July 25, 2020


Crazywise Film Maker Phil Borges, A Conversation

Hosted by

Joel David Lesses
Crazywise Film Maker Phil Borges, A Conversation
Unraveling Religion
Crazywise Film Maker Phil Borges, A Conversation

Jul 25 2020 | 00:52:05


Show Notes

'Crazy…or wise? The traditional wisdom of indigenous cultures often contradicts modern views about a mental health crisis. Is it a ‘calling’ to grow or just a ‘broken brain’? The documentary Crazywise explores what can be learned from people around the world who have turned their psychological crisis into a positive transformative experience.'

Exploring alternatives to psychosis, from 2014 as Crazywise was nearing completion, Phil and Joel talk of spirituality, shamanism and healing. Phil and Joel talk about the gifted (i.e., those who exhibit Shamanic potentic through hearing voices and visions) and their relation to mental health distress, our Western cultures treatment, and the traditional or indiginous view of these markers as a sensitivity and gift.


Phil Borges, has been documenting indigenous cultures and striving to create an understanding of the challenges they face. Phil has spoken at multiple TED talks; including TED in 2007, TEDxRainier in 2012 and TEDxUMKC in 2013 and hosted television documentaries for Discovery and National Geographic. 

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Episode Transcript

[00:00:00] Speaker A: Hello, and welcome to another installment of unraveling religion. I am your host, Joel Lessies, and it is my honor to welcome Phil Borges to the program today. [00:00:11] Speaker B: Oh, thank you, Joel. Thanks for having me on. [00:00:14] Speaker A: I wanted to just ask you begin, Phil, by sort of introduce yourself and sort of like who you are and what you do. [00:00:22] Speaker B: So my name is Phil Borges. I'm a doctor, documentary photographer, and filmmaker. I'm currently making a feature length documentary that we've titled Crazy Wise, and it takes a cultural look at how severe mental distress is defined and treated in different cultures. So that's what I'm doing right now. But I've spent years, 25, to be exact, in the indigenous and tribal communities around the world, documenting issues that these people face. Usually they're human rights issues, and I spent five of those years just focusing on the individuals that we call shaman. They go by different names in different communities, but they're people that go into non ordinary states of consciousness to act as healers or seers for their community. [00:01:26] Speaker A: I was wondering, what brought you to this work for you? What was your segue into this? [00:01:31] Speaker B: Okay, and before I answer that, Joel, I'll just say the number of people that are emailing us every week, just since we've had our trailer out there, we just made this little trailer for Kickstarter, and just since we've had that out there, we must get six to ten emails a week saying, I had my break ten years ago. This what happened. This is what I wish would have happened, and I want to tell my story. So just by putting that one story out there of this young man named Adam has inspired so many people to want to put their story out. And I think that's the way this thing will change. But back to your question. So it first happened 20 years ago, and I was doing a book on Tibet, and mainly it was a human rights story of the issues happening in Tibet. And I was in the little town of Dharamsala, India, where the Dalai Lama now lives in exile, along with about 80,000 other tibetan refugees. And I was invited to go into this small monastery that's right next to his residence called the Naichung Monastery, and watch this young man, he was 30 years old, young monk go into trance, and in our terminology, channel the state oracle, which is a disembodied spirit called the Naichung Oracle. So this young monk, which they call the kooten, and that's the tibetan word for the physical being who can act like a medium and channel the spirit. So anyway, I watched him go into trance, and it was quite a spectacle in terms of the whole scene. It was a little monastery, maybe. There were 50 monks inside, and they all started beating their drums and chanting. And he sat back in this chair. He had this big robe on, and they put this big ceremonial hat on his head. And his eyes kind of rolled back, and his face got red. And he started shaking a bit. And he started talking in a very kind of a high pitched voice. And the monks gathered around him and wrote down everything he said. And that went on for about five to ten minutes. And then he kind of slumped in his chair, and they had to help him out of the room, almost carry him out of the room. And I just kind of sat there. I was one of two westerners that had been invited in. I just kind of sat there with my mouth open watching this. So two days after that happened, I was invited to sit in on an interview with him. And one of the questions that we asked