Jeffery Martin – Buddha at the Gas Pump Interview

{BATGAP theme music plays} Jeffery Martin – BATGAP Interview
January 22, 2017 Rick: Welcome to Buddha at the Gas Pump. My name is Rick Archer. Buddha at the Gas Pump is an ongoing series
of interviews with spiritually awakening people. If this is new to you, go to
and look under the ‘Past Interviews’ menu and you’ll see all the previous ones – there
have been about 380 of them – organized and categorized in different ways. Also, we have a new menu up there … what’s
it called Irene? I think it’s called ‘At a Glance’, which
summarizes everything that you’ll find at the site. This show is made possible by the support
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which explains things in a little more detail. So my guest today is Jeffery Martin. BATGAP junkies may remember Jeffery from the
group discussion we did at Sophia University about 2 years ago. Jeffery is at Sophia University and this is
the first time I’ve interviewed him one on one. And Jeffery sent me a rather long introduction,
but he also has a mercifully brief introduction, so I’m going to read you the merciful one
and then maybe Jeffery can get a little merciless and elaborate on that. So Jeffery is known as the leading academic
expert on ongoing, persistent – not temporary – forms of non-symbolic experience, and
he’ll explain in a minute what that means. He is the creator and coordinator of the world’s
largest scientific study on persistent forms of non-symbolic experience, and he is a tireless
advocator at major academic conferences, universities, and public venues, for the benefits of ongoing
non-symbolic experience, and the fact that his research suggests that anyone can get
there quickly, safely, and easily. So we will discuss that but Jeffery, before
we do that, what would you like to say by way of elaboration on your bio or who you
are, just so people get a sense of who they’re talking to here? Jeffery: Well it’s nice to be with you. As you know, I’m a huge fan of you, we see
each other every now and then when I visit Fairfield to do research. You were instrumental, really, in helping
me understand the landscape of Fairfield, Iowa. I don’t know if your viewers realize quite
the political, crazy landscape it is … in Fairfield, with the big TM University there
and all sorts of different spiritual factions and stuff like that. So I’ve been super grateful to you over
the years, for really helping me to sort of understand who out of the zillions of people
there I should really focus on, and all of that. And of course I think you have the best archive. I sent out an email yesterday to all of our
listeners and said that this is really an unprecedented archive that you’ve put together
and that you’re continuing to put together, you and Irene both. I know you both work very hard on it, so it’s
really an honor to be part of it. Rick: Well thanks. It’s an honor to have you on. So Jeffery, thank you for those appreciative
words. So tell us what you’ve been doing… Jeffery: You mean you want me to answer your
question now? ☺
Rick: Yeah! Tell us a little bit about you. Jeffery: Yeah, I just really wanted to say
“Thank you” first. So I have a very broad background, it goes
all the way back to me media, computers, technology, I built quite a number of different businesses,
you name it. And around 2006 I had really done everything
I thought I should do to be very happy … Rick: You have your PhD in something from
Harvard, right? And you also have a degree in something from
the California Institute of Integral Studies, right? Jeffery: Yeah, well I’ll slide forward to
this … not long after 2006 … Rick: Well don’t let me rush you; I thought
you might have already skipped over that but go ahead, continue. Jeffery: I went back to school because I had
really done everything I felt like I should do in order to be super happy. And I wasn’t unhappy but it just seemed
like there was an awful lot of people that were more happy than I was, and I felt like
a worked really, really hard at it, so I just decided to make a life change at that point. And I basically got out of – and in some
cases it took me a couple of years to wind out of it – but I basically got out of the
businesses and everything else that I was doing in technology and whatever else, and
went in the direction of studying PMSE. Rick: I get the sense that you actually managed
to make some pretty decent money during your business phase, because you now seem to be
able to just fly all over the world and do whatever you want to do and not worry about
cost. Jeffery: Yeah, I’ve been very, very blessed
to really be able to fund everything myself. You know, most academics are kind of in a
rough spot – they depend on grants that often aren’t what they want to research. I remember I went back to school at Harvard
for psychology and neuroscience and CIS, as you mentioned, for transformative studies,
really to learn qualitative research and transdisciplinary research, which is kind of the leading form
of scholarship in the academy – it is the only place that I knew of that taught this
in America; it is more common in Europe. And my very first … they have this sort
of ‘wash out’ class at Harvard, in the graduate program, which is like your introduction
to research class, and I kind of got the sense that the professor’s job was to get rid
of as many people as they could. Because there weren’t that many of us! There weren’t that many of us to start with
… there were like 12 of us or something, to start with, and there weren’t that many
of us that were there at the end. And I’ll never forget how he like opened
the class by basically saying, “If you’re planning on having a career where you’re
going to research what you want to research or whatever else, let me just dissuade you
from that right now. You’re going to be at the mercy of grant
sources and funding sources, even if you’re me, even if you’re at a famous institution. I’ll ensure you will almost never get to
work on what it is that you’re most interested in.” And I was sitting there thinking, “Okay,
I’m going to be spending my own money at this point to research what I want to!” So yeah, I’ve been so incredibly fortunate. And then in recent years we have been able
to crowdfund our largest experiment, and so that’s been really great; it’s like a
citizen-supported science project. So anyway, like you say, I went to CIS and
Harvard, and then during that process I was basically trying to figure out who were the
happiest people on Earth, who were the people who have the highest well-being? Eventually I learned to separate happiness
from well-being and some nuance stuff like that. And I wound up narrowing it down to the population
of people who come on your show! Rick: Those types of people, obviously, you
mean? Jeffery: Yeah, there’s plenty of people
on your show that have been researched. Rick: Yeah, I mean you were saying blah blah
and one of the things I thought was ‘Gary Weber.’ Jeffery: Yeah, and Gary has talked about it
so i can talk about it. It’s an anonymous thing if you participate
in our research but some people have broken their anonymity, so Gary Weber has, Kenneth
Folk has, Dan Ingram has and some others have. And so there are quite a few people actually
that have been on your show that have participated in our research, especially the early phase
of the research which involved about 1,200 people. Rick: Yeah, so let me ask you two questions. One is, at what point did you yourself – if
you did and I’m sure you have – think, “Okay, I’ve talked to enough of these people, I’m
going to do some kind of practice myself, on a regular basis, to try to experience what
they’re experiencing? – that’s question number one. And secondly, you haven’t actually said
very clearly – well, you sort of have – what this research is, what you’re trying to
discover. I think you’re basically trying to discover
the fountain of happiness, so to speak. Jeffery: Yeah, totally. I was really, exactly, just trying to say,
“Okay, I’m not as happy as I think I should be or could be, so who is and how do I become
them?” That was the original quest and then it just
sort of got off in this crazy direction that I would have never imagined, with this population
of people and whatever you want to call it in the popular nomenclature – who claim
to be ‘enlightened’ or ‘nondual’ or ‘transcendental consciousness, ‘God consciousness,’
‘unity consciousness, ‘persistent mystical experience,’ ‘persistent shamanic ecstasy’
– we have hundreds of terms catalogued for people, as I know you do as well. I mean, you’ve heard endless descriptions
of this from so many different perspectives just like I have. It is one of the things that makes me so excited
to talk to you today. And every time, I think you know, that every
time I come to Fairfield I try to hook up with you because it’s such an interesting
conversation. Rick: Yeah, and we’ve hooked up at the SAND
Conference a couple of times too. Now in my case I was fortunate enough to learn
to meditate when I was a teenager, almost 50 years ago, and it worked for me and I stuck
with it, and been doing a form of meditation over many years. In your case you have gotten interested in
this stuff a little bit later in life and you immediately plunged in with interviewing
a whole lot of different people … I mean I if I were interviewing people at the point
where I was just decide ding what to do, I think it might have confused me because there
would have been so many choices. So in your case, did you get a little overwhelmed
by all the possibilities out there, or did it become clear to you fairly soon that you
know … you personally should do x,y,z because that would be the most effective thing for
you? Jeffery: It’s a good question. I guess I would say that I was very cautious
when I first started to want to research this from an academic perspective, and so I went
to CIS first and it wasn’t until I was at CIS for a while that I realized I needed the
psychology and neuroscience piece as well. So I think around 2008 I started going to
the program at Harvard. But I knew right from the start, I didn’t
have to wait for Harvard. I knew right from the start that a lot of
people had tried to research this in the academic world and they had their research quite invalidated. Rick: By…? Jeffery: Academic, psychology and neuroscience,
because of the antimaterialist claims that are so common in this population, it was kind
of disregarded as maybe like a psycho-pathology or whatever else. And in fact, initially I wasn’t entirely
convinced that it wasn’t a psycho-pathology, that people weren’t self-deceptive. And a lot of the early part of the research,
if you would have encountered me in those days you would have found a very skeptical
researcher who was really trying to figure out: is this psycho-pathological or is what
being claimed here really legit and positive for someone’s life? I didn’t take anything on face value. But one of the great things about coming at
it from an academic standpoint is that I had to wade into it in the most credible ways
possible. So I went around and I talked to a lot of
the leading lights in the consciousness space and the psychology academy, and some others
that were in the developmental side of it and basically other major leading lights in
psychology, and I said, “How can I research this in a way that 3 or 4 years from now”
– I was little outwardly optimistic in how long it would take, but you know … – “where
3 or 4 years from now when I’m starting to write this stuff up it isn’t just immediately
shot down? I can’t get it presented anywhere, at any
leading conferences or where nobody will want a book chapter on it or other publications.” And so that led to some really good advice
from them that narrowed it down right away. And they basically said, “Well you need
to find people, if you were trying to convince me” – if you were trying to speak about
the society that I run or the journal I publish or am the editor of, or whatever their thing
was – “what you’d have to convince me of is that you have built your population
very carefully. And so I would want to see things like … do
they have a community that validates them, is there a very well-documented set of knowledge
on what it is that they’re claiming to personally experience, and then do they have a community
that validates that experience and that basically agrees, yes, this person may actually experience
this thing that’s been carefully documented.” So that of course led to the world’s major
religions and spiritual systems and stuff like that … people that have written that
