Matthew Wright – Buddha at the Gas Pump Interview

Matthew Wright – Buddha at the Gas Pump Interview


Matthew Wright #338
March 14, 2016 {BATGAP theme music plays}
>>Rick: Welcome to Buddha at the Gas Pump. My name is Rick Archer. Buddha at the Gas Pump is an ongoing series
of interviews with spiritually awakening people. Its website is www.batgap.com , B-A-T-G-A-P,
and there have been well over 300 interviews to date, so if you want to check out the archives,
go there and look under the �Past Interviews’ menu. This enterprise is made possible by the generous
support of appreciative viewers and listeners, and there is a �Donate’ button on the site,
so thank you for that. My guest today is the Reverend Matthew Wright. Matthew is an Episcopal priest, writer, and
retreat leader, working to renew the Christian Wisdom Tradition within a wider interspiritual
framework. He writes a monthly column, Belonging, for
Contemplative Journal, and serves as Priest in Charge at St. Gregory’s Episcopal Church
in Woodstock, New York. Matthew lives with his wife, Yanick, alongside
the brothers of Holy Cross Monastery in West Park, New York. You can learn more about his work through
the Center for Spiritual Resources, which I will be linking to, and linking to several
things from his page at www.batgap.com. And I know Matthew, kind of, from the Science
& Nonduality Conference, where he has gone for the last couple of years. And I had to miss some of his things that
he did there because I was doing other things in other rooms, but I always listened to him
later on, when the Science & Nonduality people put the talks up online, and I’ve always found
his talks to be very inspiring and interesting. So it’s really a joy to have him on today,
I think we’re going to have a great conversation, so thanks Matthew.>>Matthew: Thanks Rick, it’s great to be here.>>Rick: Yeah, so I want to talk about all
kinds of things with you. Just to get people some main points, as I
read through your stuff, here are some things that jumped out at me, questions that we might
talk about: 1. Is Jesus alive and interceding in human affairs? 2. If God is omnipresent then we’re looking at
Him. There’s a thing from the Gospel of Thomas
he quoted, saying, “Come to know that which is before your eyes and what is hidden from
you will be revealed.” 3. We will talk about interspirituality,
4. We will talk about the notion that “you are
not the body,” or maybe you are, 5. We want to talk about Pierre Teilhard de Chardin,
whose name I probably just mispronounced, but whose thinking is very inspiring both
to Matthew and me, although I more-or-less just discovered him. 6. We want to talk about … well, I don’t have
to tell you all these things because we’re going to be talking about them …
7. We will talk about the Divine Mother and the
feminine in the world 8. We will talk about devotion
9. Something that Matthew terms “the second axial
age” 10. Belief versus experience
11. Intermixture of spiritual traditions in peoples’
lives, such as people who might call themselves a “Buddhist Christian.” So there’s some topics that jumped out at
me as being interesting to talk about, and maybe we’ll take it elsewhere in the discussion,
and also, online viewers are of course welcome to send in questions as we go along. There is a question form on the �Upcoming
Interviews’ page on www.batgap.com . But for starts, let’s get to know a little
bit more about you, Matthew, where you came from, how you got interested in spirituality,
what kind of major milestones you’ve gone through on your path.>>Matthew: I’ve been serving as a priest now,
I guess, for about 3 years, and I think my spiritual journey started sort of unconsciously
unfolding late in high school. I grew up in a much more kind of fundamentalist,
charismatic, Pentecostal type of Christianity. And I had a high school teacher who was actually
a devotee of Paramahansa Yogananda – of all beings, of all people – and she was the first
person to ever ask me if I thought God was within me. And I had grown up with a very sort of dualistic
conception of God, that you know, Deity was in another dimension sort of watching down
on us. So that question, as I sat with it, sort of
inverted my whole theological framework, worldview. And I remember sitting on the porch at my
parents’ house one day and having this overwhelming sense, experience of God in the apple tree
in our front yard. And so that sort of opened up a realm of nature-mysticism,
I guess, encountering God in the natural world. And I remember asking my dad at the time,
asking, “Do you think God is in everything?! In the rocks and the trees and the grass?”
and expecting him to sort of scoff, you know, coming from this fundamentalist church, but
he paused for a minute and he said, “Well, yeah!” And I thought, “Why didn’t anyone every tell
me this?!” So that sort of opened a journey into the
more contemplative dimension of faith. It’s around that time that I was turned on
to the Upanishads, and the Tao Te Ching, and Eastern texts and traditions, and …
>>Rick: If you ask the most fundamentalist of Christians, “If God omnipresent?” wouldn’t they say, “Yes?” I mean, doesn’t it say that in the Bible someplace?>>Matthew: Well, I don’t think the word �omnipresent’
shows up in Scripture, but a sense of the all-pervading reality presence of God is certainly
fundamental to Christian tradition. But I don’t know that people … I think that
sometimes they think of omnipresence almost in the sense of, “God can see everywhere,”
rather than a sense that God is actually one-with all things.>>Rick: Aha. Sort of like He is up in the sky in some spaceship
with some cosmic telescope checking us … like Santa Claus; he knows if you’ve been naughty
or nice but he’s not necessarily everywhere.>>Matthew: Right.>>Rick: Okay. So as you began to transition to reading the
Upanishads and stuff like that, was there any kind of theological rapids that you had
to go through in your little boat of life? I mean, was it rough, was it awkward … was
it beginning to clash with what you had been engrained with?>>Matthew: Sure, I think it was really exciting
and also frightening, when you’ve grown up in sort of a fundamentalist worldview and
you start questioning it, you think you maybe are risking your eternal salvation, you know? And so there is something fearful in that. But I think there was a shift for me one day
when I realized how much love my parents felt for me, and that if we imagine Divinity as
the most loving Parent, which is the sort of language I grew up with – I don’t think
of God so much in parental terms anymore – but if God is supposed to be the ultimate loving
source, and my parents could never damn me to hell for eternity, then how could the Source
of all life do the same thing? Once I sort of got my mind around that I thought,
“Okay!” I think it’s okay to ask these questions and
to go down these roads.>>Rick: So this is still high school, right?>>Matthew: Right, that would have been late
in high school. Then wondered into an Episcopal church one
evening …>>Rick: Before you get to that let me just
ask you, did you go through any crazy teenage stuff? I mean, you know, you live near Woodstock,
New York, and that is notorious for certain things. Did you go through any of that stuff or did
you have a pretty pure, smooth ride?>>Matthew: Nothing too crazy. I grew up in actually down South, in the mountains
of North Carolina. Maybe in my college years, but nothing too
wild or out of the ordinary.>>Rick: Okay, just curious.>>Matthew: So moving forward?>>Rick: Yeah, yeah, please.>>Matthew: Yeah, so moving on, before I went
to college I wondered into an Episcopal church and it sort of opened for me the whole “Catholic”
side of Christianity tradition, where all of the saints and mystics and contemplatives
had been hanging out, that I didn’t have access to in Protestant Christianity, where you sort
of jump from Jesus and the Apostles to Martin Luther; you sort of bypass 1,000 years of
Christian history. And discovering all those voices � Meister
Eckhart, Teresa of Avila, Julian of Norwich, John of the Cross � that whole rich contemplative
lineage, mystical lineage, suddenly there was a reference point for everything I was
encountering in those Eastern Texts, in the Upanishads. And I thought, “Ah! All this is here in Christianity, sort of
buried, maybe swept under the rug, but it was all there, as well.”>>Rick: Yeah. I was just reading a Dana Sawyer book last
night about Huston Smith. And he was talking about Aldous Huxley and
how Huxley kind of thought that religions were basically an obstacle to enlightenment,
because of all the sort of narrow mindedness and degeneration that seems to take place
after the founder dies and centuries pass. Whereas Huston Smith disagreed with him, although
they were good friends any everything, he was saying that, “No, all the different religions
can be paths to God, if you know where to look.”>>Matthew: Yeah, I think at their very best,
the religions are wonderful ways into the mystery of God, into a journey of awakening,
because at their best they hold all the things we need for a balanced path of awakening. They hold devotional practices, they hold
contemplative practices, they have ritual and language that give meaning and shape experience,
community, mentors, elders who have walked a little further down the path and can help
guide you along the way. And any traditional spiritual system, at its
best has, has all those components held together in an integral way. Now like you said, oftentimes we receive these
traditions in really degenerative or fragmented ways; we don’t receive a tradition in its
fullness, which was part of the problem for me, coming from that more Protestant Christianity
where I didn’t have access to a lot of the pieces of the puzzle that were there, but
weren’t being made readily available.>>Rick: Yeah, my former teacher used to say,
“Knowledge crumbles on the hard rocks of ignorance,” and what he meant by that is someone like
Jesus or somebody can come out with an absolutely fabulous, pure teaching, but as Jesus Himself
said, or He always used to say, “Those who have ears to hear it,” and “pearls before
swine,” and stuff like that. So He is saying that as He is saying one thing,
people are hearing another. And as time passes it becomes like one of
those party games, where a message is passed from one to the next and it ends up becoming
completely different than what was originally spoken. Would you concur with that perspective?>>Matthew: I think that’s often the case,
yeah, yeah, absolutely. As you move away from a lineage founder, from
the awakened experience of a lineage founder, it is certainly possible to move into increasingly
shallow forms of the tradition that become sort of mechanistic observers; you’re just
following empty rituals, reading empty words, because the living impulse behind it maybe
isn’t there anymore.>>Rick: Yeah, aside from that, why do you
think that there’s always sort of been this – at least from my perspective, from my understanding
� this kind of conflict between the administrator-types of a religion and the mystics of a religion,
and usually the administrator-type seems to win out?>>Matthew: Why is there conflict? Well you know, as institutions form they also
form institutional sized egos. And institutions want to perpetuate, keep
themselves alive, and often it is at the cost of living spiritual impulse that brought the
lineage into being in the first place. So it seems to be a degeneration that happens
in lots of traditions, and you have to have a reformation or a revolution, another voice
that comes, reclaims the buried treasure, sort of breathes new fire into the lineage
or kindles the warm coals beneath the rubble. But it seems to be pretty typical process
across traditions.>>Rick: Yeah, but you seem to feel that we
needn’t throw the baby out with the bathwater, that we can actually resuscitate these traditions
and as you say, clear away the ashes and find the glowing coals, and maybe get the fire
burning again.>>Matthew: Yeah, honestly, I think that in
many ways that are best for the future, that we really, genuinely need the traditions because
of the treasures and practices that they hold. They hold the tools that best mature and ground
and develop the human soul. And like I said, at their best, they hold
them within an integral system and framework. Now the religions, as we sort of enter into
a global era, it seems that all the religions need to shuck off their superiority complexes,
their competition, one-up man ship, all that has to go. So it seems like we sort of need each other. Human beings need the treasures that religions
hold, and the practices and frameworks that they have, and then the religions also need
human beings who can help the religions themselves mature and step into a new era.>>Rick: Yeah … um … what was I going to
say? I sort of get the feeling that … I forgot
what I was going to say, I’m sorry. ?
