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I'm Oprah Winfrey. Welcome to Super Soul Conversations, the podcast. I believe that one of the most valuable gifts you can give yourself is time taking time to be more fully present. Your journey to become more inspired and connected to the deeper world around us starts right now.
Years ago, I invited renowned spiritual teacher Carolyn Mace to be a guest on The Oprah Winfrey Show. I just been introduced to Carolyn's groundbreaking work on healing and intuition, and I was so excited about what I learned that I couldn't wait to share it with the audience. I hope they might experience the same spiritual awakening, unfortunately, that is not what happened. For the first few minutes, Carolyn and I were totally engrossed in our conversation about spirituality and nurturing the soul, but eventually we reached a point where I noticed that the people in the audience were looking at us like we were speaking a foreign language.
I stopped the taping and asked if they understood what Carolyn and I were talking about. One woman bravely stood up and said, No, Oprah, we really don't. What do you mean by spirit? Are you talking about Jesus? No, I said we're talking about you. The woman went on to say that she thought the word spirit meant something outside of herself, similar to how she viewed religion. This was an epiphany for me. I realized concepts like spirituality and the soul were unfamiliar ones for many people at that time.
We have come a long way since then, but I'm forever grateful to that woman for speaking up. It is a wonderful reminder that every single person is at a different stage of their own spiritual evolution and no path is the same. We eventually resumed taping and I asked Carolyn to explain her definition of the word spirit, and now, years later, in most Super Bowl Sunday conversations, I asked that same question, what does spirituality mean to you? The message running through the lesson in this chapter is that each one of us has been blessed with an individual spiritual essence.
As you begin to establish a deeper connection to that innate presence within you, certain passages from the wisdom of Sundays might feel like a direct spark to your heart, a big lightning bolt or a little shiver that shouts yes. I know this because I experienced it to. When something clicks so profoundly, it feels like a light bulb illuminating the truth. As these great spiritual teachers taught me, this is your awakening, it's resonating because it's spirit recognizing spirit.
That is the ultimate aha moment. We start with Carolyn Mays, the way to understand your spirit is that it's the part of you that is seeking meaning and purpose. That's one way someone can relate to that. Another way to understand spirit is that it's the part of you that is drawn to hope.
That's one way to understand, Spirit, the part of you that is drawn to hope everyone can relate to that, right. The part of your spirit that is simply drawn to hope, that will not give in to despair on the part of you that has to believe in goodness. Yeah, that has to believe in something more. It's the light of you. It's the light of you.
Next up, Gary Zuckoff.
I'm talking about an expansion of your perception beyond the five senses, beyond what you can see and taste and touch and hear and smell. As people become multisensory, they begin to become aware. And millions of us are acquiring that sense, that sense that life has a meaning, that I have a purpose, that I am more than this mind and body. I'm more than molecules and dendrites and neurons and enzymes. I have a part of me that is immortal.
Now the question becomes, what now? What now? What now becomes what now? Now that we know that what now?
That is for each of us to decide. Multisensory perception does not make us more kind or patient or caring or less angry. It makes us more aware. And when you get that sense, the spiritual work begins.
That was great. Now let's hear from Eckhart Tolle.
The real jaws of life are never entirely new to you or to anybody because there is a level deep down within you. Well, you already know all the things, all those spiritual truths that you read or hear and then recognize them. I say recognize because you're not it's not new. Ultimately, it's not new information.
You're very still resonation. Yes, it's a resignation. It's a resonating with what is somehow buried or suppressed. Yes. Your conscious is recognizing the consciousness of whatever that message is.
Yes, that's great. And that's an awakening. That's an awakening. And also, it's awakening that faculty in you that there's a glimpse of recognition then that that knowing in you awakens and then it grows. It comes to the surface more. And the more it grows, the more open you are to hearing spiritual truths and then you begin to live it in your life. Such a good lesson.
And reminder next is Sue Monk Kidd.
We have this immense interior life inside of us. We could call it the life of the soul. I think poets and mystics and people have been trying to figure out what to call this for a long time. But there is an inner silence in it and there is an incredible mystery floating in it.