is, how did you become the know, did you go to Kooten school? How did this come about? And he said, well, I was hearing voices, and I was feeling very anxieties. In fact, at one point, I thought I was dying. I didn't know what was happening. My consciousness was shifting. And he actually felt these electrical currents going through his body. And he said, an older monk took me aside and told me I was gifted. And he taught me how to handle this state, how to go in and out of it. And that's how I became the guten. So I just kind of tucked that away in the back of my mind and went about my work, doing this book and exhibit that I did. The book was called Tibetan Portrait. And again, it was quite a political book. It was about the chinese invasion of Tibet and the occupation thereafter. And I did that project. And two years later, I was doing another project for Amnesty International in northern Kenya. And I was out photographing, and I had my guide with me. And I was in the Samburu territory of northern Kenya, the samburu tribe. My guide turned to me, and he know these people that we're meeting, and we were just meeting people randomly to do their portraits and tell their stories. He said, these people are telling me that the predictor. Their predictor had told them that you were coming. And I didn't think too much of that because obviously I was there. Anybody could see that. So she went on to just. They described what I looked like, and of course they could do that because I was standing right there. But they also described my assistant, which was kind of interesting. She was from Los Angeles. She had, before she left on the trip, long blonde hair. And they had described her as having long white hair. But before she left, she had cut her hair and put henna in her hair. So she had shorter sort of auburn hair when she showed up, or almost red. So we thought that was kind of interesting. And then they went on to say, this happened after several people, another person would say, they told us that you would hide from us when you took their photo. And when I'm using one of my cameras, and I hadn't even taken this camera out because it was a new camera for me, and I hadn't started using it. It was a view camera, and I had to put this cloth completely over my head, and I'm inside hiding behind the camera. So that got our attention. And so we finally meet this predictor. And she was a woman about 35 years old. Her name was Sakulin. And she had the same story as the Kutin, only she was actually seeing visions, having fainting spells. She was very nervous, she said, very frightened and almost terrified. And a grandmother took her aside and told her that she had this gift. The grandmother was her mentor and helped her through it. So after that, I started looking up these people in these tribes and in these indigenous communities. I would go into and actually asking, who are your healers? Who are your clairvoyance, or who are your priests? And every community I went into had one, two, sometimes four or five, up to ten of these people in their communities. I spent five years interviewing these people and specifically going around the world, finding them and doing an interview. And one of my questions was, how did you get into this and all? But I must have interviewed 45 or more of these people. And just a handful, maybe four or five, did not have the story. Most of them had the story of Hackney's, what we would call a psychotic break in their late teens, early 20s, sometimes in their late adolescence. Then the last shaman I interviewed, I interviewed 2001, and it was over in Pakistan. I had heard there was a young shaman being initiated in a group called the Kalash. And it's a group that's right on the afghan Pakistan border. That group is an animistic group. They're surrounded by Islam, but they hang on to their very animistic roots and believe in nature spirits. And they have shamans. So I get there and I find the shaman, and it turned out he wasn't a young man. He was 60 years old. We had to walk way up in the mountain I took my son with me and we walked way up in the mountain to find him. And he was a goat herder, and his job was very difficult because there's a lot of snow leopards up in that area, and snow leopards are among the smartest animals on earth. To keep your flock away from snow leopards would be a full time job. That was his job. But he was also a shaman, and he had the same story. So anyway, I came back from that trip, and I had an exhibit down on lower Broadway in New York, and I went to that exhibit. That was September 9. It opened, and I flew home the next day. And that was September 10. Then September 11, 2001 happened. And I kind of at that point, thought, what am I going to do with this shaman project? It's interesting that they all had this similar story and how they came into it, and I had some interesting anecdotes, but I just kind of shelved that project and went on to do other