Part 1: A Return to Joy! Special Guest Richard Miller's Journey to Awakening
9/4/2020 56 Minutes
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Namaste and welcome to Acharya Shunya’s podcast Shadow to Self, a show created to inspire you to step out of fear and darkness into a place of freedom and empowerment. In each episode, she'll explore humanity's deepest questions about your relationship with yourself and others, illuminated by the ancient and non dual wisdom of the Vedas, Upanishads and Bhagavad Gita, keep listening.
Shunyaji - Forgetting our divine truth, we become enmeshed in the world of change, and bewail our bondage. And when we see the true self in all its glory, cheered by all we achieve lasting sovereignty.
Hello, dear friends, I'm back again. And what I just read out to you is a verse on the Shwetashwetra Upanishad. You know, those ancient Vedic texts that are sometimes, very difficult to interpret because they are an ancient archaic Sanskrit but we can pick up a gem or two, and recognize that there is a journey, a journey from lostness to being found, from being trapped by the darkness of our own mind, to being enlightened by the lights in that same mind. And then as this verse says, cheered by all which means: this is not just a private "Aha!" moment that we have when we come into the truth of our own being. Everyone recognizes it. There is a global cheer because the whole planet breathes a sigh of relief. When even one of us goes beyond the forgetfulness that Maya, or that global and universal spell of unconsciousness that affects each and every mind, which I've been talking about in previous episodes, is even slightly lifted. Then we achieve what is known as the state of Yoga, a union, with the ultimate reality, the essence of everything beautiful and blissful within us.
Indeed, all beings are afflicted with a spiritual forgetfulness that keeps our minds from grasping the amazingly boundless and bountiful nature of our true Self. Our mind becomes identified with a Shadow, and engaged and entangled in whatever this mind encounters through the senses in the realm of the Shadow, it becomes that limited stock and often bewildered, rather than the unbounded expansive awareness of our true Self. Unfortunately, we are doomed to experience, think, feel, want desire whatever our Shadow filled mind wants.
That is why my teacher Baba, who I talk to you about again and again in this podcast, had said to me in such poetic way, “Shunya, this world is an enchanted show. A spell has spread from mind to mind throughout this world, so that the one appears as many. This spell is called Maya, for the duration of the phantasmal life we lead through the Maya-filled mind, we believe adamantly the roles we play, the relations we have, and the goals we hold dear. Ah! Shunya, none of this is true. Just like the cities we visit and the people we meet in our nightly dreams, who appear real within that dream, but disappear upon waking up in the morning. One more final waking up is pending. The waking up from the dream of living, the dream of Maya that occurs to us even when we are apparently awake and engaged and going about our businesses, as moms and dads, bankers and teachers, but don't worry; this last door to waking up lies inside you."
“But Baba, how will I recognize this door?" I had asked Baba. And he laughed and said,” Ah! There is a little name written on that door.”
“What is written on that door Baba?” “The word Yoga. Through Yoga each day, you will awaken more and more from your Shadow. And from your dream of bonded separateness and suffering and trauma, till you most clearly know yourself to be that sovereign blissful being the true Self. Therefore Shunya, pursue the path of Yoga.”
As I remember Baba’s words, and as I remember his great invitation to me to open a special door, a conversation I had 40 years ago, probably when I was just 10 years old. I had heard about Yoga, like it was some relief, something that would take me away from my 10 year old angst. But fortunately, when I was 10 years old, there was somebody in the country I live in today, USA, who had already opened that door, who had already walked through the door himself, and was planning on keeping the door open, for a lot more people to come. I'm talking about a great Yogi, Richard C. Miller, PhD, who has been carving a whole path to really authentic Yoga, a true journey, which incorporates Self inquiry, who am I, if I'm not the Shadow, to somatic processes, that allow us to connect with that invisible presence within us, amidst the Shadow, amidst the suffering, amidst the forgetfulness. A few moments with this Yogi and his masterful teachings of Yoga methodology or meditation methodology known as Yoga Nidra can take a person lost in Shadow, to a place where they start befriending something beyond that Shadow in them. And I am so pleased to invite this great teacher, whose bio I will read in a few moments to you, so that you can fully know who we are talking to and what a great advantage we have to be able to talk to him, dialogue with him and know about his own journey, from Shadow to Self on this podcast. But before we do all that, let's just say hello to Richard and Richard, I welcome you with all my heart to my podcast.
