The Intuition Network, A Thinking Allowed Television Underwriter, presents the following transcript from the series Thinking Allowed, Conversations On the Leading Edge of Knowledge and Discovery, with Dr. Jeffrey Mishlove.

SELF-EXPRESSION with ISANAMADA  

JEFFREY MISHLOVE, Ph.D.: Hello and welcome. I'm Jeffrey Mishlove. Our topic today is "Self-Expression." With me is spiritual teacher IsanaMada, who is author of More Than Me and also A Call to Greatness. Welcome.

ISANAMADA: Thank you, Jeffrey.

MISHLOVE: It's a pleasure to be with you.

ISANAMADA: I'm very happy to be here.

MISHLOVE: When we think of self-expression, I'm of the opinion, as I look at your work, that your belief is that there is vast greatness, even glory, within each of us, and we hide ourselves from it sometimes by not being congruent or honest or fully truthful about who we are when we express ourselves in the world.

ISANAMADA: Yes. I think I would feel more comfortable talking about it not so much as hiding it from ourselves, but that we have lost touch with it, that at least the modern human being in the Western world has become distracted by many things, and has just lost touch with that aspect of themselves, that part of the self, that level of their being, that is the truth of themselves, and instead have been living out of a surface level, a personality level, a lower-mind level of being that is not satisfying, that's not fulfilling, that is not truly an expression of who we are.

MISHLOVE: I know you actually quote one writer -- I believe it's the Tibetan lama Sogyal Rinpoche -- who marvels at the great ability of modern culture to fascinate us with distractions that lead us away from ourselves.

ISANAMADA: Yes. And he condemns that, and I think that we all can condemn that without feeling bad about condemning it. But also Sogyal Rinpoche stands for something; he doesn't just stand against that. He stands for the truth of ourselves and our ability to begin to understand ourselves in life and in death.

MISHLOVE: In your works you draw upon the teachings of Sogyal Rinpoche, just to mention one among many, and it gave me the sense of optimism in spite of this cultural numbness, if I could call it that, because it seems as if we live in an age where there are more and more teachers of wisdom, teachers of enlightenment -- that it is being spoken of more and more. I can say that I have had the privilege of interviewing many such people, including yourself now, and that this is becoming in some sense the birthright of all people.

ISANAMADA: Yes. Well, I think it always has been. I feel it always has been the birthright of all people, but that we are in a very special time now; we are in an unprecedented epoch of human history, and that epoch is marked by exactly what you're talking about -- the fact that enlightenment, that an evolutional leap, is available to the ordinary human being, and that the ordinary human being is so supported, is so blessed with wisdom at every turn, but is so distracted, and I think more than anything confused, more than numb. I feel that our culture is confused. Our culture has become unable to make correct distinctions about what is lawful and what is not lawful in terms of being human, and that our spiritual leaders, our wisdom teachers, those people who have by grace experienced a perception that is transcendent to the ordinary way of perceiving things, that their duty and their blessing at this time is to help the culture, the individual human beings of the culture, to be able to see differently, to be able to translate what's going on in the world, and in their very own lives and their own processes that are very dynamic and very obviously unfolding, you see. But the people don't understand that they are awakening. They don't understand that they are awakening. They know something's happening, but they're not able to understand and translate what's happening as them, as their very own selves, and as the people they know and as the culture itself.

MISHLOVE: You used the term earlier, lawful.

ISANAMADA: Yes.

MISHLOVE: I wonder if you could amplify. I was confused about,"We don't understand what's lawful and what is not lawful," I think you said in terms of our human nature.

ISANAMADA: Yes, and when I use the word lawful, I take that from other very high teachings. I have been given that in my own research and my own study over the years, and that Lawful is with a capital L. Supposedly the word Lord translates to Law, and so the capital Lawful means that there is a truth that abides in us, that is transcendent -- the Lord is a transcendent state of being -- and that Lawfulness is a transcendent Law that is a part of our own genetic makeup, our own psychological and biological makeup, that's a part of our humanity, and that we have lost touch with that, that over time, while other important things were being put in place in our preparation for the next evolutionary leap, we've lost touch with that intuitional level.ÿÿWe have failed to intuit the laws of the universe in our own course of action.