stuff up over hundreds or thousands of years, and people and teachers who claim to experience
it in some form, and so our research really began there. And so I didn’t view this broad smorgasbord;
I actually had a very, very narrow scope at the beginning, which I was kind of charged
with by these folks who kind of saved my butt politically, later on. And so to answer your question about when
I came to it myself, or what practices I started, or when I decided that maybe this wasn’t
psycho-pathological, I would say that by about 2009, 2010, we had our – and I’m sure
we’ll talk about it – we had our continuum model of the different classifications of
this experience. And one of the things that we did in the early
days was that I just gave them tons of gold standard psychological measures – these
are like the online tests or the pencil and paper tests that people sometimes get when
they’re getting employment or if they took an ‘Intro to Psychology’ class, they probably
had to get credit and sucker through some of these things. And so again, taking the advice of the people
when I was first starting out down the academic road, I used pretty much the stuff that was
validated for decades, so that’s what I mean when I say ‘gold standard.’ And I would just give people endless amounts
of these, so if you were one of my research subjects, I would send you a batch of them
– of 3 or 4, and then if you sent those back I would send you another batch of 3 or
4. And I would just keep doing that until you
were like, “Pleeease don’t ever send me anything ever again!” And so I built up all of this data and some
of those were psycho-pathological measures, they were developmental measures, they were
obviously well-being, emotion measures, depression measures, depersersonalization, personality
measures, just all kinds of stuff. And so from that I became pretty convinced
pretty early on that it was probably something not psycho-pathological because the people
were showing up as really healthy on all of the different measures. And a lot of those measures are pretty good
at fooling you so that you don’t really know how you’re supposed to answer them,
especially the psycho-pathological ones. And so by 2009, 2010, I basically felt like
there were enough other people involved in the research around the world, I’d spoken
out at all the major conferences by that point, and I felt like I could probably get hit by
a bus and the whole thing would just keep on going, that it wasn’t just resting on
me and my efforts anymore. And so I also thought that that was a good
time to try to transition to this, and so I started to relax the barriers, the psychological
barriers that I had put up a bit. There was a day when I was first sitting down
with people, and sometimes I would be sitting down with a research subject and there would
be some strange effect on my own consciousness, and I really learned to block those because
you can’t ask questions if your mind has gone blank. So I had gotten kind of masterful at blocking
everybody’s influence and so after a while you couldn’t influence me. And so I had built up these walls by the 2009,
2010 timeframe and I thought to myself, “I’m going to have to start figuring out ways now
to dissolve those walls if I want those barriers I put up … if I want to transition to this,”
and so that’s the first thing that I had to do. I think a lot of people have those barriers
in an unconscious way, fortunately I had consciously built them up so I had at least some sort
of clue as to how to consciously deconstruct them. And then it was really a question of how to
get there, and by 2010, one of the things that had become pretty obvious in the data
is that a lot of these people had tried the same stuff. Now some of them were in a tradition where
there was only one method or a couple of methods, and those people had sort of just stuck with
those methods their whole life, but that was the minority of people. I would say that even people who were in longstanding
single methods, lots of times they tried several different methods. And people had pretty much tried all the same
methods and yet when they were asked, “Hey, which one … what is it that you think really
crossed you over?” they didn’t all say the same thing even
though they had used a lot of the same stuff. And so it seemed anecdotally to me at that
point like there was a matching process that was important at an individual psychological
level, and so I just tried to keep that in mind for myself and began a process essentially
of experimenting with the techniques that had risen to the top of the research. And so eventually I would myself through a
few that had a good impact and that whole thing, that whole stream of observation and
what not became the experiments that we do with people all around the world. They basically use the same method that I
hacked together for myself, though a much more refined version of it … you’re not
the first guinea pig trying to figure it out. Rick: Just to respond to some of that. Firstly, your comment about having the research
shot down because it doesn’t fit into the materialistic paradigm … I forget who said
that science progresses by a series of funerals, and there are certain people who are never
going to accept that this isn’t psycho-pathological because it doesn’t fit into their paradigm,
and the notion that consciousness might be more fundamental than matter and so on and
so forth is just totally alien to them. So you don’t always have to please everybody,
you know? And there’s been research going on since
at least 1970 and perhaps earlier, which has been getting published in peer-reviewed journals
and so on, and I’m sure there are many scientists who wouldn’t even read those journals but
nonetheless, in a certain niche, a certain segment of the scientific world, this stuff
is taken very seriously and it is has grown a lot since then. I’m sure you are aware of all that so I
just wanted to comment. And also of course in saying that I’m implying
that you, by no means, are the only person doing this kind of research; there have been
all sorts of people …here in Fairfield and in all kinds of other institutions, studying
all kinds of different types of meditators and awakened people and so on. Jeffery: Yeah, and I would say [that] exactly. And I encountered all of that in the background,
the initial background literature research and traveled around and talked to most of
those people – everybody that would talk to me – to really get their opinion on what
they would do differently if it was 20, 30 years ago, in their career. And they were really the reason that I then
went next and talked to so many of the leading lights in the mainstream, because most of
those people were like, “Stay away from us” – you know? sort of “Don’t get painted into the corner
like we’ve been painted into the corner,” in many cases. And they gave me all of the political background
around everybody who had been for them, everybody who had been against them, they just gave
me this whole big landscape which was what really allowed me to know who was safe to
approach among the people who were well-known in the mainstream academies. So I 100% stood on those peoples’ shoulders,
not just their research in terms of the clues they had laid and the directions and all the
important work that they had done, but also, frankly, a lot of their personal advice. A lot of very candid conversations over dinners
about what directions to go in and what directions to avoid, and who to talk to and who not to
talk to, and what conferences to speak at and what conferences not to try to speak at,
and what phase to do different things at and all of that. So just as the research in many ways stands
on the shoulders of endless people who have hacked their way to these states of consciousness
or structures of consciousness, or whatever term you want to use – so there’s that,
but the research also stands on a lot of amazing help from the people like you’re talking
about that came before, and they are still out there and would like to have a wider impact
and would like to see their work have a wider impact, but are a little bit limited. So I took from that almost a mission, almost
a charge from them to try to take the opportunity to mainstream it as much as could be done
from an academic standpoint, and I really tried to do that ever since then. That was one of the decisions where I could
have gotten psychology and neuroscience training at other places but that was one of the reasons
that I chose to go to Harvard, for instance, which was ridiculously hard and maybe more
than I had to put myself through. So yeah, I can’t say enough good about all
those folks. Rick: Yeah, so let’s take a step back for
a second. There are a lot of people who watch this show
and others who don’t who are spiritual practitioners and they might have the attitude that, “I
don’t care what scientists think, they’re a bunch of idiots anyway, look what they’ve
done to the world. I just want to have this spiritual experience
and realization and awakening, and if science thinks it’s crazy then I think they’re
crazy and I don’t even need to know what they think.” But my attitude is that science has done a
lot over the last several 100 years to eliminate a lot of idiocy in the name of gaining knowledge. I mean, during the inquisition 800 thousand
women or so were burned at the stake for being witches, and some people were burned at the
stake for daring to suggest that the Earth was not the center of the universe and that
the stars in the sky might be other suns, and that they might have planets around them
that they might even have people on them of some sort – some life! And so science has kind of chipped away in
small and large chunks at the territory that religion once held to be its own, and I think
that has been tremendously beneficial for us. And personally, I’ve given whole talks and
I think a lot about the fact that science and spirituality are actually buddies, you
know, they can actually help each other. They each have something to offer that the
other all by itself doesn’t have, and so I see what you’re doing as a really valuable
thing. And I’m also really interested in the idea
of maps, that the whole territory of possibility of what can be experienced – and we’re
really not just talking about subjective experiences that one can wallow in that have no bearing
on reality; the whole purpose of spirituality as I understand it is to actually come to
know what’s real, not only in an absolute sense where you come to know consciousness
as fundamentally your own essential nature, but all sorts of relative considerations that
a more refined and cultured nervous system based in unbounded consciousness can begin
to explore. And in that sense, the human nervous system
can be regarded as a profoundly sophisticated scientific instrument and can be used in a
scientific way, posing working hypotheses and then investigating them in order to arrive
at more and more clear and detailed knowledge. I’ll be done with this riff in just a second
and then you can respond! And I think that maybe a few hundred years
from now we won’t see this schism between science and spirituality; both of those methodologies
will have converged into you know … we’re just gaining understanding about reality,
about the universe, and these tools over here, these more objective tools are helpful for
enabling us to probe these areas, and these more subjective methodologies are useful for
helping us to understand those areas, and we’re just putting together a clearer picture
of the whole territory. So I see you as a major contributor to that
effort, that you’re attempting to objectively chart out the various stages or levels of
subjective development. Many other traditions have offered road maps,
have suggested that there are all these stages of consciousness or levels of consciousness,
and if you study it deeply you find that there seem to be some similarity between these different
traditions. But I think it could in time, and maybe not
even in our lifetimes, it could all be kind of nailed down and we could end up with a
general agreement as to what the whole range of reality is, from gross to subtle to transcendent,
and how we can best explore it. And it wouldn’t necessarily be a monolithic
thing where we’re just going to use this method to explore it; as you note, different
methods might be better for different people. So I could probably say more but why don’t
you just riff off of that a bit? Jeffery: Yeah, I completely agree with you. You touched on that also in a podcast I watched
for you recently, from Berkley, which was great … I thought it was really great. Anytime I can see a podcast with you sharing