Richard - Thank you. And I am so honoured and pleased to be here with you. Since we met first many, many years ago, it is always been my pleasure to keep thinking, ha! When can we next get together and talk. I'm really pleased having this time with you today.
Shunyaji - Indeed, I remember sharing that, was it tea or coffee that we were sharing or both together?
Richard – It was tea.
Shunyaji - But now we have been given this special opportunity to have tea with our family. And let me share with you while you grab your cup of tea. A few more things about Richard. He is a clinical psychologist; he's an author, a bestselling author, if I may say so, a researcher, a yogic scholar, a spiritual teacher, who for the past 50 years has been devoting his life to integrating Western psychology and neuroscience with the ancient wisdom teachings of Yoga, and Tantra, Advaita, which is the non dual beautiful teachings that we look at again and again in this podcast, Taoism and Buddhism.
So look at this amazing background which the scholar brings amidst us today. He is the developer of the research based program, iRest Yoga Nidra Meditation. He is the founding President of iRest Institute, cofounder of the International Association of Yoga therapists and former President of the Institute for Spirituality and Psychology, pretty much a forerunner in bringing psychology and spirituality, talk to each other in the same room in America. He is the author of iRest meditation by Sounds True. The iRest program for Healing PTSD by New Harbinger Press, and Yoga Nidra: The Meditative Heart of Yoga again by Sounds True.
Richard leads retreats and trainings internationally, emphasizing enlightened living in daily life. I'm going to be sharing his website later in the show and you want to stay on and catch every moment of our conversation, because we're going to go deep, deep down where the Shadows lurk. And look at how Richard has helped himself and is helping others go forth from the Shadow, which is the beginning point for most of us into true presence, how he defines the Self. So Richard, I am going to just dive right in. And I want to again welcome you. I want to acknowledge all that you have done, for the beautiful Vedic tradition and all the different sciences that come from India. And to bring forth all of this together, the Yogic knowledge, Vedic knowledge, Taoism, Buddhism into this one bouquet, and stay with it, and create such streamline teaching that you can have, a teacher training going on in every part of the world, and students trained by you are helping prisoners, army personnel, traumatized teenagers, you name it, like bringing it all back into the field of clinical psychology. So not, never really leaving that but almost like nurturing that, expanding that and making it much more than what you had inherited in the very beginning.
So I'd like to ask you, the first question- is your journey as a seeker, when you were maybe 18, 19, 20 year old, and I was just born at that time, what were you doing as a seeker? What were you facing? How did you meet your Shadow? How did you identify it? And how did you take it forward, Richard?
Richard- It's a beautiful question. And I appreciate the question. You know, I have to admit, it takes me back to when I was around 18 to 24 months of age, which I've come to now understand is when our sense of Self as separate begins to come online when our nervous system has developed sufficiently. And I know that I was walking at that time. So I remember a moment. Afterwards, I would have to say all of a sudden, I was standing in front of my sister; the bed was there, the doors, the windows, the floor, a moment before, none of that was there. And when I look back, now, it feels to me that was the moment when I first came into a sense of self that was separate from everything that was around me.
And when I look back at that moment, I also think that was the beginning of my suffering. And there's such a beautiful line from the Brihadaranyaka Upanishad, which brings this out eloquently when it says, whenever we separate, whenever we feel a sense of separation either within or from others, it will give rise to some degree of anxiety here and distress.
But I've come to appreciate signals or messengers that are helping us look back at where that separation is occurring. But if I fast forward to when I was 13, I used to go on spring vacation with my grandparents in Florida. And they used to drop me at these social engagements which weren't really interesting to me. So I would walk in the front door, say goodbye to my grandmother, tell her I'd see her later, then walk out the back door and go for a walk on the beach or that evening with a friend I found myself lying down in the evening, in the sand trap at the nearby golf course looking up at the sky wondering, I wonder where the end of the Universe is? And in that moment, as a teenager, my mind projected a wall and I thought to myself, Oh, here's the end of the Universe. But of course, then I thought woah! What’s on the other side of the wall? So I jumped over in my imagination of mind, came to another wall jumped over, came to another wall and I kept doing this in a regression kind of way where I kept finding myself at these walls, jumping over in my imaginary mind and then all of a sudden, I would say everything stopped and I found myself in a unit of moment.