>>Matthew: No worries.>>Rick: … thought passed through my head. In fact it was funny, because an email just
came in from Dana Sawyer and I was just talking about Dana Sawyer and I thought … well,
that’s kind of synchronicity. Anyways, do you feel that … just last week
I interviewed someone who had a profound series of mystical experiences � Mary Reed is her
name, and quite unwittingly and unexpectedly. She didn’t have a mystical background, wasn’t
looking for them, but all this stuff started happening to her, one of which that she found
herself experiencing Jesus on the Cross, actually kind of entering His consciousness and experiencing
what He was experiencing at that time. And she also had a similar experience with
Buddha at his enlightenment. Do you think that Jesus … well, there’s
two parts to this question: What do you make of such experiences? And, with all the millions of people who are
praying to Jesus or to Buddha or to various founders of various religions, do you feel
that these entities, these beings, are actually alive and well in some dimension and are interceding
in human affairs, you know, blessing people, pouring blessings upon people, or do you feel
that they have just merged into the Absolute and that something else is happening when
people pour out their devotion to, you know, men who have died thousands of years ago?>>Matthew: I think it’s a little bit of both-and
kind of a situation. I do think that these living Masters are available
to us, are accessible to us. Does that mean it is in a personal, sort of
individuated way? The way I like to think about it is that the
name of God, so to speak, that each of us speaks into being through our own life, that
these great souls � of Jesus, of Buddha � that their impact in the planet creates
something of a shockwave, and that the qualities of being that they bring into the life of
the planet, the qualities that are associated with the heart of Jesus: gentleness, mercy,
belovedness, humility, love, that those qualities that are the essence of Him, the essence of
His personhood, that they are still accessible and available, that we can turn, [or rather]
tune-in through our hearts, we can tune-in to the heart of Jesus. That everything He was in essence is still
available in the ground of our own hearts. And, I think these figures have become in
some ways become archetypes within human consciousness, you know � the Buddha, Jesus. So I do think there’s a living presence that
is accessible, through the heart, and I also think each of them continues through what
in Christian language we would call, their “mystical body.” We speak about the “mystical body” of Christ
and in that sense, Christ isn’t just one person, Jesus, but is an ongoing, unfolding body or
collective that continues to embody the qualities that Jesus brought into being, and carry them
in a living way into the world. So yes, I do think they’re accessible and
in many ways.>Rick: That’s nice. Yeah, I like that idea that each of them kind
of infuses certain qualities into collective consciousness that maybe hadn’t been there
or hadn’t been there very much, and there’s this huge sort of surge of certain qualities,
and it has a ripple effect over thousands of years. It’s kind of a nice thought.>>Matthew: And to put it in really personal
terms, I think about when my dad died a few years ago, very unexpectedly. And I came to find that he was still very
much accessible to me, not through memory, not through remembering time we spent together
or events that happened, but through actually calling into presence the qualities that were
his most essential personhood, and that in my own heart I could tune-in to that, and
that in a way, that was still alive and available in the universe, or as I like to say, “In
the heart of God.” And so if that’s possible for someone we’ve
known in our own personal histories, I think “the big ones,” certainly their impact still
reverberates through the planet.>>Rick: Yeah, and actually, if we take the
Bible literally in terms of Jesus rising three days after the crucifixion, and then appearing
to the Disciples in a subtle body or celestial body, or whatever it was, then if He was around
for a month or so after the crucifixion, well then why not now still?>>Matthew: Right … and there’s actually
a sense of continuing subtlization of the presence of Jesus in the Gospel accounts,
that first they know Him corporeally, they know Him in the flesh, and then after His
crucifixion there’s the resurrection experience, where He appears in some much subtler form
that sometimes is recognizable, sometimes isn’t. And then the way St. Paul says it in what
is traditionally called “His ascension,” St. Paul says “He was raised far above all things
in order that He might fill all things.” (Ephesians 4:10) So it is a sense that He
is now utterly ubiquitous, that His presence now sort of just pervades the universe, that
He is filling all things, so available at any point, you know, no longer localized but
universally present.>>Rick: Wow. What comes to mind is Star Wars when Yoda
died and he said … I forget the exact dialogue but it was like, “Okay, now I’m going to become
much more powerful … if you think I was powerful before.”>>Matthew: Right, right, right. And then at the end of Star Wars you get them
appearing in …>>Rick: Yeah, subtle form …
>>Matthew: Anakin and Obi-Wan. Maybe it’s like that. Maybe when needed they can manifest in personal
presence, but maybe they’re available in a much more universal capacity.>>Rick: Yeah, well I mean, with all the stories
of near-death experiences and reincarnation memory and all that stuff that are popular
TV shows these days, it would seem there is a fairly common collective acceptance of the
notion that we don’t die when the body dies. And if someone was a great being with tremendous
influence while he was alive, one would expect that he or she would continue to be a great
being with again, tremendous influence after the body dies.>>Matthew: And I do think that beings take
on roles of cosmic servanthood. And awakening beings … that’s really the
path: to become a cosmic servant, serving deepening disclosure of God through the planet,
serving the awakening of the human family. And so I think those who are no longer with
us in physical form, they certainly continue as cosmic servants who are continuing to guide
and help evolve the lack of the planet.>>Rick: I love that. So let’s get back to you a little bit. So you were in high school when we last left
off, and you were starting to read the Upanishads and things like that, getting inspired. You eventually ended up going to India, right?>>Matthew: That’s right.>>Rick: How soon after high school did you
do that? How long were you there? What did you experience there?>>Matthew: I went to India a couple of times. I’ve been really drawn to India, one because
of the encounter with Indian spirituality through this high school teacher I mentioned,
through texts, and through Bede Griffiths. Some of you listening know Father Bede Griffiths. He was a Roman Catholic priest who spent the
last half of his life in India, where he said he went “to discover the other half of his
soul.” And his life really became an integration
of the masculine and the feminine, the active and the contemplative, in a really profound
way of Hinduism and Christianity. And so he became a sort of icon of the potential
integration of these traditions for me and inspired me through my college years. And so I wanted to go to India and spend time
in the community that he had left behind. I ended up going my final year of college
to India with a Tibetan Studies Program, and so we were mostly up in Northern India and
Darussalam, and also in Nepal and Tibet, studying Tibetan spirituality, culture, politics. So I went back a few years later, after college,
and spent most of my time in the South of India and spent time with Father Bede’s community
there. And Ramana Maharishi … spent time alongside
his Ashram community.>>Rick: I recall from something I read when
you were in Ramana’s Ashram you had a rather powerful unity experience.>>Matthew: Yeah, when I was spending time
there I was working with Ramana’s self-inquiry process and asking the question, “Who am I?” And as I worked with that question over and
over and over, suddenly there was just a total freezing, shutdown of the rational, dualistic
mind … mental apparatus. And I looked out and there was a person, a
stranger standing across from me. And you know, there aren’t good words for
it but I experienced an experience of no-self or of shared-self. There was absolutely no separation between
myself, this other person, or our surroundings, I was just seeing myself … we were just
two poles of a single reality. Very hard to put into language but, as if
all the boundaries weren’t there, you know? It was just oneness � one-self, no-self,
all at the same time. And it lasted for really just a few seconds,
but in that experience was timeless, and then suddenly I was back in my, you know, lines
and boundaries and limited self again, but a very powerful experience. And I had been struggling with Ramana while
I was there because, often in his tradition he will say, “You are not the body!” you know,
calling you to awaken to ultimate self-essential self, that you are not the form. And I was really struggling with that because
there was a sense of: manifestation matters, individuated body-selves. If the sole goal of life was to awaken out
of these limited forms and into “Self” with a capital �S,’ then why these forms to begin
with? So there was a sense of, “I may not only be
the body, I may not be limited to the body, but I am also the body and that matters. Manifestation in form matters.” And that’s when I actually first encountered
Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, the French Jesuit that you mentioned Rick. And … shall I tell this story?>>Rick: Yeah, sure. Matthew: I’d been struggling with this seeming
sort of disembodied nature of the nondual spirituality I was getting from Ramana, and
I got up early one morning and walked up Arunachala, the sacred mountain there, and listened to
a monk chanting his prayers in a cave on the mountain. And I had this intuition, this impulse to
not walk back down the mountain the way I had come up, instead, I walked down the other
side and I wound up smack in the middle of the market. And there was an elephant in the temple courtyard,
there were vendors selling spices, children running and playing, it was just colors and
sounds and smells, and this profound sense that, “Ah! This was where God was at, in the midst of
the marketplace, in manifestation, in form and embodiment.” And I wound my way from the marketplace back
to the Ashram and I went to the library to look for a book � something on Hinduism
or Buddhism, and instead, what jumped off the shelf was a spine that said, The Mass
on the World, or, The Hymn of the Universe, by Teilhard de Chardin, which included this
piece, The Mass on the World. And I read that and he was singing the song
of an incarnate God, God who was incarnate in the cosmos as matter. And it was the perfect counterbalance to “you
are not the body” that I was getting from Ramana.>>Rick: Yeah. Well this hearkens back to something we were
talking about a few minutes ago, when I asked you whether fundamentalists would agree that
God is omnipresent. If He is omnipresent then we are looking at
Him, as I said in the intro when I read the main points we are going to talk about. And there is that quote from the Gospel of
Thomas: “Come to know what is before your eyes and what is hidden from you will be revealed.” Seems to me that God is not merely transcendent,
because if He is only transcendent then He is not omnipresent. What about all this, you know? [He] must be totally infusing and permeating
and orchestrating, as pure Intelligence, all this as well. So you know, I could say more here but I’ll
let you take it from here.>>Matthew: That’s certainly my sense within
the Christian tradition. The language of incarnation is so central
and Teilhard really beautifully expands that to see cosmic incarnation, that the whole
cosmos is the incarnation of God. And the whole cosmos is actually a deepening,