just a little bit of your experience and what you’ve learned, I always watch them. So I was reading in the thing where people
had to talk you into putting that up. I’m one of those people who is super grateful
that you put stuff like that up, you know, just FYI. Rick: Thank you …. Yeah, well I get flak
from people saying I talk too much. Almost every day I get some YouTube comment
saying, “The interviewer, would he just shut up and let the person talk?” and “How
dare he question Rupert Spira about what he knows?! Just let Rupert teach him,” and so on. So I try to not to … you know? Jeffery: Yeah, I get that, I mean I went through
some kind of a similar phase. And it’s funny, I reached a point where
I was talking to people – I guess this is maybe 2 or 3 years in – and I’d had such
in depth conversations across so many different traditions than from the scientific perspective,
in fact, that’s a good way for me to answer and talk a little bit about what you just
said. So one of the things that made our research
different is that I assumed that we were going to help people get there with technology,
right? If you think about my background I’m basically
a technologist – I’m in business, technology, media … that kind of stuff, but I also have
a really technological bent – and so I just assumed there would be brain zapping involved
or some form of neurofeedback … Rick: Yeah, I interviewed Shinzen about a
month ago and he is searching ways to shut down parts of the brain and using magnets
to trigger these experiences. Jeffery: Yeah, exactly, and I’ve surrounded
myself with some of those devices, just in case you want to talk about them later and
see them. And so yeah, I though we’re really going
to nail this with technology. So okay, working back from “we’re going
to nail it with technology,” what’s the path to nailing it with technology? So a little bit back from there is … you
probably need to have EEG work done because that’s a cheap technology that could reach
everybody. A little bit back from there … before you
do the EEG work you probably need to do FMRI work and stuff like that, because that’s
just a little bit better for other reasons, to start there and get a nice picture of what’s
going on in the brain. And then back from there … you can’t just
… I mean people watch like Jed (Judson) Brewer or something with John Kabat Zinn on
60 Minutes, or they watch TV and see people that do FMRI work and they’re always scrolling
through the brain and it looks like you’re just magically scanning the whole brain, but
you have to really design these experiments super, super carefully. You have to have a pretty good idea of what
you’re looking for in order to design those experiments. And of course we had no idea what we were
looking for when we started down the road of this population, so usually with those
types of studies, first you do a lot of groundwork. It is not uncommon for an FMRI study to have
3 or 5 years of prep work going into it before they know how they look at what they look
at and all that. It’s why a lot of the groundbreaking stuff
comes out of PhDs, because people have the 3 to 5 year ramp to do all that work without
tons of pressure to produce on this grant or that grant, and publish on it right away
and all that. So that was actually a unique thing for us
because I went in asking these people after the survey stuff, after the gold standard
measure stuff, the next thing we did was just start sitting down with them. And I would sit down with somebody until basically
they kicked me out of their living room, and I’m really not kidding about that … it’d
kind of a joke among our research subjects! Like when they’re all together at SAND and
I’m in a conversation, they’re like, “Hey, did you have to kick him out of your living
room too?” And it’s true, they did, because I was in
it to suck every last bit of information out of their head, but I was asking all of the
questions in a very specific way. And it was a very unusual way for them because
it was all along the lines of cognitive science, it was basically asking about cognition, which
is like thoughts and thinking – the nature and qualities of their thoughts, and thinking
affect – which is roughly translated as emotion – perception, memory, and then after a little
bit of time, once I started to get a little bit of a clue, sense of self. And so my questions were all around that. And what I would do was I would allow someone
to talk – I would be sitting in their living room or we would be sitting at a café or
wherever they wanted to meet … I would go to them. I would spend a long time just traveling around
with a new person every day, basically, and I would just sit in front of them and start
by saying something like, “Well, what can you tell me about this…?” It was just a loose, casual question. And they would launch into their standard
story with their standard language and all of that, and I would make a note of their
language so that I could incorporate it as much as possible while talking back to them. Mostly that was just like 30 minutes or an
hour of rapport-building so that they felt like they could open up to me, because I had
that same problem with research subjects that you were talking about – it was really hard
to get research subjects in the early years because the research participants were like,
“Science can never study it,” and they just weren’t interested in wasting their
time with some scientist. And so I had to … the term ‘persistent
non-symbolic experience’ – it didn’t come after the research; it came while we
were searching for any phrase that would not get the phone hung up on us, and that was
the one that basically got us our first research participants. Rick: So define that phrase. Persistent means it lasts, it doesn’t just
come and go, non-symbolic – why do you use that phrase? Jeffery: You know, I was looking for anything
that people might latch onto. We were testing all kinds of language and
there was a sentence and a Suzanne Cook-Greuter paper – who did an educational doctorate at
Harvard under Keegan in the developmental side, and basically broke out one of the developmental
measures to include some of the stuff that we’re talking about here today – and in
a 2000 paper she basically had a sentence that said, “Non-symbolically mediated consciousness,”
and I thought, “That’s pretty good, let’s put that on the list to try and not get people
to hang up on us.” We’re trying to get people to say, “Sure,
come by, send us your surveys…” Rick: Okay, so ‘non-symbolic’ simply means
that it’s not just mental fabrication or a conceptual representation, but the person
is directly apprehending something, some deeper reality. Is that what you mean to say by that phrase? Jeffery: Well now we’ve defined it more
precisely from an academic standpoint, but frankly, back in those early days, the great
thing about that phrase was that if you were in these types of experiences, it just seemed
to land okay with you. You would put whatever your idea of what this
was on it and it didn’t offend it in any way. Rick: Yeah, so you’re not going to say ‘enlightened
people’ or something, because that has so much baggage with it and people will either
claim it erroneously or feel uncomfortable using it because it has such a static, superlative
connotation to it … things like that. Jeffery: Yeah, and even things like consciousness
and experience … I would try to look a little bit at peoples’ materials before we contacted
them to try to get them to participate in the research, but it seemed like I was just
always offending how they wanted to talk about it. It was just crazy. No matter how much I studied even their own
language patterns, they would still get back to me and be like, “You know, just from
the way you’re talking I can tell you’re never going to understand this. It’s a waste of time to sit down with you.” But that non-symbolically mediated thing that
Suzanne came up with – I love Suzanne, I love her work, she’s awesome, she’s one of
those people who is really helpful with advice over the years – that was just gold! Like everybody didn’t even blink! They were like, “Yeah, okay, that sounds
like an “academic-ee” term around what I experience. Sure, come to the house.” Rick: So what you’re alluding to here then
is what we might also call higher states of consciousness, and you told me once that you
think there might be as many as 24 gradations that could be defined but that you’re dealing
primarily with four of them – levels or locations 1 through 4. And as you define them in your book, level
4 is pretty spiffy, and it may also have some drawbacks that somebody trying to live a practical
life might not want to be experiencing. But basically you’re saying that there are
higher levels of consciousness – to use a more common phrase – and you’re trying
to define them and chart them out in a way which cuts across all traditions, and you’re
trying to devise the most effective methodologies for experiencing them quickly, easily, and
safely. Right? Good Summary? Jeffery: I guess, yeah, and I would say a
lot of that … actually pretty much all of that just emerged. You know when I was initially asking people
questions about cognition, affect, perception, memory, sense of self, they had never gotten
those questions before, even if they had tens of thousands of students or more, even if
they were some super famous person who did nothing but answer their students’ questions
about this all the time. And I would be around them when their chief
disciples were around them or their main lieutenants or whatever, and those people asked very sophisticated
questions to them, and I would be around them oftentimes when ordinary people were asking
them questions at an event or something like that. And they always had their answers like immediately
back to the people, you know, they’d just been asked this stuff a million times; people
just ask the same stuff again and again. And I would sit down with them and I would
ask them our questions, and they would just kind of sit silently looking at me for a minute. And I learned over time that they basically
had never been asked these types of things before and that it forced them to really search
their own experience before they answered. And that, over the years, taught us a lot
of research subjects because they started referring me … that turned out to be extremely
helpful to them, as a process, as you know. With PNSE you’re self-referential thought
and all of that sort of quiets down … Rick: PNSE is ‘persistent non-symbolic experience.’ Jeffery: Yeah, you become a lot less self-reflective
and there’s a huge benefit. I noticed that a lot of major figures would
have a couple of different people around them in their inner circle. They would initially have 1 or 2 people who
had had significant attainments and had a lot of potential like they did, and then they
would have people around them that really seemed like they were never going to get out
of their mind, like they were never going to get out of their traditional thing. And it took me a long time to realize that
both of those people really served that teacher in very powerful ways. The people who are just constantly stuck in
their mind – have endless questions from the level of normal thinking and not really having
an experience of it – really help you, and if you’re in a more advanced version or
a later sort of deeper version of this, or however you want to say it, they really help
you to reflect on what’s going on in your consciousness because you’re not that self-reflective! And so when someone’s asking you a question
and you have to answer it, then your brain kicks in, or whatever kicks in, and you reflect
on that question and you answer that question, and in the process of doing that your own
knowledge about your own states of consciousness expand. And so they kind of keep these – it seems
like a lot of them, not every one of them – but it seems many of them have developed
this pattern where they keep people around them that are peppering them with really good,
advanced questions on the consciousness from the experience side. And then they also keep these people around
them … and I think a lot of people wonder because these [other people they keep around
them] are often highly political, stuck in their mind, sometimes they can create a lot
of organizational problems, stuff like that – but they provide this value of this additional
level of self-reflexivity, from that direction, for these people. And so I started basically being that same
person. I had talked across all these different traditions
