in my consciousness. But after a few months of instruction and practice, I recognized that in order to learn most deeply, all the teaching in the world would not be a substitute for making time to bring silent awareness to the unexamined conditioning accumulated by my egoic identity. But don't be fooled by how abstract I just made that sound; it's hard work. Emotionally hard. Physically stressful. Actually, it's neither of those things, not really. But the egoic conditioning pulls up the stories and emotions that make such examination feel difficult. And endless! The egoic self seems to have access to an inexhaustible energy supply; it's like being possessed by the voice of the Energizer bunny.

Right as I ran into my first really discouraging patch, a time when I was wondering if all the meditating and reading was ever going to produce lasting change in my psyche, I also ran into what I came to call 'comfort teachers'; women and men who had written or recorded a message of some kind that helped me deal with my discouragement. They acknowledged the emotional pains and offered warm words of encouragement. They heard my inner voice of failure and showed me I had already succeeded by having simply awoken. In short, they brought a few words of warm light into my self-imposed grey. Dorothy may have been the first such voice I encountered (on the SAND site, natch), though I don't recall if it was a video or one of her posts. I haven't yet read her books but her SAND contributions always seemed to show up right when I needed her warm virtual hug. Besides the video linked above, here are a few more of Dorothy's articles and poems: Longing and Seeking, Are You Available? and this post on 'living without a map', which contains wise words for those of us removing our 9-to-5 cultural conditioning, Living From Our Deepest Knowing.

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Julia Mossbridge

IONS website, Facebook

Julia Mossbridge, PhD is a neuroscientist interested in how time is perceived by the conscious and unconscious mind. She currently works as a visiting scientist with both IONS and Northwestern University and is also involved with the development of focus@will, a music app designed to focus attention. And because she apparently still had a spare 30 minutes in her day, Dr. Mossbridge recently founded the Mossbridge Institute, for which she is leading projects about teach and learning about love and time.
“We are in the midst of a sea change. Receding from view is materialism, whereby physical phenomena are assumed to be primary and consciousness is regarded as secondary. Approaching our sights is a complete reversal of perspective. According to this alternative view, consciousness is primary and the physical is secondary. In other words, materialism is receding and giving way to ideas about reality in which consciousness plays a key role." --Julia Mossbridge & Imants Baruss, 'Transcendent Mind: Rethinking the Science of Consciousness'
What's been helpful: In this culture, we split teachings on 'science' and 'spirit' into entirely different houses - literally and figuratively - and this divide reflects the choice many believe they must make in order to find answers to the deepest questions about life's meaning. What I instantly appreciated about Julia's SAND presentations was how she linked her scientific research in neuroscience to spiritual insights that followed. As someone who thought I was as going to have to confine myself to spiritual texts to explain my awakening, it was a relief to learn that many sciences are investigating consciousness and that some of these explorations are revealing the same profound truth and provoking the same genuine wonder and delight I experienced as part of awakening. This in turn revealed a whole other library of options for learning about consciousness, in addition to the spiritual texts. So though I've only seen a few of her lectures (video) and haven't yet read any of her books, I've added Julia to the 'Teachers' page in appreciation for how wonderfully she epitomized for me the power of science to amaze and inspire.

Science as a Spiritual Practice, Julia Mossbridge ~ Julia looks at how we speak about and teach science today and argues for applying the tools of spiritual practice when conducting scientific analysis.
 

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Dean Radin

Website, YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, Wikipedia page

(From his website) "Dean Radin, PhD, is Chief Scientist at the Institute of Noetic Sciences (IONS) and Associated Distinguished Professor of Integral and Transpersonal Psychology at the California Institute of Integral Studies (CIIS). He occasionally gives lectures in the Department of Psychology at Sonoma State University and has served on doctoral dissertation committees at Saybrook University and CIIS. His original career track as a concert violinist shifted into science after earning a BSEE degree in electrical engineering, magna cum laude with honors in physics, from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, and then an MS in electrical engineering and a PhD in psychology from the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. For a decade he worked on advanced telecommunications R&D at AT&T Bell Laboratories and GTE Laboratories. For three decades he has been engaged in frontiers research on the nature of consciousness. Before joining the research staff at IONS in 2001, he held appointments at Princeton University, University of Edinburgh, University of Nevada, Interval Research Corporation, and SRI International."
“As science attained unprecedented power through its ability to predict and control certain limited aspects of nature, it also began to overshadow our understanding of ethics and values. History has shown that decisions affecting millions were made on the basis of industrial expediency, technological imperatives, and economic pressures. Just as the absolute power held by the church for centuries had been seductive, the growing power of science had seduced as well.” ― Dean Radin, 'The Conscious Universe: The Scientific Truth of Psychic Phenomena'
What's been helpful: I wouldn't normally just cut/paste a bio from someone's website but I did so in this case to make clear that Dean Radin is no amateur scientist fascinated by the possibility that magic's real. Instead, Dean is an accomplished academic who's attempting to do hard science out on the edges of consciousness studies - it only looks like magic. Dean's goal is to aggregate centuries of psi-related anecdotes and experimental data into a recognized field of consciousness science that will inform a new model of reality, one continually shaped by data from a new class of psi experiments. And despite how dry I just made that sound, it really is fascinating to hear his rap, as you can tell by the view count on this first video - it has a podium, power point slides and everything and still has over 630,000 views. So on that note …