Again, looking back now I understand it, where I felt no sense of separation. And I felt a sense of harmony with the Universe. Then as only a 13 year old would have got having no mentors or guidance, I walked back into my 13 year old teenage life, back into a sense of separation and suffering. And over the years, as I grew, I would say, it accompanied me, this kind of ongoing depression of separation that I felt. And no matter where I took that conversation, I couldn't find anybody who could help me. So now fast forward, I'm 22, I've landed in San Francisco, I want to meet people, I take a Yoga class at the undergo Yoga Institute, Swami Sachinanda’s organization. And at the end of the first evening, the teacher teaches what now I know is a rudimentary Yoga Nidra practice where again, I had this profound moment, where everything of separation, depression, isolation disappeared. And I walked out feeling deeply connected with myself and in harmony with the entirety of the Universe.
That really launched me on my I would say, seeking in all sincerity, when I realized what just happened, what was this incredible practice? And how do I find people to teach me? And I must admit, that launched me into the, I would say, great honour of sitting with many, many mentors from the Buddhist perspective, Zen Tao is my teacher from China, and all the teachings of Yoga, the Upanishads. Very shortly after that momentous moment, when I first opened in San Francisco, I met a woman who had just come here, from the Far East. She'd grown up being taught Yoga by her mother, grew up surrounded by Buddhist practitioners, but she was also a clinical psychologist. And she became my mentor, both in the art and science of learning how to do psychotherapy and clinical psychology. And also, this allowed me a portal to discuss all the different Upanishads, the integration of Yoga into psychology.
And again, now that when I look back, I realize what an opportunity that was, because in that time, clinical psychology was not open to these teachings. And so I was learning in a very deep first hand experiencing how to integrate these when I was working with the person. And I prize that first mentor, Laura, because when I would sit with her with a client, we would then come back and talk for an hour or so about the process we had just engaged with this particular client. But she would always ask me, what I want to know is what happened to you when you were in the room with that person. So she really opened to me to that real deep Yogic understanding, we first need to know ourselves, inside and out, before we can truly be and help another. And through her guidance, I really did begin that first flowering of that sense of non separation, where she was helping me look within and see all the ways that I had been raised to separate from myself, my emotions, my thoughts.
While I grew up in a, I would say, a kind of tremendously loving family, there was no appreciation of how do you be with an emotion? How do you be with challenging thoughts? How do you be with these self judgments that inevitably can come in childhood or when we're trying to understand as I did, how do I do this social thing? How do I be a human being amongst others? She really began to help me look at all the wounds, that I had accumulated over my lifetime, up until that age, and begin to befriend my body, my senses, my mind, my emotions, and I developed a great appreciation for this, what I call welcoming, and I know these three wonderful words from the Upanishads, the Vedic tradition, Sravana, Manana and the Jassana and I think of Sravana as this beautiful word. That means I'm able to deeply stop and hear and listen to myself. Manana came for me to represent a metaphor that Sravana was a knock I was hearing at my front door; they are an emotion or a sensation. Manana was me going over to the door, opening the door and telling that emotion so what brings you here today, a deep quality of welcoming and then the Jassana for me represented, inviting that emotion in for a deep conversation, many cups of tea, until I was able to appreciate why was it here? What was it asking of me and the action I need to take into the world?
So these three guiding principles really summed up for me the word welcoming which is learning how to have radical self acceptance, welcoming yourself. And then what I came to appreciate is, as I was able to welcome myself in all of my aspects, I could then truly welcome another without imposing any kind of my ideas on them or how they should be. And I find that that's really an underlying principle of these yogic teachings is, we're learning how to welcome ourselves in such a way, that we truly then can welcome others.
My first mentor, then my Dallas teacher, I had many Yogic teachers, and then I met a particular fellow, John Klein, in the early 80s, who had spent many years in India. And he really brought to me the depths of the contract, and the inviting teachings, and helped me I would say; turn on the light that hasn't yet now turned off. I feel like that moment when I was 24 months old, then at 13. And then with my mentor, Laura, who helped me really have glimpses and flashes of my true non separate nature.
