Critical Perspectives on Transformational Culture.

Category: Video

And Now for a Little Saturday Evening Broadcast: Terence McKenna and Ram Das

by Jeremy Johnson

For those of you, like me, who hadn’t seen Terrence McKenna’s conversation with Ram Das (formerly Richard Alpert, Harvard professor and psychedelic pioneer of the 1960′s), you’ll be in for a real treat. On the surface they appear to be coming from opposite ends. Following an intensive series of experiences with his guru Maharaj-ji (who also was my graduate professor’s spiritual teacher), he dropped his use of psychedelics (see Ram Das’s excellent/tear-wrenching documentary “Fierce Grace” (see this part on his trip to India). McKenna, on the other hand, was for the 1990′s what Timothy Leary had been for the 1960′s. A brilliant orator, McKenna left behind gigs and gigs of audio recording to be spliced into YouTube and podcast channels across the web (see my favorite show, Lorenzo’s Psychedelic Salon). They rub up against their differences, sure, but you also can tell McKenna has tremendous respect for Das – and Das, very much the same. You see, as someone who travels between communities with major differences (shamanism and entheogens vs. yoga and meditation, and all the opinions in between), this may very well be my favorite conversation to date.

Oh, and do watch for the waiter’s punctual interruptions; I still wonder if he was part of the show.

Towards a Mystic Understanding of Erotic Knowing and Gender Identity

by laylarevery

In his show “Gender Mystic,” performer Didik Nini Thowok explores transgender themes and their relationship to mysticism within various Asian traditions.

Have you ever wondered about the intersections of erotic and spiritual life? I know I have, quite frequently, as most of my late-twenties life has shown a pattern of learned separation between the two, a pattern that still persists across multiple cultures I survived and interacted with. Yet, there is an abundance of arenas in life, from centuries-old mystic traditions to mytho-poetic and artistic perspectives, that reveal the contrary. They can show us how the erotic dimension of being human, the way of intuitive knowing that comes from a particular, irresistible pull towards that special someone or intense life calling, are inseparable from one’s spiritual actualization and fulfillment within their lifetime. Not only that, but there are also recent engagements between the spiritual and the sexual that can be of immense transformative potential for a society, and that I found have a lot of insight to offer to social movements organized around sexual liberation and gendered identity politics. Read the rest of this entry »

Reading Wednesday: Spacious Mind

by Andrew Neuendorf

I recommend three more books in three minutes (approximately):

The Life and Teachings of Sri Aurobindo: a lecture by Dr. Debashish

by Jeremy Johnson

Sri Aurobindo wrote that, “it is a spiritual evolution we foresee and the material is only its shadow and reflex.” It is easy to interpret this statement, without context, as a form of world-denial. Aurobindo began as political activist, but later in his life turned to the path of the Yogi and never left his ashram in Pondicherry. But in many ways, Aurobindo was foreshadowing the spirituality of the future. He taught a path of immanence, a form of spiritual alchemy where our divine nature was directed toward our “lower” nature, resulting in the transmutation of mind, heart and body.

Hence, he dubbed this an “integral Yoga.” A yoga turned, not toward transcendence, but the immanence of the soul brought to fulfillment in life, not beyond it.

Together, with his spiritual counterpart, the Mother, he wrote voluminously about the coming “Gnostic Being” – a new form of human whose soul had come to the forefront of the person.

Without writing further on this, I thought I would share a twitter, stream-of-consciousness rant. My attempt to describe Integral Yoga in 140 characters or less!

I’m drawn to Sri Aurobindo’s teachings on the Psychic Being, a kind of ambiguous “sheath” around the soul that develops through lifetimes. Consider it a tiny divine guide, an inner Guru, that can transmute the soul spark to a bright body of light. It is not shy to time, yet it is not affected by it. It gains wisdom by the lifetimes and attempts to draw the person towards the divine. I love this because it, to some degree, reconciles history. Its a way of telling us what the soul is doing all wrapped up in the flesh. And what’s especially intriguing about Aurobindo’s mysticism is that his teachings are about immanence.

He and his partner, the Mirra (the Mother) don’t deny transcendence, but seek an alchemical yoga of transmuting the “lower nature.” I suppose this is why they called it Integral Yoga, the act of acting from the divine soul, coming to the forefront of the person. Transforming the human being into a new kind of being (something we are, already). The “gnostic being.” That works as a transmuter.

Anyhow, I am sure there will be many forms of mysticism in our age that are driven towards immanence of the Soul. Despite our materialistic times, I think it is important that we foster these new traditions and work on “seeing through” the world. But not abandoning it. Perhaps that’s not what it’s been about all along. After all, we have been here for a few million years, the human organism has evolved to worship and craft temples and write scripture. The Earth is a sort of temple for a divine host. There are many ways to interpret what our materialistic age knows through soulful vision.

The Crisis is Sacred, interview with Willi Paul of Open Myth Source

by Jeremy Johnson

I was interviewed yesterday by Willi Paul from Open Myth Source on mythology, culture and the current crisis of our age! Willi had some good questions for me! Hope you enjoy, and forgive my inclination to ramble!

The show topics (a lot was covered, but alas with such questions we only scratch the surface!)

SHOW TOPICS (+) The new social prima material maker = permaculture? (+) What would you like to change in yourself or in your community the most? (+) What is “sacred time?” What is sacred to you? How do you know? (+) ARE THERE NEW MYTHS? WHAT ARE THE FOUNDATIONS THEMES? (+) Can we label you a scientific “priest”? Is that a digital shaman?! (+) Is it possible that one day the mystic will enjoin the scientific? (+) Role of intuition? How can this be formed and transmuted across cultures? (+) How is mythology shaping human evolution? (+) Do you have any updated definitions or uses of alchemy? (+) Tell me how to understand your soul. (+) What is the role of music in your creative process? (+) Whether crash / crashes / transitions / melt downs – how is hope working there these days? (+) “SOUL ALCHEMY” + “INTUITION IS AN ALCHEMY” – Willi’s Wonderings….

Open Myth Source is a dedicated to creating new mythologies and alchemy for the sustainability age. The power of myth can be used as an important tool in re-imagining our relationship to the Earth, our natural environment, and each other. He offers various “tool kits” to help folks actually design their own myths! Check it out.

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