New Experiments Show Consciousness Affects Matter ~ Dean Radin PhD ~ Dean reviews the pivotal 'double-slit' experiment and then details the recent work his team has done to measure the effects of directed consciousness on matter, results independently replicated recently at the University of Sao Paulo as documented here. Fair warning - Dean has a quiet, steady march to his presentation style that informs but doesn't necessarily excite; I suspect it reflects the patience one must have when challenging conventional wisdom. Or maybe it's this measured pace that give his presentations a certain convincing weight. At the very least, his ideas pique the curiosity.

Dean Radin's Extraordinary Synchronicity Story ~ And a fun little story about more coincidence that coincidence can explain ...
 

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Sam Harris

Website, YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, Wikipedia page

Sam Harris is a neuroscientist, author, philosopher and public speaker who is probably most known for his outspoken criticisms of modern monotheistic religions, particularly Islam. His books on the topic, The End of Faith, Letter to a Christian Nation and Waking Up: A Guide to Spirituality Without Religion, have gained widespread notice for both their thought-provoking concepts and the resulting backlash - from both religious communities and free-speech advocates (this guy knows how to hit the nail on the head!). As a young man, Sam studied meditative practices with teachers in India and Nepal and the spiritual insights he gained from these practices (and the occasional psychotropic) clearly inform his opinions on the many topics he discusses in his articles, podcasts, books and elsewhere.
“My mind begins to seem like a video game: I can either play it intelligently, learning more in each round, or I can be killed in the same spot by the same monster, again and again.” ― Sam Harris, 'Waking Up'
What's been helpful: Until recently, most of what I knew about Sam Harris was through his appearances in various public debates with the late Christopher Hitchens. (I went on a 'Hitch' tear a few years ago after chancing upon a video in which Christopher expertly constructed and then eloquently delivered a fact-filled oration during a debate that subsequently left his opponent a quivering pile of shredded grey matter.) Prior to the awakening, I felt strongly that organized religion in all its forms was a major cause of our cultural divisions and Hitchens gave a clear and compelling voice to many of the rationales running around in my head. But while Hitchens always seemed skeptical about the existence of anything spiritual, Sam seemed more inclined to argue that humans can and must evolve to discover their spiritual nature without the religious doctrine that perpetuates the intolerance and violence we've been witnessing for millennia. Sam's continued advocacy for - and energetic practice of - critical public discussion on all religions has touched many a nerve in the collective consciousness.

Having recently recalled hearing about Sam's book Waking Up (now that I had managed to do just that) I've started picking up his work again, focusing this time on his spiritual insights instead of his religious critiques. Sam also hosts a podcast, Waking Up, which has archived a number of interesting interviews I'm looking to binging on in the future.

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Loch Kelly

Website, YouTube, Facebook, Twitter

Loch Kelly is a spiritual teacher who, like many on this page, cultivated his insights by investigating a variety of wisdom traditions: Buddhism, meditation disciplines, Advaita, and Dzogchen and Sutra Mahamudra. Loch is a practicing psychotherapist and founder of the Open-Hearted Awareness Institute, a group dedicated to teaching the methods Loch's developed to access what he calls 'awake awareness'.
“The big realization when we go beyond the ego is simply seeing that we've always been ok.” --Loch Kelly
What's been helpful: I first came across Loch as part of the large group of teachers I found linked to the Science and Nonduality site. His guided meditations focused on bringing the listener to the 'small glimpses many times' experience of the awakened state. While listening to Loch, I noticed something that seems unique - his use of entirely secular language. Many teachers will use at least an occasional religious term - or terms from numerous religions - when sharing their nondual insights so Loch's rap is likely to appeal especially to those trying to avoid the mental baggage tied to words like God, soul, or spirit (I'm raising my hand right now).