unfolding, deepening disclosure of the heart of God, that God is longing to come into form
through the world. So, if you imagine God as the ground of all
possibility, unmanifest ground of all possibility, those possibilities want to manifest, the
heart of God wants to unfold and disclose Itself. So the world is that unfolding, and Teilhard
linked that, of course, to an evolutionary worldview that saw that disclosure deepening
through the evolutionary process. And so, in the Christian tradition we can
see Jesus as giving voice to this cosmic incarnation, having this experience “I and the Father are
one.” And then He initiates an unfolding, awakening
body, that body of Christ under submisticly as that unfolding, awakening collective, even
perhaps the unfolding, awakening human family.>>Rick: Here is something I extracted from
something you wrote: “Teilhard” �is that the way it’s pronounced?>>Matthew: “Tay-yard”
>>Rick: Tay-yard … “Tay-yard struck right at the heart of a tension felt by spiritual
seekers throughout history and one that I was certainly feeling” – meaning you, when
you wrote this � “a pull between a spirituality that is all about swimming back upstream to
a rarified nondual awakening, with little relation to the world and the body, and a
spirituality that is about fully embracing life, in form, duality and diversity. These seemingly contradictory upward and downward
currents could be reconciled and united in a forward movement, that of an evolving universe.”>>Matthew: Right, I think that is what we’re
picking up on today, and this also ties into that whole vision of a “second axial age,”
a sort of shift in the spiritual current. In past spiritual generations there has been
a real focus on awakening almost out of the world and out of the body, and a sense that
the spiritual path necessarily leads you away from the body, away from the world. That God is up and the world is down, and
so there is a tension and you have got to choose what you want. Do you want the world or do you want God? And it’s really set up as an either or, and
you see that … I think you see that in some monastic traditions, a real sense of either
or, and you also certainly see it in the maps of the chakra system, where the goal is really
sort of up and out, you want to raise the energy and head out. Whereas with the evolving vision it is not
either or, it is actually the two coming together and moving in a forward motion. So it is more about converging, collapsing
and converging those two poles. And when you think the goal is to get out
of the world, it makes sense that you would want to swim upstream, but when you can link
evolution to that and see that the world itself is actually the deepening disclosure of God,
that God is wanting to unfold Godself evermore, then the goal isn’t “getting out of the world,”
the goal is to actually further unfold the world.>>Rick: Let’s play with this for a few minutes. I mean, one thing is that a lot of these monastic
traditions evolved in a time when a toothache could kill you, you know? It was a rather brutish existence and you
know, living in medieval village as a serf wasn’t really a picnic, and anything you could
do to get out of such an existence might be very alluring. But today things are actually …. the world
has its rough spots for sure, but the quality of life and longevity itself is much greater
than it was back in the day. So there’s that, any comments on that before
I go on?>>Matthew: Just that it makes sense, it makes
sense that when life is rough, when living in the world is very difficult that you would
… you know, our old spiritual traditions are really filled with language of exile,
that we live in exile in the world. Christian tradition sometimes speaks of it
as “a valley of tears,” that we’re “going through this veil of tears,” and those images
of exile have sort of dominated spiritual consciousness. And as conditions of living improve, as you
said, maybe that sense doesn’t have to dominate so much anymore.>>Rick: Yeah. Next point I want to make is, in defense of
the monastic or in defense of withdrawing from the world, I think that periodically,
and I think you would probably agree with this, it could be a good thing. There could be a cycle to one’s life – on
a daily basis, on an annual basis, or whatever – where one has periods of withdrawal, kind
of like … what are the words the Bhagavad Gita uses? The phrase “like a tortoise withdrawing its
limbs into its shell,” you know, withdrawing the sense from their objects, and that sort
of describes meditation in a way. But then in that same book talks about, “Having
done that, coming out again,” and you know, “surcharged with greater energy, intelligence,
and clarity of mind,” and so on. And another analogy might be: if you want
to shoot an arrow to hit a target you don’t just throw it or let it go, you have to pull
it back first and then you can let it go, then it will hit the target. So speak a bit about how it doesn’t have to
be the full dedication of all of one’s life and time, but how periods of withdrawal, either
daily in meditation or annually in retreats or whatever, balanced with life in the world,
can be a nice integration.>>Matthew: Yeah, I think it is utterly central,
as you were saying. The thing that was popping into my mind as
you were talking was the way Shankara sums up the teachings of Advaita, that “The world
is illusion, Brahman alone is real, Brahman is the world.” And so you have to go through the negation
first (the world is illusion) � you negate the world so that you can touch the eternal,
touch the depths, and then you come back around full circle and you affirm the world as the
manifestation of the eternal. And it seems like some spiritual traditions
perhaps stop at the second junction and don’t make it around to the third finally. But I certainly am not against monasticism. I live alongside a community of Benedictine
monks and fully believe in the monastic vocation. And I think for those who are non-monastics,
the gift that monastic communities hold into being … they hold into being places of retreat
that have a rhythm of balanced living, of contemplation, that is so needed. And I think in many ways monastic communities,
they hold models alive that the world as a whole desperately needs. They have preserved the rhythm of prayer,
the rhythm of contemplation, they have preserved “community.” We so much in the world today have lost authentic
community. They have created a balanced way of life that
manifests the conditions that aid awakening and that help deepen and stabilize awakening. Now often monastic communities are celibate
communities and I think that is necessary for the manifestation of that form of life,
you know, that’s one way of being that is supported by celibate life, but we have often
in the past sort of ranked them hierarchically that celibacy is somehow closer to God, because
it is on that model of “up and out,” and I don’t think that’s the case. I would see celibacy as a gift that some people
are called to or given, but it’s not higher or lower in that sense.>>Rick: Yeah. Couple of comments, one is that you quoted
Shankara, and in that tradition there are traditionally considered to be stages of life. And the first stage, the student stage, one
is celibate and one is sort of in a monastic setting up until maybe the age of 25 or so,
just sort of laying a foundation for the rest of one’s life. And then the vast majority would move on to
householder life after that, maybe a smaller percentage would remain monks the rest of
their lives, so it was considered to be a legit and important foundation-building phase
of life. And also another point that came to mind as
you were speaking was, in various traditions � Christian, Buddhist, Hindu – that I can
think of, it’s considered that people who choose to live that life or establish these
monasteries are kind of establishing coherence-generating centers for the rest of the world. And that in a quiet sort of way, maybe in
a cave in the Himalayas, they are actually helping to maintain a much greater degree
of peace and coherence in the world, by their very existence, by the influence they radiate
from that silence.>>Matthew: I think it’s absolutely true. You know, we have thousands of people who
come through Holy Cross Monastery and Retreat each year, and when I first came here, you
know, people talk about the experience. You know, you step on the property and you
feel the calm and the quiet and the coherence, it impacts you. And then you carry a little of bit of that
back into the world with you, so I do think they are sort of powerful generative centers
in that sense. And it’s best in the Christian tradition,
the language of the “Body of Christ,” that there are different gifts, different callings,
whether they be a call to an active life or a contemplative life, but they all ultimately
mutually support and enrich each other. And so for those who aren’t called to be monastics
it’s a huge gift to them that some are, because they hold that, as you called it, “center
of coherence” into being, so that you can come and be refreshed there.>>Rick: Yeah.>>Matthew: So there’s a reciprocal feeding
that happens, because the monks of course are supported by those who come on retreat
and make their lives possible.>>Rick: Yeah. Back when I was your age and for many years,
I taught mediation and I taught a lot of weekend retreats. And sometimes we would have them in hotels
and other times we would have them in like Catholic retreat centers, and I’ll tell you,
the depth of experience that would take place in the Catholic retreat center. You know, the minute you sat down the first
evening for your first meditation or whatever, was generally radically better than you are
going to get in some hotel, where you had to kind of walk through the cocktail lounge
to get to the meeting hall or something.>>Matthew: And I think we feel it whenever
we walk into a church, a temple, a monastery, it is easier to drop in more deeply, more
quickly.>>Rick: Yeah, and it’s interesting to actually
� and we don’t have to dwell on this too long, but it’s interesting to consider why
that is, that there must be something structured in the atmosphere, on a subtle level that
we can’t necessarily see, but something that pervades and is retained, even when the people
are not there. [For example], you walk into a temple in India
where people have been worshipping for thousands of years and there’s something palpable in
the atmosphere that has been established there, in that spot.>>Matthew: Yeah, I think it’s probably a both
and, that yes, there is a sort of resident field of prayer that’s built up, so you step
into that vibration. And then I think also, simply, places of worship,
they usually pay attention to aesthetics, to beauty, to balance. You walk into a space and it’s designed, visually,
to pull you into center.>>Rick: Yeah. While we’re still talking about Teilhard de
Chardin and all, and this “up and out” versus infusing life into the marketplace, into the
active world, I just want to again play devil’s advocate for just one point, which is that,
some people, I’ve seen, take that perspective and use it as justification for what almost
seems like hedonism, you know what I mean?>>Matthew: Oh yeah. It’s sort of an excuse to baptize the impulses
of the ego and say, “Well everything is holy so …”
>>Rick: Yeah, so party on, you know?>>Matthew: Yeah, yeah.>>Rick: So I think it just has to be understood
properly and taken in the right context and all, and not misinterpreted, otherwise it’s
not going to do anybody any good.>>Matthew: Right, right. And that’s again why the traditional systems
are so helpful, because they often have checks and balances in place. You know, you have a guide, you have a mentor,
you have practices you are given, so that you are learning to deepen and embody and
carry that into the world. But certainly I think it’s important to uplift
the traditional stages that it is: first “the world is illusion, only God is real,” and
then finally you can come around to “God is the world.” But if you start with “God is the world,”
it can just give the ego an excuse to do whatever it wants, you know, “… everything is holy,