things. It was about two and a half years ago that I decided to do a film on meditation. And I teamed up with an old friend of mine who is very spiritually oriented, and she has a lot of friends that meditate. And I said, well, let me just. I'm doing all these other projects in different parts of the world on women's issues. But when I get back into town here, can you line up a couple of people that are meditators and we'll just start interviewing them? So the first three people I interviewed, two of them had had a psychotic break. They were 1920, and both had gotten tremendous relief from doing the meditation. And that's when I met this young man, Adam. And that's when this project began telling you how I got into this. [00:13:05] Speaker A: I'm so glad that you give a full picture and background and context, Phil, because I've watched many of the trailers and followed much of your work. And I know Adam through the work that you've posted, and he seems a very tenderhearted and special individual. [00:13:22] Speaker B: Yeah, he is very sensitive. And that's usually who has these issues when something happens in their life. Who knows what triggers it? But they tend to be the more artistic. They tend to have that side of them. Those are the ones that usually can get into trouble with these breaks, especially the way they're defined and the way they're treated here in our culture. [00:13:56] Speaker A: You mean just straight diagnosis? You mean diagnosis diagnosed as. [00:14:01] Speaker B: Yeah, the diagnosis is a problem because it usually ends up putting a very stigmatizing label on the person you're in that very vulnerable state where you're essentially leaving consensus reality. And when that happens, it's terrifying. [00:14:18] Speaker A: And so what you say is really interesting to me, and one of the things is, with women empowered, I was wondering if you could speak a little bit about that, because it's really fascinating to me. [00:14:30] Speaker B: Well, yeah. And it was a very practical project in terms of the message I want to put out there. So, as I said, I've been working in the developing world for 25 years. I've been traveling to it for almost 35. And one of the things I first noticed early on is how much work women do, not only the women, but the young girls, and how much discrimination they face. Young girls, typically, if a choice has to be made in terms of who goes to school and who doesn't. So anyway, the young girls carry the firewood, they carry the water. Sometimes carrying the water can be an all day project. If the well is several miles away, they take care of their siblings. Almost as soon as a girl can walk, she's taking care of a younger sibling, and consequently, the family needs that for their survival. So those young girls typically don't go to school. There's a lot of other issues. Women die in childbirth, needlessly, all over the planet and in remote areas. And it's usually because they bleed out after delivery. And that can literally be stopped in 90% of the cases, or even more with a 40 cent pill called mesoprostal. Contracts the uterus and stops the bleeding. So women don't have access to health care. The other thing about women is they produce half the world's food, but they only own about 1% of the farmland. Their access to resources is much more limited. Only 17% of the women in the world are legislators. In other words, the people who make all the decisions. Only 17% of them are women. In the United States, it's only 17 or 18%. Violence against women is huge. It's huge here. It's huge all over the world. In fact, many of the people that are coming forward to us and telling their story have been abused sexually as young as children because all of the. [00:17:00] Speaker A: Stress and kind of like lack of support or force to be put in situations of exerting great effort to care for your family. These stressors, if you have the right combination or wrong combination, if you want to call it, of genetics, and these stresses without the support tie into exactly what crazy wise is. [00:17:22] Speaker B: Yeah, that stress. I mean, where I saw the stress, the heaviest was in Afghanistan, and I was documenting a school program there. I was there in 2005. And so what happened when the Taliban took over is they fired all the women. And the women made up 70% of the school teachers, like 50% of the healthcare workers, 50% of the civil servants. And the other thing about that, when these women lost their jobs, it not only devastated the educational community, also, many of these women, a large portion of them were widows because their men had been fighting for 25 years. And so all of a sudden, a woman with a family, no means of support, no social network, a safety net, no Social Security or anything like that, were just having to fend for themselves, and they'd have to pull their kids out of school, and they were under great stress. [00:18:30] Speaker A: Actually, if we could