My teacher John Klein really helped me develop that, integrated and then in around 1994, I remember awakening in the morning around two. And I sat by the window just musing, and all of a sudden, that light that kept turning on and off, turned on and that feels like somebody got in there and the light switch started all the water and the fire together, and I can't turn it off. And that sense of non separateness, I've come to deeply appreciate how through my work with psychology and neuroscience, I, I understand my five senses, my mind, they work together to create a sense of separation. So as I'm looking at you over there, I do see a sense of another. But this light doesn't know that sense of separation. And so all I feel is this unified field of sense that we all have been born out of walk in.
So it feels like, I live in this wonderful paradox, which is what I try to help others come into, and I know you're walking in it, which is that ability to see other and feel no sense of others. So it's a honouring of the diversity, and how different and unique we each are, and yet feel this underlying essence that connects us all. That the best word I would use to describe it is just an unbridled, boundless field of love that we can walk in and meet each other out of, so we stop imposing upon each other and really celebrate each other's uniqueness, and what we can each learn from one another. So I don't know if that entirely answers your question that you asked, but that's what comes to me, in the immediacy of you asking.
Shunyaji- Thank you, Richard, I think a couple of thoughts were arising in me as I listen to you. Just hearing your flashes from 24 months old, 13 year old, 22 year old, you know, I'd like to remind our listeners that in the world of Yoga, the mind and its maturity has nothing to do with your chronobiological age. And the mind is a continuing entity from previous lifetimes, continuing on its evolution of consciousness. So the 24 year old month body, which participates in the Shadow, has an eternal mind that is saying is this that lifetime, where I shall find my truth? And I thank you for talking about depression, etc. And I hope I really hope that, the younger listeners of my show, I'm really hoping to open the show up to at risk, mentally at risk humanity, which includes the young people.
You know, yesterday, I came across a news item there I've never seen it personally, but I hear there is a social media platform called TikTok, and which in India, a 16 year old, who has a 2 million following because she would dress up in pretty clothes, and sing and dance to Bollywood songs, committed suicide. So we can talk a little more about it, as we talk about Yoga Nidra and trauma etc. But I would almost say in the show that existential depression and what you talked about from the Upanishad, Brihadaranyaka Upanishad, the splitting of the Self from its own truth, the splitting of the truth between, the invisible and the visible of what's in the background and what's in the foreground, the ego causes a lot of sorrow. But I want to point out how there must have been some karmic or blessing or actually meant to go into, I try not to bring words which require belief system. The Vedas are very rational.
But when I talk about karmic, I'm saying for those who don't know this that we plant seeds over many lifetimes, and at some point, they sprout as support, because you finding Laura, who would give you the message of your non-separate self, at age 22, sounds to me like a Guru Shishya, or mentor disciple, relationship that was critical for you, Richard, to open you to everything that you had to do later on. But those, those dialogues because I, those dialogues, when you were talking about her, I was watching you, and there was this deep sense of softness and gratefulness, that came over.
I mean, today, you are a Laura for many people, but the student within you cannot forget that. And probably even people who are listening to us right now, or who may listen to us in the future, will also be benefiting from karmic timing. This dialogue will open new journeys, open new doors, and allow people towards a different kind of journey. Because Tell me a little bit more about that. Because when you were growing up, I want to know where you grew up, which part of our country. And then and you briefly mentioned how people around you didn't understand that. Most families sit universal, not American or Indian. It's universal, that unless we are into Yoga, but our emotions make us uncomfortable. And difficulties make us uncomfortable. So we sweep them under the carpet. And that's the birth of trauma.
But how did this as a young person, in an atmosphere which, which it was not conducive to Eastern ways of Self inquiry, which is not very; it’s a pathless path, so to say. How did you even come upon this inner permission, to absorb these new ways of looking at a client for example? And even then I've read about your encounter with Ramana Maharishi’s Advaita teachings and you've been very pure to that because you in everything you do you always bring in that Self inquiry. So, so I'm talking to that Western kid, who's introduced to Yoga but you don't convert it into a, into a phase or a fad. But you stayed very true to the point that you have contributed to global Yoga legacy.