I’ll do whatever I want … everything is good,” and you can actually be damaging and
harming and hurting people along the way. So some degree of purification is necessary,
and that’s what you were talking about, that you’ve got to pull the bow back first, so
some kind of practice that is doing that work has to be a part of the picture.>>Rick: Yeah, and this is not a trivial point. I don’t know about you but I run into this
fairly often, where people are using this notion that “ultimately we’re all enlightened,”
and you know, “the world is an illusion,” or this and that, to justify all kinds of
egregious behavior, misbehavior, that is harming themselves and others. And you know, it might take them a while to
realize that but it’s an important point.>>Matthew: Right, and this is one of the reasons
I think it is actually helpful in the Christian tradition, that there’s not been much language
of “enlightenment” actually. It is easy to think of enlightenment as a
goal, something that the ego wants to latch onto and make a possession. And the Christian path is pretty much, universally,
as you sort of trace the various lineages, talks more about what a lot of teachers today
are starting to call “heartfulness.” You know, we often talk about “mindfulness,”
and the flavor of the Christian contemplative path is much more heart-centered, heartfulness
… not to oppose mind to heart, you know, we can talk about heart-mind. But when you read writings of let’s say the
early Desert Fathers and Mothers up through Russian Orthodox lineages that practice Prayer
of the Heart, it’s always this language of “drawing the heart into the mind,” “anchoring
awareness in the heart,” cultivating qualities like humility, genteelness, surrender, and
there’s actually not much talk of a goal of enlightenment, it is just the talk of the
work of cultivating the heart. And it seems to me that there’s some real
wisdom in that, some skillful means in that, because as you cultivate the heart and the
qualities of the heart, you ready … you create a ground that can then hold awakening
in a stable way, so that you don’t just have an awakening experience but it’s not grounded
in your being, so that then you just fall back into your egoic impulse of self and it
thinks that its awake because you had some unitive experience, you know, “You had a touch
of oneness and therefore I’m enlightened.” So instead, focusing on cultivating humility,
simplicity, love, gentleness, you just slowly walk your way into awakening, without perhaps
ever even noticing it.>>Rick: So do you think that Christianity
focused on the heart, or focuses on the heart the way you just described instead of enlightenment,
because it wasn’t understood that there is such a thing as enlightenment, or … which
sometimes you get that sense because you don’t find a whole lot of references to it, and
in that sense the Eastern traditions have a sort of advantage or are more mature in
some way? Or, do you think it’s because of the things
you just said, where one can kind of try to leapfrog to this state of finality without
having actually laid the foundation for it and cultured the heart, and cultured the qualities
that, in my opinion, enlightenment should actually include, and you actually dumb it
down if you don’t include those developments and those qualities of the heart and so on?>>Matthew: You know, who knows what really
happened, what led traditions to develop one way or the other. And certainly maybe it would have been helpful
over the centuries to have had language of “enlightenment” within the Christian Church,
it didn’t develop in that way. I don’t want to get into of course, as “this
one gets it better than that one,” but I do think there’s a mutual sort of gifting back
and forth across traditions that is happening today, where they can better hone their understandings
of spiritual experiences through that dialogue and through sharing language back and forth.>>Rick: Also let me just throw in here real
quick that if people like St. Teresa, and St. John of the Cross, and St. Joseph of Cupertino
and people like that weren’t enlightened, then I don’t know who was, you know?>>Matthew: Right, right, right. And I think there’s just great wisdom in the
way the tradition has framed that. In the Benedictine lineage, in most Christian
lineages, it’s framed around the language of humility. You are really cultivating humility and that
cultivation readies the heart to hold awakening. And I think today the language we might use
is the language we get from Ken Wilber about “states verses stages,” and that at any point
in your spiritual development you might experience a high spiritual “state,” you know, you might
have a unitive experience, an awakening experience, but it’s just a glimpse, it’s not actually
grounded in your being. And a “stage” is when you are actually living
stably from that awakening. And it’s nice to have the language of awakening,
that you know that there’s a goal that you are walking towards, but it seems to me almost
more important to have the path rather than the goal, because the path prepares the ground
for the goal to arrive in.>>Rick: Yeah, very important I think, and
I can think of any number of teachers – parroting them a little bit – who got up and said, “Boy,
am I enlightened. I’m about as enlightened as it’s ever going
to get. Follow me, I’m the cat’s meow,” and so glaringly
lacking in humility, and usually resulting in some kind of crash and burn situation,
eventually.>>Matthew: And they may have had some very
profound and authentic state experience of awakening that then the ego latched onto,
and the ego identified itself as “the enlightened one.”>>Rick: Well that’s actually a little point
that might be worth exploring for a few minutes … that syndrome, that tendency of the ego
latching on to a state or experience and you know, becoming aggrandized through that, and
what sort of safeguards you have seen in Christianity or in your own experience, or that you would
recommend to prevent that from happening.>>Matthew: Well you know, I think having spiritual
elders and mentors in your life is … you can’t underestimate the importance of that,
having someone. But also not turning them into gurus, realizing
they still have personalities, but having someone who can kind of help guide you and
help see when you’re stepping off the path a little bit. And again, I think the traditional religious
frameworks are helpful in this regard because they give a balanced system, so when you look
at the way something like Buddhism has come to the West, we often think of Buddhism purely
as meditation practice. And we often interpret that through psychological,
psychotherapeutic categories in the West, but of course in the traditional Buddhist
society, Buddhism a lot more than just meditation practice. It is also devotional practice, it is sutra
chanting, [if] you go to a traditional Zen center you’re going to see bows and prostrations
happening, all of those elements are in place – the contemplative piece, the devotional
piece, the embodied piece, the mentor piece, the community piece. And when you have all that in place, there
are a lot of safeguards there. If you start going off this way you’re going
to get bumped back, if you go that way, something over here is going to bump you back. When we try to go it alone we often don’t
have that system and those checks and balances in place to knock us back on track. One of the things that I think is so important
and that I use to write-off is devotional practice, particularly for those of us who
are drawn to a more nondual, kind of unitive understanding of awakening, of reality, a
devotional practice can seem dualistic and dumbed-down. You know, if you have a God you’re devoted
to, it’s external and it’s ultimately a distraction, you know, you’ve got to get rid of that! But I think actually those devotional practices
are one of the most skillful means into a more unitive awakening because they help cultivate
the qualities necessary for that awakening. So you have a focal point � be it Jesus,
be it Ramakrishna, be it “God is the Lover, the Beloved” � that you cultivate your heart
in relation to. You’re cultivating love, cultivating devotion,
and that cultivation can give way into that experience where lover and Beloved merge into
oneness. And so devotional practices are actually a
really quick way, I think, to rewire our consciousness towards the unitive, if the devotional practice
is held against a more unitive backdrop, a unitive understanding, so that we don’t just
brush them aside, brush devotional practices aside. The contemplative and devotional together
I think form a balance.>>Rick: You might like a quote from Shankara,
he said, “The intellect imagines duality for the sake of devotion.” And he himself was very devotional and wrote
beautiful devotional hymns. Ramana was very devotional, Nisargadatta was,
Anandamayi Ma, just any of these sort of profoundly unity-consciousness sages that we care to
mention, if we look at their lives, they were very devotional … post unity, not just pre-unity. But it is something that they continued to
engage in, both spontaneously and intentionally, as some form of practice … singing pujas
and doing worship of various sorts for the sake of devotion, to quote Shankara again. So I guess the question is: what is it about
devotion that one would want to keep doing that? And I can come up with several answers but
I’ll swing it back to you.>>Matthew: Hmm, you know I almost said, because
it’s fun!>>Rick: Yeah! That would be one of my things … because
it feels good!>>Matthew: Yeah, just because it feels good. You know, I remember early on discovering
nondual teachings and really losing a sense of “personal God.” It no longer made any sense to me, I didn’t
know how to work with that, how to use it, it did seem simplistic or dumb. And it was really encountering voices like
Ramakrishna, who had profound nondual unitive experiences but then also was deeply devoted
to the Mother, to the goddess Kali. Rumi, again, profound oneness experience but
also delighting in the language of the lover and the Beloved, and I realized, you can have
both! You can have both of these. And the place I think I’ve come to increasingly
now with it is that, you can have devotion that isn’t dualistic, that entering into the
ground of your own heart there is an infinite, objectless tenderness and intimacy that is
hard to call anything other than “Thou,” but it’s not separate from you. It is the ground of your own heart, you are
it, you can also be “in love” with it, it’s a field of infinite relationality that can
hold the dance of oneness and twoness and you know, all of it.>>Rick: Well I think oneness and twoness can
coexist simultaneously without any conflict, you know?>>Matthew: There’s a line in the Gospel of
Thomas and I’m not going to quote it exactly right, but Jesus says, “In the beginning you
were one, now that you have become two, what will you do?” What will you do? And I hear in there an invitation to delight
in the twoness of things, held against the oneness of things. And devotion seems to be a really great way
to awaken the qualities of the heart, like love and compassion and mercy.>>Rick: Yeah, which would be my second point
besides that it feels good, and I’ll quote you here, you said, “The �other’ is used
as a focus for cultivating qualities in our own heart. As we reverence the sweetness of Mary for
instance, if Mary is our object of devotion, slowly, slowly we take on that sweetness. So the objects of devotion we choose matter,
they are what we will become.”>>Matthew: I forgot writing that. I like that, that sounds good. Who wrote that?! That was great. Yes, yeah. You know, the qualities we want to cultivate
in our own hearts, we should look for them in our devotional focus points. And if we see a lack in ourselves, if we see
that we need to cultivate more gentleness or more sweetness, to have a devotional focal
point that itself embodies those qualities, and as you offer the devotion or reverence
to that you begin cultivating those qualities in yourself. If on the other side perhaps you are too gentle