take this into a different gear for a minute and just talk about from the human condition, the human perspective collectively, for people, that in tying this into our emotions, just any individual's emotions, that there is a range, obviously, but they serve us, right? I mean, emotions serve us to give us boundary, to tell us how we feel, what is working for us, what does not. And when we begin to quell that or stifle it or enhance it in ways that are chemical, that are not really organic, you're getting into a whole other set of problems. [00:19:09] Speaker B: Well, I have to agree, Joel. I mean, I'm not an expert in pharmacology, I must say. But I'll tell you this, that I've interviewed several psychologists, especially the psychologists we refer to as transpersonal Stan Groff. And the way they explain it, they say the psyche itself, like the human body, is self healing. [00:19:39] Speaker A: Yeah. [00:19:40] Speaker B: Given a safe container, how could it not be? [00:19:43] Speaker A: Phil? [00:19:45] Speaker B: Yeah. So the analogy they use is if you break your arm, you have to go to the doctor, and he'll put something around it, a cast that will hold it in place. But what's doing the healing? It's the intelligence of the body. [00:20:00] Speaker A: Exactly. [00:20:01] Speaker B: The doctor doing the healing. The doctor is providing this safe container, quote, unquote. And it's the same with a mental break. That psyche is looking to integrate something that's new, something that's come across, that it's having to reintegrate into its consciousness. I guess you could use those terms. Sure, language starts to fail when you get into this realm. But anyway, if that integration process is interfered with and if it's frightened, for one thing, if you're given a stigmatizing label or if you're isolated, the brain is a social organ. It wants company, it wants relationship. If you stigmatize, isolate the person and then drug them, it's a very dangerous combination. [00:21:03] Speaker A: I think so, too. Let me just add a kind of little note that I'm not saying, or I don't think that you are either, that there's no place for antipsychotics or conventional psychiatric medication. That there's a time and a place for them, but the kind of overarching, just mindless use of them to quell what we don't like to see or what makes us uncomfortable, just because it makes us uncomfortable. I don't know about that. You know what I mean? And I think that to skillfully really understand the depth and context of what is being expressed in an individual and then skillfully administering with a kind of great care, that maybe it will be for a lifetime, but it may not be. And so often I see a situation where people are. They have this in western culture, a psychosis, a psychotic break. And certain people are like, they're done. You are done. And what they mean by that is really, you are done with convention and you are done in the sense of like, you are going to be on medication forever. And I found that through my own exploration of my own medication and conjunctional support, that it is an ever changing, evolving and kind of interesting aspect or characteristic of myself. And it doesn't come without great danger. It does. I mean, I have to be very cautious and very careful, but it doesn't mean that I just wholeheartedly, hands off, do not explore that. This is my body, my life, my psyche, my experience. And I think that I'm in charge of my condition and my experience. So therefore, with the help of professionals who really care, that's something to be explored, because it's an ever evolving, ever changing thing. [00:23:03] Speaker B: That's right. No, I echo what you just said, Joel. Medications have done a lot of good for a lot of people. [00:23:13] Speaker A: They certainly have for. [00:23:18] Speaker B: Very. If you've gotten to a very manic or you can't sleep at night, which often happens, they're very good for calming down those initial periods. The thing that I have against the medications at this point, after interviewing all these people we've interviewed, is that they're being way overused. And it's like we are not only biological beings, but we also are social. We have our psychology, and we have a spirituality. So the thing with the biomedical approach, which has essentially dominated the treatment in our culture, it has muscled out the psychosocial aspects of treatment and the spiritual aspects. So that's my problem with the medications, that they're being way overused. And it's really frightening at the rate they're being used in kids. ADHD is this huge catch all for a variety of symptoms of a child that may be bored in school, who knows what, but 6 million kids labeled ADHD, a New York Times article came out a couple of months ago saying 10,000 toddlers, two to three year olds, are now on ADHD medication, which is speed, by the way, and it's just gotten out of hand. And if you look at the growth in