Supposing it’s too late…what then? with Peter Russell

Please note — the dial in info to participate by phone has changed. The new info is below in the “How to Participate” section.

On Sunday, August 30th at 10am Pacific, I’ll be joined by Peter Russell for “Supposing it’s too late…what then?”

Peter Russell’s work seeks to distill the essence of the world’s spiritual traditions and present it in ways relevant to the current times. He has studied mathematics, physics, and experimental psychology, as well as meditation and eastern philosophy. At one point he took up the first research post ever offered in Britain on the psychology of meditation.

Peter is also a brilliant observer of reality. He has recently been deeply contemplating the “worst case” scenario, and he’s been a catalyst to my own deepening relationship to reality.

Those of you who have been following my work and my public conversations on Beyond Awakening probably know that I have been a champion of an optimistic attitude (even in the face of very dark trends) saying that a positive engagement with our human predicament is “a moral imperative.” 

However, I have also often observed how pervasive denial ishow hard it is for us to rest our attention on anything truly upsetting. I’ve pointed out how fundamentally this has contributed to our widespread failure to grapple seriously with the depth of our global crisis, and our mass misperceptions of systemic risks.

Even if we are committed to engaging in a positive manner, we do not grow by avoiding anything. In fact, it is only by squarely facing exactly what we fear that our psyche can become fully whole and grounded and strong. Not superficial, but resting on bedrock.

Peter has long experience developing scenarios, as a consultant for large corporations, and independently. The purpose of developing scenarios is not to predict the future, but to help you to acknowledge and prepare for other outcomes. A growing number of people are entertaining the possibility that the human species could become extinct within a few generations.

It’s terrible to contemplate, but it should not prevent us from exploring what our worst-case scenario might have to teach us. 

As we’ve prepared for our dialogue, Peter and I have been exploring the existential implications of the futures we don’t want to imagine, and we are discovering buried treasure in dark places.

He has been a deeply insightful conversation partner. I’m happy to be going public, to share some of what we are learning as we dare to look directly at what we fear to see. I invite you to join us on Sunday.

About Peter Russell

Peter Russell studied mathematics and theoretical physics at Cambridge University (UK). As he became increasingly fascinated by the mysteries of the human mind, he changed to experimental psychology and traveled to India to study meditation and eastern philosophy. He also has a post-graduate degree in computer science.

In the 1970s, he was one of the first people to introduce human potential seminars into the corporate field, and for twenty years ran programs for senior management on creativity, stress management, personal development, and sustainable development.

As one of the more revolutionary futurists, Peter’s been a keynote speaker at many international conferences, in Europe, Japan and the USA.

In 1982 he coined the term “global brain” with his 1980s bestseller of the same name in which he predicted the Internet and the impact it would have. His other books include — The TM Technique, The Upanishads, The Brain Book, The Creative Manager, The Consciousness Revolution, Waking Up in Time, and From Science to God.

His principal interest is the deeper, spiritual significance of the times we are passing through.

HOW TO PARTICIPATE:

*Sunday, August 30th at 10:00am Pacific; 11:00am Mountain; 12:00pm Central; 1:00pm Eastern

*Find Your Local Time

Please Note: There will be a limited number of lines available on the live conference call, so we encourage you to listen online if possible. To make sure you can get through by phone, we encourage you to dial in early.

ACCESS INSTRUCTIONS

Join the Dialogue: About one hour into the dialogue, we’ll open up the lines and you’ll have the opportunity to interact with us directly over the phone or via instant message. Here’s what to do:

To interact live by voice, dial into the conference line number and wait until we ask for a question from someone in your region, or

Send us your question via instant message in the teleseminar window on your computer, or

Send us your questions and comments before or during the live dialogue by posting them on our Beyond Awakening Community Facebook page

We look forward to your attendance!

Sincerely,
The Beyond Awakening Team

Grief, Loss, Tango and Freedom

Jun Po headshot medOn Sunday I was joined by Jun Po Denis Kelly Roshi for a fiercely human dialogue we entitled “Falling in Love with Death.