and sweet and you need some fierceness, maybe you want Kali as a focal point. But that our objects of devotion do matter,
because what we give our devotion to we will become.>>Rick: Yeah, that to which you give your
attention grows stronger in your life.>>Matthew: Right.>>Rick: And one point I would throw in here
is that, I think that there is a never-ending possibility for further refinement and subtlety,
and maybe �divinization’ would be a good word here. So ever if we were profoundly established
in a unitive state, there is no end of possible refinement of the senses, the heart, just
all the various facets of our … this instrument with which we have been gifted. And devotion is perhaps one of the most efficacious
ways of bringing about that continuing refinement.>>Matthew: And again the question of, why
is the world even here? So that those qualities can come into manifestation,
so that those names of God can be spoken into being. You know, what is love as a potential that
exists in the unmanifest ground of being? What is beauty, what is joy? It seems to me that there are certain qualities
of love, of beauty, of joy, that really only take on meaning in manifestation, and that
those potentialities, they long to be expressed. And that like you said, the expression and
the refinement of those expressions is potentially infinite, which is why I imagine cosmos upon
cosmos will continue unfolding forever, because the ground of being itself is infinite and
therefore the possible expressions are infinite.>>Rick: That’s nice. I am one, may have become many. You know, if you’re lying in a bathtub and
you’ve been lying there for a while, lying quietly and still you don’t feel the warmth
anymore. But if you slosh around a little bit you feel,
“Ah, this feels good, it feels warm.” So it’s like God is kind of sloshing around
here, in the universe, by creating this manifest world and entering into it and playing within
it and so on. Just a thought.>>Matthew: Right, and awakening evermore deeply
as it. And as our species continues, God willing,
to evolve, we have the potential to refine and deepen that expression of these qualities,
of love and beauty and delight and joy and compassion. So that’s the trajectory in an evolutionary
model, you know, it is not to get out of the world so that you can get to the beauty of
God, it’s to get more deeply into the world so that you can carry that forward.>>Rick: Yeah. Okay, so we’ve touched upon a few things here. We’ve talked a little bit about Teilhard de
Chardin, we’ve talked about “second axial age” a little bit, we talked about devotion. Before we move on to anything else � and
we kind of ploughed through those things � are there any bits and pieces in those areas that
we haven’t discussed that you’d like to hash out?>>Matthew: We didn’t really say too much about
what the idea of a second axial age is. Do you think that’s something people would
be interested in?>>Rick: Yeah, let’s get into that, I found
your talk on that to be very inspiring at the SAND Conference, let’s get into that.>>Matthew: The idea of an �axial age’ came
from a German philosopher, Karl Jaspers. He posited that sort of roughly between 800
and 200 B.C.E. there was this window of time when the headwaters of all the existing religious
traditions began forming, pretty much independently around the world. You had Confucius teaching in China, you had
Lao Tzu teaching the Way of the Tao, you had the seers of the Upanishads, the Greek philosophers,
the Hebrew prophets, all this sort of going on at the same time. And the idea is that with that there was a
shift that happened in spiritual understanding, that before this sort of axial age, human
spirituality had been really deeply grounded in the earth, in cycles and seasons of nature,
and that our identity was really rooted in a sense of tribe, of collective, and that
tat tribal, collective identity took precedence over my individual identity. And with the axial shift all that sort of
broke open and we started looking for a transcendent God. That is when spirituality started developing
as a path of ascent, that’s when we started getting the “up and out of the world.” And we also started losing our ties to the
earth and the way of the individual started opening up. And you[could now] break ties with the earth
family, you could go off into the forest, you could leave your tribal gods like Abraham
and Sarah did, or like the Buddha left his wife and child in the palace to go search
for enlightenment. And the idea is that model has been driving
human spirituality, largely, the last couple thousand years or so. And that now as we are entering into this
global era with an evolutionary understanding, it is all shifting again. And we’re picking up, essentially, everything
that we lost in the first axial shift. That connection to the earth, that sense of
collective identity, all that is coming up but not at the tribal level; now it’s coming
back at the global level, and in the process we’re not losing everything we’ve gained [from]
the focus on the individual and the transcendent. Now we can actually tie the two together,
we can sort of wed the imminent and the transcendent, spirit and body, heaven and earth, and again,
in that evolutionary model, that it is all driving somewhere. So that’s the sort of basic framework of what
the second axial age is. And I think the really cool thing there is
that we’ve often lumped all the religions in as “first axial religions,” but when you
start looking at them, you see threads of second axial understanding growing in all
of them. In Buddhism with the Mahayana vow � I’m
sorry, the Bodhisattva vow in Mahayana Buddhism � the model shifts from “my personal enlightenment
and attaining nirvana” to foreswearing your final liberation so that you can work for
collective awakening. So the model shifts, it’s not “up and out;
it’s belonging to the phenomenal world and working for the awakening of all of us together. And I think you could see the emergence of
Jesus, see Him as an Initiator of second axial consciousness. You could see the same thing happening in
Islam.>>Rick: Yeah. One thing I think about when I think about
the Bodhisattva vow is that from the perspective of “I am me, I am this individuality and it
sucks, it is suffering, and I just want to merge into the ocean of consciousness and
be gone,” it’s sort of a very individual perspective, whereas the Bodhisattva perspective is more
like, “My individuality, such as it is, is a tool of the Divine. And I am happy to not destroy the tool, not
dissolve the tool, but have it continue as long as the Divine wishes to use it as an
instrument for good in the world, for the upliftment of the world,” and so on. To me it seems like a less selfish, more surrendered
kind of perspective.>>Matthew: Right, it makes sense to me that
it’s no longer about “my awakening,” [but] it’s surrendering yourself into, again, cosmic
servanthood: take this, use this, for the awakening of all. And there may still be a bit of the first
axial map embedded in that, because the goal is still the awakening and liberation of all
beings. It’s almost “I’m going to hang around so I
can help everyone get up and out,” is sometimes perhaps the undercurrent there. But to see it instead so we can awaken collectively
to further evolve the world together,>>Rick: Yeah, you could sort of think as a
Bodhisattva not as “I’m going to help everybody get up and out,” but “I’m going to help make
this a heaven on earth, which will continue to be an earth, but a heavenly one.”>>Matthew: Right, and that’s again the marrying
of the two, bringing them together.>>Rick: Yeah, so if the second axial age is
just dawning, kind of, where do you think it might be in 500 or 1,000 years from now,
if it really fully blossomed?>>Matthew: Well I guess the exciting thing
is that we don’t know. We are always stepping forward into mystery,
but if, ideally, more human beings are awakening together, spiritual consciousness is taking
a greater hold, more people are living and seeing from a place of unitive experience
… Teilhard, he sort of saw it as … let me think how he did this. He said [that] we’re moving out of … that
evolution up to this point has followed a process of divergence. And so as humanity fanned out around the planet
we evolved divergent cultures, divergent languages, but because of the limited spherical surface
area of the planet, eventually the process of convergence would happen, that we’re essentially
at the beginning of that global convergence right now. So one would hope that it would be a movement
towards greater peace, greater harmony, working together as a global collective … and we
know that we have enough planetary resources to end world hunger if we chose to organize
as a global collective, rather than to continue thinking in tribal-national terms.>>Rick: Yeah, like “let’s build walls.” I actually ended up extracting that bit from
your writing, he said, “Divergence would reach an end point and a second phase of evolution
would begin: convergence. Convergence of diverse peoples, cultures,
and religions would result in the emergence of a global consciousness and what Teilhard
called �creative unions,’ new arrangements of higher-order complexity that would bring
in entirely new and unprecedented evolutionary tiers into being.” So that would, to my mind, that would sort
of mean like, you know, look at old Start Trek episodes when the world wasn’t fragmented
into all separate countries; it was one harmonious whole. And then what we could even, to get a little
more science-fictiony, we could sort of take it out into even larger wholes because obviously
we probably live in a universe teaming with life, and we don’t really deserve to belong
to any larger collective as long as we haven’t even achieved any sort of unity here on our
little planet.>>Matthew: Right, so for Teilhard, a creative
union opened a new evolutionary playing field. So every time a creative union happened, a
new possibility, a new tier was opened in evolution. So it starts with atoms joining together into
molecules, and an atom gives up something of its autonomy to create a higher level,
higher order of complexity in a molecule. Now, atoms in a molecule don’t merge into
sameness, it’s not that now they’re all the same, you still have two H’s and an O in water,
but the autonomy is given up for that higher order to emerge. And this is what turned Teilhard off to some
forms of what he would have called “Eastern mysticism,” that saw the mystical journey
as sort of returning to an uncarved block, returning to a primordial oneness, an undifferentiated
primordial oneness, he instead wanted us to move forward to a fully differentiated oneness. Can we achieve oneness that is diverse and
yet unified, as opposed to erasing diversity and differentiation into the primordial soup? So he imagined that the juncture we’re at
now is we’re being offered the opportunity to open a new evolutionary playing field,
through creative union at the next level and it is through a union of human intelligences. We’ve grown accustomed to looking for evolution
in what he called the “biosphere,” in the sphere of organic life, but the next leap
he says is actually what he calls the “noosphere” � from the Greek “nous” for consciousness,
it is evolution in consciousness, that’s the next step. And so we won’t reach unity through a merging
of physical bodies; it will be a merging in consciousness and those qualities like love,
and will, that we have to come together at that level and form a new higher-order being,
is the language that we will become a single being, a single organism in a way. And he imagined that as the mystical body
of Christ, as the human family working together as a single mystical body, in which diversity
and differentiation is maintained. Again, it’s not that we’re going to lose all
of our diversity and differentiation and melt into a soup; we’re going to find unity within
and through that.>>Rick: Nice. Since we’re in a hot political season right
now, we don’t have to get into the specifics, but it’s interesting to evaluate the various
political stances and candidates in light of what you just said, you know, are they