medication, just in sales in the last 20 to 25 years, it's increased 80 fold. And the interesting thing is, during that same period of time, the people going on SSDI, Social Security, disability insurance for mental issues has gone up fourfold. So why, if these medications are completely doing their job, why aren't the number of mentally disabled going down that we have to ask ourselves? So, yes, in the short term, acute handling of conditions, sometimes in long term in certain individuals, but to give somebody, when you first diagnose them, a diagnosis of no hope that you're going to be on, there's nothing you can do. Your brain is diseased. You'll be on these for the rest of your life. I'm hearing a lot of people say that they were told that really, that's what I have against this. So trying to come up with solutions, but it can get out of hand. The corporations have one mandate, and that's the bottom line, to serve their shareholders, and that's it. [00:27:02] Speaker A: Yeah, and it's just when you were speaking, Phil, I thought for a minute about this issue that really, we trade treatment of, say, psychosis. We trade the human interaction support, teaching and mentoring for a pill. And there's something really wrong with that in my estimation. And not that the pill needs to be discarded or neglected, but in conjunction, I think it'd be a much more powerful approach. But part of the difficulty of that is really, do we have enough people who are capable of providing that support? And how do we find that? How do we increase that? How do we gain significance for people in society to want to address the needs of others, especially those who in certain cultures are considered healers, leaders, gifted, you know, what are we doing with those people? [00:28:05] Speaker B: Well, I think as people learn that there are other effective ways of handling this, and there are. And we found a great program up in northern Finland called open dialogue. This little town way up near the Arctic Circle, a town called Torino, population about 70,000. It might have been because it was up near the Arctic Circle, where it's dark most of the winter, but they had the highest level of schizophrenia in Europe 25 years ago, and they started this program called open dialogue, and it was kind of a revolutionary way. They handled these first break psychosis, and today they have the lowest level of schizophrenia in all of Europe. So they are obviously doing something. You know, when we were talking with them, and I haven't gone up there yet, but I've talked to the woman here in the United States who is bringing open dialogue to the United States, their methodology, she was telling us, so when somebody has a break, they don't send the person to the hospital. The team goes to the person's house. That's number one. They keep the person in their familiar surroundings, with their social network, with their family. They encourage their lovers to be there, their wives, their spouses, whatever. They want their employers there if they're working, and they conduct this thing called open dialogue. First of all, they don't isolate the person. They're not sent to an emergency room. So many people are sent to an emergency room when this happens. And in an emergency room, you're second on in terms of importance. If there's a car crash victim that comes in or a heart attack or a shooting, they're going to be serviced first. And you may be strapped down even in the back room for hours or days. And so that's the worst thing for somebody in this state. That's panic, because they're leaving consensus reality. So they don't let that happen. They go to the person's house. That's number one. And then this open dialogue, they're not there to make a diagnosis. The whole thing about diagnosis is we have this manual. It's called the DSM, the Diagnostic and statistical Manual of Mental Diseases. And people are starting to react to this book. It was first published in 1955, and the fifth edition just came out a couple of months ago. The number of disorders, mental disorders, has grown. This was a 200 page book when it first was published. It's now over 1000 pages. A lot of people say that that diagnostic and statistical manual is just an excuse for not listening. So you can go into a doctor, a psychiatrist, and sometimes not saying this always happens, but maybe they only have an hour to see you, to talk to you about, they'll go down and they'll ask six or seven questions of criteria. And if you meet the criteria of a certain diagnosis, yep, you're bipolar or yep, you're schizoaffective or you're depressed or you're severely anxieties. I said all that just to say, in Finland, they go in, they don't want to do a diagnosis. They don't want to put you in a pigeonhole. They want to listen. What is your experience? What's happening? What are you experiencing? And they don't judge that experience. You may say, I'm seeing Martians in the room. They don't judge