In this, “Best Of” series,” Robert asks listeners, spiritual practitioners, leaders, and mentors to reflect on ways to be more inclusive. He suggests modeling by those in positions of leadership to reveal how they integrate tendencies to idealize their own religion or spiritual teaching. Whether it be, meditation, prayer, or faith-centered, it can be helpful to their communities to show how they don’t want to fall prey to using their teachings to unwittingly create an “us versus them” with other approaches. This blanketing of their challenging parts and an unwillingness to share deprives the practitioners and students of the advantage of seeing the teacher’s deep wisdom in practice and how this can lead to superiority, rather than love for humanity. When we can be vulnerable and real about our humanness, doubt, and uncertainty this leads to a common identification with everyone because we realize we are all in the same boat. Nobody has immunity from life, death, or the challenges in between. Join Robert as he explores these challenges week by week and how to meet them with ever-growing awareness.
A full experience of reality includes a certain level of faith, wisdom, and belief, but it also needs to include our humanity. Humanness is not the denial of faith but the inclusion of our primal fears, confusions, any challenging emotions, and seeing the goodness and wisdom in other approaches. In Robert’s view, it is very important to keep questioning, to stay curious, and to keep a certain amount of mandatory humility rather than false confidence. It is the ignoring of our exclusivity and compartmentalization that has led to war, alienation, competition, and endangering our planet. The stakes are incredibly high for our survival and our fulfillment. However, this shift is not enough if it is simply an insight, unless we also use more of our time, money, and resources toward our troubled country, the world, and unite with other approaches that are primarily focused on loving humanity and the planet. If you enjoyed this conversation please look for the full episodes in the show notes.
Mentioned in this episode
The Global Bridge Foundation
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The Missing Conversation, Episode 77. Best Of Series.
On this podcast, we will propose critical new strategies to address world issues, including homelessness, immigration, amongst several others, and making a connection to how our individual psychology contributes and can help transform the dangers that we face. We will break from traditional thinking, as we look at our challenges from a freer and more independent point of view, your host Robert Strock has had 45 years of experience as a psychotherapist, author, and humanitarian, and has developed a unique approach to communication, contemplation, and inquiry born from working on his own challenges.
Robert Strock (00:45):
Welcome everyone to The Missing Conversation. This is our “Best Of” series. It’s a compilation of some of our favorite episodes and clips that we have pulled together in a single episode for you. We hope you enjoy what you’re about to hear. We hope these excerpts in the “Best Of” series inspire you to listen to our full episodes. You can find the full episodes by visiting our show notes on our website at TheGlobalBridge.org. On the menu bar, just click the Best Of tab and thanks so much for listening. What you’re going to hear in this episode is a genuine plea for you and for spiritual and religious teachers to focus on the importance of each tradition being more inclusive of all traditions, with grounded humanitarian connection for the whole world, and the need to encourage modeling by the teachers showing us how they integrate their own personal challenges with their teachings. Meditation, prayer, and faith aren’t enough unless we use more of our time, money, and resources toward our troubled country and the world.
Religious and spiritual traditions and teachings could be such a leader in helping integrate the world and starting to have a value system that is truly international, teachers that I believe could have helped thousands of people if they were to reveal what their challenge is that’s most significant for them and how they used the teaching to actually support themselves. Now, this is so crucial because we look up to these people. I’m not gonna mention any names because the point of this podcast is not in any way to be critical toward any individuals. So this man was, and I hope this word is politically correct, obese and has been around for 40 years and I’ve had several conversations with him about, why don’t you share with your teachings as to how you help support your inner life and explicate this and see it as a possibility of how it could benefit so many tens of thousands of people that are suffering from the same condition.
Can you see that the members of your community would be so benefited if you could share what your thought process has been and how it’s evolved through the years? One of the more well known teachers in the United States had very severe back pain and the back pain that they had was so bad that it led to suicidal feelings and it went on for months and he was in isolation. There was no sharing with the community, and I found this to be tragic. I’d ask you to look at your own life right now and see if you’re dealing with any kind of pain and how valuable might it be if your teacher said, when I’m in pain, this is how I relate to medication, this is how I relate to meditation, this is how I relate to prayer, this is how I relate to friendship, this is how I relate to what I eat.
These are the thoughts I told myself that were most helpful. If they would’ve shared that with their friends or you, maybe, yeah, that will lead you to be more open. Do they share their challenges or are they living in this world, blanketing the human parts of themselves and unwilling to give us the advantage of a very deep level of wisdom, oftentimes. You need to ask your teachers, nicely, with respect, with great sensitivity, would you mind sharing a bit more of where you are challenged? Cuz I know it will help all of us in the group. We want to idealize. We want to believe that our teachers have arrived, so we’re feeding that to them. So we need to give them different food. We, we need to really say, Hey, how about you sharing some of this other side of you? Maybe you could pause for a moment and ask yourself, where do you stand with this?