Richard- Yeah! Like, I grew up in Princeton, New Jersey, a couple of miles out of town. So as a young boy in the early 1950s, we didn't know things like locks on the door. And as a four year old, five years old, the door was open for me to go out and I would go out and spend a lot of the day out in nature, climbing trees, sitting in trees, watching the squirrels, the birds, smelling the earth. In winter time, I would take rocks and bring them out on the ponds and throw them on the pond to make sure that the ice was safe and then I’d put on my skates then I'd skate around the pond. So I think those early years of spending a lot of time in nature. I was more an introvert oriented person. So I love that silence that came with me when I was in nature and the sense of nature all around me, I think really soothed a lot of these feelings I was having inside, that I later understood were a depression, separation and an angst, suffering that I was having.
When I came to San Francisco, I came with that deep desire to try to understand how do I move out of this suffering that I've been feeling this depression, the sense of isolation and alienation? So I think, that really deep desire, that longing to find a way out, brought me I would say, to Laura, and brought Laura to me, and I'll never forget, because I had done some training in suicide prevention. And so I was working and volunteering in a clinic at that time, and I asked her, she had just arrived from the Far East. And I don't know why, again, karmic. I said, would you come in and sit in the lecture I'm about to give him give me some feedback, which she did kindly. And then on the way out, as we were walking out, we had to walk through a very narrow passageway, where we turn to face each other. And literally, we were nose to nose and she said, I'll never forget it. Why are you here? And I remember saying, I'm looking for someone to teach me how to be a psychotherapist. And she said, I'm looking to teach someone. Let's go talk.
And I think that yearning brought me to her. And I would say that yearning kept bringing me to teacher after teacher after teacher. There is a something that did occur to me though, along the way, because I was studying with her Mahayana Buddhism. I was sitting in Zen retreat. Then I met my Dallas teacher and started studying Taoism with him, but all the time continuing with my Yogic studies. And I remember one day 1973 waking up in my apartment thinking, I'm digging a lot of wells. Will I ever reach water? If I keep digging new wells with all these different teachings and I thought, let's dig one well and right about that time, I was also studying Chinese medicine with my Dallas teacher and I got an invitation to go study in China. And then I got an invitation to study with a reader Shankaracharya in India, and there was no hesitation.
I found myself soon in India, studying with Shankacharya in his feet and his teacher, his father, Krishnamacharya. And I realized, the one well I want to dig is Yoga, and all the other teachings Taoism, Buddhism, they can all feed that, well, I'm not going to, you know, let go of all the texts and the teachers that I've had. But I'm going to put my entire energy into this one well. So, I would literally wake up very early in the morning and I would take out a text and I would read it, meditate it and then I go into my day, do my work, but I try to keep remembering it all day long. And each of my teachers, I would say, supported me in that constant remembering. There is a beautiful text, the Prachbijaharijan, that comes out of the Shaiva tradition. And there's a beautiful Sutra in there that says, do remember that everything that you see comes out of this essence. I like to call it the mystery. And I look around me now. And I realize everything is birth out of this, since isn't separate from it.
But the text also said, do remember that everything you experience is also a part of me that mystery, including forgetting and remembering. That had a deep impact. Because until that moment, I realized there was a slight judgment I carried within me, when I would forget the glimpse I'd had and fell into separation again, a moment of anxiety, fear or depression, distress or stress. When I would start to come out of it, I would have a little bit of judgment about Oh! Gosh! I separated again, I forgot again, let me try harder. What that Sutra told me was, when you come out of forgetting; remember that that was the essence as well wanting to forget, so have a moment of gratefulness, appreciation, gratitude, that now you're remembering, but also know that as you're remembering there may come a moment when you forget again. So it developed within me a deeper appreciation and kindness I would say for these kinds of judgments that come when we do separate or fall into a deep emotion like anger or sadness or grief or whatever. So for me as I walk the path thus befriending my emotions and looking at my depression rather than as an enemy as a now I, I began to look at all my emotions- anger, sadness, grief, times of depression, not as an enemy to get rid of but as how as that was here to help me learn where I am separating. So I would keep turning into the menace’s deep questions in the midst of you know meditation that also all day long where am I separating ?Where am I turning away from something rather than turning into it? And all my teachers said keep turning in. And which reminding me when I was studying a Psycho drama and I was doing a deep enquiry with a group that I was studying with somebody took off their glasses and said I m going to give you a new pair of glasses. These aren’t glasses you are using to look out with into the world, they are inward looking glasses that are turning themselves in and that has stayed with me which is a Yogic aspect of turning in and befriend.
