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.


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

ISANAMADA: Thank you, Jeffrey.

MISHLOVE: When we talk about spiritual work, it's very different than other kinds of work that we do in one sense, and in another sense it's very much like other kinds of work that we do. One of the words which seems to be central to your writings in this area is the term surrender.


MISHLOVE: In fact you write that many, many people talk about surrender, but few people really walk that talk.

ISANAMADA: Yes, and I'll begin speaking about surrender now in this way, by letting you know that in the very early stages of my own process, my own conscious process that began in 1984, I noticed that I was beginning to ask the question, "What is surrender?" and I had never lived in that question before; I had never asked that question before. It had never been an issue for me, and all of a sudden it appeared. I saw myself and heard myself asking that question of different people, and in my own case I couldn't find anyone who could have an intelligent conversation with me, who could teach me what surrender was. I realized after a while that surrender had occurred in me sometime before that. In fact on January 14 of 1984 I had a mystical moment at home alone on a Saturday night, after which I began to change amazingly and very fast. I began to change and my life began to change, and so anyhow I say that I was propelled out into conscious process and unfoldment of my own spiritual journey in a very fast way. And so some months later I began to ask, "What is surrender?" But not until a long time after that did I understand, in a way that made sense to me and that I could begin to verbalize for others, what surrender is sort of about, and how it happens, and how we hold it for ourselves, and how we honor it. And I guess I can go on and talk about that, or we can come back and begin to talk first about the difficulty of the concept of surrender in a person's spiritual journey.

MISHLOVE: I suppose it's a difficult concept, because there has been a popular song out called "Never Surrender." There's this other part of the psyche that wants to be upholding things and proud and maintaining things, and surrender seems to be abhorrent to that part of us.

ISANAMADA: Yes, and of course I call that part of us the ego part of us that feels very responsible for keeping us safe and causing us to be successful, and in charge of and in control of our lives, you see. That's the part of us that is frightened, terrified of collapsing or yielding or surrending.

MISHLOVE: I know in your writings you refer very favorably to a spiritual teacher known as Da Avabhasa, and I know from his disciples and students that they describe their spiritual work as being a constant struggle with their desire to surrender and their fear.

ISANAMADA: Yes. Well, that's what I hear also from people who come to me to be supported and to gain some understanding about the process of transformation. In my own case the fear was there. I guess what I say is I was never frightened, I was never fearful, but I was terrified. But what was overriding that and overlying that constantly, always, was the surrender that had been achieved in me. And out of my own experience I say that we cannot surrender; we are totally incapable of surrendering, but what we can do is submit ourselves. And if you remember, Joseph Campbell says the hero, the true hero, is a man of self-achieved submission. So it's like we submit ourselves to the mystery that life is, that our life is, that life itself is, with the intention that we are available for surrender to happen in us, you see -- that we consciously gesture to that.

MISHLOVE: I suppose it would be a contradiction in terms if I were to say to you, "OK, now I'm going to surrender, right now."

ISANAMADA: Yes, uh huh, because it's impossible for us to do that. And I feel that true surrender is grace, it's a blessing, it's a graceful, mysterious event that occurs for us, and it's arbitrary, it's decided in realms that we don't understand, and it's based on our own readiness for the rigors and the arduous participation of true spiritual journeying.

MISHLOVE: We earlier spoke privately about intuition, and you told me intuition is It -- into It. It seems that in a sense the way you're speaking of surrender now, it's as if surrender is also It -- that there's a relationship here.

ISANAMADA: Yes. The way I'll respond to that -- there are many ways I could come at this, but I'll just say, well, there is only It; there is only It, and we are a part of It, and we have not been experiencing ourselves as It, and what's always been up for the spiritual journeyer is an opening of us into It, and that's the whole intention, it's the whole reason for our spiritual work. So I guess the words are synonymous, as you're saying.

MISHLOVE: Intuition, surrender, and now you've used the term opening.

ISANAMADA: Yes, and I feel a little different about opening. I feel that the opening is caused in most cases by the willingness of the lower self, the ego mind, to align with the higher intention that resides in us as the higher Self. And of course that intention is the transformation, the evolution of the being, to some degree, in any given lifetime.

MISHLOVE: Now, this is interesting; this is very interesting, because here the ego plays a role. The ego is aligning itself. It's very different than the idea of just transcending the ego, or somehow getting rid of the ego.

ISANAMADA: Well, the truth is that we will not experience transformation, either by a lightning bolt from the blue or some other mysterious event in our lives, unless the ego is ready for alignment. And so much of our suffering as human beings, out of our ordinary attempts to be successful -- in relationship, in our jobs, in life itself -- is to weaken the ego's hold on our lives, through disappointment, through disillusionment, through intense psychological distress -- to weaken that ego's agenda, and to provide a reason for it to let go enough to be ready to perhaps allow something else to occur other than its own pathetic attempts to do it all itself.