it. They don't say, you're nuts, you're crazy. There's no Martians in the room. They go with whatever it is. So that's one thing they call it. They drop the clinical gaze. [00:32:31] Speaker A: Yeah. Powerful. [00:32:33] Speaker B: And they say that's extremely powerful, very transparent. They don't do any backdoor discussions. Everything takes place right in front of the individual to the back room and saying, okay, he looks like he's schizophrenic to me. What do you think, Joe? No, all of that stuff happens, right, with the family, right? With everything. So they're totally transparent. [00:33:00] Speaker A: If I could just interject for a second. Yeah. Because really, if you're having a psychotic break, oftentimes that's accompanied by paranoia, you have people go out in the other room talking about you, then your paranoia may be justified. [00:33:13] Speaker B: Yeah. And the staff that have come to the person's home, usually they have a peer to peer person. That's somebody that's been through one of these breaks and has managed to survive it, I shouldn't say survive it, but managed to become completely functional again and knows what it was and how to handle it. So there's a peer to peer person, much like the shaman, that is given to a young person having a break in an indigenous community. So there's a mentor like that, and the other thing about it. So there could be a psychiatrist, a psychologist, and one of these peer to peer people, and they discuss right there with everybody. It's completely transparent. They may be arguing about the treatment. They may be saying, well, I don't know, my feeling we should do this or my feeling we should do that. And somebody said, well, this is why I'm thinking they're talking about it with everybody. As I say, complete transparency. So it's fairly unique. They work in a team, they're at the person's own environment, so they get a lot of success with that. And it's something we can learn from. But there's obstacles, and the obstacles are insurance. Insurance doesn't ask or doesn't allow people to work in teams. That's what I've been told anyway. And I still need to learn more about that. But the way the insurance is set up, the way our whole system is set up, it's more for a one on one. It's more for quick visits. We've interviewed a lot of people that have been in the trenches for 30 years in public health that handle these people coming in and say, we used to, back in the late 70s, early 80s, have a caseload of about twelve where we could really spend some time with these people. He says our caseload now is up to 60 to 70. And not only that, we have to fill out all this paperwork. And he says the paperwork is so daunting that you end up having to fabricate some of the answers just to keep your funding. And so he says, even the auditors that come in, they know you're fabricating because they had to fabricate before, because usually the auditors are ex psychologists that have moved on to auditing, underfunded system that really doesn't allow some very common sense things from taking place. [00:36:22] Speaker A: Yeah. So the underlying thing that I hear you expressing, Phil, is in our culture, in western culture, economics, clashing with really our humanity and our treatment of those individuals who are, I'll say it again, as you've taught me, are gifted healers, leaders potentially in a community. And so it's the economics that really are driving the treatment of things. It boils down to the question, what are we valuing? What do we value? What are we valuing? [00:36:55] Speaker B: Well, here's the kicker, Joel. It really isn't economics if you look at the long term, in the short term, but if you look at the long term, 56% of the people in prison have a mental illness of some sort, 25% of the homeless do. A person in prison costs the taxpayers between 300 and $400 a day. Right. A person who goes on SSDI. And by the way, 1100 people go on SSDI for mental illness every day. 250 to 300 are children. Right? Now, think of that. But especially a child that goes on. But say you go on when you're 20 years old, typically if you go on SSDI for mental health issues, you're going to stay on for the rest of your life. That's pretty much what it is. And every person on SSDI over a lifetime in today's dollars will cost us a million dollars. So every day we're committing ourselves to $1.1 billion of long term treatment and add up everybody in prison. And then think about kids going on, then it's about a million and a half over a lifetime. So in terms of cost, it seems like if we had to increase these short term costs, that, yeah, it would be more expensive in the short run, but in the long run, it's going to save not only the productivity that these people represent, but save just hard dollars. [00:38:44] Speaker A: Sure. Yeah, I know that I feel too, is really. What about the honoring of just that experience, too? All of it together? It seems like a no brainer. It seems