Christopher Key Chapple on Ritual, the Elements and Sanskrit (#56)

Dr. Christopher Key Chapple is the Doshi Professor of Indic and Comparative Theology and Director of the Master of Arts in Yoga Studies at Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles. His research interests focus on the renouncer religious traditions of India: Yoga, Jainism, and Buddhism. He has published several books on these topics with SUNY Press, including Karma and Creativity (1986), Nonviolence to Animals, Earth, and Self in Asian Traditions (1993), Reconciling Yogas (2003), and Yoga and the Luminous: Patanjali’s Spiritual Path to Freedom (2008).

He has also edited and co-authored several books on religion and ecology, including Ecological Prospects: Religious, Scientific, and Aesthetic Perspectives, Hinduism and Ecology, Jainism and Ecology, Yoga and Ecology, and In Praise of Mother Earth: The Prthivi Sukta of the Atharva Veda. His most recent books are Poet of Eternal Return and Sacred Thread. 

Chris serves as academic advisor for the International Summer School of Jain Studies and on the advisory boards for the Forum on Religion and Ecology (Yale), the Ahimsa Center (Pomona), and the Jaina Studies Centre (SOAS, University of London). In 2002 he established the first of several certificate programs in the study of Yoga at LMU’s Center for Religion and Spirituality and founded LMU’s Master of Arts in Yoga Studies in the fall of 2013.

Jonathan Dickstein on Vegetarianism in Classical Yoga (#55)

Jonathan Dickstein is a PhD student in Religious Studies at the University of CaliforniaSanta Barbara. He researches South Asian religions, Animals and Religion, and Comparative Ethics. He earned a MA in Religious Studies from the University of Colorado-Boulder and a BA in Philosophy, Politics, and Economics from the University of Pennsylvania. Jonathan is currently working on two projects. The first is a comprehensive study of the figure of Īśvara in the Pātañjalayogaśāstra, and the second looks at violence and the moral standing of nonhuman animals in Indian Philosophy. Jonathan is an Intermediate level Iyengar Yoga instructor who offers classes and workshops on philosophy and ethics in addition to āsana and prāṇāyāma.

Ken Wilber on Waking Up, Growing Up and the Religion of Tomorrow (#54)

With 22 books on spirituality and science, and translations in more than 25 countries, Ken Wilber is now the most translated writer on consciousness studies in the United States. He is seen as an important representative of transpersonal psychology, which emerged in the sixties from humanistic psychology, and which concerns itself explicitly with spirituality. For the fundamental and pioneering nature of his insights, he has been called "the Einstein of consciousness research”.

His debut The Spectrum of Consciousness (1977) established his reputation as an original thinker, who seeks to integrate Western and Eastern psychology. No Boundary (1979), which summarizes this work, is one of his most popular books. His core works The Atman Project (1980) and Up from Eden (1981) cover the territories of developmental psychology and cultural history respectively.

In his recent work, especially the voluminous Sex, Ecology, Spirituality (1995), he has criticized not only Western culture, but also counter-cultural movements such as the New Age. In his opinion, none of these approach the depth and detailed nature of the "perennial philosophy", the conception of reality that lies at the heart of all major religions, and which forms the background of all his writings. This fundamental work has been summarized too, in A Brief History of Everything (1996).

In 2000 he founded the Integral Institute, a think-tank for studying issues of science and society in an integral way. He lives in Denver, Colorado.

Jonathan Edelmann on Evolution, the Bhāgavata Purāṇa and Vaiṣṇava Theology (#53)

Jonathan Edelmann is an Assistant Professor of Religion at the University of Florida and an Affiliated Faculty member at the Center for the Study of Hindu Traditions. He received a B.A. in Philosophy from the University of California – Santa Barbara, an M.A. in Science and Religion from Oxford University, and Ph.D. (D.Phil.) from Oxford University in Religious Studies and Theology. While at Oxford he was affiliated with Harris Manchester College and the Oxford Centre for Hindu Studies.

Edelmann’s fields of research are twofold. The first is the Bhāgavata Purāṇa, as well as the Sanskrit theological and philosophical tradition that surrounds it known as Gauḍīya or Caitanya Vaiṣṇavism.