Jun Po is the 83rd Patriarch of his lineage of Rinzai Zen. He began his Buddhist practice at Zen Center San Francisco in the early ’70s, later becoming a student of Eido Shimano Roshi in New York and subsequently a monk. He received inka from Eido Shimano Roshi in 1992. Interested in bringing his Zen Rinzai lineage into American culture without the Japanese cultural bindings, Jun Po left the monastery and founded the lay Buddhist Hollow Bones order, of which he is abbot. He also created Mondo Zen, which integrates processes for emotional maturity and insight with meditative awareness.

That’s Jun Po’s official biography as a Zen teacher. But he was also a wild hippie, a lover of many women (though now happily married), a Vietnam-era military man and a major LSD manufacturer hunted by the FBI — for which he served time in federal prison.

What I appreciate most about Jun Po, though, is not his wild, passionate, colorful past, but his willingness to step outside of his story into immediate contact with himself, the moment, and during our dialogue, with me. He invites in what people tend to hide —fear, dysfunction, confusion — all of which he’s confronted personally in his past experience with stage 4 throat cancer and most recently Parkinson’s Disease.

It’s precious when someone confronts mortality in the way that Jun Po now is, with a lifetime of spiritual practice, a deep witnessing capacity, and a drive to pass the insights gained from his illnesses on to others. During our dialogue, he brought his real-time insights and experiences to bear as we explored what it means to fall in love with death (actually he says it should be “standing” in love because “falling” in love, without awareness, can be dangerous!)

At times, he struggled to maintain a volume level that sounded normal, rather than too low, but which to him took all the effort of shouting. He explained that this is one of the symptoms of Parkinson’s. Another symptom he suffers (from chemotherapy) is neuropathy. There are times when his body will not respond to his intentions, so he has accidents and falls. A studied Argentine tango dancer, he shared that he doesn’t know if he’ll ever be able to dance a decent tango with his wife, Mary again. And yet, he still shows up to dance, inviting the grief and the loss, and opening into deeper intimacy with the moment and with his beloved.

The key to opening up to his circumstances and conditions, particularly the BIG, unavoidable condition of mortality, he says, is radical self-acceptance. This is something Jun Po found on the other side of traditional Zen. Traditional Zen says to stay absolutely fiercely present. Don’t look away! Wake up! But after awakening, we are still left with the psychological and emotional structures that were there before. And often these structures are damaged.

Zen didn’t address these “faulty” structures for Jun Po and many others (which is eventually what led him to develop Mondo Zen). But it was through Zen practice that he had anchored the witnessing capacity to radically accept the fear and confusion and gain clarity; to let views and opinions fall aside leaving only the incredible intensity of awareness. From a nondual perspective, this intensity of experience is simply that — “not good, not bad.”

He said, “Death is “boo-hoo” from a relative perspective, but from pure witnessing it’s the gift of liberation. That’s ‘the Joke’.” Then he offered the following reflections on compassion:

When your heart breaks, it doesn’t break closed, it breaks open in unconditional love. This is a love that takes no prisoners. Our true nature of compassion gets filtered through our relative nature. Feeling is information which we often, in our ignorance, meet with violent reactivity. Thus deep care and incredible clarity of mind is expressed as anger. Excitement and opportunity manifest as fear.

We don’t have sin, we have ignorance. When we realize the misinterpretation of feeling, compassionate nature takes over, including self-compassion. You can’t scream at your loved ones anymore. Not because you don’t want to, but because that reaction becomes inconceivable. We awaken to the myth of our own persona.

Stay present in the face of absolutely everything. No one has ever shamed you except you. When we realize that we are responsible for our reactivity, our angst becomes our liberation.

It was a tender dialogue, during which I came into contact with my own sense of grief and loss about the aging process, as well as my joy and gratitude for my connection with that which is beyond words (God). I wake up and reawaken, discovering freshly That which I have discovered so many times before; and yet always it’s a new moment of authentic discovery.

I felt all of this relating to Jun Po, grieving with him, and listening to him “shout” his good news that “we are all dying. Celebrate.”

I invite you to listen in here.