so clear what direction we would want to take. [00:39:00] Speaker B: And that's the other side. You hit on it. Yeah. These people are gifted, unlike you. I've not gone through this, and I don't have your gift. The gifts that these people have in their sensitivities, it can be used, and this gets into the spiritual aspects of it. We're going down to Brazil where spirituality is looked at very differently down there in that. There's 50 psychiatric hospitals down there that use mediums much like the Naichung oracle channels. They use mediums in their treatment. They also, right alongside the psychiatrist that can prescribe meds, the psychologists that can do the talk therapy, and the family therapist, they have mediums. And so that's part of the equation. And they're finding, I'm going down there in October to document it, but what I hear is they're finding that that works very well for them. And whether it can translate into the belief system of our culture is another thing. But we're talking to a lot of people that go back and forth, and now there are 70 of these centers here in the US, these spiritist centers. So I think it's a very important part of the human psyche, and it's an important part that needs to be addressed. [00:40:44] Speaker A: I couldn't agree with you more. And it's really interesting, Phil, because I can hear the naysayers like mediums. How are you going to pan that? How are we going to scientifically prove that somebody's an actual authentic medium? You know what I mean? You know what I'm saying? I can hear it already. And I think that gift, like anything, it's a bell curve, probably in a sense, or maybe not even, but there'll be a percentage who can, a percentage who maybe sort of can and a percentage who can't. And I don't know how that plays out, but people want to know, how do we discern what is authentic from what is not? Especially in this very kind of cynical culture, society? It stands to reason, actually, if you look at the larger context about spirituality and what is spirituality, what is spirituality to us in the west? We haven't done justice to kind of explore or convey what is spirituality. And really, where does spirituality exist if not within our own hearts and minds. Beyond that, the Zen master Dogan, who was a 13th century Zen master, I think he brought from one country to another, he brought the transmission of Zen, and he said something to the effect, I'll paraphrase that, if you cannot find the truth right where you are, where do you expect to find it, really? It's our disconnection with ourself that we don't understand the gift that we are resting in right now, that the cultivation of the appreciation of what is ordinary, what is right before us, isn't that the gift? This body, the gift, like, where does this come from? Do we know? If we don't, then what is it? Why don't we explore that question? I find it very interesting, and as you were talking, and you were talking about mediums, which is riddled throughout unraveling religions conversations, is the snow leopard by Peter Matheson, who just passed a little while ago. [00:42:43] Speaker B: Oh, I didn't know. [00:42:44] Speaker A: He just, I think right as his latest book had come out. But such a gifted writer and human being. But in the Snow leopard, there's a quote that I may have read before on unraveling religion, but you were speaking, and I pulled it up on the Internet. I have the computer in front of me, and if I could just read it for a second, maybe we can talk about this. It's a Roka quote, and it says, that is, at bottom, the only courage that is demanded of us to have courage for the most strange, the most singular and the most inexplicable that we may encounter has, in this sense, been cowardly. He has done life endless harm. The experiences that are so called visions, the whole so called spirit world, death, all those things that are so closely akin to us have been daily parried, been so crowded out of life that the senses to which we have grasped them have atrophied, to say nothing of God. [00:43:44] Speaker B: Yeah, that's so true. And when I try, you ask, well, what is spirituality? One definition I use is in terms of, is a person spiritual or not? Or where do they lie on the spiritual spectrum, so to speak? I think at one end is where you look at yourself as completely as a separate. You're in this bag of skin, and you're separate from the rest of the world. And you've been thrown into this world, and it's kind of a dog eat dog, and just, you have to survive. And that feeling of isolation and separateness is at one end. The other end is where you feel unified to. It's. Somebody explained it as you're a fish made out of water. In know, like Adam and so many of the people we've talked to, when they have this first break, they describe it as blissful. When it first hits that, he said, this was the first time I had this feeling of I was it, and it was me. I mean, there was no separation