The Western Baul Podcast Series features talks by practitioners of the Western Baul path. Topics are intended to offer something of educational, inspirational, and practical value to anyone drawn to the spiritual path. For Western Bauls, practice is not a matter of philosophy but is expressed in everyday affairs, service to others, and music and song. There is the recognition that all spiritual traditions have examples of those who have realized that there is no separate self to substantiate—though one will always exist in form—and that “There is only God” or oneness with creation. Western Bauls, as named by Lee Lozowick (1943-2010), an American spiritual Master who taught in the U.S., Europe, and India and who was known for his radical dharma, humor, and integrity, are kin to the Bauls of Bengal, India, with whom he shared an essential resonance and friendship. Lee’s spiritual lineage includes Yogi Ramsuratkumar and Swami Papa Ramdas. Contact us: westernbaul.org/contact
Faith: How Necessary is It on the Spiritual Path? (Karl Krumins)
Many in the spiritual traditions have weighed in on the subject of faith. We are already deeply immersed in the world of belief and faith based on cultural assumptions that we take for granted. What distinctions can be made between faith and belief? We can consider faith in terms of people who are faithful, having faith in something, or as a state of being. Do we have faith in practice, teachers, God, the process, ourselves? Confusion can be seen as a gift. While it is difficult to stay in the field of ambiguity and doubt, this can be precious on the path. Unanswered questions can be a lot more valuable than answers. Once we test something and get a result, then we know it. The results of doing this may end up to something like faith. When an experience is gone, what do we have? Karl has been a spiritual practitioner for forty years. He lived in India for seven years and has a passion for considering the essential similarities of spiritual traditions.
Contemplating Continuity—A Conversation with Spiritual Friends (Barbara Du Bois)
Because we are inseparable from truth we are always in resonance with it, and thus at some level we have certainty that truth exists. This is the basis for seeking, for path, for realization. We already are that which we aspire to become, so our practices on the spiritual path are to sweep away the grasping for “self” that keeps us from recognizing the true nature. Bodhicitta, the altruistic intention to liberate all beings, gradually takes us over, opening the door from dualistic consciousness to awareness of continuity, lifetime after lifetime, and to ultimate continuity: union of absolute and relative. Barbara is a longtime practitioner and teacher of Buddhadharma. Her root lamas are His Holiness Dudjom Rinpoche and His Eminence Garchen Rinpoche. She is author of Light Years: A Spiritual Memoir and Brave, Generous, & Undefended: Heart Teachings on the 37 Bodhisattva Practices.
Creative Life: The Art of Getting Out of Our Own Way (Bandhu Dunham)
If we have a creative idea and let the steam out of it, perhaps by talking about it prematurely or by not respecting the sacredness of creative energy, it can dissipate. As in life, artists start down a path, get themselves in trouble, and need to creatively find their way. Our initial creative inspiration can seem perfect, but then there is resistance in manifesting the vision. We can make many excuses for not being creative. It’s safe to observe things from a distance, but it's another matter to be on the field of life manifesting creativity. The work makes itself when we are “in the zone.” One of the jobs of art is to inspire people to be creative in their lives. We respond to works where people are expressing something of their deeper nature. There is value in tradition which can be brought into the present in the midst of creative change. Bandhu is author of Creative Life and an internationally recognized glass artist and teacher.
Not What Should Be But What Is (Regina Sara Ryan)
One of the formulas for practice on the spiritual path, which came from the Hindu Bengali master, Swami Prajnanpad, and which was part of the teaching of the French master, Arnaud Desjardins, is “not what should be but what is.” A distinction can be made between emotion (which is a reaction) and feeling (which arises when ego is not in control). Suffering occurs through identification with emotions and the thoughts associated with them. Internal or external complaining is a way of holding on to the idea that “this should not be” or that “this should be,” which expends a huge amount of life energy. There is the illusion of living in my world rather than in the world. One of the ways of building being is awareness and relationship to the way things are. Regina is the editor of Hohm Press, a workshop leader, retreat guide, and author of The Woman Awake, Igniting the Inner Life, Praying Dangerously, Only God and other books.
Cultivating Resilience and Inner Strength on the Spiritual Path (Angelon Young)
Life is inherently a spiritual path, whether we know it or not. We can consider the degree we are participating, present, and committed to the Great Process of Divine Evolution that all of life is involved in. This has everything to do with resilience, which we are given at birth and begin to understand through instinct. Yet, resilience and inner strength needs to be cultivated. We don’t know that we have it until we are challenged. We will need to re-create ourselves; life goes on and so do we. Re-creation is magical and mysterious—it happens on a primordial level. We want to persevere in resilience as we let go of the past so we can fulfill our sense of purpose. Obstacles to resilience and ways of cultivating it are considered in this talk. Angelon is a workshop leader, editor, and author of As It Is, Under the Punnai Tree, The Baul Tradition, Caught in the Beloved’s Petticoats, Enlightened Duality (with Lee Lozowick), and Krishna’s Heretic Lovers.
Yogi Ramsuratkumar: The Godchild, Tiruvannamalai (Caylor Wadlington)
In 1970, at 19 years of age, Caylor went searching for spiritual help in India. What he found was a beggar (Yogi Ramsuratkumar, 1918-2001) who showered blessings and divine love on all who came upon him and who came to be recognized as one of the great masters of the last century. In this talk, Caylor describes some of the bewildering circumstances that he witnessed and teaching lessons that he received on a spiritual journey in the company of Yogi Ramsuratkumar in and around the town of Tiruvannamalai in south India. Yogi Ramsuratkumar’s timeless joy, liberation, and continuous work for all the creation elicited a response of devotion from so many whose hearts were opened through contact with him. Caylor is a Doctor of Oriental Medicine, an acupuncturist, and author of Yogi Ramsuratkumar: The Godchild, Tiruvannamalai and the booklet, The Yogi Ramsuratkumar Garland of Praises.
I find these talks to be deeply thought-provoking and inspirational. The speakers are well grounded in spiritual practice as well as in every day life.