Spirit-WWW: NewsGateway Article <news:alt.meditation.shabda.2167>

Date: Tue, 3 Feb 1998 01:24:26 -0700 (MST)
From Harry Kight <kight@U.Arizona.EDU>:

Subject: A Radio Interview of Michael Turner

All Follow-Up: Re: A Radio Interview of Michael Turner
Newsgroups: alt.meditation.shabda,

NOTE: The following transcript was kindly provided by:

                          Spiritual Freedom Satsang
                               P.O. Box 42374
                            Tucson, AZ 85733-2374

                       Email: m.turner@worldnet.att.net

              Web Site: http://www2.hmc.edu/~wmyers/index2.html


    In 1996, Michael gave the following interview on a radio program in Maine
    known as "Spiritual Awakening." The host of the program, James Bean, is
    also a book reviewer, with a broad familiarity with global religious and
    spiritual traditions. James wanted to do this interview because of his
    personal interest in the light and sound teachings and also because of his
    feeling that his listeners may not know and understand these teachings as
    well as they understand other spiritual and religious traditions.
                                   PART I
    James: One eastern master by the name of Sri Chinmoy once said that all
    musicians are bound to become yogis of the inner sound.
    Michael: I think that's a wonderful concept. I would take that even further
    and say that all yogis are bound to become musicians too. As we know in the
    path we are going to be discussing here which is Sant Mat (or Surat Shabd
    Yoga . . . It has many names these days, "MasterPath," "Eckankar,") is
    based on the twin principles of light and sound. A lot of paths talk about
    the light. You can see things everywhere in the modern New Age movement
    about looking to the light and about guardians in the light and things like
    that. But not a whole lot of people fully tap into the meaning of the
    sound. And it's the sound that really takes us all the way back to God.
    It's incredible when you see these musicians who are able to, through their
    devotion to music on the outer, if they're truly devoted to it, they start
    paying more and more attention to the music they hear within. Because
    that's where all great compositions come from -- is within. And when they
    start listening to that, and when they start fine-tuning their attention,
    they become better and better instruments for the Spirit of God to play
    through. That's when you get some really inspiring stuff.
    James: So, music is very spiritual, just as much as a vision of inner
    light. Sound is part of the equation.
    Michael: Very much so. On a very rudimentary basis, in the worlds of
    duality, which extend from the mind on down, you have the twin principles
    of light and sound. Light, as we know, will take you as high as the mind,
    but it stops there. The Sound comes from Soul. It's . . . let's say . . .
    the song of love eternal. And the only way to get past mind is not through
    more mind, more intellect, not through reasoning, or arguing postulates, or
    trying to visualize stuff. The real key is to let go of mind, and even to
    let go of the light, as we think of it, and just let go into the sound.
    When you fall back on that and allow It to lift you up, It takes you up
    above mind. You transcend mind and duality, and are taken into the arms of
    the Creator. And that's when the true awakening begins.
    James: Now you're a teacher there in Tucson . . . as well as on the
    Internet, which is kind of interesting. You have some followers on the
    Internet that take an electronic class, or "Satsang," as you might call it.
    What is exactly Sant Mat, which is what you teach? What does the term "Sant
    Mat" mean, or the "religion of the light and sound?" What is it's history?
    Where does it come from? (That should keep us busy for a while!)
    Michael: Well . . . let me get out my charts and graphs so I can show and
    explain it in it's fullest! "Sant Mat" can be loosely translated as the
    "Way of the Saints," though the word "Sant" means more that "saint" (though
    it's a close approximation) and "mat" means "a path." It's also been called
    the "Path of the Masters." What it kind of boils down to . . . and I
    wrestle with this every time somebody asks me this question because it's
    kind of like the blind man trying to describe an elephant (really huge).
    But what it boils down to is they call it Sant Mat, they call it the "Path
    of the Masters," because it is the tool . . . I should say it offers this
    series of tools that all of the great masters and prophets and saints
    throughout the history of humankind have utilized to achieve
    self-knowledge, self-realization, and spiritual freedom in this lifetime.