Since I had already accomplished all my 'small glimpses' in one 'long drop' down the magic mushroom rabbit hole, I was eager for answers instead glimpses and so moved on to other teachers after listening to Loch. As I continued browsing, I noted that Loch Kelly's name appears often within the nondual community and he's clearly regarded by many as an effective teacher. Loch has also published a book, Shift Into Freedom, in which he details his approach to experiencing 'open-hearted awareness'.

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Alan Watts

Alan Watts Organization, Store, Wikipedia page

Alan Watts was a British-born philosopher, author and speaker. Though he gravitated towards teachings from Zen Buddhism, Alan was deeply knowledgeable about several spiritual traditions, even completing seminary school at age 30 and spending five years as an ordained Episcopal priest. Feeling the need to choose between the Christian and Eastern traditions, Alan later elected to leave the ministry and moved to San Francisco in 1951 to join the faculty of the American Academy of Asian Studies. He remained with the academy for only a few years before leaving to try his hand as a freelance writer and radio show host in the mid-1950s. The local popularity of his weekly radio show, Way Beyond the West, during which Alan shared his interpretations of Eastern philosophies with his Western audience, brought him national attention and by the time the counter-culture movement of the '60s was in full swing, Alan was in the perfect position to emerge as the spokesman he became. Alan went on to publish a number of books and essays on Zen Buddhism and continued to speak and write until his death in 1973.
“Jesus Christ knew he was God. So wake up and find out eventually who you really are. In our culture, of course, they’ll say you’re crazy and you’re blasphemous, and they’ll either put you in jail or in a nut house (which is pretty much the same thing). However if you wake up in India and tell your friends and relations, ‘My goodness, I’ve just discovered that I’m God,’ they’ll laugh and say, ‘Oh, congratulations! At last you found out!” --Alan Watts
What's been helpful: I tend to think of Alan Watts as 'The Richard Burton of the Non-dual Teachers Club'; he has a voice you at once imagine coming from some Shakespearean stage. I came upon a video of Alan while surfing the net for 'consciousness' content and the first thing that struck me was his voice; it is the epitome of whiskey-and-cigar-soaked. Then he laughs and you can hear it - the man is full of whiskey and cigar smoke. A whiskey-drinking, cigar-smoking non-dual spiritual teacher who sounds like a Shakespearean actor and can knowledgeably cite various theological texts at length? ... Sign. Me. Up.

In the first few months after awakening, I was still confusing 'religion' with 'spirituality' and so was immediately drawn to (and relieved by) Alan's frank and amusing approach to spirituality. But soon after this initial contact, I moved on to focus on other teachers, I think largely because Alan refers to such a wide range of theological concepts that I was getting distracted by the details. Now that I've spent time developing my own understanding of the nondual view, I've come back to find I'm really enjoying Alan's more flamboyant - but always educational - lectures and books. And the amount of esoteric information running around in this man's head is not just a wonder to behold, it also adds a richness to his stories that is uniquely Alan Watts.

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Eckhart Tolle

Website, YouTube

Eckhart is a German-born spiritual teacher now living in Vancouver, BC. He may be one of the most popular non-dual teachers in the world and two of his several books - Power of Now and A New Earth - have each sold millions of copies. His teachings, which are informed by many traditions, focus on helping the individual recognize both the egoic sense of identity and the core awareness as separate entities within the mind. Eckhart provides a number of instructions to help one minimize the energy given to the ego in favor of bringing forth awareness, true insight and awakening.
“Life will give you whatever experience is most helpful for the evolution of your consciousness. How do you know this is the experience you need? Because this is the experience you are having at the moment.” --Eckhart Tolle, 'A New Earth'
What's been helpful: First, there are a lot of Eckhart's teachings available - his website features hours and hours of presentations, meditations and interviews and YouTube offers a whole bunch more. While I had earlier come across snippets of his videos and writings, I was not aware of the nature of his teachings until early this year - and then they were like a balm for a confused psyche. Eckhart's style is usually calm, quiet and largely non-dramatic and his insightful, powerful teachings include effective lessons about the ego; how it is formed, how it negatively influences our perceptions and therefore our actions, and most importantly, how to extricate oneself from egoic control. I found his writings and seminars as more like practical advice and less like spiritual texts; things I could do instead of just new ideas to contemplate. I consider Eckhart's teaching to be an excellent primer on the nature of ego and awareness and the role each play in the human life.