between him and other people, between him and the environment, between nature and them. And so he had this feeling of unity. To me, that's being spiritual. That's the goal of any spiritual practice. And of course, as you go along that gradient or that continuum, your compassion grows and grows because you become other things. So you identify with them more and more. And of course, you're compassionate towards it. And you use the word self. That's a very loaded word. Is it that isolated being at that one end, or is it y'all that is at the other? What do you mean when you say the self? That expansion in consciousness of what the self is. We're all trying to expand in our spiritual journey. [00:46:14] Speaker A: So, interesting. And, yeah, that expansion also ties into karma, which is not a law. It's just an affirmation of the unity of all existence. That how I entreat what is outside of me comes back to me. How could it be another way? [00:46:31] Speaker B: Yeah, this project for me is a very interesting one. Because it goes to the root of consciousness, really. What is consciousness? And when we interviewed Stan Groff, Stanislav Groff, who is a transpersonal psychologist, much out of the jungian Carl jungian tradition, he said, to think that the brain is where consciousness comes from, the brain produces consciousness, is to think like. So if you have a TV set, the programming on it isn't what you want. You don't want to watch the evening news. You want to watch Netflix or something else. Well, if you call TV repairman to come over there and change the tubes and the resistors and know or say you want the evening news to be more positive or more frightening or whatever you call the TV repair man. To work on the resistors and everything, to make that programming more of what you want it to be, he says, that's what you're doing if you're looking at the brain and trying to put the chemicals in the brain to make its consciousness change, right? Consciousness is, call it the great spirit, call it God, call it what you will, is the brain interprets. It's created by consciousness. The brain, the body, everything is created by consciousness. That's the way he put it, anyway. Yeah. So it kind of resonated with me. I had to stop and think about it a bit. Yeah. And of course, you start talking in those realms, we haven't got the language that really can do it justice, and it becomes very abstract. But that's why the Dalai Lama comes out and says, my religion is simple. I just practice kindness. That's my spiritual journey. And by the way, part of our movie we're interviewing. I'm going to go this October and interview the oracle that started me on this journey. He's now two years old. Okay. This culture talking about mediums, what's this deal with mediums? What value is there? Well, one of the ways. So me, as a filmmaker, I've got to somehow make it relatable or put some sort of stamp of approval on it. So I know that the Dalai Lama has come out and know you in the west may think this is strange, but we actually get valuable information out of the naicheung oracle, out of the kooten, the medium. And so that's one way we're doing it. The stamp of approval of the Dalai Lama, who's highly respected in our culture now in the west, is one way. The other way is really going to go down to Brazil and interview these professors who are in their universities, who have studied with professors up here at Duke and the University of Pennsylvania. Because there's now starting to be departments of spirituality and health. Spirituality and health departments. So that'll be another way. And it was just, boy, it was more than that. [00:50:22] Speaker A: It was that they conveying about crazy wise, anything at all. Is there anything you want to say about it? [00:50:30] Speaker B: Yeah, I mean, we're 75% through the production. I still have to do some more investigation. Like, we're going down to Brazil, we may be going to New Zealand, where there's a shamanic tradition down there that's being used in a very effective way. But especially up to northern Finland, where open dialogue is. And what I want crazy wise to do is just really start a conversation. Not that it isn't already started, but I want to be a part of the movement that is now growing to say, yes, there are alternatives to the biomedical approach. And these alternatives aren't to replace the biomedical approach. It's to augment it. It's to balance it. We're way out of balance now. That isn't going to be my message, because I'm not going to be in this documentary saying what should be or shouldn't be. We're just going to present things we found, where they find certain methodologies are working, and so we can start talking about them and start talking. What would it take to try them here? My job is to produce a film that's compelling, grabs people and makes them stop and think about the current set of actions.

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