    Regardless of what culture we grow up in, regardless of what religion we
    belong to, every founder of every major religion has spoken of the twin
    principles of light and sound. And they used the Light and Sound themselves
    -- or you might almost say that they allow the Light and Sound to use them
    -- to achieve their degree of awakening.
    In a Judeo-Christian culture like we have here, in the Bible you have the
    Word -- you know, "In the beginning was the Word was with God, the Word WAS
    God." I believe that Judaism has a term called "Ruach." In Islam, they
    refer to "Kalma" or "Kalam I Illahi." Zoroastrians called it "Sraosha." In
    India, it's known as "Naam," or "Bani," or "Shabda." All of these paths
    speak of this essence of God, this creative life- impulse, that is Light
    and Sound, that emanates from the heart of the Creator to the farthest
    reaches of creation, and then returns to its Source. And the very basic
    postulate of this path, regardless of what name we know it by, is that if
    you place your attention upon the homeward flow, the upward and inward flow
    of this Light and Sound Stream of Life, it will take us back to Its Source,
    which is also our Source.
    James: So this inner sound stream is kind of like a cosmic elevator?
    Michael: Cosmic elevator or train or river. You know, if you catch the main
    line it takes you back to where it comes from. It's really the simplest
    thing imaginable.
    James: This all takes place during ones time of meditation, contemplation,
    spiritual exercises?
    Michael: Correct.
    James: And people see inner light or hear a sound or music, coming from
    beyond the silence or coming from within, coming from the "other side"
    (quote, unquote), or it's a sound from beyond in some way?
    Michael: Precisely. Initially you start off, if you're sitting down to
    meditate and are working with the light and sound techniques, usually you
    won't hear a whole lot, you won't see a whole lot. The first step is really
    to just kind of . . . tune out your outer environment. And so that's why
    most teachers of this path suggest that you get up in the wee hours of the
    morning, before the hustle and bustle of the day gets going. Sit down some
    place for at least half an hour, and just invert your attention. If you
    look forward, you won't see anything initially, but then you'll start
    seeing little flickers of light, maybe little flashes or something, and
    you'll most likely be hearing some vague humming inside of your head. With
    time and practice, the light becomes more visible and the sound becomes
    more audible. And you learn to actually gauge the frequency of
    consciousness you're working with, the dimension of consciousness you're
    working with by the types of sounds and colors you are experiencing.
    James: Well this teaching has been around for quite awhile, you've
    mentioned. Who are some of the great people in the past -- from India or
    elsewhere -- that you could name, who are great Avatars or masters of the
    Light and Sound.
    Michael: Well, for starters, going back a couple of millennia here . . . I
    mention this because we are a predominantly Judeo- Christian culture --
    Jesus Christ taught this path. Elijah, all the great Jewish prophets worked
    with it. Saint Paul spoke extensively about hearing the Word and seeing the
    Light. In more contemporary history, and by contemporary I mean in this
    millennium, you can go back to the great, great Sufi mystic and poet,
    Jelaluddin Rumi, whose writings and poems and stories are replete with
    references to this sound and light. And it's really beautiful that Coleman
    Barks is doing such a great job of bringing Rumi's poetry into more public
    There is a beautiful show on public broadcasting with Bill Moyers
    interviewing Coleman Barks. Coleman Barks was talking to him about Rumi and
    then also doing a live performance reciting some of Rumi's poetry, being
    backed up by the Paul Winter Consort. There are just wonderful stories they
    had in books like the "Open Secret" and "Delicious Laughter" that bring up
    these eternal principles. What was really funny, is that during the
    interview they were referring to some of these arcane things about this
    "Word," this "Who" about these various mystical elements that they didn't
    understand, and both Bill Moyers and Coleman Barks looked very quizzical
    about the whole thing -- because they were not familiar with the light and
    sound teachings.