And I was lured by that. And I have been on this journey ever since because I think this is where the divine lives in us.
Deepak Chopra, I want to give you a just a very brief, very quick understanding of these different areas of our life that we call the body the mind. The soul and the spirit, your body is mostly carbon, hydrogen, oxygen and nitrogen. There are at least a million atoms in your body. Think of anyone you have Stardust. That was one circulating in that body. In just the last three weeks, a quadrillion atoms have gone through your body that have gone through the body of every other living species on this planet.
We know where the mind is. We experience it as our thoughts, our feelings and emotions, our ideas. We experience our body is this three dimensional structure in space and time. But where's the soul in today? From a strictly scientific point of view. Scientists have begun to talk about the place between thoughts. So between every thought. We have a little space right now as you're listening to me. Try this. Turn your attention to who's listening.
Be aware of the listener. And that still presents that you feel. That's all it was there when you were a baby, was there when you were a teenager, is there now? It'll be there tomorrow. And if you get really in touch with it, if you become familiar with the center of awareness that you really are, you will see it's your ticket to freedom.
A friend is someone that can still help you, even when they can be there in person, like with a friendly new Bank of Ireland, third level current account with it, you get a debit card that's bio sourced and actually made from 82 percent corn. How cool is that? And you can also partnered up with your phone to use Apple Pay to buy things. Even if you don't have your card on you, you can apply for your friend. A new third level current account in just six minutes.
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Bank of Ireland is regulated by the Central Bank of Ireland, Jack Kornfield. To live in a waking life is to be here in the reality of the present in the now, which is all we have. Yes. And to recognize that thoughts about the future, our thoughts, you can use them, but you don't have to believe them because it's half the time they don't come true. Yes. And thoughts about the past are gone. The past you can learn from.
But to be awake is to live here so that when you are with the person you love, you're really present or with your dog or with the work that you're devoting yourself to or your creative life, or whether you listen to your heart and realize that you can be caught in fear and confusion. The poet Hafize says fear is the cheapest room in the house. I'd like to see you in better living conditions. I love that. So to live away love that one is to sense that the fear or contraction or confusion that we have is not the end of the story, that we have a capacity for freedom and dignity no matter what.
With all that, you know, what is it you would most want to offer about beginning to live a more awakened life starting today? The first would be to say that it's worth it to stop and quiet yourself, do whatever you need. If it's getting up earlier in the morning or staying up a little bit later or building in that walk or even waiting a few seconds and taking a breath before you press the send button on the email or the tweet and quieting yourself and saying, what's my best intention?
Because if you listen to your heart and ask, what's my best intention, it will answer. There's a kind of conversation you can have if you quiet yourself. So the first thing is to look for moments in the day and times that you can build and to come back with respect and listening to yourself, OK, that people find their way to quiet themselves, that find their own art just as they learn how to cook, just as they learn how to drive, they can learn an inner art and find a practice that works for them.
The second wish is compassion and forgiveness. Without help all the time. You can't live without without forgiveness. The world is lost. It's like those two prisoners of war that met years later and one said to the other, you know, have you forgiven your captors yet? And the second one said, No, I never will. And then you said, well, then they still have you in prison, don't they? So there's some way in which, as we talked about, you can free yourself from the past through forgiveness.
And it means forgiveness for yourself, for all the foolishness and ways that you've been caught that you didn't know. People do it in ways that they don't even know in myriads of ways. And the beautiful truth is that you can let go. You can it is possible for you to let go. And there's a very simple practice of forgiveness, of looking into the heart in which you hold yourself with forgiveness. And you repeated over and over in these very, very simple ways.
And at first it doesn't feel like it works at all. It's sort of like water on a stone. I'll never forgive that person. I'll never forgive myself. And then at some point, you realize they could be on vacation in the Bahamas right now, having a great time and you're there resenting that's not for. Yes, we've all been foolish at times. And instead of treating ourselves with lack of forgiveness for ourselves or for others, we actually can see it, hold it with compassion, forgiveness and say now this is the third wish is that you could live with joy and well-being and that this is your birthright.