into divisiveness and isolationism and not caring about what our neighbors are experiencing
or deprived of, or are they into sort of into helping everyone achieve some kind of quality
of life and happiness, and so on?>>Matthew: And when you look at the candidates
that are into divisiveness and into, sort of, nationalism, the impulses that are motivating
that are often fear, they are working with and manipulating fear. And we know that contemplative practice actually
has the possibility to evolve consciousness, evolve our minds. You know, when neuroscience looks at what
contemplative practice does … very often we sort of operate on autopilot, so some experience
comes into our reality, into our field of perception, and very often we move into the
least of all, lowest part of our brain, our sort of lizard, reptilian brain governs our
fight or flight responses, it’s all fear-based response. Contemplative practice actually creates enough
inner spaciousness so that when a stimuli comes into your field of experience, rather
than immediately routing that through and interpreting it through your lizard brain,
it can actually be routed through the higher, more evolved parts of your brain; through
your prefrontal lobes, through your neocortex. And it opens you to capacity for creative
intelligence that isn’t accessible to you when you are operating out of fear. And so anytime I see a political candidate
using fear, I think they are essentially trying to devolve us or limit our evolutionary capacity.>>Rick: Yeah. There’s actually physiological research on
that sort of thing with meditators, showing that experienced meditators are much less
reactive, as measured by things like galvanic skin response, to stressful stimuli. And that also was … you know, the whole
PTSD thing is such an issue these days, where peoples’ nervous systems have been so stressed
by traumatic situations, that they remain in that state of fight or flight and the whole
biochemistry is always upset, and they are so easily triggered by this or that. And that can all be kind of reversed and healed
through contemplative practice, as you would put it, or various meditative practices.>>Matthew: Right, and perhaps it is helpful
to not think of contemplative only as sitting cross-legged on a cushion, but there are lots
of practices and experiences that can cultivate contemplative awareness and spaciousness,
whether it is a daily 20 minute sit or taking a walk in nature. I remember hearing Richard Rohr, a Franciscan
priest, once saying when he was asked, if he could recommend one practice from his tradition
and only one, what would he recommend. And he said, “Spend long periods of time in
nature,” you know, that being in nature has a way of slowing and stilling … so, anyway. So “contemplative” can look like different
kinds of things.>>Rick: Yeah, and interesting also that certain
political factions would tend to want to commercialize nature and destroy it in various ways for
short-term gain, which again makes it seem like they are trying to devolve us.>>Matthew: Mm-hm. So right, so the question, I think, when we’re
voting or doing anything else is: Where is fear? Where is the movement back towards tribalism? And, where is love and a movement towards
a more universal appreciation of the human family?>>Rick: Yeah, because that’s where it is heading
I think, by hook or by crook. I mean, if it doesn’t end up there then we
may exterminate ourselves as a species …>>Matthew: Right, which would be just fine!>>Rick: Yeah, the world will do fine and the
universe will do fine … and we will do fine because we will probably get incarnated somewhere
else but, we have got a pretty good situation here, it would be nice to kind of you know,
keep it going …>>Matthew: It’s taken millions of years for
the human species to reach the point … billions of years, if we start with the explosion of
this universe into being, for us to reach this point in our evolution, to have the capacity
to disclose the Divine qualities that we have, the ability to manifest beauty and love that
we are capable of manifesting. So it would be a huge shame to cut this experiment
short and not refine further, to not deepen it more. But, should we cut the experiment short, the
heart of God will go on disclosing Itself, evolution will pick up with the next species,
and another world somewhere else is unfolding another reality. So yes, we shouldn’t take ourselves too seriously
that we are the end-all-be-all of the universe, but we should also take ourselves seriously,
that we don’t want to waste what it has taken the universe billions of years to arrive at
through us.>>Rick: Yeah, good point, I agree. God has a lot invested in this, in this little
corner of things. Now here is an abrupt segue for you. It’s funny you know, and this doesn’t happen
too often anymore, but in the past when I was accosted by fundamentalists, I would start
talking astronomy to them. I would start talking about how big the universe
is and how the evidence that there is life elsewhere is pretty clear, and how if Jesus
is the only way, what about all these other places? Is He on tour? Does He spend 33 years on each of these other
inhabited places? But there are probably billions of them, and
if there are billions of them and the world is only 6,000 years old, how does He do it? It’s like, how does Santa Claus get everywhere
on Christmas Eve? So do you ever still run into that mindset,
and how do you deal with it? {Matthew is interrupted by a knock on the
door}>>Matthew: NO, no, it’s a neighbor dropping
something off … thanks ….>>Rick: Oh, hi neighbor.>>Matthew: So the sort of sense of Christian
exclusivity, that’s what you’re getting at?>>Rick: Yeah, which is not exclusive to Christians,
I mean, there seems to be a certain mindset in every religion, of that nature. No so much Hinduism because they’re sort of
like, “Oh, okay, everybody is a Hindu, ultimately.”>>Matthew: No, but, but, even in Hinduism
you get fundamentalism …>>Rick: Yeah, yeah, you do.>>Matthew: You get it everywhere, it’s just
part of human nature it seems. And of course there are ways to interpret
those Verses within the Christian tradition, the Verses you can use …
>>Rick: Like, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through
Me.” (John 14:6) How would you interpret that one?>>Matthew: You can use it in the most limited,
exclusive way, or you can hear it as the most universal statement, you know, that anyone
who is coming to God, in whatever way, they are coming through Me because I am in all
ways. If you hear that as the way the Gospel of
John opens, “In the beginning was the word,” the logos, it’s this universal, cosmic reality
that is one with God, through which God creates the worlds and interfaces with the worlds,
and if Jesus is speaking with that cosmic voice, you know, you can’t hear it exclusively.>>Rick: Which He often did, I mean, wasn’t
that that thing … “Before Abraham was, I am?” or something …
>>Matthew: Yeah.>>Rick: Yeah, that kind of thing.>>Matthew: And these are all lines from the
Gospel of John, which New Testament scholars would tell us is the latest of the four Canonical
Gospels to be written, so the words here are probably not the words of the historical Jesus. Jesus probably didn’t go around speaking in
these lofty, sort of declarative statements, “I am this,” and “I am that;” that language
isn’t present in Matthew, Mark, or Luke. So it is probably better to see John as this
sort of poetic rumination on the meaning of Jesus for the Christian community, that early
Christians said, “In Him we have found the way, the truth, and the life. In Him we have found the true vine and bread
from heaven.” But, those statements, again, even if we believe
they were literally spoken by Jesus, I think the call is to hear them in the most universal,
inclusive way possible, which I think is the call for all our religious traditions now. What is the most universal, inclusive, and
beautiful vision of our traditions that we can each step up and offer to the world? Because again, I think the traditions are
needed, their treasures are needed, and so how can we offer them in the most all-encompassing
way, because that’s the only way forward.>>Rick: Yeah, nice. Well this actually sort of segues into another
thing I have in my notes here, which is the whole notion of “belief versus experience.” You hear religious people saying, “Well I
believe this and I believe that,” and someone might say to you or say to me, “What do you
believe?” And my answer would be, “You know, it doesn’t
really matter what I believe, it matters what I experience, and if I experience it then
I believe it.” Which is not to say I don’t believe in certain
things I haven’t yet experienced … I’ve been talking about alien civilizations in
this conversation � I believe they’re out there, I haven’t experienced them. But ultimately, when it comes to spiritual
matters, in my opinion, it’s really about experiencing it, you know? You can stand on the sidewalk and believe
that the food in a restaurant is really delicious, but you’re going to starve to death if you
don’t go in there and eat it.>>Matthew: Right, and this understanding,
what you’re talking about as “experience,” is much closer to the early Christian conception
of “belief.” So in the Nicaean Creed that Christians recite
week after week in congregational worship, Creed, from �credo,’ comes from the same
word as �cardia,’ which is �heart,’ and it was understood to mean, “I give my heart
to.” Belief was something that involved your whole
self. Post-Western, European, rational enlightenment
belief has become something that is cognitive and intellectual, it is all about intellectual
ascent. I think belief in the early centuries of the
Christian Church was about practice, it was about giving yourself, it was about experiencing,
and it is only in the last few hundred years that we have actually divorced into this very
cognitive, mental based kind of thing.>>Rick: And it’s interesting, you mentioned
fear earlier, and it almost seems that there’s a fear associated with this cognitive, mental
sort of thing where you know, “If you don’t believe this, you’re going to be in big trouble. You better believe this.”>>Matthew: Right, “We’ve got to protect the
truth, we’ve got to guard the truth and we’ve got to protect it.”>>Rick: Right, “Don’t read books, don’t listen
to these other people; it’s the devil trying to get you!”>>Matthew: Right, right. I remember the old saying that, “Belief clings
while faith lets go,” and I think there is perhaps some truth in that. Belief, at least when we understood belief
in this type – in the cognitive, protective kind of sense � that belief has to clutch
and grab onto something, while as faith is really this open stance, opening to the universe,
surrendering to what is.>>Rick: Yeah, and if you think about what
Jesus was, who He was, or Buddha, or any of these great teachers, it’s not that they were
just guys who had these tremendous beliefs and they were really gung-ho about these beliefs;
they were guys who were living a very profound level of experience, you know?>>Matthew: Right, and calling people into
their experience, calling people to participate in that reality that they were embodying themselves.>>Rick: Yeah, and …
>>Matthew: And that seems pretty evident when you read the Gospels or the teachings of the
Buddha.>>Rick: Yeah, and I mean if Jesus said, “Well,
if you believe this then such and such will happen,” then I don’t think he was saying
that it’s adequate just to believe it, but rather that belief is maybe the first step. You know, if I believe that … I don’t know
… that there’s a road that will take me to California, then great, but that doesn’t
mean I’m in California; it means I can confidently get on this road and start driving and I’ll
end up in California. So it’s like He was offering a promise or
a vision of what might be if you … “Okay, believe what I’m saying folks, but now embark
on the journey to experience it.”>>Matthew: Right. We have to place our trust in something [in
order] to move forward. So if we’re going to take on a practice without
yet knowing what the fruits of that practice are, you know, we need to trust that the practice