    Now, more directly answering your question, you might say that Sant Mat
    really got going in the relatively modern era during the Fifteenth and
    Sixteenth Centuries, with the advents of the mystic poet Kabir, and also
    Guru Nanak in India. Those two were the first people to really overtly
    speak more and about this Shabda, this Naam, this Word-energy and these
    other dimensions of existence you could take it through. When they both
    died, they had various schools of thought and religions that sprung up
    around them. From Guru Nanak came the religion of the Sikhs, and there are
    some mystery schools that are associated with Kabir.
    A few centuries later in the mid-Nineteenth Century, there was an
    earthshattering event in which a fellow by the name of Shiv Dayal Singh
    began teaching the Light and Sound techniques openly and consciously in
    India, near the town of Agra, which also where the Taj Mahal is. Up to this
    point, India had been under the theocratic rule of the Muslims for many,
    many centuries. And so most Indian mystics - in fact throughout time most
    mystics in general - spoke of the Light and Sound teachings rather
    cryptically, because these were things that lead to total spiritual
    freedom. And they didn't generally jive with the religious orthodoxy of
    their culture, or any particular culture for that matter.
    With the advent of the British in India in the Nineteenth Century,
    religious freedom was allowed. And so, for the first time in centuries, if
    not millennia, somebody was able to overtly teach people the methods by
    which people could directly experience God and Soul, by which they could
    touch the hem of God's garment. They could actually have that experience
    without relying on second or third-hand knowledge.
    James: So would you say that as each generation progresses, as we move from
    one century to the next, there is an unfolding trend toward spiritual
    freedom? At one time in history, two thousand years ago, these teachings
    might have been kept secret and private amongst a few initiates. And with
    the advent of the modern age, it's more out in the open now are more free
    to believe whatever they want to believe or experience.
    Michael: Well, we're in a revolutionary period right now with information
    technology. Also, we have the capacity of looking at the holy books of all
    cultures, which wasn't available before. Right now on the Internet, you can
    download the Koran. You can download the Bhagavad-Gita. You can download
    the Adi Granth Sahib, the holy scriptures of the Sikhs. And there is more
    of an openness to study these things and discuss them, without fearing that
    you're going to be offending the orthodoxy of any particular culture.
    Now the important thing to understand though, if I may -- is that spiritual
    freedom is not just about being able to have a coffee table discussion
    group and talk about spirituality. Real spiritual freedom is about not
    being subject to the laws of karma, no longer being subject to the process
    of birth, and death, and rebirth. And that is the whole methodology this
    offers . . . teaching people how not only to create good karma for
    themselves, but to cease creating karma at all, and be able to be realized
    and experience the Kingdom of Heaven, and dwell there for eternity.
    James: To become souls, consciously aware of this spiritual reality instead
    of being asleep to it.
    Michael: Precisely. Now in modern times -- I'll finish the history lesson
    here really quickly -- 700 years ago there was Rumi teaching this in the
    Middle East. The teachings went further east, to India, with the Moslem
    invasions, and the Sufi mystics that accompanied them. And they gained a
    toehold in India with teachers like Kabir and Guru Nanak, and later on,
    great saints like Paltu Sahib, Mira Bai, Namdev, and a variety of mystics
    throughout the centuries.
    These teachings came into public knowledge and discourse in the 1860's with
    Shiv Dayal Singh (aka "Soamiji Dayal"), who wrote one of the first overt
    classics of this path, which is the "Sar Bachan Radha Soami." Soamiji Dayal
    initially had a very small group who basically went to his apartment on a
    regular basis to study with him. After He died, He had several successors
    who sprouted up, including lineages which grew into organizations like
    Soamibagh and Dayalbagh (who are situated across the street from each other
    in Agra) and Radhasoami Satsang Beas (whose current head is Gurinder
    Singh), which was founded by Sawan Singh. Charan Singh was Sawan's nephew
    and one of his successors. Kirpal Singh (an initiate of Sawan Singh's)
    began the Ruhani Satsang in Delhi. And from Kirpal Singh has come a number
    of lineages and teachers of this path, including major western Light and
    Sound organizations such as Eckankar. Right now, I'd say we have a base of
    about a dozen major versions of the Light and Sound teachings happening on
    planet Earth, and quite a few more that are just not as well known.