Eckhart is conversant in a number of spiritual traditions and asserts that, in their basic form, these traditions are all pointing to the same truth of a single shared awareness, a message which deeply resonates with me post-awakening. And he is careful to remind his audience that his own words are also just pointers to help you find your own truth. Having studied so many texts and teachings, Eckhart often gives examples from multiple traditions when illustrating a concept, providing the uninitiated with interesting glimpses into a number of ancient beliefs and how their messages are related.

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Terence McKenna

Wikipedia page, Facebook

Terence McKenna was an ethnobotanist, mystic, author, psychonaut and lecturer. He was born and raised in Colorado but managed to extricate himself to Los Altos, California while still in his teens and so was on hand during the Haight-Ashbury heyday. And yet he never seemed to join it directly and in 1969, Terence headed first to Nepal and then to the Amazon in 1971, where he encountered the psilocybin experiences that would shape him into the psychedelic bard he became.
“Nature loves courage. You make the commitment and nature will respond to that commitment by removing impossible obstacles. Dream the impossible dream and the world will not grind you under, it will lift you up. This is the trick. This is what all these teachers and philosophers who really counted, who really touched the alchemical gold, this is what they understood. This is the shamanic dance in the waterfall. This is how magic is done. By hurling yourself into the abyss and discovering it's a feather bed.” --Terence McKenna
What's been helpful: I suspect anyone drawn into the world of psychedelic experiences is eventually going to come across Terence and Dennis McKenna. After hearing Terence's name mentioned in passing by several others, I finally got around to looking into the matter - and instantly became a fan. If you also appreciate hearing the English language expertly managed, then Terence is one of those people you'd listen to describe the cover of the phone book for an hour. And then to marry his language skills and the world of the psychedelic!? Well, that's just a match made in Magic Mushroom Heaven, is what that is. Terence often drew upon an extensive knowledge of art and human history as a backdrop, making his stories especially interesting and informative. In fact, that's often what I've enjoyed most about his lectures, the historical insights that come from his being so well read on the subject.

Terence gained and revealed a number of insights from his many psychedelic experiences, a few of which resonate deeply with my newfound take on reality. One is his 'novelty theory' - in general, the idea that the increasing complexity emerging throughout the universe signals the evolution of the collective consciousness, a process which will culminate in the birth of our next stage of consciousness. He connected a number of theories about time to this idea, all of which did not click for me after having experienced 'no time' as part of awakening. But this idea of novelty continuing to increase towards something - this is an idea that comes up in a number of guises from various teachers, and this idea definitely resonates. By which I mean it sounds like a truth I don't understand but do recognize.

His other insight that I found 'familiar' was about the existence of what Terence called 'the Great Eschaton' or the 'Transcendental Object At The End Of Time'. Terence spoke often over the years of the one large event/change/shift in the future that is sending 'shockwaves' of a sort back through time, prompting awakenings and intuitions that are quickly heralding changes to the millions of minds looking for a different way. As it happens, this concept actually aligns with new data coming from lab experiments which demonstrate an ability in humans to sense events, especially painful or negative ones, in the immediate future, which prompts the body to start reacting to the stimulus even before exposed. This is, of course, something we've all experienced as a sense of intuition or 'gut feeling'.

The Transcendental Object At The End Of Time - besides his books, the main reservoir holding Terence's teachings appears to be hundreds of YouTube videos from various lectures, retreats and the like. I'll be posting several of these links over time but to start, here's a compilation video (three and one half fabulous hours!) that offers a nice variety of video snippets from throughout Terence's career. An excellent segment on DMT starts @ 1:12:50 (no one describes these events like Terence) and another on the psychedelic experience here @ 1:45:25

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Elisabet Sahtouris

Lifeweb site, Personal website

Elisabet is an evolution biologist, furturist, and author and is involved with a number of national and international efforts aimed at bringing about the changes needed for our more balanced existence within Earth's ecosystems. You can find a brief bio here.
"The Globalization of humanity is a natural, biological, evolutionary process. Yet we face an enormous crisis because the most central and important aspect of globalization-its economy-is currently being organized in a manner that so gravely violates the fundamental principles by which healthy living systems are organized that it threatens the demise of our whole civilization" --Elisabet Sahtouris, 'The Biology of Globalization'
What's been helpful: Though I haven't spent much time in her area of expertise, I very much enjoy Elisabet's presentations every time I catch them, usually as part of SAND events. Her deep evolutionary knowledge is also informed by her non-dual spiritual approach and the way she intertwines the philosophies is intriguing. She's incredibly smart and well-spoken and always animated and clear when presenting even the most complex biological models. What makes her so effective is how she is able to frame the events she discusses in the grand sweep of earth's history and animal evolution. And you can also find in her work some engaging ideas about what a successful human culture should look like.