is efficacious so that we will actually give ourselves to it, and that trust usually comes
from having seen the fruits of the practice in the one who gives you the practice. So if Jesus says, “Do this,” and you see the
fruits of mercy, gentleness, love, compassion embodied in His being, then you think, “Okay,
I will do that because looks like it works!”>>Rick: Worked for Him!>>Matthew: Right.>>Rick: And He said, “You shall know them
by their fruit.” (Matthew 7:16)
>>Matthew: Right, whereas we have turned Christianity often into not, “Place your trust in this
and then set your foot on the path and walk and embody it,” but into, “Believe this! Here is the Nicaean Creed checklist, believe
this, and then that’s it, you’re done!”>>Rick: Yeah, and you know, not to pontificate
too much, but I’ve often thought that the reason fundamentalists get so defensive is
that they don’t actually believe the things that they are supposed to believe, because
they don’t have an experiential foundation to their belief, so they’re kind of on real
shaky ground. And a lot of things can seem very threatening
to beliefs that are just hanging in the air without a foundation.>>Matthew: And you know, this is the situation
that I think so much of Christianity has found itself in post-modernity. And one of the reasons I think that fundamentalists
are compelling to a lot of people, why they still do draw in numbers, is because often,
real progressive, liberal forms of Christianity tend to water our narrative down because we
want to be inclusive, we’re a little embarrassed about our past and our exclusivity and colonialism,
so we kind of …>>Rick: The Inquisition.>>Matthew: Right, the Inquisition. So we tend to water the whole thing down and
actually what is left isn’t all that compelling or forceful, whereas the fundamentalists,
they have a really compelling narrative. And if you are able to step into its confines,
it explains everything, it gives you black and white answers, but it’s at the cost of
forfeiting everything we’ve learned over the past century or so; you have to give up all
that information. And that is why someone like Teilhard de Chardin
is so helpful – he steps into a traditional religious system, he doesn’t water down the
dogma or the doctrine. Instead, he looks at it anew, within an evolutionary
context, and he sort of links it up to that, so that it carries forward. And I think that’s … instead of throwing
out the religions, we need people with second axial consciousness to step into the religions
and take their treasures and resources and carry them forward in a second axial way,
rather than take them backwards into the fundamentalist roadmap or just throw them away altogether.>>Rick: Yeah. Henry David Thoreau said something like, “It’s
okay to have castles in the air, that’s where they belong. Just put foundations under them.” So you don’t have to water it down, I mean,
all the most marvelous aspects of the traditions can be taken seriously and literally and it’s
very profound and inspiring. But there really needs to be a foundation,
and I would say the foundation is to actually experience what these guys were talking about
when they … you know, all the things they said. To have it be a living reality rather than,
as you said, an intellectual, conceptual reality.>>Matthew: And Christianity somewhere along
the way installed the glass ceiling in relation to what is allowed for the individual Christian
to experience. So you have Jesus in the Gospel of John praying
something like � and again, are these the words of the historical Jesus or later Christian
reflection? Either way, you have Him saying things like,
“I and the Father (I and God) are one,” and then He goes right on to pray, “May they all
be one, as You and I are one.” And so there’s a call for the whole body of
Christ, the whole community of believers, to step experientially into that oneness. “May they all be one just as I am one with
God.” But very quickly Christians sort of drew the
line and said, “We will let Jesus say that, but no one else can say it!” And so we sort of isolate that experience,
put it on a pedestal, let Him experience it, and then we stop stepping into the experience
ourselves.>>Rick: Yeah, “We’re all poor miserable sinners,
and that’s what we’re all ever going to be.”>>Matthew: Right, right, and so we negate
all these prayers. You know, it’s St. Paul who says, “Put on
the mind of Christ,” and Jesus who says, “May they all be one, as I and God are one,” there’s
a clear call to step experientially into the consciousness of Jesus’s own lived experience.>>Rick: So the fundamentalists just kind of
cherry-pick and ignore the things you’re just quoting?>>Matthew: Well everybody cherry-picks, fundamentalist
or otherwise.>>Rick: I guess we’re cherry-picking here
too.>>Matthew: Right, right, and you take your
framework and then you read things through the limitation of the narrative that you impose
on it. So if you start with the fundamentalist framework
and narrative, you’re going to try to read everything in that light, if you start with
the contemplative, progressive, evolutionary framework and narrative, [then] you’re going
to read it in that light.>>Rick: Yeah, okay. Alrighty. Now another thing you talked quite a bit about
in your … and feel free you know, anything that comes to mind, just jump in, because
we don’t have to stay on a rigid path here. But another thing you talked about quite a
bit is “the Divine feminine, the Mother, she who is, this is her time that she is coming
forward in the spiritual landscape and that we must work to honor and cultivate her presence.” Let me read a little bit more here. “What is wisdom?” � I think this was from The Wisdom of Solomon
� “she is the mobility of movement, she is the transparent nothing that pervades all
things, she is the breath of God, a clear emanation of Divine glory. Although she is one she does all things. Without leaving herself she renews all things.” A bit more here … “Early 18th Century Roman
Catholic Saint, Louis de Montfort believed that for the fullness of Christ to come into
our world, Mary must shine forth more than ever in mercy, power, and grace. Indeed, whether we call her Mary, Tara” � this
is your writing now � “whether we call her Mary, Tara, Kwan Yin, Kali, or Sophia, the
time of the Mother is upon us.” Let’s talk about that a little bit.>>Matthew: You know part of it I think has
to do with the second axial map we were working with, that in pre-axial spirituality there
was a strong sense of the feminine, and of the earth, and of the mother, and then in
post-axial spirituality there was much more emphasis on the transcendent, on “God as Father,”
and the emergence of the patriarchal cultures that have really dominated the world for the
last few thousand years. And now as we sort of turn the spiral again,
we’re waking back up the feminine. But I almost think that it’s not helpful … there’s
sort of two lines of development here: we have uplift the feminine which has been suppressed,
but we also I think, at the same time, have to move beyond the binary altogether, because
it’s period of integration. And so it’s not now an “age of the feminine
trumps the age of the masculine,” instead we need an integration that moves beyond binary
identities.>>Rick: It was kind of like you were saying
earlier, each new teaching and teacher is building upon … it’s like, who was it … Newton
said he stood up on the shoulders of giants, so we’re building upon the previous things,
not wiping them away and starting afresh.>>Matthew: Right. So reclaiming the feminine, reclaiming the
earth, reclaiming the Mother, all that seems important, but if we just focus there, I think
we miss the point and we stay stuck in binaries. And it seems to me that just the concept of
“masculine or feminine” as sort of archetypal, this sort of essentialist conception of the
masculine and feminine, but it is actually deeply problematic because it is so culturally
constructed. What is feminine or what is masculine varies
from culture to culture, and so to uplift one set of qualities as the archetypal feminine,
well, it’s just not true, or it’s culturally relative, in that sense. And I think, ideally we’re moving into in
era in which we don’t see people as masculine or feminine; we see each individual as a unique
combination of human qualities, moving away from binary gender identities. This is one of the great things that is happening
because of awareness around gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender minorities, that they
are helping break us out of binary thinking altogether. And I think when I was writing using that
language even of “uplifting the feminine,” I honor what said there but I also think we
have to go beyond that.>>Rick: So just to have you elaborate a little
more … you hear a lot these days about the Divine feminine and maybe you could just elaborate
a bit more about what that actually means, and what impact the enlivenment of it might
be having or might have on our world.>>Matthew: Well on one level we’re talking
about not the suppression of the feminine, but the suppression and the oppression of
women. And we can talk about uplifting women, to
fall into then gender language of feminine and masculine, it seems to reinforce culturally
constructed ideas of what those are, and that woman is feminine and that, you know ….
I think that whole gendered, binary language is problematic, but to say that there are
qualities that perhaps culturally we have associated as feminine that have been suppressed,
that we want to raise those up, is important. Does that follow?>>Rick: I it kind of does, and I don’t think
you are suggesting that in an enlightened world we would all be androgynous, although
I’ve heard of esoteric, woo-woo people saying there are planets where that’s the way it
is, and so on and so forth.>>Matthew: Right, I think we would all be
our utterly unique selves, you know, everyone a unique expression, everyone a unique combination
of these qualities that we might call “masculine” or “feminine,” that they manifest in different
degrees and combinations in every person, but that there’s not perhaps an “ideal.” We often talk about sort of moving towards
a kind of balanced, integrated equilibrium of these qualities, which seems like an erasure
of diversity, that everyone is supposed to come to a sameness, whereas I would rather
us celebrate the diverse range of human qualities in all their combinations and possibilities.>>Rick: Well look at nature itself, how diverse
it is, how many species there are and just incredible diversity. Even human beings, I mean, no two faces are
the same, out of 8 billion people, although there are people who make a living because
they look like George Clooney or something, but basically we are all distinct and unique.>>Matthew: But before we can move toward that
celebration of our diversity, we have to uplift all those voices and expressions that have
been oppressed, suppressed, silenced, and so that includes women, that includes gay
and lesbian folks, that includes transgender folks. So there has to be a healing before there
can be an integration and celebration.>>Rick: Yeah, and again, it’s interesting
to look at political orientations and which orientation tends to that more than the other,
you know? And therefore, which one is perhaps more … evolutionary,
a harbinger of things that hopefully are to come … a world that hopefully is to be born. And just a … when I think of that whole
Divine feminine and having that dawn in the world more, I kind of think of feminine as
nurturing, caring, and how that is so critically needed in terms of our environment and the
fact that we are killing off 150 to 200 species every day, going extinct, and destroying our
home planet, the only one we have. And that [being] largely due to the preponderance
of the intellectual qualities and science at the expense of the heart, at the expense
of spirituality, and money at the expense of the environment, and so on. There is just sort of a lack of feeling inherent
in the way we treat animals and the planet, and so on, that it seems to me is the antithesis
of motherliness and femininity and so on. Just a comment. You’re welcome to respond ?