    James: And it seems to jump ethnic and cultural lines. I recently wrote a
    letter to this teacher in Taiwan who is teaching Light and Sound mysticism
    these days.
    Michael: Suma Ching Hai? She's wonderful.
    James: Yes. I wrote her a letter. And that seems to be proliferating and
    spreading in that culture as well.
    Michael: Exactly. What you find is that the wave of Light and Sound (the
    Holy Spirit or Word, as we call it in Christianity), it is the fabric of
    all that is. Everything you see, everything you touch, even the vacuum of
    space, is a manifestation of Its power. It is bringing about a new golden
    age of this ancient spirituality in which every culture is seeing masters
    coming from their own culture speaking to that culture in their own terms.
    And so you have Indian masters who speak to a predominantly Indian
    audience. Suma Ching Hai speaks to Southeast Asians in a Buddhist
    environment. In America, we have great teachers like Harold Klemp, Darwin
    Gross, Gary Olsen, Jr, who are speaking to people from a predominantly
    Judeo-Christian background and sculpting the teachings to fit in with the
    upbringing of the people in this area.
    James: You publish a newsletter called "The Sonic Spectrum" which in
    writing goes into a lot of the information you've been touching on today.
    One thing I really find very neat about your newsletter is that you make
    use of music, quotes from the Beatles, the Grateful Dead, Robert Hunter:
        "Come hear Uncle John's band,
        By the riverside
        Got some things to talk about
        Here beside the rising tide
        Come hear Uncle John's band
        Playing to the tide
        Come on along or go alone
        He's come to take his children home."

    Michael: Great song.
    James: Yeah. It's interesting that you quote and make use of lyrics of
    music. You'd make a great host of a radio show. You know -- play some
    tunes, talk about spirituality, play a song by the Grateful Dead. I think
    that would be something to consider. Spirituality and music go together
    really well.
    Michael: Well, thank you. Thank you very much. You reminded me of a line
    from the Moody Blues, "To hear the sun, what a thing to achieve. But it's
    all around if we could but perceive." (From "In Search of the Lost Chord")
    Some of the greatest mysticism in America culture in the last quarter of a
    century, or 30-35 years, has been through our musicians and our poets.
    Because really, the mystical experience is not confined to a religious
    school. It's not confined to a church. Most natural mystics, you know, will
    pay homage to their native culture, but the mystical thing is way beyond
    going to a Sunday morning worship service. It's a part of life. So you see
    these wonderful things that have come out of England and America, through
    poets like Robert Hunter and Bob Dylan. Those are probably the two greatest
    American songwriters in the second half of the Twentieth Century. I
    absolutely adore Robert Hunter.
    James: You quote Robert Hunter more than anybody else, I believe (as far as
    musicians go).
    Michael: He's like the scribe of the universe. In Eckankar they have a term
    they call the "Shariyat ki Sugmad," which they translate as "the Way of the
    Eternal." I call it "the Book of Life." And the great lessons that we find
    in life, and the great lessons of God, are often found in our everyday
    experiences. There are great souls who are like troubadours of the Lord.
    And they come here and they chronicle the experiences of life, its joys,
    its sorrows, its successes, and its hardships. And they show us that
    between all these peaks and valleys, there is a golden thread of constancy.
    There is an unbroken chain of pure love, a life essence that sustains us,
    that tempers our exuberance (so we don't get arrogant about it), and It
    also gives us solace, and comfort during times of sorrow.
    It is this golden thread, this unbroken chain of Spirit, that is our cosmic
    tuning fork. It gives us perspective. And Robert Hunter does that
    exceptionally well with his songs. He very rarely writes a song that is
    overtly mystical, along the lines of say the Moody Blues, or Yes, or
    something. He just writes about life and the fact, "Well, you know, good
    times happen, bad times happen . . . but I keep putting one foot in front
    of the other." And that's exactly how the spiritual path is. There is no
    "there" there. There is no sudden moment of . . . you know . . . snapping
    your fingers, doing one last meditation, and you're "enlightened" and
    everything is wonderful from then on.