to all these different people about this perspective that wasn’t ‘awareness’ or ‘God’
or any of the terms … ‘emptiness’ or any of the terms that are normally asked or
used, and people started to heavily refer me to each other because they’re like, “You’ve
got to sit down with this guy, you’ll realize a lot more about yourself by the time he’s
done … by the time you kick him out of your living room 12 hours later!” Rick: Yeah, well you know the best way to
learn is to teach. And to be a good teacher you really have to
be able to speak to the level of consciousnesses of the listeners, so to speak. It’s like the saying in India, when the
mangoes are ripe, the branches bend down so the people can pick them easily. So you know, if you’re speaking at this
level and people are sort of at this level, never the twain shall meet, especially if
you don’t have techniques or methods for people to get to the level of experience you’re
describing. So a good teacher as I observed it, can swing
across a wide spectrum of levels of experience and address … and can on a dime shift from
one level to the other in order to address any questioner at their level of relevancy,
at their level of experience. And in doing so it cultures them, as you were
just saying, it enlivens all these different facets in their own experience, in their own
personality, and makes them a much more comprehensive person, not only in terms of being able to
teach, but also in terms of their own actual experience – it integrates their experience
into all strata of creation, all strata of experience. Jeffery: Exactly, and one of the things that
it accidentally did for us is it led to that taxonomy of different categories of experience. I was trying to sort people for FMRI and EEG
work and stuff, and so I was asking them these cognitive science questions that nobody had
really asked them before. And I think most of the researchers if not
all of the researchers that came before me, they would sit down with these people and
they would do interviews with them and they would sort of let these folks get away with
talking about this the way they wanted to talk about it, and I would only do that for
the first half hour or so, maybe the first hour. Rick: Just to warm them up. Jeffery: And then I would be peppering them
with these cognitive science-based questions and it had the somewhat unintended – not
somewhat – but the unintended consequence of leveling the playing field across these
different experiences, because now I didn’t have to have a precise definition of ‘spaciousness,’
or have a precise definition of the certain aspects of the Divine because basically, our
model doesn’t deal with any of that! Our model deals with change in cognition,
affect, perception, and memory, and it seems to have gotten to a sort of core across these
different traditions, and one that usually isn’t written up or understood. I stopped a lot of that descriptive research
at the point where I was sitting down with people and there wasn’t new information
coming out, and I wasn’t running up against other traditions’ maps. I wasn’t like sitting down with some Theravada
Buddhist teacher and having the Theravada Buddhist teacher, for instance, say, “What
you’re talking about with your levels and locations, that makes no sense to me at all
…” – no, they were like, “Yeah, we have this level and it’s like what you’re
talking about there.” But all the traditions talk about it from
their own spiritual language and I’m talking about the sort of stuff that they never even
thought to care about – with the cognition, and emotional stuff, and perception stuff,
and memory changes and things like that. So that was really interesting, I mean just
really interesting. Rick: In a way though, it sounds like you’re
talking about symptomatic stuff that can be observed or measured from the outside – cognition
and memory and the several things you mentioned -and you kind of brushed off the Divine or
the kind of things that are not outwardly observable but that could be very profound
and meaningful for the person experiencing them. And if we’re really going to talk about
even many levels beyond the 4 that you primarily focus on, which we haven’t’ yet defined,
but if we’re really going to talk about that then there can be all kinds of things
that modern scientific methodologies would be incapable of measuring, but that would
be the real meat of the person’s life, of their experience, you know, the really meaningful
stuff. Jeffery: I think that’s very well put. And as you said earlier when you basically
correctly defined our current focus, initially it was ‘who are the happiest people,’
and then, ‘okay, are those people crazy?’ and then it was, ‘how can you get there? What’s going on with their brains?’ and
what not, and now I believe that this is a very positive thing. I don’t think that everybody should be forced
to experience this, but I do think that people who want to experience it shouldn’t have
it be a total crapshoot, that maybe they’ll spend their whole lives doing something and
never get there. And so now, for us, it’s a question of ‘how
do you make this safely and reliably, and sort of as quickly as you can, available?’ Rick: Yeah, and without all the hoopla. That’s another point I want to throw in
here, and that is that I think if people had a better understanding of what it is we’re
actually talking about, what it is you actually might experience in the name of enlightenment,
and a better understanding of what techniques are effective, it could circumvent all kinds
of crazy cult-like wierdo stuff that people spend their entire life and fortunes on, you
know? And we don’t have to name names; they make
the news fairly regularly. So I think it’s important in that respect. Jeffery: Yeah, absolutely, and so I think
that you’re right, in terms of what is most meaningful to people in their experience,
that’s of course what they ask about, what they write their books about, what they come
on BATGAP and talk about, and we cut out all that. But one of the benefits of cutting out all
of that is that you get to stuff that’s measurable from a scientific perspective. And I don’t know that I would call something
a ‘symptom’ and something else ‘not a symptom;’ it’s tough to know what is
and isn’t a symptom Rick: By ‘symptom’ I meant objectively
measurable, with some sort of instrument. Jeffery: Yeah, so what we learned is that
those things that we can measure are helpful as both classification systems to help people
understand where they’re at, and how to deal with life in a practical sense from where
they’re at, which is very useful as you know from endless interviews and hearing lots
of peoples’ adjustment stories and all of that. That’s really important knowledge for people
because once you’re there, you’re kind of just at the beginning of an endless process. And so how that process unfolds in the first
couple of years versus the first 7 or so years, there are these cycles … and it’s kind
of helpful to have an understanding of that landscape. And that I think is where a lot of the stuff
that we work on provides a lot of insight. It doesn’t have a dog in the fight, so to
speak, about the Divine or about whatever, but it is practical; we think it’s very,
very practical. And so it is practical in terms of helping
people get there – at least it seems like at this point, from our experiments. And we know also from other experiments that
it’s practical in helping people adjust to it once they do get there, and to sort
of optimize their modern life and make the right decisions. And one of the things I see a lot in spiritual
teachers is – and not just spiritual teachers but nondual psychotherapists and anybody who
is into this, even spiritual atheists like Sam Harris or whoever – is this notion of
push the pedal to the metal. And I find that most people have an understanding
of only some of the classifications that shook out in our research, and so maybe they’ll
have 2 or 3 of the classifications that they consider valid, maybe they have only one of
the classifications that they consider “valid enlightenment” or “valid Nonduality”
or whatever else, but they almost always have this sense where they’re trying to be like,
“Push the pedal to the metal, go as far as you can… like, that’s what this is
about!” And we have a completely different view of
that. You’ve talked to so many people that you
maybe have the same view like, I don’t have this ‘push the pedal to the metal’ thing. Like if you’ve got a house and a mortgage
and a complicated job and young children and whatever else, maybe there are more appropriate
forms of this for you and your life at this particular moment, than other ones that may
be pushing the pedal to the metal for you. And these may not be really optimal for your
own life and for the people who are depending on you to raise them in the best way possible,
if they are your children. Rick: Yeah. I think some of the more mature spiritual
traditions recognize that and advocate performing your dharma and doing what is possible and
practical for you without leaving your dependents in the lurch, you know? I mean rearrange your eggs, sure, but keep
sitting on them at the same time. Jeffery: Yeah, I wish more traditions were;
I don’t see that across a lot of traditions, in the Hindu tradition especially. Rick: Well they’re pretty good at it. Jeffery: … the stages of life and all that. Rick: Yeah, and you have a long view of it
too. It’s not like enlightenment or bust in the
next 10 years; it’s more like, “You’re going to be at this game for a while so take
it a step at a time.” Jeffery: Exactly, yeah, exactly. But it seems that as more of that stuff gets
translated into the West, that is lost, and people who are going to workshops here aren’t
necessarily attracted to a message of, “Well, after you retire …,” I mean, they want
it now, right? Rick: Yeah, and that can sell it short, I
mean there’s no need to wait until after you retire; you and I have been engaged in
this sort of thing while living very active lives. And if you wait until after you retire to
start considering spirituality, which some in India have taken that philosophy, then
you basically are missing out on something. I didn’t want to say ‘wasting your life,’
which sounds a little harsh, but it can be a lifelong endeavor in the midst of doing
the other things that life involves. Jeffery: Yeah, totally. Rick: As we go along here we’re going to
narrow in on a couple of things, one is how you actually define these levels that you’re
defining, and also what the practical steps are for people to experience them. I’ll tell you one objection that I’ve
already heard from people is that the Finder’s Course, which is the course that you devised
to help people move into these higher levels, gives the impression that something akin to
enlightenment or profound realization can happen pretty quickly and easily. And people are saying, “Really? You can just spend a few months and begin
to experience what Buddhist monks or really dedicated practitioners might have spent decades
trying to attain? Aren’t you kind of dumbing it down?” and
so you know, that kind of objection. So you don’t need to answer that bit right
now but let’s as we move along the next few minutes, let’s talk about the stages
of development as you define them, methods for experiencing them, and maybe also answering
that doubt I just voiced. Jeffery: Yeah, sure, I’ll start with that,
absolutely. There are different populations that consume
our research, and one of those populations are people that come from very specific religious
and spiritual traditions who have absorbed certain beliefs around these types of … what
to me are basically psychological states in some sense, I mean I come at it from the psychology-neuroscience
perspective. We can debate that endlessly and you can’t
get behind consciousness, right, I mean it’s just all showing up – I acknowledge all of
that certainly, as well – but the tools that I use to research and understand this are
pretty much psychological and neurological type tools, so that’s the framework that
I usually talk from. And I would say that we live in an amazing
time. One of the interesting pieces of data in our
data set is that starting somewhere around 1996, there seem to be a lot more people who
are reporting transitions to this and experiencing this, than before that. If you woke up or transition to PNSE, or whatever
phrase you want to use, in a persistent way not a temporary experience – I’m not an
expert on temporary experience; it’s just not anything I’ve studied really. Rick: ‘Ultra-spirituality,’ to use J.P.