So I come to appreciate in all my work, say with, when I work in a mental hospital, with people with deep depression, psychosis, schizophrenia, different disorders and then in my own clinical practice where I work a lot with people with depression and different sufferings, that they are working with, that all of these are here actually when we understand them, can help us on our way. They are messengers, pleaders, to helping us see where we separate. And one final thing that cursed me is the program that I developed out of these teachings which I call iRest. When I brought them out on my first research study and that happened to be with military and I was calling it Yoga Nidra. They said, look we are military. We do not know what to do with this word Yoga Nidra. So would you call it something else? So I came up with the name iRest. I for integrated, because I think it helps integrate all of our psychology and restoration because it restores us to this deep sense of non separation. What I came to appreciate is that the teachings of Yoga are all about showing us something within us that is always here. This light that is helping bring us out and its showing us what is right about us from the very beginning. And one fellow from Miami study, we did research study he said; every programme that I have ever been in before you to help me heal, my post traumatic trust syndrome has always began with what’s wrong with me? Yours is the first program that’s been showing me what’s right about me. Knowing what is right about me, I now can feel better able to turn in and look at, what did, does need healing.
But I was helping and have this glimpse which I tried to do with every person I work with, from the very first session, which is to help them see within them that they have something that has never been heard, never been harmed, never been injured, doesn’t need healing and it is this light essence that we all have within us. And I know now, everybody can have a glimpse fairly quickly. The mentor like Laura and all my teachers did is, they kept helping me have that glimpse and keep opening more and more into it, because I would go back into my old habits of forgetting and there when they are helping me remember and I realize that’s my role now, help people remember.
And then look at all the ways that we have made enemies out of our body, senses and mind and learn how to really turn them into allies and friends and I have come to greatly appreciate as a human being I am going to feel irritable at times. I am going to feel anger or sadness, grief. But now I have the skills of how to meet each one of these and use them to help me on my journey, all the while nourishing this deep sense of non separation that I carry with me now. Not having to do it, now I have come to appreciate and I think it always has been this way of remembering me, moment to moment. And now my job is to relax, let go, let be and realize the mystery has always been, living me and now I am falling into living it, in that deep sense of harmony and gratefulness.
Shunyaji – Ah! That’s so beautiful Richard, you know, when you were talking about going out in nature, not having padlocks on your door, it reminded me of my own childhood, growing up in Ayodhya, the holy city. And I just grew up climbing mango trees a lot.
Richard – I can imagine.
Shunyaji – And we had a whole orchard behind our house and I would be there. Nature was also my first teacher and perhaps is going to be my final teacher. Because she is the ultimate divine mother; we come from her and go back to her. So that was really beautiful and I would say that, to all our listeners that, if you feel, that you have become alienated from yourself and the suffering has become acute because of the alienation from your own Self, then go find a quiet spot in the nature. Don’t go for a walk with others necessarily talking or listening even to this podcast. Listen to the podcast, switch it off and then go sit and commune with nature. Because she restores us and she reminds us that we have come from her and that is one of the quickest ways of being, being made a little Shadow free I would say.
And Richard; you know as you were talking I was listening really carefully and taking a few notes, because something that got ignited in me was this memory of a verse in the Bhagavad Gita in chapter eighteen; in which Krishna who represents you know if you go from the theistic tradition, he is God outside you. But from an Advaita perspective Krishna is really our own true Self, the inner being. The name is Krishna and Krishna says, look, you think I am far from you, but I am ever attainable; you know by that to that Yogi, who constantly yearns for me, constantly yearns to be with me daily. SOTASYAHAM SULABHA PARTHA. I am Sulabha, I am very easy to be found and I think, I have to say that in any journey, where this constant yearning, as you mentioned what lies beyond that wall and then that wall and then that wall. And so how can I be with myself, with my true Self? What’s that feel like? These even this constant Mananam, this constant contemplation, this constant if there is any one desire that has no side effects if there is any one Vasana or almost obsession. Vasana is not considered a very nice word in Sanskrit.