    What happens is, you develop the immersion in God, the sense of balance, so
    that as you continue through your physical life until this life ends (and
    it always does. You know, we will shed this body we have on Earth someday),
    you have your attention on the One and It gives you the equipoise and the
    inner serenity, to sail right through it.
    James: And on the point about music, as I recall, many of the great mystics
    (even though we don't have the sound of their music, necessarily), they
    were all for the most part musicians, weren't they? Kabir wrote hymns, and
    . . .
    Michael: Oh, very much so.
    James: Hildegaard of Bingen . . .
    Michael: Guru Nanak.
    James: They all wrote songs. They were musicians who sang songs of
    devotion, or bhakti as it might be called in India.
    Michael: Yes. And the music opens the heart. It gets that devotion
    happening because with your singing . . . it's a different part of your
    breathing apparatus, which just opens up your chest cavity. And it's
    devotion that gets love going through you and you're giving love back to
    God, you're making yourself an open conduit for it. So the more love that
    flows through you and you give back to God, the more love God gives back to
    you. And the singing uplifts you.
    James (in conclusion to Part 1): It is interesting to notice that many
    mystics of the East and West, in addition to being mystics and spiritual
    teachers, were also musicians. The author of the Book of Psalms designed
    the psalms to be sung. The would- be book of New Testament psalms, known as
    the "Odes of Solomon", was also originally meant to be sung. Many world
    scriptures, were originally intended to be sung, including the "Guru Granth
    Sahib," known as the "Adi Granth," the Sikh bible. Read the poetry of
    Kabir, or Hildegaard of Bingen, or other mystics and saints, and it becomes
    apparent, that in addition to being mystics and teachers, they were also
    musicians. Sri Chinmoy says, "All musicians are bound to become yogis of
    the inner sound." And at the beginning this program today, Michael Turner
    said, "All yogis of the inner sound are bound to become musicians." Maybe
    there's something to that.
                                  PART II
    James: You recently set in motion the second annual "Spiritual Freedom and
    Unity Celebration" in Tucson. What was the theme and how did it go?
    Michael: It went really, really well. The theme? It was (very simply)
    spiritual unity, specifically between the various Light and Sound paths
    that are being offered right now on this planet. Like I was saying before
    the break, there are quite a few very good and evolved individuals teaching
    this. You can call them Masters or Guides, or use any phraseology you want.
    But, there is a really wide spectrum of the Light and Sound teachings being
    offered. And what is unfortunate, is that frequently people who get
    involved in organizations, just like people who go to rival colleges, tend
    to get pumped up about their Master and their organization to the exclusion
    of all others. And there tends to be a bit of myopia that happens
    To some extent this is good, because if you find a Master that you want to
    work with, if you find an individual who is saturated in the Essence of
    God, who can guide you into self-knowledge and God realization, then you
    should work with that individual, and study with him or her, give them your
    devotion, and really pour your love into them. At the same time, it is
    really important to honor all of our brothers and sisters, and our
    spiritual cousins. And so what I have been attempting to do with these
    Spiritual Unity Celebrations, is provide a forum, where people who are
    studying the Light and Sound teachings, regardless of whether it's an
    Eastern path or a Western path, regardless, (if it's Eastern) whether it's
    Suma Ching Hai, or Gurinder Singh, or Rajinder Singh, or Thakar, or Ajaib,
    or one of the others, or in the West, if you are working with Eckankar, or
    Master Path, or MSIA, or Ancient Teachers of the Masters, you should honor
    your teacher, but also, honor all of your other brother and sister Light
    and Sound teachings as well because we're all working toward the same goal,
    which is jivan mukti (As they call it in the East), which is spiritual
    freedom. And we all have a lot we can both offer to and learn from each
    James: You partly answered this next question already when you talked about
    devotion to one's teacher and working with that teacher and so therefore
    you really focus on your teacher and obviously have a great deal of
    reverence for the path that you are following. But I just wanted to ask you
    and have a conversation about this point. Why is that even amongst some of
    the most advanced teachings on this planet, disciples tend to view with
    suspicion followers of a "cousin path?" Why is it that even in the most
    loving of circles, there tends to be kind of a suspicion of the other guy?