MISHLOVE: It seems as if you look at the religions of the planet now -- they all have a sense of "This is God's law; these are the rules you must obey." And of course they're all different from one another, which makes one suspect that they may be relative, rather than some kind of fundamental law. And I gather you're referring to fundamental law here.

ISANAMADA: Yes, I'm really referring to universal Principle, with a capital P, not to personal opinion. What I feel we need also is a very strong dose of humility. I find it very presumptuous of any human being, including myself, any of us, to appear on earth and to live a short lifetime, and in that lifetime to presume that our opinions about anything should hold any weight, and that we should live out of opinions, which are acculturated; they're really somebody else's opinions that we have taken on. They're not even our own true thoughts about things, you see. They're prejudices. And so our society, and our societies, have been living out of arrogant people's opinions, or people's arrogant opinions about themselves, about others, about the way things should be in their societies and their families and their friendships and their relationships. It's like we have made a terrible mess by living out of our prejudicial opinions, and we must go deeper, we must go wider, and we must go higher than that if we are to match the evolutionary process that is sweeping us along, you see.

MISHLOVE: I'm under the impression from your writings that your work is grounded in what people sometimes call the perennial tradition, the primordial tradition -- that is, the spiritual wisdom that seems to come from the great mystics and teachers of all cultures and almost all ages.

ISANAMADA: Yes. Yes, that's true.

MISHLOVE: That when you talk about Principle, with a capital P, you're referring to something along those lines.

ISANAMADA: Yes. And bridging back to what you were talking about earlier in your question, you were saying so many different religions or groups or whatever have very strong opinions about what the law is, what the basic teachings are. I feel that these years we really must be able at least to see that we've got to stop arguing about who's right and who's wrong. And I guess a very important part of the work that I have brought forth as the Call to Greatness, the teachings of the course in congruence, is that the ego, which is a stage-specific phase of our evolutionary process, the ego holds itself separate and right, and when we move beyond that stage of evolution, when we transcend it in truth, we realize that there is no right, or that it's all right, and that what we must do is make the highest choice, given that everything is right.

MISHLOVE: You mentioned the ego.

ISANAMADA: And that's getting too abstract.

MISHLOVE: Well, we'll come around again. It is abstract, but sometimes these abstract truths are quite profound, and while they may be difficult to grasp, I think if we try and approach it from a few different angles we'll be able to illuminate the question. And so what I'd like to go back to is the word you used, the ego. You know, we banter it around so easily in our conversation. I think it possibly means different things to different people, and I suspect you're using it in a very particular way that I'd like you to amplify.

ISANAMADA: All right. Well, I feel because I was a seeker, of understanding at least -- trying to figure my life out when I was a young woman and growing up and a middle-aged woman -- I did a lot of reading and taking courses and trying to figure it all out, how to do it. And what I realized, that in the last thirty years a lot of information about the ego has been given to our Western culture, to our Western society, but there's a lot of confusion about what that ego is.

MISHLOVE: There's a whole branch of psychology called ego psychology.

ISANAMADA: Really! I didn't know that.

MISHLOVE: Part of psychoanalysis generally.

ISANAMADA: All right. So anyway, even having read so much about the ego myself, having spoken to a lot of people who talked about the ego this way and that, I in a very inspired moment was given a picture of what the ego is, and a very simple explanation of it as a mechanism, as a psychological mechanism that is a vital part of our humanity. And so I have drawn that, and I have taught that very simple model of the ego to many people over the last nine years. Very basically, the ego is our past; it's an accumulation of experiences that we have had, and conclusions we have drawn based on those experiences. But it's also -- the kind of mechanism that it is, the function that it is psychologically, causes us to feel separate as an egoic being. And it causes us to reflect very clearly into the past and have a very difficult time seeing what's going on right here in the present moment.