The Buddhist teachings begin with this kind of exhortation. Do not forget your original wholeness, your original goodness and beauty, and turn yourself toward what is good. Turn your heart towards what is good by cultivating forgiveness and compassion and mindful presence. See the good in one another. Nelson Mandela said it never hurts to see the good in someone they often act the better because of it.
If you're a school teacher and you see the beauty in those kids, they love you as a teacher and it gets reflected and they feel I'm going to do my best because yes, this man or this teacher sees me and gets me. And so you can choose you can actually turn toward your innate goodness. Isn't that what everybody wants? I mean, in all of my talks, understandings over the years, doing thousands and thousands of shows, I came away with the thread that runs through all of our human experiences that we all want to be validated.
We all want to be seen. We all want to know that. We matter, and the most you can ever do for somebody is to show up and allow them to know that they have been seen and heard by you. It's music to my ears. Or when somebody says, I'd like a little attention, it's not a little thing they're asking. They're actually asking that that attention. I like to think of it as loving awareness that when you give someone attention, it's somehow some marrying of your presence.
And also in that presence that there's love, that you really see the beauty that's behind those eyes of that person. Elizabeth, lesser spirituality is an instinct. You know, we have our instincts to eat and sleep and work and survive and thrive that way, but we also have a spiritual instinct. It's really inside every person. That's why religions were even formed to respond to that instinct, to know that life has meaning, to know that we are connected to everything, and to have that childlike sense of wonder that we were put here to enjoy the gift of life.
Yeah. So spirituality is that yearning for something more, that yearning desire that is seeking something higher than your mind in your body?
Yes. Rob Bell, to me, the only kind of faith worth having is faith that can celebrate the good and the true and the beautiful and the wherever you find it. It's a big, buoyant, sort of expansive embrace of everywhere you find.
Well, you also you know, my definition of God is the all. The all in the all.
Through the call, about to go in the mall, and then you basically say the same thing, I understand God to be these are your words, the energy, the glue, the force, the life, the power, the source of all we know to be the depth, the fullness, vitality of life from the highest of the highs to the lowest of the lows and everything in between.
I think that's the all. Yeah, exactly. Yeah, exactly.
First and foremost to all the really smart study people who've been to the TED conference and have iPhones, it's not crazy to acknowledge that there's a God. It may actually be. The most rational move is simply to say I come to the end of my own logical powers and acknowledge there's too much that's beyond what we can sort through using these little brains that we have. Right. And for three hundred years, the water we've been swimming in, that we've been handed by the Enlightenment tradition, which has brought us medicines and hospitals are such wonderful things, has also brought us ultimately, if you cannot explain it, I don't know.
And yet we're fascinated as humans. We're wired for the mysterious. We love it. We're drawn to it. You can't stifle it. So you're saying just open to that.
It's OK to be open, OK? It's OK to be open for many people in the modern world, God is somewhere else. Generally with a long beard on a cloud, right, and he was quite grumpy until Jesus came. Absolutely.
I was a kid. My version was he was on a cloud, long beard, white robes and had a big black book.
And it was like when he opened it, it was like the pages he liked. Yes. And so this God is somewhere else. And then from time to time, like people say, oh, thank God you showed up. Yeah, well, I don't think God shows up. I think we do. Oh, I do too.
So what's fascinating is the ancient Hebrews had this word Ruah, which they spoke of the life force that surges through all things. So what's the word in the very beginning of Genesis one like this, the spirit hovering. But for many people in our world, spirit is that which is less real spiritual, which means there's this other world there and then there's.
We've all experienced that, I simply want to give the name God to that, so the person who says, oh, I don't know if I believe in God, but were you there in the hospital when your kid was born? Well, what else was that? What I'm trying to do in the book is simply move a person's conception from somewhere out here optional to the very thing we're all plugged into that we're experiencing the presence of it all the time, all the time around us.