    Of course this doesn't apply to everybody, but a few people do have this
    "my Guru is better than Guru" attitude.
    Michael: Oh yeah. Sri Harold Klemp once had a great tape that was called
    "My God is bigger than your God." You know basically, James, it's just
    human nature. And that's something that every Master who comes along has to
    struggle with. It's particularly precarious when your dealing with God
    because, the God consciousness, and not just being God-realized, but the
    programming we have in this world about religion is very powerful. It
    affects our emotional body, our mental body, our physical body. And people
    have very strong opinions. You know the old joke about not discussing
    politics, God, or sex at the dinner table. There's like three things off
    limits because people have very strong opinions about them. Some folks have
    been so disillusioned by this competition that when they talk about
    religion all they can mention is that fact that more people have died in
    the name of God than in anything else. Folks tend to get very volatile
    about their faith, and defending their faith.
    So it's important to encourage more comprehensive knowledge of other
    faiths, respect for them, understanding. This is why Kirpal Singh, gosh,
    this is 30 or 40 years ago, He started the World Fellowship of Religions
    and He also started the Human Unity Conferences, designed in India to bring
    Sikhs, and Jains, and Moslems, and Hindus, and Christians, and Jews, all
    together under one tent, and to discuss their common love for the Divine.
    I've seen pictures of Him on the same stage with Satchitananda, and Yogi
    Bhajan, and Indira Gandhi, and Catholic bishops and priests, and
    Episcopalians and Baptists, and a variety of people, saying it is good to
    honor you teacher, your path, but it's equally good to honor God of ItSelf.
    There's also this thing that we find a teacher who can take us there and,
    just like with our parents, we tend to think they're the best one. I mean
    when you're a kid you get into this thing sometimes like "Well my dad can
    beat up your dad." Unfortunately, it occurs in spirituality as well, and
    you get into some sense of an exclusivity game of one-upmanship. Again,
    it's human nature, but it's something we have to try to transcend. One
    thing I just want to say really quickly here is that people ask me which
    Light and Sound path I consider to be the greatest, and do I think
    so-and-so is better than so-and-so. Or, do I think that because of negative
    press such-and-such has received that it means they're not a "real" Master.
    I have talked to devotees and spent time with devotees of almost every
    Light and Sound teacher currently existing. And every devotee I've spoken
    to, if they're sincere, they're very excited about their Master, and
    they've reported tangible experiences with the Light of God, the celestial
    music, and they've seen their Master's radiant body during meditation,
    i.e., they've seen their Master's astral or soul form during meditation.
    And this applies to Suma Ching Hai, Sri Gary Olsen, Sri Harold Klemp,
    Darwin Gross, J.R., Jerry Mulvin, Gurinder Singh, Rajinder, Thakar, Ajaib.
    Everybody has the similar devotion, so I don't consider myself in any
    position to say one Master is real and another one isn't. If a Master can
    take you within, give you a taste of the Divine Word, and offer competent
    guidance, and you resonate with that teacher, then by all means, work with
    I mean sure, Yale and Harvard go at it with football, or Army and Navy, or
    Texas A&M versus Georgia Tech, and we get excited about that, but we don't
    think that one is divine and one is satanic! I think the same basic
    tolerance and a sense of humor should apply to spirituality as well.
    James: Getting to know other groups.
    Michael: Precisely!
    James: Most of us are so focused on just getting through the day and
    meeting our own obligations that we usually don't have too much time left
    over to check out other groups. But knowledge is power, isn't it? I've
    learned a lot because I review books, so I've got thousands of books. I
    really enjoy reading Radha Swami books, and Sant Bani books, and books by
    various religions, in fact, of the East and West. And I've tried to collect
    all of the world's scriptures from everywhere. After getting just a little
    bit of exposure, you can come away with a greater respect and can see the
    common threads sometimes, the points of unity and agreement. I do agree
    that knowledge is power and by getting informed, seeing what is being
    taught by another group, that it strengthens, and you might even come away
    with a clearer understanding of your own beliefs from your own tradition.