The second is the manner in which Hindu thought and Indian philosophy has interacted with and might further interact with Western thought in a constructive manner, especially the evolutionary sciences and Western philosophy. Edelmann has argued for a discussion (saṃvāda) between Hindu thought and the evolutionary sciences, one that respects the autonomy and value of multiple perspectives in the on-going discovery of our world.

Jonathan is currently working on ethics in the Gauḍīya Vaiṣṇava tradition and the definitions of the three yogas (karma, jñāna, and bhakti). Some long-term plans involve making the Bhagavad Gītā’s commentarial tradition more accessible to students and scholars, evaluating various Western reductive theories of mind and consciousness in conversation with Hindu conceptions of self, and translating the writings of Viśvanātha Cakravartin.

James Mallinson on Hatha Yoga History, Philology and the Khecarīvidyā (#52)

James Mallinson is Senior Lecturer in Sanskrit and Classical and Indian Studies at School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London.

He took his BA in Sanskrit and Old Iranian at the University of Oxford, followed by an MA in Area Studies (South Asia), with Ethnography as his main subject, at SOAS. His doctoral thesis, submitted to the University of Oxford, was a critical edition and annotated translation of the Khecarīvidyā, an early text of haṭhayoga.

Dr Mallinson has published eight books, all of which are editions and translations of Sanskrit yoga texts, epic tales and poetry. His recent work has used philological study of Sanskrit texts, ethnography and art history to explore the history of yoga and yogis. His most recent book, written in collaboration with Dr Mark Singleton, is Roots of Yoga, which was published by Penguin Classics in 2017.

From 2015 to 2020 Dr Mallinson will be leading a European Research Council - funded research project on the history of hatha yoga which will result in ten critical editions and translations of key yoga texts, four monographs and two large conferences to be held at SOAS in 2017 and 2019.

JP Sears on JP Sears, Creativity & Vulnerability (#51)

JP Sears is an emotional healing coach, YouTuber, author, international teacher, speaker at events, world traveler, and curious student of life.  His work empowers people to live more meaningful lives.  JP is the author of “How To Be Ultra Spiritual,” which was published by Sounds True in 2017.  He is very active with his online videos where he encourages healing and growth through his humorous and entertainingly informative videos, including his hit Ultra Spiritual comedy series, which has accumulated over 100 million views.  You can learn more about JP and his work at AwakenWithJP.com.

Isa Gucciardi on Shamanism, Depth Hypnosis and Integration (#50)

Isa Gucciardi is the Founding Director and lead teacher of the Foundation of the Sacred Stream. The workshops and training programs of the Foundation are part of her larger vision for helping people who are interested in stepping into greater consciousness and leading happier lives. Her primary focus is on teaching, writing, and curriculum development. Isa is also the creator of the groundbreaking therapeutic model, Depth Hypnosis, which is born from her studies in transpersonal psychology, cultural and linguistic anthropology, comparative religion, hypnotherapy, and transformational healing. Isa has lived in eleven countries and she speaks five languages. The mother of two children, she is a potter and gardener, a stained glass artist, a piano enthusiast, and an herbalist. In addition to her busy teaching schedule, she has an active Depth Hypnosis counseling and consulting practice in San Francisco.

Marianne Garneau on the Social Justice Warrior & Progressive Politics (#49)

Marianne Garneau lives in New York City, where she is a graduate student in philosophy at the New School for Social Research. She is a "stay-at-home" mom, who devotes most of her time to labor organizing for industrial workers of the world, and part of her time to writing articles about politics. She also works as an editor.

Swami Sarvapriyananda on the Upanishads & the Hard Problem of Consciousness (#48)

Swami Sarvapriyananda was appointed as Minister and Spiritual Leader of the Vedanta Society of New York, and assumed his duties there on January 5, 2017. He served as assistant minister of the Vedanta Society of Southern California for 13 months, beginning on December 3, 2015.