Whenever teachers like Richard and me chat; we carefully avoid the word Vasana. Because it means a compulsive craving and they are of different kinds. And anyway there is compulsiveness, our mind gets locked in the lust to achieve that and we become delusional unconscious. But there is one Vasana or one almost obsession that is smiled upon by the higher Vedic tradition and that is known as Atma Vasana, the Vasana to know your own true being, your own inner spaciousness, inner fullness, inner wholeness. So I do feel, I was noting how your yearning was significant and probably a precursor.
Richard - I think so.
Shunyaji – Yeah!
Richard- It’s just reminding me of a verse from Kabir where he says, "It is the intensity of belonging that does the work. Look at me and you will see a slave in that intensity."
Richard – And I think there was another thing in that intensity for me a couple of thoughts. One is I had to
honor it, as an authentic movement in me that I tried all different ways to satisfy, and each kept being defeated. So it kept me in a way keep looking for what’s the next thing that would help me. And so that yearning actually was I say difficult for my parents because I think they wanted me to become a surgeon or a banker or something and I you know I became a Yogi. And I can imagine them sitting around the bridge table with their friends saying, so how is your son doing. And they would say oh! Our son is the President of the Bank of America now. And they would say, "So Peggy, how is your son Ricky doing?" And they would say, "Oh! Tell us more about your son!" Because Yoga was not something that was familiar in my family. Although my father and mother both said towards the end of their life, you could have no two more loving parents and we see how this has taken you on the journey and brought you to where you are now and we are happy for you. We just did not understand at the beginning.
Shunyaji – Yeah!
Richard – But that yearning, O think that yearning is so important that we, we give our self entirely to it and it does take us along a path that can be confusing to those around us. But now that I look back, I can see that it really did take me on the correct path, even in times of great suffering or confusion. That yearning I see now brought me through, to where I come to in these days. Call it Karma, call it Dharma, but basically it brought me to where it is. And along the way I had a thought which is the tradition of Yoga, the tradition that while, which I was following, the tradition that I was in often asked of me or people in the path to become more celibate, to become more monastic. And at one time, I actually was going to become a Presbyterian priest, minister. Then I ended up just thinking to myself, well I’ll still want to be doing Yoga and I don’t think the church just going to like that too much and so let’s stay with the path of Yoga.
But it occurred me, if these teachings are really true, then I should be able to realize them as a Westerner, in a job, with a family, with kids, with a wife because if I can’t, then what meaning do they bring to any Westerner or to anybody in a householder position. So that even brought me further into my journey I would say my thirst, my desire, to in the midst of being a householder, with two children, with a full time job, just to keep driving further and keeping these teachings alive. And I come to appreciate that these teachings are for all of us. Wherever we are and however we are. Whether we are in a householder’s life with children, with a full time job, we can attain the end goal, that as you say, Krishna points out in the Bhagavad Gita. This is something for all of us, whoever we are and wherever we are.
In looking into the Sutras and I would really look at the Sanskrit word, for each word I came upon and this word Brahmacharya, which has come to be associated with celibacy and when I looked at the breakout of the word in Sanskrit, it actually meant for me, one who is walking with God in every moment. And I realize that’s for me, the true Brahmacharya. One who walks with God, in every moment wherever they are, however they are and it has come not to mean celibacy but really celebration of life in its fullest. For me both as a Yogi but also as a human being with lovely children, family, friends and I am still working a full time job.
Shunyaji – Wow! Richard, Thank you so much for bringing that up, I mean you just went through and thank you for your beautiful endorsement to my forthcoming book Sovereign Self and you saw that I have gone on and on and on about, how we need to understand the word Brahmacharya and that celibacy can be a choice, if that is what monks choose to do. But it is definitely not an imposition. And you know and I am so fascinated that you said that I want to quote you in the future because as a Westerner, if these teachings are truly eternal, then they should work for me as I am in my life style, in my job, in my you know roles, domestic roles because the word for eternal is Nitya and the definition of Nitya in the Shabdakosha, in the definitions of Nitya is, that which transcends time, that which transcends culture, that which transcends life styles, so even the concept of vegetarianism is really not imposed. It’s helpful because it helps us cultivate a more Satvik or a more peaceful mind for that matter. Eating less food than more food helps us cultivate a Satvik mind. But say you are an Eskimo and all you can eat is whale, that doesn’t mean you can’t open the door to true self, right?