Yeah. And so then as a human, the art of it then is being awake and open and aware and sensitive to this presence right here and now in suffering and joy, in meeting a stranger and however it works. OK, so that's what I mean by with with us. Yes. Llewellyn von Lee, people come into this world and they forget their divine nature, they become caught and the Chinese say the ten thousand things, all the things of life, the.
Yes, yeah. I would say the world is caught in the wild now.
Yeah, the world is caught very sadly. And then the comes this moment in their life when something wakes up. It's a very magical moment. I tell you a story. Once I was traveling to New York on an airplane and I went to use the bathroom and there was a line for the bathroom. And I saw that the stewardess at the back was reading a book about dreams that I happen to know. And I said, Oh, this interesting book.
I'm surprised you'd be interested in this book. Anyway, she started to tell me her story and she said she'd just been to a workshop. And then she said, I suddenly discovered there's more to life than getting stuff. And I could see this light in her eyes. She'd woken up, she'd realize there was something within her. It wasn't just about material accumulation. And it was like this magical moment when something awakens within the heart of the human being.
Unfortunately for so many people, I've interviewed lots of people for whom that happened when tragedy struck. Right. And a lot of people use that experience for their own awakening. But you believe that you don't have to go through a terrible time.
It is a gift. It's always a gift. By God. That moment, however it comes, the Sufis talk about the homesickness of the soul, the journey home, and something close to there is this moment. And it's really where you take respect and value that moment and then begin the journey to talk to God, the journey to God.
And what does the journey in God feel like?
That can be an experience of love. You get drawn into this love, you begin to lose yourself in love. And suddenly there is no longer you. There is just love.
Sister Joan Chittister. We're talking about the God who is life, who is all of energy, who is the seed of everything that ever existed, who burst into the universe with everything that we'll ever see and ever be able to be.
Now, if that God is the the ultimate and primary seed of all life, that's my seed as well as his seed over there. And you cannot have a consciousness of God unless you have a consciousness then of life in all of its forms.
Right. Thomas Moore. I think religion is something that is quite natural, it's something that we do as human beings. We face mysterious illness as a great mystery. Death is a mystery. Marriage is a mystery. All these things. And I don't think we can deal with all this rationally. Yes. And so we need something. On the other hand, we've made a turn somewhere, I think, largely because of changes in our culture. And the old forms don't work as well anymore.
They work for some people, but even then, you have to reinvigorate them. So creating a religion of your own.
I know a lot of people will be critical of this and you even mention it in the book that people call this this sort of like smorgasbord religion, taking a little bit of this, a little bit from that, a little bit from that.
And where is the order? Where's the discipline?
Where is the one true God in all of that? I think, though, when we speak of creating religion one's own, people think that that also means creating a god of one's own.
Well, I put it this way. When I was studying theology and religion all those years as a monk, I learned that God is unknowable and infinite, unknowable and infinite. That's what I was always taught, unknowable and infinite and infinite. Now, what have you got there? Well, I love that. So if you make God, then I say into sort of a human version of a human being, kind of God, are you you anthropomorphize them, they say, or make them human, like a human being.
You've diminished the whole you don't have a God any anymore. You have a super human being, but you don't have a God. You don't have a real sense of that. But what about the passages in the Bible and other religious books that say we are created in his image? Well, we are. I think that we have within us, if we go deep enough inside ourselves, we touch on the infinite. We really do.
I think you can't emphasize that enough because I think most people never go deep enough to understand what that means, that we are in his image because people are thinking that it's the physical thing and it is not know. Here's a big issue. I think the world we live in around us tends to see everything mechanistically or physically. Oh, yeah. They don't understand that there is some invisible dimension to our experience, to everything, even to nature. And so we tend to reduce things too much.
We reduce things to what we can see, what you can see and touch and define things, even our God by what we can see.
Elizabeth Gilbert Sartre said exits are everywhere, but I feel like entrances are everywhere. And I think that the world would be an even more cruel place than it already is. If the only people who are allowed to go on spiritual journey is for people who could afford a plane ticket to India. You know, because we all know that people find access to God through those thin places in the universe and the thin places in their lives where you've come very close to the divine in all sorts of situations in prison, in their house, in the middle of the night, in the middle of a bad marriage, in the middle of a traffic jam, it's always there.