>>Matthew: Right, right, no, no, I agree with you and I think that the qualities that you’re
naming as “feminine:” nurturance you said, what else did you say?>>Rick: Yeah, that was one of the main ones
… nurturance.>>Matthew: Right, so I do think that perhaps
we have suppressed qualities like that and it has allowed us to destroy the earth, commodify
the earth. The question I’m raising is: is also part
of the problem the gendering of that quality to begin with?>>Rick: Yeah, I mean a good father is protective
of his family and providing and caring, and so on, so there’s a nurturing quality there
too.>>Matthew: So there’s a quality that we’ve
suppressed, by and large as a species, within patriarchal cultures, and then there’s half
of our population which we have suppressed, women, and we’ve associated the quality with
the sex. And I’m saying we need to uplift women and
we also need to free the quality, in a way. And to continue calling it a “feminine quality”
is to continue to gender it, and gendering, we walk into a binary: masculine/feminine,
male/female, and if we could break out of the binary gendering altogether, there would
be as many genders as there are human beings. Free and liberate those qualities for all
of us … seems to me like that’s a helpful direction to move in.>>Rick: Yeah …
>>Matthew: Perhaps.>>Rick: It does, and I guess when you were
saying that I was thinking, “Well yeah, but the freeing of that quality is also going
to be the freeing of half the population.” It is inextricably linked, the two of those.>>Matthew: But all women may not, and I can’t
speak for all women, but all women may not find that [to be] one of their primary, natural
qualities or tendencies, nor want to.>>Rick: Yeah, I see what you are saying …
>>Matthew: But it implies that that’s a woman’s quality.>>Rick: Right, okay, I think I get your point,
that we’re just all an infinitely complex mixture of qualities, and that we just need
to blossom in our fullness whatever … in our unique fullness. And I’ll just throw in one point here, which
is that if you have let’s say a jungle or a forest and the soil is deficient, then all
the plants are going to be less diverse, less rich, less vibrant, perhaps all looking grey
or something. Whereas if you have a really rich soil in
the forest, then each of the plants is going to thrive fully as what it is, and the whole
thing will look much more diverse and alive and rich, and so on. So the ground in this metaphor would be, in
my understanding, consciousness itself, and as that awakens in the world, the diversity
… when we think of consciousness we think of, sort of, unification and oneness, but
that the enlivenment of consciousness is actually going to enhance the diversity because that’s
the “life stuff” of all of us, and it’s that which enables us to be fully what we are.>>Matthew: Right, that consciousness is the
ground of all potentiality that holds all qualities, all potential qualities, and that
if each of us are a name of God being spoken into being, that is a unique combination of
qualities that only we can manifest individually … anyway …
>>Rick: Yeah, that is what I was trying to say, you said it much better. Alright, let’s throw out one more thing, unless
you think of even more things, but there’s one more thing I had in my notes which might
be fun to touch upon and that is, like you used the phrase “Buddhist Christian,” and
you mixed a number of other ones like that … “Muslim Hindu,” or whatever. There seem to be a lot of people who are mixing
traditions and the symbiosis of the different traditions is really helping them. One person, for instance, said, “Jesus tells
me to love my neighbor and the Buddha tells me how to love my neighbor.” So do you want to talk about that a little
bit?>>Matthew: Sure. That was a friend of mine in college who identified
as a Buddhist Christian, and she had said that Jesus told her to love her neighbor and
the Buddha told her how. And that Buddhism gave her practices, teachings
on contemplative practice that at the time weren’t as available or accessible to her
in Christianity. And I think that is often what happens, someone
finds that some facet of their soul, a longing of their being isn’t being developed, cultivated,
spoken to, within the tradition that they were given in childhood, and they go to another
tradition to find resources to develop that part of themselves. And that can go in different ways. Sometimes they go and find that in another
tradition and then they come back to the original tradition, and having found it in that tradition,
now they can locate it in [their] original tradition and sort of awaken and enliven it
there. So they maintain a primary identity as a Christian,
but their Christianity has been enlivened by an encounter with another tradition. Some people then forever maintain a dual-identity:
“I’m a Hindu-Christian,” or …>>Rick: Or a Hin-Jew …
>>Matthew: A Hin-Jew! Right, or a Jew-Bu, or all these different
combinations that people are claiming. And it’s all good, it all belongs. This is part of that process of convergence
that Teilhard talked about, [that] as religions meet, their nests are going to mix, mingle,
and fuse one another. And I think it has to be discerned on a case
by case basis whether or not that’s a distraction for someone on the spiritual path, or whether
it is a deepening for them on their spiritual path. And one possibility that a lot of spiritual
teachers warn against is flitting from tradition to tradition. They say that every time you start coming
to the hard work in one tradition then you just bounce over to another one, and that
you have to choose one well in order to dig deep to holy water, otherwise it is just shallow
surface-skimming. And I think that sometimes this is true, but
the thing that blew that open for me was when Ramakrishna swami said to me, “There is a
difference between digging 15 shallow wells and using 15 tools to dig one well.” And so that is the other possibility, is that
you gain tools from different traditions that help different parts of your own spiritual
unfolding. I still think for most of us it is probably
helpful to have a primary tradition that gives you a container or framework and practices,
so that you can dig deep, but again, I think it is a case by case basis � that some people
certainly, I believe, are being vocationally called to stand in two or more traditions,
as an act of healing, reconciliation, as a way of speaking some new reality into the
world. And I think some people are also being called
to stand outside of the traditions altogether, that they are not going to hold a traditional
religious identity and they will cultivate spaces outside of the religions. And I think conversations need to be happening
between all of those different groups. So yeah, yeah, I think it’s good. I think it’s like how we have fusion cuisine
in some restaurants, and sometimes it works really well and sometimes it’s not very good
at all, you know? So again, case by case in how the traditions
meet in individuals … is an area of discernment.>>Rick: Yeah, I wonder if things continue
to converge, to use Teilhard’s term, if we’ll not only end up with kind of a one-world civilization
without all kinds of separate countries, but also a one-world spirituality, perhaps with
various streams and variations within it, but just a sort of a unified thing where it
would, you know, seem absurd to say that, “My thing is better than your thing, and “My
way or the highway.” It could be like that 500 or 1,000 years from
now, or maybe even sooner, I don’t know.>>Matthew: Right, and maybe it is a both-and
scenario again, that if traditions dissolve their claims to competition and superiority
conflict and they can become transparent to each other, the diversity of the traditions
need not be lost in that process, just like the diversity of the human beings need not
be lost. And so you can still have people holding the
Buddhist current of spirituality into being, the Christian current, the Sufi-Muslim current,
as unique streams, you also can have people mingling streams, [and] you also can have
people representing something universal, you know, it can just be all of it.>>Rick: Yeah, interesting. Okay, well, anything we haven’t covered?>>Matthew: So many things!>>Rick: Yeah, right.>>Matthew: That’s why you will have to interview
someone else next time.>>Rick: I will, there will be every week a
new one. Well, I don’t go to church but if I lived
in Woodstock, New York I would go to yours.>>Matthew: Oh, I would love to have you there. If you are ever up [there], feel free to stop
by.>>Rick: Yeah, I’m sure it’s really an enjoyable
service to participate in. I’ll probably see you coming to SAND this
year?>>Matthew: I don’t know if I’ll be at SAND
this year. I think I’m going to miss it this year and
maybe hopefully be there again next year.>>Rick: Alright.>>Matthew: But, my good friend and teacher,
Cynthia Bourgeault, I think she may be at SAND this year as a Christian voice.>>Rick: Oh that’s right, and Richard Rohr
is going to be there too.>>Matthew: Good, good.>>Rick: And I’ve been having a hard time landing
both of them for interviews, so maybe I’ll snag �em there.>>Matthew: Okay, good, good, good.>>Rick: Alright, thanks. So let me just make a few concluding remarks. I’ve been speaking with Matthew Wright and
there will be a page on www.batgap.com about this interview, with links to anything Matthew
wants us to link to, and which will lead you to ways of getting in touch with him. Do you do anything remotely, like Skype consultations
or anything, or do you just pretty much serve a local congregation?>>Matthew: It’s mostly local. Sometimes I meet with people for spiritual
direction one-on-one here at the Monastery, serve the local congregation, we’ve got a
weekly Gospel of Thomas discussion group and contemplative Eucharist, but I’d be happy
to connect with people through email or possibly Skype, now and then.>>Rick: Yeah, so they can get in touch with
you if they want to do that, and maybe some will. I don’t think you’ve written a book. Have you written a book?>>Matthew: No, no.>>Rick: Just things on websites.>>Matthew: Right, a thesis and articles online.>>Rick: Yeah, maybe at some point you’ll glom
it altogether into a book.>>Matthew: That would be nice, one day, if
there’s a time.>>Rick: Alright, thanks. Let me make a few concluding remarks, in general
about BATGAP. It is www.BATGAP.com , B-A-T-G-A-P. Go there and you’ll find a number of things,
it will be pretty obvious, like a place to sign up for the audio podcast, a place to
sign up to be notified by email each time a new interview is posted, an index of �Past
Interviews,’ a page where it lists all the �Upcoming Interviews,’ a place to suggest
a guest if you have someone in mind or to vote for someone who has already been suggested. And a new thing which just developed or evolved
significantly, which is this �Geographical Index’ page, where for instance, if Matthew
registers for it and you were to type in someplace, let’s say you typed in “Newberg, New York,”
which is not where he is located, you would then see, “Oh, x number of miles away there
is this guy in Woodstock, New York doing things,” and you would also see New York City and you
would see everything within a certain radius, maybe 500 miles, that is happening there.>>Matthew: Oh wow.>>Rick: So that’s the �Geographical Index’
page. It is under the … I think it is under the
�Resources’ menu. Um, so, that’s it. Thanks for listening or watching. Thank you again, Matthew. I really enjoyed this as I knew I would, and
take care. And take care to those who have been watching,
and we’ll see you next time. {BATGAP theme music plays}

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