Sears’s term. You know J.P. with the red hair and the bandanna
and the flip flops? Jeffery: Yeah, I think I say him on …
Rick: I just did him the other day. Yeah, so as we transition to ultra-spirituality
… yeah, go on. Jeffery: Exactly! The interesting thing I think from our perspective
is you have these long views, but you also have this interesting data point, where starting
around 1996 it seems like a lot more people are having luck with this. Rick: Let me just throw in a question there,
which you’re probably going to answer anyway, and that is that it kind of coincides with
the early emergence of the Internet and obviously it really picked up steam after that. So one question I’m often asked is, “Well,
were these people out there anyway, we just didn’t know about them because they had
no way of finding each other, or is there actually an epidemic that started to catch
on around that time?” Jeffery: Yeah, that’s a great question and
I didn’t realize the Internet thing, in a way. That 1996 data point was just something that
I would occasionally throw out there in a conversation or something, and even though
I lived through the whole Internet thing, I remember when AOL plugged into the Internet
in 1993 – like I totally should have picked up on the Internet thing. Ultimately it was a conversation with somebody
else that was like, “Wow, that’s about when the mainstream started to hit the Internet
and you started to get the information explosion on the Internet,” and I was like, “Duh! Good point.” And so I think that’ exactly right in terms
of the Internet and it’s probably also correct that it allowed a lot more connectivity, a
lot more people to share their experiences, so that’s also in the data and I agree with
that. I agree with what you just said but there’s
another more interesting data point in that data for me, and it’s that people who report
transitions to PNSE after 1996 are much more likely to get there faster – much, much,
much faster than people who reported transitions in 1976 or 1983 or whatever else; I mean,
those people seemed like they were at it for decades. Rick: Yeah, I’ll just throw in here that
my sister is a fulltime TM teacher and I have other friends who are, and they often say
that these days when they instruct people, the people start having experiences from day
one that it took them decades to have, and in some cases still haven’t had. They’re feeling envious and sort of not
let on that they haven’t experienced what their students are already experiencing. And someone used the metaphor of a membrane,
as if to get to the other side, so to speak, you have to go through the membrane. And the membrane used to be really thick and
tough back in the days of the Buddha or whatever – you had to really be a superman to break
through it – but these days it has become very thin and it is much more easily broken
and a lot of people are breaking through. Jeffery: It’s tough for me to know if it’s
the Rupert Sheldrake 100th monkey, morphogenetic field sort of thing, or part that and part
something else. Because there’s a flipside to this and that
is that it also made available, for the first time ever, a lot more advice and a lot more
methods. If you were stuck in the middle Ages in medieval
Christianity, you pretty much just had a couple of methods. And we know from our research, if you think
back to earlier in the interview where I say, a lot of people have tried the same methods
and they’re not all reporting that same thing worked for them; it seems there’s
a matching up process. So if you’re stuck in middle ages Christianity
with just a couple of methods and you’re not in the 8% or so of the population that
those methods are going to work for, you’re kind of screwed. And so I think another thing that happened
after 1996 for us, or whenever – just speaking from a data standpoint about ‘after 1996’
– is that you start to have many, many more methods accessible. We forget this, but I lived most of my life
limited by the information capacity of my local library! I mean that was it, that was the sum total
of the knowledge in your world effectively, was what your library could get. If you had access to a great library … if
you get Harvard’s library and they could get you anything, you were awesomely information-rich. If you grew up in Peoria, Illinois, where
I spent some time – was born – and you have a dinky little library, by comparison,
you were very information-poor, and now it’s a completely different story. So I think it’s also that people can get
a much greater diversity of advice, they can get exposed to a lot more methods and have
a much better chance of hacking their way around and finding the methods that work for
them. So I don’t know what part of it is sort
of Sheldrake-morphogenetic field type idea, and what part of it is just this incredible
access to information that probably didn’t exist and started to exist by 1996. Rick: Yeah, and it may be both things going
on, that there are several different factors that are simultaneously moving forward. Jeffery: We had a research associate go to
Burma, I didn’t go to Burma myself – I went to a lot of places myself, but I didn’t
go to Burma – and one of the things that she learned during her research in Burma was
when she met these very, very old people – old monks and nuns and stuff like that. And she was very surprised the first time
she had a conversation with them; with one of the old nuns. And the old nun was like, “You know, 50
years ago people used to come to the monastery and if they didn’t” – this is a Theravada
monastery – “and if they didn’t have their stream entry event or first pass or
whatever else in a week, we started to really pay attention to them because we thought,
this is someone who needs more help. And if they hadn’t done it by the end of
a couple of weeks, we were starting to get a little suspect that they were hiding out
from the law.” And there apparently have been times in these
traditions … and the same nun – although she did talk to other people besides this
one nun; she wasn’t the only data point, but she was surprised from this very first
conversation that she had about this – and the same nun says, “You know, now people
come and it’s like they’ll probably leave without having had any experience, or maybe
they’ll come and stay for months and maybe they’ll have a little experience. There’s been some sort of change.” And she thought it related to people being
much more distracted, having their consciousness and their attention much more fragmented because
TV came in. There’s just been a change in how people
process information that she attributed it to. Rick: Well that serves to contradict what
we were saying a minute ago, which is that people seem to be having breakthroughs more
readily. So why is that? Jeffery: Yeah, yeah. Because it suggests that even traditions or
areas of the world, like Theravada Buddhism in x-country, that maybe some people thought
in that, “Oh, it’s going to take you forever,” but then in these monasteries in Burma people
were – and others have written about this … Dan Ingram I know put this in his book
… which I can’t think of the name right now but it’s available from his website. And so I think that there’s this notion
that in the West, somehow, we’ve absorbed the traditions, for whatever reason, and the
aspects of the beliefs of these traditions that say that this stuff should take a really
long time, but that’s not necessarily the case when you’re embedding yourself in research
situations in some of these traditions, when In fact, they think it should move much faster. And I have other examples like this, I’m
just picking this one example. And then you have people like Dan Ingram,
he’s a pretty good example, and Kenneth Folk who started Dharma Overground and Underground
– and I can’t keep all that straight in terms of who did which one of them and when
they split apart and all of that – but they’ve worked really hard to try to provide resources
and advice to people, mostly from a Theravada standpoint but not exclusively, and their
view is that you can wake up quick and you shouldn’t be dilly dallying around with
this. They say, “Come here to our forums and let
us help you get there quick.” Liberation Unleashed I think is another good
example. So we’re starting to see this sort of sneak
back in, and I only come to it through data and it’s not stories from monks and nuns
like the one I told a minute ago in Burma, it’s that I would really puzzle over why
is it that when you’re doing interviews in Fairfield, for instance, why is it that
you can sit down with one person and literally, while the orange was being placed on the alter
or whatever during the TM initiation ceremony, they transitioned right there, and then you
talk to somebody else and 50 years later, of diligent daily practice with the Siddha
Method and whatever else, something led to their transition, and then everything in-between? Rick: Yeah, I think it’s really important
to define what you mean by ‘transition’ though. I mean, when I learned to meditate, I dropped
like a rock – very deep and profound experience from day one. But I would consider myself to be still transitioning,
because in my experience so far there is no end to the unfoldment and refinement. And I’m a little suspicious of a lot of
people who say that, “Oh, I awakened, or “I’m liberation unleashed – they told
me I’m liberated now.” Jeffery: You get the certificate! Rick: Yeah, there’s this sort of tendency
to on the one hand mistake intellectual understanding for realization, and also to just be a little
unclear about … I mean, I interviewed a guy one time and he said, “There’s not
an inch of difference or daylight between me and Ramana Maharishi” – in other words,
I’ve realized the essential unity of life … he realized that he was having the same
experience he (Ramana) had. But I suspect that if he were to magically
step into Ramana Maharishi’s sandals and see the world through his eyes, he would be
flabbergasted by the contrast between what he was experiencing and what Ramana was experiencing. And I’m not saying that to make it sound
like true enlightenment is something forever beyond our reach and we’re just going to
spend the rest of our lives chasing the dangling carrot and all; I think there’s a balance
between appreciating how utterly profound it can be and not selling ourselves short
in terms of what we actually are experiencing – giving ourselves credit for the degree to
which we have realized it. Jeffery: I think another place where you see
that is with like John Wheeler, for instance. Rick: Oh, what about him? Jeffery: John Wheeler … been in a neo-Advaita
tradition, and he had his transition with Sailor Bob down in Australia, but he had a
sense that like there must be more to this thing. Even though it was a profound transition,
even though he was able to recognize that he was where people had said he should be
… from all of his previous studies, he was still like, “There must be more to this.” And it was interesting because he told me
that basically spent his vacations for years, trying to track down the original devotees
that were still alive in India, of Nisargadatta. And Nisargadatta’s books were not written
by Nisargadatta but by his disciples, so it is all a little bit translated through these
different peoples’ consciousness, and he could see that there were these occasional
phrases that didn’t make sense, that seemed to point to something different than what
was being presented as Nisargadatta’s ideas And eventually, after 10 years or something
crazy, he finally found one of these core Indian disciples. And he’s sitting in this guy’s living
room in one of his vacations to India – he was a tech writer from Silicon Valley … for
a day job – and he asked, “What does Nisargadatta really mean?” And the guy was like, “Well what do you
think Nisargadatta really meant?” And so he felt like he had this transition
by that time and that he pieced together enough of Nisargadatta’s little fragments that
were scattered throughout these texts – were kind of disembodied in the texts, in essence
– and he said, “This is what I think is being pointed to but it is completely different
than what everyone I know in America and in the West thinks he meant.” And the guy was like, “Yeah, that’s exactly
it; that was completely his teachings.” And once he realized he was talking to somebody
who understood, he opened the door to him talking to other people who were in India
and were disciples of him (Nisargadatta). And so yeah, I think there is always that. It’s fascinating how even in situations
where there is consensus around somebody’s body of work, you can still have that consensus
be missing a whole deeper level associated with that. I think that’s always a risk. Rick: Yeah, and at the risk of sounding sacrilegious,
I would venture to guess that Nisargadatta himself had a next arise, and a next arise,
that there is really no end to it. Jeffery: No, there doesn’t seem to be, right? I put it in the psychology-neuroscience language
because it’s my thing, and to me it’s just that your brain is a dynamical system
and so it is always changing. Whatever happens in the context – and we
can talk about some of that if you like, but I think your listeners are probably not that
interested in the neuroscience side of it, given all the other stuff we can talk about
– but when you think about the changes … you go through these changes and rewiring in your
brain, you’re kind of pointing your brain in a different direction and it’s going
to keep unfolding, and it’s going to keep changing, and it’s going to keep deepening. You’re nudging a dynamical system in a new
path and it’s not like not become dynamical all of a sudden; it’s going to stay dynamical
and head on in that direction! Just like it was heading in the direction
of your ego or whatever, and trying to make sure you had the best car in the neighborhood
or whatever it was before that. Rick: Now I’m really glad you said that
because probably most people are familiar with the term ‘neuroplasticity,’ that
the brain changes, undergoes changes. And probably most people are familiar with
or could easily understand the notion that major states of consciousness are correlated
with significant differences in the way the brain and nervous system functions. So when we’re awake or sleep or dreaming,
those 3 states are distinguishable from one another not only in terms of our subjective
experience, but in terms of brain waves and other things that scientists can measure. And you would probably agree that these higher
states of consciousness that saints and sages and mystics have been experiencing are so
significantly different subjectively, that they must be significantly different physiologically. And so that begs the question of how quick
can a brain change? Can you actually shift to the subjective and
physiological state that some great sage experienced 2,000 years ago in a matter of months without
totally frying your circuitry? Is human physiology even capable of shifting
that quickly? Or do you more just get tastes and flavors
of it and it might take decades to really mature into the identical experience? And decades because, again, the brain isn’t
going to change on a dime; it’s going to take a while. Jeffery: There is this really popular class