Falling in Love with Death with Jun Po Denis Kelly Roshi

Jun Po headshot medThis Sunday, July 5th, at 10am Pacific, I’ll be joined by Jun Po Denis Kelly Roshi for a dialogue we’ve entitled “Falling in Love with Death.”

Jun Po is the 83rd Patriarch in his lineage of Rinzai Zen Buddhism. He received inka from Eido Shimano Roshi in 1992 and went on to develop an innovative approach to Zen known as Mondo Zen which incorporates emotional maturity and insight with meditative awareness.

Our dialogue on Sunday will be a human conversation, a vulnerable exploration expanding from Jun Po’s own experience. Years ago, he was diagnosed with Stage 4 throat cancer; more recently he’s been practicing with the symptoms of Parkinson’s disease. “The shakes, the confusion, the indignities.…it’s dissolution I’m dealing with!”

What he has learned is the power of radical self-acceptance, including radical acceptance of the reality of his mortality. This has opened the door to a new level of clarity and discernment. He has been able to perceive life and death as inseparable. In doing so, he has “fallen in love” even with his own death.

Jun Po says, “Falling in love with my death has been the resurrection of my life!” He considers both his Stage 4 throat cancer and Parkinson’s disease as two huge gifts — and two great teachers.

This lesson is available to us all, says Jun Po, in the myriad array of physical and psychological pain that we each encounter. Properly understood and radically accepted, your pain will become your liberator. This doesn’t meant the end of life’s difficulties, or the end of pain (“ouch”), but rather the end of suffering (“boo-hoo”).

As we prepared for this dialogue, Jun Po and I spoke several times. We dropped below the level of our personas, our stories, and even our teachings. His existential rawness is powerful; his discovery is that he is awakening in a new way while staring directly into the eyes of “the great sleep,” often overwhelmed by “gratitude for the wild, wonderful, crazy life that I’ve had.”

He reflected that the title Beyond Awakening points us to this truth. An Awakening Enlightenment experience is the beginning of your transformation, not the end. Although his medical prognosis is for “6-10 years of miserable disintegration” he says, “I want to beat that by 20 years.” His practice is still unfolding. And that’s worth tuning in to!

Join us on Sunday to hear what Jun Po means when he says, “We are all dying. Celebrate!”

About Jun Po Denis Kelly Roshi 

Jun Po Denis Kelly Roshi is the 83rd Patriarch of his lineage of Rinzai Zen. He began his Buddhist practice at Zen Center San Francisco in the early ’70s, later becoming a student of Eido Shimano Roshi in New York and subsequently a monk. He received inka from Eido Shimano Roshi in 1992. Interested in bringing his Zen lineage (Rinzai tradition) into American culture without the Japanese cultural bindings, Jun Po left the monastery and founded the lay Buddhist Hollow Bones order, of which he is abbot. He also created Mondo Zen which incorporates emotional maturity and insight with meditative awareness. He established Hollow Bones seven-day Zen retreats for the Mankind Project. As a yoga instructor Jun Po traces his lineage to BKS Iyengar and Pattabhi Jois.

HOW TO PARTICIPATE:

Sunday, July 5th at 10:00am Pacific; 11:00am Mountain; 12:00pm Central; 1:00pm Eastern

*Find Your Local Time

Please Note: There will be a limited number of lines available on the live conference call, so we encourage you to listen online if possible. To make sure you can get through by phone, we encourage you to dial in early.

ACCESS INSTRUCTIONS

  • To listen live by phone, dial: 425-440-5100 (alternate #: 501-707-0312)
  • Then, enter Access Code: 272072#
  • To listen live online go to:  http://iTeleseminar.com/70992399
  • To download the audio after the teleseminar is complete go to the Beyond Awakening Audio Page

Join the Dialogue: About one hour into the dialogue, we’ll open up the lines and you’ll have the opportunity to interact with us directly over the phone or via instant message. Here’s what to do:

To interact live by voice, dial into the conference line number and wait until we ask for a question from someone in your region, or

Send us your question via instant message in the teleseminar window on your computer

Send us your questions and comments before or during the live dialogue by posting them on our Beyond Awakening Community Facebook page

We look forward to your attendance!

Sincerely,
The Beyond Awakening Team