There's an entrance that you can slide through. But for it, I really do feel like the one non-negotiable thing that you need is to be able to find a tiny little corner of your life, of your day of stillness, where you can begin to ask yourself those burning essential questions of your life. Who am I? Where did I come from? Where am I going? What am I here for? And for that, you need to find a sacred moment of silence to begin to look for that journey.
And that's available to everybody.
Michael Singer, there's something we listen to on a regular basis. The problem is we think it's us. So, for example, you look at a vase and it says, God, look, that's a very interesting shape, but I don't really like the color that much. It reminds my grandmother's vase and all of a sudden we have somebody narrating and talking inside her head. That's not you.
Yeah, right. Those are all your thoughts about the vase. And more and more, as I watch that, I realize it never shuts up, that it costs about everything. It judges everything. It thinks about everything.
Right. Right. In the early 70s, Michael Singer was a young economics student studying for his doctorate, sitting with a friend. One day he noticed a lull in their conversation. And in that quiet little lull moment, he became aware of the thoughts that were running through his head. He realized that that voice, that incessant voice that expresses worries and doubts and anxieties was not really him, but he was the observer of the voice. That inner dialogue was an expression of his psyche, not his soul.
And that was the beginning of his awakening.
And that was my path. I was beginning my path. So what happened actually in that moment now that you can describe, I know Eckhart Tolle has said that that is the awareness, the voice, the awareness of the thoughts or the awareness of the voice inside your head is where consciousness resides. And that is who we really are. Yes. So that's what you came to? Yes. That was your open door. Yes. To the path to understanding yourself as a spiritual being inside a physical human body with a mind.
And isn't this the most important thing ever to get that period, period bar none. None is this is the road to the spiritual. Yes.
Is to understand that you are a spiritual being. And the way to understand that you are spiritual being is to know that you are not.
That's right. Because so far we can't say what you are because that's a thought. Right. Right. That's just you know, you're not the. Why, because I'm watching it, yes, you are there watching these thoughts, and sometimes people say to me, but which of those are me? None of them are you. You are the ones watching.
OK, so I got this. I've shared this of you. I've heard it before. When I was in India, I got it really clearly. And there was a yogi who was leading me in meditation and it was just the two of us. And he said, you know, close your eyes and now I'm going to name different objects. And one was a red triangle and one was the moon and one was a white picket fence or whatever, all these objects.
And he said, you know, hold onto the objects in your mind. And then when I name the next object, let it go. What I realized in that conscious moment was that that's what's happening all the time. Red triangles and picket fences and chairs and thoughts about everything are coming in. And you can let those thoughts. I'm not good enough.
I lost my job. I can't believe he left me.
I can't believe my kids direct their thoughts, their thoughts. They are not you. They're not you. So how do we begin to separate ourself from the thoughts? That's the question. Right. And that's that's the key. What I love that you said is that really is the beginning of spirituality.
That is to separate what you're not from what you are. If you don't do that right, you're going to stay lost. The self is spiritual. The one who's watching is the gateway to spirituality.
So if you continue to just get involved in the thoughts of the mind, the true spiritual path doesn't take place.
I'm Oprah Winfrey and you've been listening to Super Soul Conversations, the podcast. You can follow Super Soul on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook. If you haven't yet, go to Apple podcast and subscribe rate and review this podcast. Join me next week for another super soul conversation. Thank you for listening. A friend is someone that can still help you, even when they can't be there in person, like with a friend, a new Bank of Ireland, third level current account with it, you get a debit card that's bio sourced and actually made from 82 percent corn.
How cool is that? And you can also partnered up with your phone to use Apple Pay to buy things. Even if you don't have your card in you, you can apply for your friendly new third level current account in just six minutes. Bank of Ireland dotcom. Com slash student terms conditions apply. Bank of Ireland is regulated by the Central Bank of Ireland.