at Harvard called ‘Positive Psychology,’ which I think was the only class to ever have
more students in it than economics, because so many people, even poetry majors at Harvard,
want to become venture capitalists and get rich, so everybody takes economics! Rick: Yeah, so they could just write poetry
all the time and not have to worry about it. Jeffery: Right, but pretty much everybody
else takes economics. And so there’s this Positive Psychology
class that just came out of the blue and was this hugely popular class and just stunned
everybody. I don’t think everybody realized how miserable
everybody else was, you know, except for the health sciences who would occasionally write
something in The Crimson, which was the newspaper online, saying something like, “We have
the highest antidepressant use imaginable, here.” And so it turns out it’s an amazing class
– I think I happened to catch the last one. The main professor, Tal, had left, and his
graduate student who had just gotten his PhD – Tal Ben Shahar, who has since gone on
to become a major figure in the happiness space – was teaching the course. And I remember this was addressed really eloquently
by Tal in that class. And what he basically said is … he likened
it to post traumatic stress disorder, and I can’t remember the opposite phrase that
he had for that. But at one point in his academic research
he became interested in this notion that when you’re in a really super crazy stressful
situation, like some people have PTSD. And as you know, PTSD is a huge, persistent,
very deeply wired thing in the brain, I mean it destroys lives! The V.A. and the government, they spend enormous
amounts of research money trying to figure out anything that they can do – and they don’t
have anything that’s effective – that can help people shake off their PTSD. In fact, it’s a few of the places that if
you want to do meditation research you can get a lot of money to do your meditation research. If you study PTSD or you study addiction,
you can study meditation in a mainstream academy, but far beyond that it’s hard to find money
for it. And Tal had learned that people that were
going through these types of situations also went through the exact opposite experience,
where instead of it being this post “traumatic” experience, it was like a post “incredible
well-being” type of experience that seemed as deeply wired. And again, I can’t remember … he had a
phrase for it but I can’t remember the phrase that he used; that was a long time ago and
it was like one week in class. But I never forgot that because I was seeing
the same thing by that point in research interviews. Some people would spend 50 years meditating
in some specific tradition to get to x, y, or z, and another person would have done nothing
and it seemed to have just kind of come on them out of the blue, or they had tried and
done a series of practices for 2 weeks, a year, or whatever else and it just bam – it
just hit them. Rick: Yeah, there’s an esoteric explanation
for that: past lives. It’s like we didn’t just start out in
this life with a tabula rasa; we’ve been going at this for a long time and some people
are born very close to enlightenment, other people have long shlog to go through before
they’re going to get to that point. Jeffery: Right, and I mean, Peter Fenwick
and Pim Van Lommel and all the people who do that kind of research – UVA guys and
all of that – I think there’s a lot of really interesting stuff on death and post-death
stuff. But the thing that I think is neat about … just
to borrow the example from Tal, is that it really shows that there are these precedents
out there for rapid, immediate, deep, persistent, hard-to-get-rid-of reorganization in your
brain, that can be studied neurologically, etcetera, etcetera, etcetera. And so I think that it shows that that capacity
is absolutely there, and people that make those kind of … and maybe we can talk about
the locations, I know you want to get to that. So maybe you are in location 4 for instance,
which is just one of our classifications which is kind of a far classification, maybe you’re
in location 4 and maybe you just jumped right into location 4. And I know there are people that you have
interviewed on the show that have done that, you mentioned one of them earlier – Gary
Webber talks about his jump straight into location 4 and he says that he has progressed
beyond that. And so there is a deepening. And there’s a guy who … I don’t think
it’s possible to know more about Ramana Maharishi than Gary Webber, I mean he freakin’
learned Sanskrit … I mean he really .. he had a PhD in chemical engineering and something
from Penn, he has a brilliant first class mind, and he really applied that mind on the
spiritual path. And so I think you have to say, if he says
he got to x, he’s really well-studied and learned and experienced, and has had a lot
of awesome teachers, and has done everything he can over decades. It’s hard to dissuade, it’s hard to say,
“No, you didn’t get to x.” Rick: Oh, I’m not saying he didn’t
Jeffery: Right, he is one of those people who is a good example of someone who is uber
qualified on the self-diagnosis on the state of consciousness. We have an advantage, I have an advantage,
when I sit down with someone like Gary Webber I have a question bank. I have a series of questions that we don’t
make public, that you don’t know the right answer to and that aren’t published anywhere;
you don’t find them in any tradition – they are cognition, affect, perception, and memory. You either tell me the same thing that a lot
of other people have told me to fit into one of these classifications or you don’t. And you can’t have learned it in a book
because I’ve been very careful not to talk about most of that, not to write most of that
up, because I don’t want you to be able to fool me! And so that’s how I get to data validity
when I sit down with someone like Gary, but I also accept that he can get to that validity
internally on his own, just from his decades of crazy obsessive learning about it. Rick: Yeah, the one point I would throw in
is that I think if a person is sincere, they don’t want to fool themselves either. It’s like I’d rather air on the side of
considering myself less enlightened than I may possibly be rather than more, because
if you’re sincere about this you want the real McCoy, you’re not going to settle for
some concept or some mood or anything else; you want the genuine article. So there’s no harm in being a little skeptical
about even one’s own experience, which is not to say wallow in doubt because doubt can
be a sea-anchor on your progress, but to just be scientific and realistic about it. Jeffery: And that’s another change I think
we’re seeing in this whole landscape. There was … let me think of a good example. Okay, so if you think about someone like Bernadette
Roberts, who is maybe one of the greatest Christian contemplatives who is alive, she
followed a very specific path to what is really the end of the Christian mystical tradition
– as far as you can go in the Christian mystical tradition, which we would put in
location 3 in our classification system, and I promise we’ll get to these locations. But then after a period of time, something
happened and she fell off the end of location 3 into location 4. And location 4 as we’ll talk about, is completely
different than location 3. And she was lost for a period of … I mean,
there were no books, there were no writings, there was nobody who came before her – if
they transitioned to location 4 – that she could find who had any map to help her out. So she really thought, if you were to talk
to her at end of location 3, just before the transition to location 4, she would have sworn
up and down and sideways and backwards that she had hit it, that this was as far as you
could go, that this was maximum union with the Divine, the whole bit. And then she just has this massive, and you
could even say traumatic, event of a transition to location 4, and she then has to spend decades,
in essence, contextualizing it. Rather than saying, “Okay, let’s forget
about Jesus, and let’s forget about Mary, and let’s forget about the Catholic tradition
and all of that,” she keeps her intense Catholic dogmatism – she is an extremely
dogmatic conservative Catholic – and she somehow shoehorns the location 4 experience
into the symbol set and the dogma of Catholicism, of conservative Catholicism. And so if you would have talked to her when
she was in location 3 she would have said, “God’s love is always there,” and that
type of thing, but if you say to her in location 4, “What about God’s love,” she would
say, “God’s love is still always there.” “Okay, but you don’t experience and emotion
in location 4, right?” “No, no, I don’t experience any emotions.” “Okay, but you just said God’s love is
still there, that’s an emotion isn’t it? So what do you mean by God’s love?” And she would gesture down to her lower abdomen
and say, “Well there’s this force that I feel that is constantly coming from here,”
and she pushes out with her hands. And that is how she has redefined God’s
love, to her it is this persistent energetic feeling that is coming from her lower abdomen,
because it is always there I guess, like God’s love was always there through the previous
location she experienced. And so you would ask, “Well how would you
have defined it before? Is that how you would have described it?” And she would say, “Oh no, it was the Divine,
Love …” Rick: Yeah, what you just said reminds me
of a useful metaphor which is, if you’re going up a building to higher and higher floors,
at each floor you get up to if you look out the window you see what you saw at the lower
floors, but you also see more. And so you could say, “Yeah, I see what
I saw. I can understand from the 4th floor perspective
and now I’m at the 6th floor and have a wider perspective, and the 4th floor is contained
within that.” Before you respond to that, someone has sent
in a question which enables us to segue into what we want to talk about. Ann-Marie Fitzgerald from Corral de Tierra,
California asks: “As per Jeffery’s research and book, for those of us who hadn’t read
the book, could you please define the 4 states he talks about and the techniques/practices
to achieve each state?” But let’s not take the entire rest of the
interview to do that because there are a lot of other things we can do also, but let’s
give us an overview of that. Jeffery: Totally, yeah, and just to finish
that last point real quick – it seems like, I think, that Bernadette would have been burnt
at the stake a couple of hundred years ago for suggesting location 4. Rick: Oh yeah. You and I would have had mobs of flaming torches
at the door by this point of the interview! Jeffery: Right, totally, I would have been
at a religious college because there were only religious colleges, the German research
model hadn’t come in yet, and I would have been like, “Yes, of course the Earth is
the center of the universe. Please don’t hurt me.” But now we live in this time where there’s
the ability to have the smear. And so some people still have a very dogmatic
viewpoint and they could have been the Bernadette that never went beyond location 3. And they will doggedly say to you, “No,
location 3 is where it’s at” – however they call it, whatever they call it – “location
3 is where it’s at, it’s the only correct one, none of the other ones are correct ones.” Ordinarily those people have only experienced
one location – they landed right in location 3, they’ve stayed and they’ve deepened
in location 3. They felt a sense of deepening, they felt
a sense of unfolding, but it’s been within the context of location 3. You come to them with location 4 and they’re
like, “That sounds like you’re messed up. But with so much shared experience now, it’s
harder to hold those dogmatic viewpoints over time. And you’re seeing people have these odd
transitions, like Bernadette who thought she was done cooking, and she falls off the end
of her tradition into this whole landscape that’s really, no kidding, traumatic for
her … you could just read her books and see the trauma of sorting through. Rick: It’s an occupational benefit of what
you and I are doing; it tends to ferret out any pockets of dogmatism we may have in us,
talking to this vast array of people. Jeffery: Yeah, it’s great, I love that. Okay, so let me just quickly go over some
stuff around locations. So we basically had data clusters – it’s
all emergent data. Rick: Try to do this without sounding too
geeky! Jeffery: I don’t know if I can’t be geeky,
I’ll try. Rick: You are drinking “Geek be gone,”
right? That’s what’s in that bottle? Jeffery: Right, I better take another swig
of it. I’m not sure I can drink enough it though. Okay, so if you think about sitting down with
someone and doing an interview with them for instance, and collecting data from them off
the gold standard measures and stuff like that, and you’re sitting there asking them
about – and most people had a distinct transition, in our earlier research, which was very rough,
but not that rough, but it’s not down to the decimal point. So 70% of people, roughly, had some sort of
instantaneous shift onto what we would call the PNSE Continuum. Maybe they landed in location 1, maybe 2,
maybe 3, maybe 4 … I never met anyone who went beyond 4 and so that’s why we focus
a lot on the first 4. Rick: And since there’s a ‘P’ in that
phrase – persistent – you’re saying that 70% of the people shifted into something
which they didn’t lose? Jeffery: Didn’t go away, right. And then 30% of people had a slower transition,
a kind of fading into it, which could have been a couple of days or a day, or it could
have been months even, where clearly there were some changes going on in them and then
eventually at some point in that process they realize, “Oh hey, wait a minute, I’ve
had a transition.” If you think about in your own interviews
Tom Traynor, for instance, he was standing in the middle of the street in Fairfield,
Iowa or something, and having a conversation about PNSE and it dawned on him that he was
experiencing what he was talking about. But it wasn’t like he’d had some epiphany
moment a week before where he was like, “Wow, I’ve made it! There’s this transition that I’ve experience!” No, it was like having this conversation we’re
having and saying, “Wait a minute, I’m describing my own experience, even though
I’m using this 3rd-person story.” And so that’s what I mean by transition;
at some point it just dawns on people that they got there and it seems as though they
just phased into it, they don’t have some moment htat they can tell you about, that
is the before and after where everything changed. Rick: Yeah, sneaks up like a thief in the
night. Jeffery: Yeah, so it’s like 30-70. So we have a lot of people …
Rick: But just before we lose that point, I mean sure, when I learned to meditate I
underwent a big shift, and if at any time I chose to look at my experience, it was definitely
better than it had been before I learned. And at any point I could look within myself
and say to myself, “Yeah, I feel a lot better than I used to – profoundly so.” But I wouldn’t ascribe any ultimate significance
to it or wouldn’t identify it as any sort of ultimate attainment; it’s just a degree