Swami joined the Ramakrishna Math and Mission in 1994 and received Sannyas in 2004. As assistant minister, Swami Sarvapriyananda gave regular evening classes in the Hollywood Temple, assisted Swami Sarvadevananda with major pujas, delivered Sunday spiritual talks at each of the Southern California centers, and led monthly retreats at Vivekananda House. He also gave retreats here and at centers throughout the U.S.

Before being posted to the VSSC’s Hollywood Temple, Swami served as an acharya, instructor, of the monastic probationers’ training center at Belur Math. He has served the Ramakrishna Math and Mission in various capacities including being the Vice Principal of the Deoghar Vidyapith Higher Secondary School, Principal of the Shikshana Mandira Teacher’s Training College at Belur Math, and the first registrar of the Ramakrishna Mission Vivekananda University at Belur Math. Swami holds a degree in Business Management from the Xavier Institute of Management, Bhubaneswar.

In this episode, we discuss...

  • The evolution of eastern religious interests within American culture
  • What Vedanta contributes to the conversation on the so-called "hard problem" of consciousness"
  • Introduction to the Vedas including the history of the Upanishads and their exploration of consciousness 
  • The relationship between Atman and Brahman
  • The Bhakti approach to god vs. a more visceral experience of god
  • The “New Atheists” 
  • Ramakrishna’s spiritual path, and his four main teachings
  • The rise of fundamentalist dogmas in different religions and how to respond 
Jacob Kyle, Host of CHITHEADS

Jacob Kyle, Host of CHITHEADS

Vera de Chalambert on Interspirituality and the Dark Night of the Soul (#47)

Vera de Chalambert, MTS,  is a spiritual storyteller and Harvard educated scholar of comparative religion. She speaks and writes about spiritual culture, mindfulness in the modern world and the Divine Feminine and has been a speaker at the Science and Nonduality Conference in the US and Europe, Sister Giant in Washington DC and other gatherings around the world. Vera holds a Master’s degree from Harvard Divinity School where she studied comparative mysticism and a Bachelors degree from the University of Florida in Religion and Literature. Her work explores the meeting place of creativity, psychology and spirituality and is informed by insights from both Eastern and Western philosophies. Vera is a graduate of the Barbara Brennan School of Healing and has been a student of Jason Shulman's Nondual Healing work. She is deeply influenced by Buddhist and Kabbalistic lineages and is a lover of the world’s great wisdom traditions. Vera's recent work has been on the topic of Holy Darkness and exploration of the Dark Goddesses associated with transformation and initiation found in the world's spiritual lineages, the most well known of whom is the Hindu Goddess Kali. Vera is a mother and a devotee of the Great Mother in all her forms. She is working on her first book on the Dark Feminine.

David Vago on Contemplative Neuroscience (#46)

David Vago is Research Director of the Osher Center for Integrative Medicine at Vanderbilt University Medical Center. He is an associate professor in the department of Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation and department of Psychiatry & Behavioral Sciences. He also maintains an appointment as a research associate in the Functional Neuroimaging Laboratory (FNL), Brigham and Women’s Hospital (BWH), Harvard Medical School. He has completed post-doctoral fellowships in the department of Psychiatry at BWH, the Utah Center for Mind-Body Interactions within the University of Utah Medical School, and the Stuart T. Hauser Research Training Program in Biological & Social Psychiatry. David has previously held the position of Senior Research Coordinator for the Mind & Life Institute and is currently a Mind and Life Fellow, supporting the Mind and Life mission by advising on strategy and programs. He received his Bachelors Degree in Brain and Cognitive Sciences in 1997 from the University of Rochester. In 2005, David received his Ph.D. in Cognitive and Neural Sciences with a specialization in learning and memory from the department of Psychology, University of Utah.