    Michael: Exactly. I would even modify that statement to say that
    "understanding is power," more than knowledge, because we can amass all
    kinds of knowledge. But it's really important to have an understanding of
    the depth, bredth and true history of this teaching, especially in America,
    where the Light and Sound paths basically go back to the founding of
    Eckankar by Sri Paul Twitchell. Before that there were some inroads made by
    Kirpal Singh and Charan Singh in the Fifties and early Sixties. But
    basically, Paulji was the man who brought this to America, made it a
    legitimate American mystical path.
    Because it is so recent, there's not a whole lot of background people have
    with it. And, it's extremely important to have this understanding in
    addition to the inner experiences people have with Masters who have come in
    the past, which occurs in these meditations, you can contact Jesus, you can
    contact Nanak, and Rumi, and Shiv Dayal Singh. You can have inner
    experiences learning with them, but for Americans especially, I think it is
    crucial to go back and look at our roots. It's not unlike when the movie
    "Roots" came out and African Americans started getting a better knowledge
    of their African origins. I think it's extremely beneficial, regardless of
    whom your teacher is, East or West, North or South, to take the time to
    read the "Sar Bachan," or "Path of the Masters," or the poetry of Kabir and
    Rumi and the devotions of Guru Nanak. And that lets you know that it's not
    some Johnny-come-lately latest whiz-bang thing in America. It's not a cult,
    as some people call it. This is the oldest spiritual path on the face of
    the Earth.
    James: And it's very interesting to read some of the Western medieval
    mystics: Hildegaard of Bingen, Meister Eckhart, Richard Rolle. Some of
    those also talked about hearing the music of the Holy Trinity during
    meditation or deep prayer. It's just so universal. People of the West and
    the East have encountered, if they've reached a point of tranquillity and
    centeredness, inner visions and spiritual music, and the inner reality, or
    mystical experiences as some would describe it.
    Michael: Right!
    James: It's just sort of a universal reality waiting for us to acknowledge
    its existence and to interact with it.
    Michael: There's a really good book on this subject Paul Twitchell wrote,
    called "Eckankar, Key to Secret Worlds." One of the best things about this
    work is that he goes into great length discussing a lot of the Western
    mystics of the last few centuries. Whether it's Padre Pio, or Saint
    Catherine, or a variety of people, who all had experiences of, whether you
    call "soul travel," or "out-of-body exploration," or "above body
    consciousness" (as Kirpal Singh called it), or whatever, people had
    experiences of being outside the physical body. They reported experiences
    of seeing light and hearing celestial music. And this is a very common
    point of measurement, you might say it's a very common place in people's
    mystical experiences.
    James: On this point of God, since you mentioned the name "God;" what is
    your definition of God, or the gender of God, or the non-gender . . .
    Because some people when they hear the word "God," they say, you know,
    "This is too religious for me!"
    Michael: No problem. I know exactly what you mean when you say, "this is
    too religious for me." I've been a natural mystic all of my life. Yet at
    the same time, there's a big period of my teens and through my twenties, I
    was in high school and going to college, it just wasn't cool to talk about
    "God," especially when I was up in college in the North San Francisco Bay
    area, up in Sonoma County. It just wasn't hip. So you talked about "The
    Universe," you talked about "Life." You didn't want to use the "G" word, as
    I used to call it. It took me years to get comfortable with that.
    Now, I'm very comfortable to the point of sometimes where I use it at
    family gatherings and with some relatives who are atheists and I can see
    them getting a little fidgety when I start talking about God too much. And
    I'm like, "Oh, I guess I've got a clerical collar on without realizing it."
    But how I define God, I don't see it as being "God" or "God-dess." There is
    great wisdom that can be found in understanding the male aspect of the
    Divine. There's great wisdom that can be found in understanding the female
    aspect of the Divine. But the one God, the "Ekankar," as Guru Nanak called
    it, is neither male nor female. It is not young and it's not old. It's not
    anything that the human intellect tries to put upon it. We give it
    attributes to make it understandable and finite at some level. But my
    experience of God is, it is this huge, huge, unbelievable huge whirlpool,
    vortex, of golden light, that just is humming with this song of total
    golden love. It is beyond vast. It is so vast, that the eyes of Lord, that
    if you could see them peering over the horizon of this planet they would
    take up all of space.