MISHLOVE: So if I were to paraphrase you, I might say that you're defining the ego as the part of ourselves that we typically identify with based on our life history.

ISANAMADA: Yes.

MISHLOVE: And you're suggesting that we limit ourselves when we do that.

ISANAMADA: Well, the ego is the limitation. It's very difficult even to talk about this, because we have identified ourselves as like we actually have no identity except the ego. It's like the ego is our identity, and yet it is not us. It's not who we are. But we have been made to believe that's who we are. We are so much more than that.

MISHLOVE: And our self-expression, the way you speak of self-expression, is so much more than that.

ISANAMADA: Yes. And of course the way I speak about Self-expression is with a capital S. There is the lower self, which is the ordinary personality, the lower mind, the ego self, which is a very important -- in fact we couldn't be here, we couldn't experience life in this realm, in the third dimension, without our wonderful ego function.

MISHLOVE: Self with a small s.

ISANAMADA: With a small s. But the ego is only to allow us to be here and to become transcendent to that littleness, and to become the greatness that we really are, here in our human life -- to become more fully human as that greater Self.

MISHLOVE: You used the word intuition earlier in terms of accessing Principle, with a capital P, and I suspect that it's through our intuition, our inner knowing, that we also access our Self, with a capital S.

ISANAMADA: Well, I say that our inner Self is our capital Self.

MISHLOVE: I see.

ISANAMADA: I say that our outer self is just a shell, and it's a surface veneer, and just behind that, or just under that, or just over that, or around it, or whatever, is this glorious reality that is the truth of us. It is the Self-expression that is demanding to be made.

MISHLOVE: And I have to say you write about it very eloquently and poetically, suggesting that the very birth of the universe is part of who we are, and the death of the universe is within us, and the great truths of existence itself, and purpose and destiny -- these are part of our real inner being.

ISANAMADA: Yes. And I guess I would even say that they're not a part of us, they are us. It's like we are a part of them. We are an integral part of that great wholeness, and all of the dynamics of creation are the dynamics of us. All of the laws of the universe are the laws of us. All of the expressions and the creation is us, it's who we are; like we're so much more than we have assumed. We are so much more than we have ever been ready to be before. And my premise is, and my true feeling is, that we are ready now, we are truly ready, to embody and be great, really. And I also am feeling that many people who are awakening these days do not understand what's happening with them, in them, as them, and that part of my work to do is to tell them, "You're awakening, and this is what awakening means, and this is what we do about it."

MISHLOVE: You went through an extraordinary transformation of your own, and I believe in your book More Than Me you write about it as an event that really took place in 1984, and that left you a very, very different person. Not everybody awakens in such a dramatic fashion.

ISANAMADA: Yes, and I will say that the awakening began in 1984, and of course it continues. But the drama of the first year and nine months, year and ten months,ÿwas devastating, at the same time that it was the most wondrous and loving and comfortable experience. It was all of that at the same time. I had no idea what was happening to me, and no one seemed to be able to tell me, but I began to ask questions that I had never asked before, and even though I couldn't get the answers in my outer world, there was an experience going on inside of me that said, "I know something that I don't know," and I just kept honoring that as my world fell apart, my life completely fell apart around me, and over time I lost everything, including all of the people who were most dear to me -- family, my long-term lover, all of my possessions. I lost my whole life, and realized after the summer of 1985 that I had actually lost myself, and that I began to experience myself as a completely different identity, but not in a weird way. I was just completely changed.

MISHLOVE: When you speak of people awakening today and not really knowing what's happening to them, I guess you can say that because in a sense you've been there.