Jeffrey Lidke on the Goddes, Nepal and the Sri Yantra (#45)

Jeffrey S. Lidke earned his M.A. (1996) and Ph.D. (2000) in South Asia Religion and Philosophy from the University of California, Santa Barbara, and his B.A. in Religious Studies from the University of Colorado (1990). He was a Fulbright Dissertation Fellow to Nepal in the 1996-97 academic year. During his graduate years, Lidke devoted himself to Sanskritic languages, both classical and vernacular, with training from several teachers, including Gerald Larson, Nandini Iyer and Sthaneshwar Timalsinsa. Currently, he is chair of the Department of Religion and Philosophy at Berry  College where he has taught since 2003. After two years as editor for the Southeast Review of Asian Studies (SERAS), Lidke is now attending to the publication of his recent research on the neuroscience of contemplative practice as well as three book projects: the long overdue The Goddess Beyond and Within the Three Cities: Śākta Tantra and the Paradox of Power in Nepāla-Maṇḍala a textbook for Cognella Academic Publishing on the world's religions titled World Religions: A 21st Century Primer and a reissue of his first book,Viśvarūpa Maṇḍir: A Study of Chaṅgu Nārāyaṇa, Nepal's Most Ancient Pagoda (to appear in a newly titled, revised and updated edition,  with proceeds going toward the rebuilding of Changu Narayan, one of several Nepalese UNESCO heritage sites severely damaged by the 2015 earthquake). Dr. Lidke's publications and current projects can be found here: https://berry.academia.edu/JeffreyLidke

Angela Warburton on Chinese Medicine (#44)

With her extensive background in health sciences, including studies in nutrition and dietetics at McGill university, degree in Psychology and extensive and ongoing training in Traditional Chinese Medicine, Angela pulls from a diverse background to offer the wisdom of traditional medicines combined with the most up-to-date, relevant and impactful options available for her patients and students. Angela has additional training in applied mindfulness based mediation, and runs a weekly mindful meditation group out of her clinic in Toronto.

Loren Fishman on Yoga as Medical Treatment (#43)

In over two decades of practice, Dr. Loren Fishman has gained an international reputation as a back-pain specialist, a diagnostician and a pioneer in the treatment of many disorders, including piriformis syndrome, scoliosis, osteoporosis and rotator cuff tear. He has authored more than 90 academic journal articles and 10 books. 

A past president of the New York Society of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, Dr. Fishman is currently an Assistant Clinical Professor at Columbia Medical School. He has recently published an innovative book about electrodiagnostic testing, published by Springer, and the book on yoga cures Healing Yoga.  His books on osteoarthritis and osteoporosis guide the workshops he teaches nationally and internationally.

Dr. Fishman studied yoga in India with BKS Iyengar, uses it in his rehabilitation practice and has written extensively about yoga as an adjunct to medical treatment.

Joe Loizzo on Meditation Research, Neuroplasticity and Contemplative Science (#25)

My guest in this episode is Dr. Joe Loizzo, who was a recent guest speaker at our conference on Buddhism. The organization Joe founded, the Nalanda Institute of Contemplative Science, was also our sponsor for this conference. It was an honor to talk to Joe about his life story, the latest meditation research, how the academy and the hospital are not comfortable homes for integrated contemplative work, a reappropriated approach to ethics, and how an internal experience of the chakras in personal practice relates to the science of the nervous system. 

Nina Rao on Kirtan, Hanuman and Devotion (#42)

Nina Rao learned traditional chants (bhajans) from her grandfather in a village in south India when she nine years old. The chants quietly stayed with her until she rediscovered chanting with Krishna Das in New York in 1996. Her childhood was spent living in and moving between many countries around the world and when she settled in New York her working life began in the banking world, switched to organizing and leading photographic wildlife safaris in Africa and India, and now for many years, is Krishna Das' business manager and assistant.

Nina tours with Krishna Das, playing cymbals and singing with him, and was honored in 2013 to accompany him at the Grammy Awards webcast performance. In 2007, she recorded the track 'Nina Chalisa' on Krishna Das' CD "Flow of Grace - Chanting the Hanuman Chalisa". In January 2013, she released her debut album, "Antarayaami - Knower of All Hearts". The double CD includes devotional kirtan, bhajan, and a variety of Hanuman Chalisa melodies including a duet with Krishna Das. Nina regularly leads kirtan, chanting of the Hanuman Chalisa, and sings for yoga classes in her hometown of Brooklyn, NY and beyond.