(I'm also diggin' the short video METAPHORmosis I found on her homepage.)

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Rupert Spira

Website, YouTube

Rupert Spira began his spiritual journey early in life, reading Rumi's poetry at the age of 15. His studies went on to include teachings from Dr. Francis Roles, Russian philosopher P.D. Ouspensky, Krishnamurti and a number of others (I'd never heard of); his website has a nice bio. Rupert's teachings are also heavily influenced by Francis Lucille (SAND videos).
“Only that which is always with you can be said to be your self and if you look closely and simply at experience, only awareness is always ‘with you’.”  --Rupert Spira
What's been helpful: I may always have a 'complicated' relationship with Rupert's teachings. My ego thinks of them as 'relentless' because they are very clear, very inescapable and very persuasive rationales on the illusion of ego. It was while meditating in a hypnogogic state to Rupert's series The Light of Pure Knowing, (track #6, if you must know) that the message suddenly sank all the way into my awareness: I needed to experience the 'death' of my ego identity, Laura. Needless to say, it was a challenging next few days.

Rupert's new book, The Nature of Consciousness: Essays on the Unity of Mind and Matter, felt to me like a similar exercise in ego disassembly. Reading the book felt like a practice in accepting that I am not this egoic identity ... whether I wanted to hear it or not! Fortunately, being 'no self' also means I can be 'any self', which brings a wonderful freedom and yet still, the egoic self is hard to let go of. If I feel myself sinking back into old conditioning, this will be a wonderfully effective book for scrubbing away the illusion of the egoic self.

Which brings me to what I will always hold dear about Rupert's teachings; it was while practicing his 'fill-the-body-with-awareness' meditation instruction that I experienced a second profound shift in consciousness, which I wrote about in the post: Re-awakening To The Grateful Dead. Rupert's teachings helped open the door to that experience and for that I am eternally grateful.

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Graham Hancock

Website, Facebook, Twitter

Graham Hancock's teachings seem to center around two broad topics: exploration of consciousness and the interpretation of spiritual wisdoms left behind by ancient cultures. The two areas overlap in Graham's books, lectures and films in which he presents his entertaining and well-reasoned case that early civilizations in Egypt, South America and other areas routinely used psychotropic plants to explore consciousness and these practices played a significant role in the development of their arts, culture and sciences.
"Ancient Egypt, like that of the Olmecs (Bolivia), emerged all at once and fully formed. Indeed, the period of transition from primitive to advanced society appears to have been so short that it makes no kind of historical sense. Technological skills that should have taken hundreds or even thousands of years to evolve were brought into use almost overnight-- and with no apparent antecedents whatever." --Graham Hancock, 'Fingerprint of the Gods'
What's been helpful: The first video from Graham I encountered was The War on Consciousness BANNED TED TALK ... You can see why it caught my attention. What hooked me in his presentation was learning that the use of psychotropic plants to explore the nature of consciousness has a long and rich history. I was immediately intrigued and ended up side-tracking into the wisdoms of ancient Egypt at his behest, largely because I thought I might have to go back that far to get clear of the influences organized religion has had on current spiritual teachings.

In the last several years, Graham's included in his lectures theories about a meteor strike that ended the last ice age and generated the massive floods spoken of in many spiritual texts, including the Bible. For several years, Graham's been working with geologists, archeologists and others to coalesce the physical evidence behind this theory, which he writes about it in this post: Why Science Should Cherish Its Rebels. That I've driven many times through the eastern Washington scab lands that bear some of the scars of this massive flood brought the discussion interestingly close to home.

This summer, Graham suffered a severe acute illness but has fortunately bounced back and is writing a new book. From his 8/22/17 blog post, it sounds like he's ready to dive back into the fray: ..."My journey to the gates of death in the past week appears, however, to have cleared the energetic miasma by which I was briefly entrapped and has renewed my strength for the struggle ahead. We have been grievously misled about our past as a species and plunged into a state of sleepy amnesia. It is desperately important that we awaken if the human family is to survive on this beautiful garden of a planet, and if we are to honour as we should the gifts of life, consciousness, joy and the opportunity to learn and to love, to grow and to develop, that the universe so generously and unhesitatingly bestows upon us."

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