ISANAMADA: Yes. Yes, because I was there, and really reaching out to try to find help and understanding, because I was in different periods very aware that I was close to losing my mind, close to losing my sanity. I was going through a very dark, dark night of the soul and didn't know it. But anyhow, I learned about that afterward, and then also because I've been standing in front of and sitting with people now for all these years in doing my work that I have been called to do, and I see the tremendous gap between what's going on with these people and their ability to understand it, you see.

MISHLOVE: Well, many people go through spiritual crises, and they don't have a support system. They're not in touch with the perennial wisdom.

ISANAMADA: Yes.

MISHLOVE: I suppose one of the dangers today is that we live in an era of-- you might call it a spiritual supermarket, where you can take your pick of thirty or forty different kinds of meditations, and how many different styles of physical exercise, and yoga, and people offering you truths of their own making, from every street corner, practically. And I think what you seem to be suggesting to people is that the answer is ultimately -- is them; it is their process. It's not to be found through any of these other offerings necessarily, although they can sometimes be helpful.

ISANAMADA: Yes. And I will say that the transformational process, as we all know, takes place from inside out; it's an -- what do they say? -- an inside job, and all that. However, I feel that the universe itself is so intimately involved in the transformation of our species at this time, and that all the blessings of all the teachings being given in a supermarket fashion, in a supermarket society, that it's really perfect -- you know, it's the way that our society will assimilate, somehow, the teachings. It's like we're being spoon-fed, and we're being given it through intravenous feedings. It's like it's coming at us every way, every which way, toward the society that is awakening even though it doesn't know it is. And I know for myself, from the time that I had the first moment, that books began to fall off the shelves or show up somehow, and those books, I held onto them. They were my lifeline, you know. And when I would go and sit in front of a teacher, even though I might not understand exactly what he or she was talking about, somehow it fed me and strengthened me and gave me hope about something that I didn't even understand that was going on inside me. It made me feel somehow OK for twenty-four hours.

MISHLOVE: We began talking about Self-expression, and I get the sense from your book, A Call to Greatness, that regardless of what disciplines a person may engage in, or what teachers a person may seek in trying to understand their own awakening, probably the greatest tool is that they speak truthfully about what is happening.

ISANAMADA: Yes, yes, yes. And I feel that yes, to what you said; but I feel that people actually must be taught, and that they can learn it very fast -- how to retune themselves to get in touch with that intuitional level, to begin to be able to read themselves. They can't read themselves. They need to be able to read themselves. When they're able to do that, then they can begin to speak the truth of themselves, rather than to come from the level of opinion.

MISHLOVE: You say it's easily taught.

ISANAMADA: It's easily learned, it's easily learned. I feel that we're so ready as a society, we're so ready to become the truth. In fact I say in the book that my experience of it is that we're so ready that it seems amazing that it hasn't already happened -- that we've ever been incongruent.

MISHLOVE: That we've ever been --

ISANAMADA: That we've ever been incongruent -- that's how ready we are.

MISHLOVE: Well, we have less than two minutes now. I wonder if we could leave this segment with a message to our audience about how do we learn, for people who are still struggling. Is there something you can -- ?

ISANAMADA: Well, I feel most necessary is the point at which we realize that we are imprisoned in our own emotions and in our own mind -- that we must be aware that we are captive, we have been captured in a lower level of mind than is the truth of ourselves. Once we can acknowledge that, then we're ready to begin to learn, and we begin by learning what's holding us captive, and learning to read the human emotional response, and to be able to observe how the ego is showing up in our very own lives -- not in just other people, but how it's running our life -- and how to begin to make the higher choice consciously. It's bringing consciousness to what has been unconscious before.

MISHLOVE: And this for you is really the essence of Self-expression.

ISANAMADA: This is the foundation on which Self-expression stands.

MISHLOVE: IsanaMada, thank you so much for sharing this.

ISANAMADA: Thank you.

MISHLOVE: I can see that these are truths that you've wrought out of the cauldron of your own growth, and indeed they're very valued. Thank you for being with me.

ISANAMADA: Thank you so much for inviting me.

- END - 


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