Chris Grosso on Compassion, Recovery and Spiritual Materialism (#41)

Chris Grosso is a public speaker, writer, director of education at Toivo by Advocacy Unlimited and author of Indie Spiritualist: A No Bullshit Exploration of Spirituality (Beyond Words/Simon & Schuster), Everything Mind: What I’ve Learned About Hard Knocks, Spiritual Awakening and the Mind-Blowing Truth of it All (Sounds True) and Dead Set On Living (Simon & Schuster/New World Library-Spring 2018). He writes for ORIGIN Magazine, Huffington Post, and Mantra Yoga + Health Magazine, and has spoken and performed at Wanderlust Festival, Celebrate Your Life, Yoga Journal Conference, Sedona World Wisdom Days, Kripalu, Sun Valley Wellness Festival, and more.

Chris is passionate about his work with people who are in the process of healing or struggling with addictions of all kinds. He speaks and leads groups in detoxes, yoga studios, rehabs, youth centers, hospitals, conferences, and festivals worldwide. He is a member of the advisory board for Drugs over Dinner and hosts The Indie Spiritualist Podcast on Ram Dass’s esteemed Be Here Now Network.

Livia Cohen-Shapiro on Yoga as Somatic Psychology (#40)

Livia is a pioneer in the intersection of yoga and psychology with a dedication to embodiment. She is known for weaving together yogic teachings, disciplined asana and somatic psychology in clear and meaningful ways inspiring teachers and students alike towards greater safety, trust and the discovery of their own truth. She is known for her wit, humor and fierce-love as well as her ability to actually “teach” yoga so you make it your own. A scholar-practioner, her passion for learning and irreverent reverence is infectious. Her methods of teaching straddle old school lectures and new school unconventional experiential models. 

Igor Kufayev on Spanda, Quantum Physics, and the Role of the Teacher (#39)

An artist, Advaita Tantra master and founder of the Flowing Wakefulness community,
for over a decade Igor Kufayev has been serving as a conduit of transmission for
awakening towards the new era of heart-centered consciousness. Speaking from direct
realization of Oneness, he inspires all seekers of truth to recognize the fullest potential
present in human birth. Many have been touched by Grace and awakened in his
presence, as he continues working towards building a global community to serve as a
container for exploring possibilities for alternative, consciousness-based culture.
His involvement with sacred tradition expresses itself not only in scriptural exposition
and metaphysical discourse, but also as non-intellectual, heart-based illumination.
Though his methods are rooted in Shaiva Tantra, Igor remains elusive to categorization, maintaining that tradition is not a set of esoteric teachings and techniques but a vibrant field of energy enlivened in the hearts of those who go through this transformative process firsthand and bring these teachings to life. With a dedicated team of companions, Igor is working on creating centers for spiritual regeneration as facilities for research in consciousness, with bases in Europe, California and British Columbia. Traveling extensively with the programs mainly offered in North America and Europe, Igor currently resides in Mallorca, Spain. He lives with his partner, Amrita Ma Devi, and their two children — daughter Ramana, and son Keahnu. Vamadeva — from Sanskrit, the “preserving aspect of Shiva in his peaceful, graceful and poetic form” — is Igor's spiritual name.

Hari-kirtana das on Yoga Philosophy, Bhakti Yoga, and the Path to Self-Realization (#38)

Hari-kirtana das: A lifelong student of yoga, meditation, and Eastern spiritual philosophies, Hari-kirtana das lived full-time in devotional yoga ashrams and intentional spiritual communities from 1977 to 1981 and again from 1995 to 1998. He was formally initiated into the Gaudiya Vaisnava lineage of Bhakti Yoga in 1978. Hari-kirtana is an E-RYT 500 registered yoga teacher and received an 800-hour training certification from the Jivamukti Yoga School. He began teaching contemporary yoga classes in 2009 and has since gone on to develop Yoga Teacher Training courses and is a sought-after guest teacher for numerous Yoga Teacher Training programs. He leads yoga workshops, offers presentations for personal and professional development, and regularly takes students on yoga adventures to India. He currently lives and teaches in Washington, D.C. You can learn more about Hari-kirtana by visiting his website: hari-kirtana.com.  You can also find his new book on CreateSpace.com

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