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Fantasy, Alchemy and Romance - A James Hillman Story

First time I met "James Hillman was when I recorded him at the New York open center in the mid 1980's.  For years I had the good fortune of recording James, Robert Bly, Michael Meade, Malidoma some, and a bunch of other individual leaders of the men's movement. They called it a men's movement but it was really an exploration of the soul, it was an exploration and the reintroduction, for me personally, to the love of poetry I had in school, the love of song lyrics connecting my head with my heart and for a few years it was a major force in modern culture and society.

I remember quite clearly the first " business discussion" I ever had with James Hillman.  I was maybe 23 years old and out of college.  So we sat down in his loft in Tribeca and he goes.... "So tell me Steve, what's your fantasy for working together", and I was like, "OK fantasy?  What in gods name are you talking about?"  How do you fantasize working together? Springs were popping out of my head, it was quite a question and we spoke about it for a while and we turned it into a contract and that was the beginning of working together for years.

One may ask, why is this blog post titled Fantasy, Alchemy and Romance? Well, the story goes like this...
I went to record "James Hillman" at Lesley college, in fact the recording I made probably 25 to 30 years ago was Beauty Without Nature. 

While recording, I met the cute graduate student that was video recording for the college and we hit it off.  We dated for a few months and Flash Forward 15 years later, she introduced me to the person who went on to be my wife, also an art therapist, who went to Lesley College.

So if not for James Hillman, I never would've met my wife, wouldn't have my beautiful family and that is the romance part of the equation of this story titled Fantasy, Alchemy and Romance.  Please enjoy our James Hillman collection on BetterListen!


The Fearless Heart with Pema Chödrön

PemaChodron-fearlessheart-Cover-BLAt this time of year, we are pleased to bring you this transcribed excerpt from Pema Chödrön's talk on "The Fearless Heart: The Practice of Living with Courage and Compassion." Ani Pema shares with us how we may begin to work with fear by not shutting down or running away, as is our first inclination, but by going into the fear.

This morning I wanted to begin with a short teaching on working with emotions that comes from Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche, and if you would like to write this down, the name of the teaching is “The Lion’s Roar” and it appears in the March 1997 edition of the Shambhala Sun, which had a picture of me on the cover. So maybe there is some way you can locate that article and read it.

This is a teaching that has influenced me a lot over the years, and I was re-reading the article last night and I thought that I would begin this morning with this instruction that comes from Trungpa Rinpoche. One of the opening sentences is that enlightenment is not just for pacifists, but it also means relating with energy, strong, intense, waves and waves of energy. So enlightenment is not just a peaceful experience as some of us may be wishing. It is not just the ultimate chill out, but it also means relating or rather being comfortable with or relaxing with or joining with waves and waves of energy. So needless to say, this is something that has had a great influence on me on my own practice and in my teaching.

So, even talking about abiding in the experience of discomfort, abiding in the experience of fear or any other kind of discomfort, fear as it manifests and how it manifests in many different forms. And in some sense it doesn’t really matter what the energy is or what the emotion is. The instruction is on abiding in that experience without believing in the judgments and opinions about it. This is very important because it is quite predictable if you were to do a poll of the entire human race, what you would find is that when energy arises that is uncomfortable, it triggers our conditioning and we forget about any kind of rational approach at all. We go sort of nuts. So this is to say even very wonderful people such as us who perhaps have been listening to this kind of teaching for years and trying to apply it and something happens in our life. It might be a phobia; perhaps we have strong fears that are phobic. Fear of heights -- that has been one that I’ve worked with in my life. Fear of flying, fear of elevators. There are different kinds of fears that we have. And when the phobia hooks in, we somehow just shut down and the last thing that occurs to us is to go into the fear.

People who work with phobia, they actually encourage this approach. Not to necessarily have to get up on top of the highest, you know, walk across a tightrope across the Niagara Falls if you are afraid of heights, but to get used to the feeling of fear that arises with heights or with flying or elevators or spiders, snakes, whatever it might be, space -- there are a lot of phobias. And many of us have them. So the approach is to go into the feeling and to do it in a situation where you are not right on the spot, on the brink of the Grand Canyon, or going down the Grand Canyon on these donkeys. If anyone has ever done that who is afraid of heights, it is a very uncomfortable experience. The donkeys get very close to the edge and the bottom is a long way down. So going into the fear like, getting in touch with the feeling and going into it, abiding in the experience without feeding it with our opinions and judgments about it.

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Basic Buddhism with Robert Thurman

We are pleased to bring you another excerpt from Basic Buddhism with Robert Thurman.  From this five lecture title he does focus on each part of Buddhism.  Today the topic is Sangha.

A Buddha has no desire to do anything in the world, in a way, no wish to do anything on his own. Of course to a Buddha, apparently, by definition the world seems a perfected place. The world seems absolutely incredible. Reality is a most incredibly blissful, fabulous, perfect thing all by itself, without anybody messing with it, that you could even imagine. That’s why Buddha is grinning all the time. He just is completely flipped out about how amazingly exquisite and perfect and beautiful reality is.

At the same time, he is not insensitive to the fact that many of the beings who are occupying that reality, according to their own view at least, are thinking that it’s a miserable situation, and so, since to him it’s perfectly fine, he has this sort of stamina to deal with all of their different versions of why it’s miserable.  He tries to get them to understand what a great place it is. And get them to understand their own original phase as they say in Zen, their own inheritance, their heritage of enlightenment in a way.


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Robert Thurmans Collection


Modern Thoughts on Buddhism with Robert Thurman

We are pleased to bring you this excerpt from this Classic Course from Robert Thurman which was recorded in the mid 1980's as we neared the end of the second- Christian Millenium, many prophetic voices were being raised to speak of revelation and other apocolyptic visions. Some western mystics even mentioned the future Buddha. 

So Buddha is when they incarnated in the world, according to the legend. They had come down to this Tusita from which they could see the earth or the human level fairly well. It’s like a kind of staging area, they come there and they live in a certain area of Tusita which is known as Sudanba which is this area, where Maitreya is depicted in this palace, Maitreya is depicted in, and in this Sudanba they then dwell and they look at the earth and they wait for the earth to evolve to a certain point and then they incarnated the earth. And when a Buddha leaves, like when Sedata left there, to come to the earth 2,500 years ago, he left Maitreya, the Bodhisattva Maitreya, who is depicted there to come after him, to the regions of the Buddhist area of Tusita.

Tusita has a larger area than just where the Buddhist settlers are, there are many gods who live there also, but he left Maitreya in charge of that area and to teach the dharma there as he is doing there, and he will come himself. When, we do not know. Some people say 100,000 years from now, some people say 5,000 years from now, some people say 2,500 years from now. It’s difficult to say, when exactly Maitreya will come.

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Robert Thurmans Collection