of improvement, that is persistent, but better. So go on from there. Jeffery: Yeah, you’re not going to get any
opinion from me about an ultimate state, because this seems to me to be a continuum that deepens
ad infinitum. Rick: Yeah, and another thing is that you
can cruise along like that and everything is going well, and then you get cancer, or
you get in a car accident, or your child dies, or something really serious happens and boom
– it’s gone … or the Russians capture you and start injecting you with weird drugs
or whatever. So the question is: how stable is it and under
what circumstances could it actually be lost? Maharishi used to talk about … well, not
even bringing him into it, but there have been plenty of enlightened “gurus” who
have come from the East and kind of fell flat on their faces in the West when surrounded
by all the temptations that they never encountered before. Jeffery: Right, totally. And we can talk a little bit if you want,
at some point, about how people do lose it. Because I think there is a sense, oftentimes
when people have a transition and it stays for a week, a month, 3 months, even years,
people have this sense that there’s nothing that’s going to happen to cause them to
lose this. And I think one of the things that people
who are interested in this should keep in mind is that this is something very precious,
or I wouldn’t have spent 11 years of my life on it so far if I didn’t think this
was very precious; we could all do a lot of other stuff with our time and our lives. And so this is what I think is a very significant
way to help people. And so when I encounter that attitude – which
is another one of those pervasive, dogmatic attitudes in some corners of this – that once
you have this transition, assuming it’s been around for a while, it’s just going
to stay and you don’t really have to support it and whatever else. And we saw that that was absolutely not the
case. You better cherish it! The smart people were the people who make
lifestyle changes around it and especially who reduce stress around it. And I think there are even some controversial
things, like we noticed a propensity towards divorce, for instance, and towards marital
separation in this population. And when we would ask about that it was almost
always the same story, except for location 4. For location 4 it was sometimes that the person’s
spouse, you know, if you don’t have emotion you can’t love somebody and sometimes it
is really important for the other person to feel loved, if they stop feeling loved maybe
they leave you kind of thing. So that’s a location 4 type thing, but down
from location 4 – 3 to 1 – lots of times what would happen, especially in location
1 – to a lesser extent some of the other locations, also a little in location 2 – is you know,
nobody knows how to push your buttons like your parents and your spouse. Rick: You know what Ram Dass said, don’t
you? Jeffery: Right, exactly. Rick: “If you think you’re enlightened,
go spend a week with your parents.” Jeffery: Exactly, the most famous phrase,
which I think that people don’t take as seriously as they maybe could. And so one of the things that people notice
is they have this persistent transition and there is clearly a significant change, but
there’s still a lot of psychological conditioning in the body – what Eckhart Tolle might call
the ‘pain body’ – to be worked out; it hasn’t been extinguished yet. Behaviorism is a class of psychology, it is
basically a form of psychology, it is the second wave or so of psychology, an early
wave of psychology that is still completely relevant today. Pavlov’s dog and the bell and all of that
– you and I and everybody else are bundles of a huge amount of conditioning we’ve picked
up over the course of our lives. And so a lot of conditioning does burn off
when we transition into some of those things, but certainly not all of it, and a lot of
deep stuff stays there and works its way out over what we think is about a 7-year cycle,
in our data. Rick: And a lot of it starts to really decondition
or unstress, if you will, once there has been an awakening. It’s like the awakening serves as a solvent
or something for a lot of this entrenched conditioning. Jeffery: Totally, but if you’re in a tough
relationship and you go home every night and you’re spouse is just living to push your
buttons, those types of people … it’s not very long, even when there are young children
involved and whatever else, it’s not very long before they’re like, “Wait a minute,
he or she goes to the mall, I’m in this amazing state. He or she comes home from the mall and starts
pushing my buttons endlessly, and it suppresses that a little bit. I don’t want that to be suppressed!” And so some people stick with it and they
allow that deconditioning process and then they’re happy that they stuck with it; they’re
often glad that they stuck with it. Eventually that deconditioning goes away,
it extinguishes just like anything does with behaviorism principles within psychology,
other people are like, “I’m getting my own place, see ya.” And they’re happy with their decision as
well. The funny thing is that both of the research
groups that you talk to, whichever of the categories they fall into, are both fine with
the decision that they made, but that’s a good example of that type of thing. Rick: I just want to throw something in here
because a few times you have alluded to level 4 as being characterized by no emotions. And if that is true, by however you define
level 4, I would not consider that to be the end of a person’s development, because I
can think of people whom I consider to be way beyond level 4 who very much have emotions. Take somebody like Amma and you see joy and
sadness and anger, and all sorts of emotions that she experiences very vividly. And yet you get the sense while you’re watching
her that her predominant reality is way beyond that, that those are like waves on the ocean
and there is this vast rock-solid reality that is not emotional in its nature. So in that sense you can say that she doesn’t
experience emotions but emotions are still happening. Jeffery: Let me address that just a little
bit, from 2 different perspectives, from our data anyway, for whatever it’s worth. The first is that in location 4, people can
seem very emotional – I’ve had people storm out of restaurants on me. Rick: Without having paid the bill, right? You’re stuck with it! Jeffery: I don’t remember. I try to always pay the bill anyway – I’m
just super grateful that they were even giving me any of their time, I still am – but good
question. In one case they drove and I was a little
worried that they were just going to drive away and leave me. And so there can be outbursts of anger, there
can be all the expressions that you’re talking about can look like they’re there from the
outside, but then when you ask them, “It looks like you experience this, or you were
experiencing that, or whatever else,” they basically say, “Yeah, I wasn’t experiencing
that. I could see that expressing in the body, I
could see that expressing in the environment, I was watching that expression, but I wasn’t
experiencing it.” And so there is that answer that you get relatively
commonly in location 4, and then after location 4 there is a series of locations, 5 through
roughly 9. And I am pretty confident that in levels 5
through 9 – and I caveat that a little by saying “roughly,” but in my own mind I
think 5 through 9 when I think of that category, if you will, of locations – there is something
interesting that happens after location 4. Location 4 is a very special place in a lot
of ways. Some people get to location 4 and it sounds
a lot like what Ramana Maharishi or somebody would talk about, and so they would be like,
“Okay, this is it, I’m at the end, I’m staying here,” and some people get there
and it’s just so alien. For example, if you were Bernadette Roberts
and you’re in location 3 and you’re maximally merged with the Divine, then you’re in location
4 and there’s no Divine, you’re like, “Whoa!” And so it can feel very alien and people can
choose to go back. And there’s a way that they’ve all developed
that I’ve heard again and again and again, to claw your way out of location 4 and back
to location 3, basically. Rick: I just want to interject that Maharishi
talked about this, he said that you can be in God-consciousness enjoying the Divine,
then you start shifting into the next state of consciousness and you feel like you’re
losing that Divine experience. And it’s like, “Oh my God, what is this?”
you know, there’s this discomfort. And he said that at that point a good teacher
is critical, because a teacher can reassure you that something good is happening and give
you the confidence and dispel that doubt. Jeffery: I think absolutely, and of course
it’s so hard to find that; it’s so hard to find location 4 people, especially if you
don’t have a classification system and you’re just sort of feeling around in the dark and
you’re not sure what comes next. So yeah, a great system like that with an
incredible teacher … it’s just such a huge impact, it’s hugely important to people. And I have this tremendous respect for what
was done inside of the whole TM movement. It’s incredible all the research that’s
been done – I mean Fred Travis and so many people that came before him there … just
outstanding, I just love their research – and the structures of helping people to understand
and contextualize where they’re at … that’s just one of those great systems that’s out
there. Rick: Let’s pull a few threads together
here because I have sidetracked you a few times. So we were talking about the first 4 locations
and you were just about to say something about locations 5 through 9. And we don’t need to go into detail, nitty
gritty criteria of each location – and they can get more of that in your book – but
we’re just trying to give a general overview of this territory. So continue on with that in mind. Jeffery: So what’s interesting is that I
think of 4 primarily as a staging ground for what’s beyond it; it’s just so different
from what comes before it and it’s much more like what can come after it. And so what I’ve noticed is that there are
two paths. I was talking to John Yates not long ago,
maybe a month ago, Culadasa? I don’t think you’ve interviewed him …
Rick: No, I don’t think I know him. Jeffery: But he’s got a new very influential
book out, which the name of which I can’t think of at the moment, but if you just look
up Culadasa it will just pop up. Rick: How do you spell that? Jeffery: C-u-l-a-d-a-s-a. But he’s a former neuroscientist – I’ll
probably call him ‘John,’ because I think of him as the neuroscientist John Yates who
has also attained, for sure; he really gets a lot of the continuum. And what people really love about his book
is that he is able to clearly classify these different locations, not that different from
what we did – he slices them a little thinner to help people make more incremental progress. And he is direct and says, “Oh, if you’re
experiencing this then you need to do this method right now,” so people really appreciate
the precision of what to do specifically at each stage. Anyway, so as you can tell I’m just a general
advocate for this space and for people’s work … there’s so much amazing stuff out
there. So beyond location 4, one of the things that
we were talking about is for John, beyond location 4 for him has brought a return to
emotion, and a return to the experience of emotion, and a very human service-oriented
perspective, very much like a service to humanity perspective, and that’s one of the tracks
that people seem to go down in later locations in terms of how they experience locations. Rick: Yeah, kind of like the ox-herding guy
in the Zen pictures, riding back into town to help the people, with a big smile on his
face. Jeffery: Yeah, so it is sort of that type
of idea, though that could also be a location 3 guy. Then on the flipside there’s a continuation
of that same sort of emotionless direction, and it seems like the people that take that
– well I’ll describe location 4 a little bit later or next … I’ll describe locations
really quickly next. So when I do that, if people think about location
4 and they think about just cranking that up even more, that path into locations beyond
seems to be that path that goes further, like beyond location 9. And it seems like in locations 5 through 9
there are two different ways that you can experience them. I’ve often wondered if that relates to the
Bodhisattva idea of the you know, “I’m going to take the Bodhisattva path,” “I’m
going to take the John Yates path,” “I’m going to take the service to …,” or “I’m
not going to take that path, I’m not going to pledge to stick around and help everybody
achieve PNSE. I’m going to go as far as I possibly can
until I’m turning into a ball of light and there’s rainbows in the sky above my Tibetan
monastery,” or whatever the thing is. And so I think that’s a really interesting
distinction and I don’t get it a lot, so I want to put it in this interview because
I haven’t gotten a lot of chance to talk about that in other places. And sometimes people will communicate with
me and they’ll be like, “I don’t feel like I’m just an extension of location 4
in the later locations. I remember location 4, I wen beyond it, here’s
what happened, here’s what happened after that, here’s what happened after that,”
and this all fits our data. And they’re confused because maybe they
think that one of these two paths was the one that they should have hit and they hit
the opposite one. So I just wanted to interject that, especially
since you were bringing up emotion, because there is a path in 5 through 9 that is a return,
in many ways, to that emotion and in which you can experience emotion again. And then there’s a path where you just don’t,
and you don’t ever again, and that seems to be the one where you’re gone to the far,
far reaches that very, very few people ever reach. Rick: But it’s hard to say where those people
are going to end up, ultimately. Your model doesn’t precisely match the TM
model, but for the sake of illustrating this point we’re talking about, there is a phase
in that model where one has realized the Self but there’s not much heart and everything
is kind of flat and emotionless, and then later on the heart begins to blossom. And I think that might also correspond with
the chakras, in terms of there could be an awakening or enlivenment of one chakra but
not the heart chakra, and so on. It’s interesting to consider these different
models and maps and see how they match up. I don’t know, just the whole … the profound
devotion that some of the great sages seem to have displayed, like Anandamayi Ma and
Rama Krishna and others. And if we presume that they have gone quite
far through all the possible levels, it really doesn’t’ seem like emotionlessness is
characteristic of those higher levels of attainment, at least not in terms of the overt appearance
of the person. Maybe on some deep, deep level within them
which is very, even, predominant, they’re not experiencing a lot of emotion, but boy
they sure seem to be on the surface. Jeffery: Yeah, I hear you. I would say the people who really – in my
experience – the people who really go even beyond location 9, just as an example, are
not accessible. Rick: To whom?