    James: Some of the vastness in Kabir's poetry, "The Ocean of Love."
    Michael: Exactly.
    James: Just beyond what language can really deal with.
    Michael: Kabir said it. Paul Twitchell in one of the chapters of "Dialogues
    with the Master" hints at it. When you're perched on a precipice of this
    unbelievably vast whirlpool of Light and Sound, with eyes in the middle of
    it, it's just the ultimate Is-ness. And there's really nothing you can say.
    You can't take my word for it or any other Guru's word for it. You can't
    read any number of holy scriptures and grasp IT. Each of us has to take
    that inner trek and make that journey Home and directly experience it for
    James: And you do use the term "It" to refer to it. Most people, when they
    read the term God used in a religious or spiritual book it might be "God,
    He" or but you use "It," capital "I."
    Michael: Capital "I," capital "T" -- "IT." IT's huge. My Master, Sri Darwin
    Gross, did a nice little song called "IT just IS." And really, those three
    words pretty much sum it up. When you get there, when you experience IT.
    You can say anything. It just IS.
    James: In our remaining six or seven minutes of this interview. How did the
    Spiritual Freedom and Unity Celebration go this year? Well attended? How
    does that work, when you invite people from different traditions to get
    Michael: It is a new tradition. It would be the third Sunday of October on
    an annual basis. We had a nice little turnout. What I'm working with is
    still a seedling. It's like a little redwood tree, it's going slowly. It's
    sprouting some leaves. And in the last two years we've done it. We've had
    attendees of backgrounds in orthodox Sant Mat and the Western paths. It
    gives a chance for people to share their perspectives. I make it a
    deliberate point when I do my talks during the Spiritual Unity Celebration
    to draw equally and freely from both East and West. This last time I gave
    Satsang based on readings from Shiv Dayal Singh, Guru Nanak, Darwin Gross,
    and Paul Twitchell, and Kirpal Singh, I believe. I try to find stuff that
    covers both sides, to show the unity that connects us all as brothers and
    sisters in Soul. So this will be on an annual basis. I'm looking very much
    forward to, at some point in the future, it might even be a separate event,
    but I would definitely like to do something that involves some of the other
    teachers, both East and West, where I could say, get together with Rajinder
    Singh, and Suma Ching Hai, and Harold Klemp, and Darwin Gross, and we could
    all share a common forum. You know, a table for panel discussion or
    something where we could all share our various experiences.
    One thing really quick is that I've had some very nice feedback on the
    Internet, people asking me about my positions on vegetarianism and such.
    It's really good because I've openly shared that I support vegetarianism
    but I'm not a vegetarian. But I think it's a good health decision. I think
    it's a good decision toward being kind to animals.
    James: Yeah, the longer you live, the more opportunity to meditate you'll
    Michael: Exactly. And, very simply, it is good that people are coming out
    of the woodwork and discussing this and openly sharing perspectives and
    saying "I agree with this, I disagree with that, but I honor your
    James: If people want to write to you and say hello, or ask about any of
    the books or teachers you've touched upon, how do they get hold of you?
    Michael: I'll tell ya. My E-mail address is:
    our Usenet Newsgroup is:
    and the web page address is:
    James: Well, well, people can check you out on the Internet, in this
    electronic age that we're entering into.
    Michael: Oh yes. It's a wonderful thing.
    James: An electronic Satsang, an electronic meditation group, cyber
    Michael: We've done that. We have people all the way from Australia to
    Finland with whom I've been touching base on the Internet.
    James: Well it's been interesting talking with you today. It's been really
    good to have you on and to explore these traditions which people may not be
    as familiar with. Which is one reason I've picked this topic today to
    expose people to new stuff when it comes to new spiritual movements that
    are entering the Western world. So it's been great having you on.
    Michael: Thank you, James.

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