Richard – That reminds me that The Dalai Lama was being interviewed some years ago
Richard-by a vegetarian. And she said, "So what was your diet like when you lived in Tibet?" Then he said, "There weren’t a lot of vegetables around."
Shunyaji- Thank you! Thank you! Dalai Lama. You know that story but I love it.
Richard –We do adapt. We are human beings.
Shunyaji- You know Arjuna and Krishna were kshatriyas. They were soldiers. So when the great supreme reality came as Krishna and chose to be the king of Mathura, they were not exactly on vegan diet.
Shunyaji- So diet, lifestyle, your sexual orientation, these are all larger sticks, as long as you can bring higher consciousness of Dharma into it. We can’t remove ethics, from anything we do, but a greedy vegetarian versus a Dharmic giving, sharing, non vegetarian, take your pick. Who is going to be more real life in the process?
Richard-True, to me I have carrot; I eat for health and well being.
Richard- When I am going to look at my diet, how does it support me whatever I am doing in that quality of moderation, that helps me feel a sense of well being, a sense of ease? And so I think that’s an experiment, as you are saying for each one of us to come to the proper diet that is great for each one of us. And for many its vegetarianism and for some like my wife, she and I were vegetarians for many decades and she got sicker and sicker and sicker until one of our Ayurvedic friend’s doctor said, I would like you to eat some meat. And the first night when she did, she said, oh! My goodness, I feel warmth in my hands, for the first time in years. And so I appreciate that diet is a particularity in each one of us. And that’s why I always think, and I appreciate my teacher Desicaharya when I went to him. His first adage was, always remember, yogi is for the individual and we want to find out what is that each person needs and help them attain that. To that we are really working individual to individual. It’s not something one sized; it’s always adapted for the individual.
Shunyaji –That is so wonderful, Richard, and I wanted to interject at this point and tell our readers that tell our listeners, sorry, I am such an author, I keep writing so I am always talking to readers, but this is a different platform. So if you are all enjoying our conversation, then I want to tell you that we are inviting Richard back for a second round of our conversation. We are actually going to continue talking right now. But we are going to stop here so that you can digest and enjoy everything that Richard and I have been talking about and then come right back to grab the next episode in which Richard, I and you hope to continue this fascinating conversation because I am not done with my questions. So shall we come right back?
Shunyaji- So thank you so much for listening; I appreciate your support of this podcast. You have been leaving rave reviews and giving us five stars. I am receiving all your love and before I go away, I would like Richard to just briefly share his website, so that people can look you up in the meantime and then we will come back and continue this fascinating conversation on everything to do with Yoga and how it is a beautiful pathway from Shadow to Self. Richard?
Richard- So the website is iRest.org or they can put in my name Richard Miller and their mails likely come to me or put in Yoga Nidra. But our website is formally iRest.org
Shunyaji- iRest.org, so see you soon and take care and have a wonderful time, yearning for something deeper and beautiful in nature. Take care. This is Acharya Shunya.
Acharya Shunya is a globally-recognized spiritual teacher and Vedic lineage-holder who awakens health and consciousness through the Vedic sciences of Ayurveda, Vedanta and Yoga. She is the driving force behind an online wisdom school and worldwide spiritual community, and the author of best-selling book on the Vedic art of mind + body + soul well-being and health, Ayurveda Lifestyle Wisdom and Sovereign Self. Acharya Shunya is a keynote speaker at national and international conferences, and serves as an advisor to the Indian Government in matters pertaining to global integration and cultivation of Ayurveda and Yoga. Receive her free online teachings and browse her current eCourse offerings here or see more about her on Facebook and follow her on Instagram. Subscribe to her YouTube Channel where she holds live Global Satsangs once per month. Study Ayurveda with Acharya Shunya in her online course, Alchemy through Ayurveda.