MISHLOVE: So when we speak of the ego aligning itself with the higher Self, opening up to the higher Self, that is already a form of surrender, because most egos don't have that as their agenda.

ISANAMADA: Yes. The ego's agenda is to keep us safe, and to maintain the status quo against all odds, unless the status quo will change to a better status quo in its own thinking, to where it will feel even more secure by a particular change that it will choose and allow. But in this alignment with the higher Self, it really comes out of a sense of disappointment, disillusionment, and despair that it can't do it. It's tried and tried and tried to do it, and it's willing to listen to the possibility that some other way might work, and it will then align with that and then of course become very frightened along the way, even after the higher Self has been empowered.

MISHLOVE: I spoke earlier, quoting you about Da Avabhasa, the spiritual teacher, and I recall now hearing one of his disciples speak with gratitude about how she encountered him, and she said, "He broke my heart." I gather that this is sometimes a necessary aspect of spiritual work between a teacher and a student.

ISANAMADA: Umm, yes, and I feel a little bit at a disadvantage because I don't know just in which way he broke her heart. There are different ways that that heart is broken. In my own case you probably have read that I had a very mystical experience with Da -- with really Da Free John; he may have been Master Da at that time. I think he was.

MISHLOVE: He's had many names.

ISANAMADA: Yes. But anyway, I had a most unusual, spontaneous experience that I had never had any reference for. I had never read about such a thing; I did not know that such a thing happened. But at home alone on a Friday night, I opened a book that had been handed to me by one of my students, and I was just sitting on the floor previewing some books, and I picked up this book and I opened it and began to read, and my heart broke. I felt my heart broke, but in love. It was a melting of my heart, and I felt myself melting into the book, and I put the book to my face and I felt I couldn't get close enough; I wanted to go into the book, like from deep inside myself. And so in that way my heart was broken by this Da guy. And then there are other ways that I have read of that the master or the guru does relate to the disciple, devotee, student in order to cause a breaking of the heart.

MISHLOVE: Of course the metaphor breaking sounds quite harsh. It's not quite like melting the hardness of the heart. And yet there is that sense of a shell, a rigidity, a hardness around our heart center, that seems to be the armoring of the ego against the possibility of spiritual surrender.

ISANAMADA: Well, I feel it's truly an armoring of the ego in a defensive way. It feels so responsible to defend itself, to defend us from all these scary things and the mean things that are in the world. It's very vulnerable. We are very vulnerable beings, and the ego is very vulnerable in this big, scary, bad world. And I feel that that's the shell, and that that's one way to talk about what the shell is. The shell is actually a wall of mind, a wall of the self-reflexive mind that the ego represents at the third level of consciousness.

MISHLOVE: Now, I'm going to need to stop you here, because when you say third level of consciousness, I don't have a reference.

ISANAMADA: All right. So the teachings that I resonated with when I was doing my research to try to understand what had happened to me, and that I have been used as a way to speak the message that I bring, is that we are beings that contain within us seven levels of consciousness, starting with the first, the level of the physical consciousness, the level at which we instinctively learned -- not learned but lived; we instinctively knew only how to survive. And then we evolved to the level of emotionality and community. And the next level of consciousness is the mental-egoic level, at which we still abide.

MISHLOVE: Civilization as a whole.

ISANAMADA: Civilization as a whole, the species as a whole, generally -- although I also point out that in this world there is such a collage of consciousness, because on every level there are all these stage-specific phases of the evolutionary process that are going on in each individual human being, and their ability to participate as that, and to express as that, you see. So it's very dangerous for us to talk in terms generally -- you know, there's so much going on as humanity in consciousness.

MISHLOVE: What you're suggesting is the ego level is the third stage of consciousness. There are four more, and when we talk about It, when we talk about our deep connection with the universe, that's what is us, that's what awaits us as we intuit or introspect into those areas.

ISANAMADA: Yes. And I want to go ahead and just talk a little bit about this third level and what's beyond it. The third level is at the level of the solar plexus, and the way I teach it, which is the way that other teachers have taught it, there's a leap to the fifth level, and that's the leap that the species generally is up to at this time -- the level of self-expression.

MISHLOVE: At the throat.

ISANAMADA: At the throat. And then above that, the brow level, this is the level of human potential and existential being. We bring ourselves into existence in truth by self-expression. Then the metaphysic level at the brow level, and then true spiritual level at the crown.

MISHLOVE: This is of course the yoga system of the chakras.

ISANAMADA: Yes, the chakra system. And then the fourth level is the level of being at which the transformation actually happens, and once all of the chakras have been opened and brought into aliveness in a human being, then that human being is operating from the heart.

MISHLOVE: The heart is really at the center.

ISANAMADA: It's the wholeness of it, yes, the center of us.

MISHLOVE: And so when you talk about the ego becoming in alignment with the higher Self, really one might translate that in this system to looking at the energies of the solar plexus aligning themselves with the energies of the heart and the throat and the third eye. That I guess is what you mean when you use the term congruence.

