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
NOTE: The following transcript was kindly provided by:
Spiritual Freedom Satsang
P.O. Box 42374
Tucson, AZ 85733-2374
Web Site: http://www2.hmc.edu/~wmyers/index2.html
A RADIO INTERVIEW OF MICHAEL TURNER
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.
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
James: This all takes place during ones time of meditation, contemplation,
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
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
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
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
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.
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.
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
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.
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
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."
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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