Do you have the strength to be able to, with sincerity, not from a put down place, but with courage, humility, and sincerity asking for this to occur? Do you think you’re ready? If you’re in a position where you have somebody that you could go to? And I hope this contemplation is something that will stay with you way beyond this podcast. One of the things that I’ve noticed in the spiritual and religious world is something that’s normally called spiritual bypassing, and that is that we block these questions with pat beliefs, and that could be a belief in heaven or hell, in dust-to-dust or fatalism. And then it has a period and all the questions that are so alive and frankly I believe lead you to a common identification with everybody else because you realize everybody else is in the same boat. Nobody has immunity from life and death.
For many of us, it’s very difficult to identify specific challenges, which is very important, and this is incredibly natural, given that, to the best of my knowledge, we all find ourselves in a body and don’t know for sure how we got here. Some of us might have a belief that, oh, I came from a past life. It’s obvious, and they may even believe their belief is a knowing, it’s a certainty. One of my dearest friends who’s a Christian minister, his wife said to me, if Jesus turns out to be a fraud, I wanna be the last one to know. And I, I just laughed my ass off I, I thought that was one of the most sincere and quite shocking, honest moments. We weren’t raised to live in an uncertainty. We were raised to have black- and-white views about things. We had faith or we didn’t have faith.
We were raised to be married or not married. We were raised to be successful or not successful. I wanna ask you, is it not true for you too, that you’re not absolutely sure how you got here? I believe it’s very, very important that you and I stay in a level of not knowing, to keep questioning, to stay curious, and to keep a certain amount of mandatory humility, rather than false confidence. Either in the religious or spiritual or in the formally non-religious and spiritual has an ideal, and all of these groups are in danger of not facing their challenges, and so they can be wonderful people, but they’re subconscious suppressed anger, competition, insecurity, inadequacy, fear, jealousy, all of that’s gonna come out sideways and it has.
My view is that in order for us to have a full experience of reality, it needs to include a certain level of faith or wisdom, belief, and it also needs to include our humanness, which would be our primal fears, confusions or any challenging emotions. And that this humanness is not a denial of faith or belief, but simply the importance of clarifying the difference to not be a socially accepted cult-like experience of absolute knowing. And that is such a danger because suppressing our human side, because of our religious or spiritual views, is like cutting out half of our brain or cutting out half of our heart. This is one of the greatest tragedies of our time. It’s this compartmentalization of looking at the ultimate goal in believing that any of us can arrive there and ignoring our challenges that’s led to war, that’s led to alienation.
Compartmentalizing of spiritual development has cost the world enormous peace, trust, cooperation, and really has led to war, alienation, competition endangering the planet. In other words, I believe the stakes are incredibly high for our survival and for our fulfillment. The perhaps greatest attachment we face in our western world today is the attachment to money and how the Buddhist community in general has not given this enough attention that from my vantage point, the world very much needs us to do. So Buddha himself really portrayed that money is not evil, no more than any other resource. Money only becomes evil or destructive if it starts to change us and possess us, and he would’ve likely had unbelievable amounts to say about our world’s imbalance and how central this dominating emphasis on success and money and wealth is really one of the greatest sources of robbing our world from peace, generosity, and helping others.
So I persevered and said, do you think it might make sense and do you think if Buddha were here, he would be encouraging you to having this be maybe a very central part of your teachings? And he was one of the few teachers that actually took in that message. From that time on, we continued to be developing a colleague relationship and how important it was to be in balance and to be a questioner. So one of the questions that I would ask you is, do you have the courage, if you’re oriented toward Buddhism, to ask your teacher to direct more attention in the area of money and attachment to money and maybe even to include their own relationship to money to help you model that.
The idea of me being generous with you when I have a lot and you have a little seems almost like an oxymoron. It’s more like I get to join you and my energy expands. I get to consider more and more expansion outside of whatever orbit I’m in. Can you see how that if you look at the amount of people that have saved 2 million dollars, 3 million dollars, 5 million dollars and way more than that, and the thousands and tens of thousands of people and the trillions and trillions of dollars that are just in savings, investments that have nothing to do with caring for the world, if only a percentage were going toward the world and toward the poor, how many trillions of dollars that could be. That means giving opportunities to the poor, so they can prove their every bit as much a human being with potential as are we. The false or limitation in my mind isn’t at all with the practices, the traditions, the religions, it’s where they deviate from the core tenets of compassionate action and attitudes with character and integrity. This is unfortunately a great catastrophe and it’s been obvious that it’s gone on throughout human history, through the wars that have continued to happen, that have been instigated so often by religious beliefs.
I truly hope that the show has highlighted the incredible opportunity for you and our spiritual teachers to see the importance of bringing heart and wisdom to our deepest challenges. We all need to be guided in how to develop our capacity to best support international unity and survival in our imperiled world.
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