ISANAMADA: All right. I guess I would rather answer that or respond in this way -- that I feel that the ego level, the mental-egoic level, when the ego is willing, when it's ready to align with the higher purpose, it's really aligning with the divine impulse that is the impulse; it's It; it's that It, to get back to that, that self that needs expression. And that alignment of self then allows an energetic balancing to begin, and energetic harmony to begin to be accomplished there again by the process itself.

MISHLOVE: An energetic balancing of the energies coming through the system.

ISANAMADA: In from the cosmos, from the universe.



MISHLOVE: Because the ego, conceiving of itself as separate from It, kind of holds It at bay, locks it out.

ISANAMADA: Yes, it defends itself from -- it's the contraction away from the whole, and it does whatever it can do to maintain the closed system that it is, until it gives up enough to have an opening occur in it. And then there is the constant choosing. One of the things that I think we need to say here is that for the spiritual journeyer it's very important, no matter at what point on their path, the spiritual journeyer is constantly making the higher choice, constantly participating in that way.

MISHLOVE: Yes. Constantly, let's just say, mindful of It.

ISANAMADA: Mindful of It, and aware of this regressive pull back to the lower levels of consciousness, that irresistible drawing down that we always choose out of.

MISHLOVE: Well, you seem to be suggesting that if we look at our civilization historically, we have evolved from this lower level, from a more instinctive, a more physical level, to a more -- the path of evolution seems to be towards this spiritual awakening. And perhaps this moment in history is a time when the balance itself is changing, where the call to awakening is now perhaps stronger than the regressive pull, or at least equal.

ISANAMADA: I feel it's so much stronger. I feel it's so much stronger; and you know, recently I was speaking with someone who said, "You know, there are just so many spiritual beings who are still in the closet." And my automatic response was, "They're going to start popping out everywhere." My sense of it is that the readiness level for the new is so high that the irresistible aspect of the dynamic that is our world at this time is for newness. It's like we have done this other stuff long enough that everyone seems bored enough with it and convinced that we're more than this, and that we have proven to ourselves that this isn't working.

MISHLOVE: When you use the word "we" here, it suggests something to me -- that as awakened teachers come to the planet, that they sort of bring or pull other people around them to awakening. And yet it's also a very individual process. I wonder, can you be awakened by the mass of humanity waking up, or to what extent do you have to do it yourself?

ISANAMADA: Well, you know, I say we can't do it ourselves. What I say is that there is an awakening happening in the world. There is. It's very obvious to those people who can see it. It's undeniable. It's just rising up like a mist in a field.

MISHLOVE: And you're speaking as someone who has written very pessimistically about the state of the world at times.

ISANAMADA: Yes. Well, I say I am horrified by the world I live in, and I can't believe I live in such a world. That's how I write about the world. And at the same time I am so convinced, like out of my own feeling of what's happening in this world -- my own guidance, what I see, what I perceive -- that there is an amazement of awakening that's occurring that is at some point going to be a new paradigm, it's going to be a new world, and that everything that's going on now is a transition. It's a transition space, and we are transition beings. No matter what level of awakening we represent, we are a part of the transition being that will bridge to the new man, to the new woman, to the new human of the future. The new human, I feel, will be very unlike us.

MISHLOVE: Something much greater.

ISANAMADA: Something so much greater, yes -- in expression. We are that great, but we have only come this far. And our service at this time is to be conscious that we are transition beings, and to submit ourselves for that evolutionary process to have its way with us.

MISHLOVE: You know, I notice, as I think back to some of the teachers who were very influential to me twenty, twenty-five years ago when I was an undergraduate in college -- people like Norman O. Brown and Abraham Maslow -- they wrote eloquently about enlightenment. And people who I knew, my teachers who knew them, would say, "Yes, they saw the light." But if you look at the way they lived their lives, they didn't quite express it. But I think people of my generation, our generation, we were younger when we heard these teachings, and we were perhaps better able to integrate it, even than those masterful writers who wrote this way. And I suppose each generation is able in some sense to stand upon the attainments of previous generations.

ISANAMADA: So are you telling me that you feel that your generation lived it more than Maslow?

MISHLOVE: That's my sense.

ISANAMADA: All right, good, good.

MISHLOVE: And so by analogy I would think that future generations will be able to integrate into their lives things that I am able to see and to speak of, but perhaps not to live with the same authenticity as will be natural to them.

ISANAMADA: Yes, yes. And I feel that the younger generations, if we more mature ones, we elders, will please begin to be authentic, that the young ones will have an easier time -- that we all knew how to be how we are at some point when we were young, and we just got conditioned out of that.

MISHLOVE: IsanaMada, we're out of time, but this has been such a joyful experience, sharing with you these insights about this essential work.

ISANAMADA: Thank you. I really enjoyed it too.

MISHLOVE: Thanks so much for being with me.

ISANAMADA: Thank you. Thank you, Jeffrey.

- END - 

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