Jeffery: They are very, very hard to … but the ones that we’ve researched have uniformly
reached out to us. I’d never heard of them before, they’re
usually embedded in a tradition that has some sort of map that accommodates this in its
more esoteric forms and gets you there, so they’re usually living in very supported
situations, or they don’t have to do anything except go on 20-year retreats and stuff like
that. And so it’s interesting because often those
traditions have pretty rigorous models like … you’re here, you have this many disciples
or people that you teach, and there is almost like a business structure to it, and these
guys are exempted from all of these structures. And it’s almost like a problem in a sense
for some of those traditions, because those people are so inaccessible that they’re
not even accessible to learn from, in most cases. And it’s been surprising to us because I
don’t even know how most of those people found us, especially early in the research. We would just get a ping out of the blue and
we would find ourselves going to some completely remote place, in most cases … I mean that
whole part of this is sort of surreal. Rick: Riff on that though … hold that thought
for just a second, because such people may be outliers and in a more enlightened society,
which we may be heading toward, they may be much more common. It’s just a matter of what’s the norm
and where the main bellwether bulge of the bell-curve is, you know? Jeffery: For sure. It’s hard to imagine society functioning
in any way when we’re all a bunch of people that were in that place, I mean they were
just … Rick: Yeah, it’s hardly functioning now,
so we couldn’t do worse. Jeffery: That’s true! But we can all still eat, we can all still
enjoy our food, at least … I’m not sure that would be entirely true. Rick: Well that precipitates a point, and
I don’t want to sidetrack you but you seem to associate dysfunctionality with higher
states of consciousness at a certain point, and there maybe something to that. I mentioned Anandamayi Ma – they had to basically
spoon-feed her sometimes, or Neem Karoli Baba – if they didn’t keep an eye on him, he’d
drop his blanket and wander off into the forest. But I don’t know … maybe that’s true
of the very highest levels of consciousness, but there seem to people in pretty high states
who were pretty competent, you know – Christ, Shankara, others who really kept an eye on
things, in some cases even contemporary examples – people like Amma, running big organizations. So maybe it depends upon one’s personal
makeup and proclivities, maybe it depends upon the degree to which one has integrated
these higher states. And some never do, they just kind of marinade
in some sublime state and never bother to integrate it with the world or just somehow
aren’t cosmically destined to? Jeffery: Yeah, I do sense that … when I
was young I worked in sports broadcasting – in my teens really, almost most of my
teens and a little bit into my early 20s – until I had done it all and was a little bored with
it and moved on. So I remember the difference of back then
– just to date me – the Chicago Bulls were the world champions again and again and
again and again, in basketball. And you would go and you would set up an arena
with all the broadcast stuff and then you would just sit around and wait for the thing
to start, and then you tear it down. And lots of times while you were sitting around
and waiting, you were just sitting in the stands – because you had to keep an eye
on the gear; you didn’t want $150,000 camera and lenses walking off, or anything like that
– and so I got to play sports with a lot of world-class athletes. Rick: Michael Jordan, people like that? Jeffery: Yeah, right, and it’s like, until
you try to play basketball against Michael Jordan, you just really cannot appreciate
the degree to which you will never be Michael Jordan! Practice … but there’s nothing that I
could have ever done to become Michael Jordan. I’ve played plenty of basketball, I’m
6’3” or 6’4” so I’m … I’ve played plenty of basketball, I could never have possibly… There was literally one time where we – we
would usually clear off the court when they got on, but there was this one time when that
wasn’t the case – they took one half the court and let us stay on the other half. And at one point – he’s a good example – he
actually came down and he shot some baskets with us. And we had little teams set up, so I was on
a team with a few people and there was another team with a few people, and that team was
a person short. So we said, “Why don’t you play on their
team?” Here he is, the world’s greatest basketball
player … “Why don’t you play on that team?” right; the gall of it in hindsight … but
we were all a little arrogant back then. And so he’s like, “Why don’t I just
play against all of you?” Rick: Yeah, that’s what I thought you were
going to say. Jeffery: And he just scored at will, you know,
we didn’t get a single point! It was humiliating! The security people, and the cleaning people
in the stands getting the place ready, they just stopped and were openly laughing at us,
it was just crazy. And I kind of think of that with some these
systems and some of these people that can go to these people that can go to these really
far, or what seem like these really far locations. It’s like there are only a handful, probably,
of Michael Jordans that are out there. Fortunately some of them are lucky enough
to live in the right area of the world or something, that they can be embedded in a
system that can nurture that and can become a world champion basketball player, or a world
champion consciousness developer, or whatever else, but I don’t think there are that many
Michael Jordans. You can get really good, I mean you can win
NBA championships and you can be really, really accomplished, but you’re not going to be
Michael Jordan. So I kind of have that view of those people. Rick: Yeah, and in the spiritual realm you
can be pretty enlightened but you’re not going to be Jesus Christ or whoever. There’s a certain dharma you have to fulfill,
a certain nervous system you were born into and so on, and we’re not all going to be
spiritual superstars. I don’t think we’re really going to do
justice to all these stages and levels and whatnot in the time that’s remaining, and
I don’t know if it’s really necessary to. We have given a flavor that there are all
these higher stages and states … Jeffery: I can go quick [over them]. Rick: Alright, real quick so we can get onto
some other stuff before we run out of time. Jeffery: They all have in common a change
in what it feels like to be you, to some degree that’s just about the only thing they have
in common. Rick: Say that one more time because your
audio was breaking up a little bit as you were saying that. Jeffery: The one thing that they all have
in common across the continuum, is that there is an experience of a change in what it feels
like to be you, what I call ‘sense of self,’ but beyond that they can vary significantly
from one to the next. So location 1 is what you might consider the
lowest location – I don’t use ‘levels’ because I don’t necessarily want to imply
a value hierarchy. I don’t want people to think, “Oh, location
2 is better than location 1,” or “Location 3 is better than location 2,” or any of
that. It can very much depend on what you’re doing
with your life at any given time, like we talked about earlier. You know, it’s really not appropriate for
me to be like a guy sitting in a cave or a cell in a monastery or whatever else, for
decades, not coming out, coming out once every 10 or 15 years, or something. Rick: Yeah, and in one of the chapters in
your book you speak about zooming in and zooming out, and I like that metaphor. It’s like, according to the needs of the
situation you might focus on this and reside in this level and function there, at other
times you don’t need to; you can zoom out. And I would also add – I was thinking this
when I was reading your book – you can culture the ability to be zoomed in and zoomed out
at the same time and there’s no conflict. You can be landing a 747 in a snowstorm and
yet be cosmically expanded and aware. Jeffery: Yeah, totally. So in location 1, when someone transitions
or lands in location 1, I think the most significant bellwether – just to be really quick with
these things and not get in too much detail – the most significant bellwether is really
that for most of humanity there is a sense that something is wrong, it’s just you have
this sense like something is wrong. And if anyone out there thinks that they are
not in PNSE and that they don’t think something is wrong, I would say, “Do you have goals?” Because if you have goals it is probably because
you think something is wrong! And so what is it that you are trying to fix
or mend with the goals? So there is this sense – and we can talk
about it evolutionarily, psychologically, and all of that – but there is basically just
this sense that you have that there’s something that’s not right. Rick: But just to pick on you there … you
have goals, I have goals. You might want to do a new study, you might
want to write a book, it doesn’t mean something is wrong, it just means there’s something
you’d like to accomplish. Jeffery: But if you don’t … I don’t
want to take up too much time on that. We can have a really good conversation around
that and how it shows up in the different locations, so let’s just for the most part
say that I’m talking about this in the normal person’s view. Rick: Yeah, like, “I’ll be empty and unhappy
until I accomplish this goal; I can’t live until I get the new Ferrari,” or marry this
person … Jeffery: Right, there’s the sense that,
“If I could only get X then I’d be happy.” And you can get all the “Xs” in the world
but somehow you never get the fulfillment for more than a little bit of time. So there’s a fundamental discontentment. Rick: … which is temporarily assuaged by
some little accomplishment. Jeffery: Yeah, exactly, or major accomplishment. Rick: Yeah, major, like winning the presidency
or something. Jeffery: I’m sure he’s already over it! Rick: Apparently so. Jeffery: Now the question is: how do I make
the U.N. into my company? So the interesting thing is that if there
is a definition of the human condition, people just think, “Oh, that’s just the human
condition,” or probably a key chunk of it, and that changes in location 1 – that sense
goes away. There’s a sense that everything is fine,
and not just that, but there’s a sense that everything is fine as it is, essentially. You may still have a goal to buy a certain
car because you had the goal a minute ago, before you transitioned into location 1; some
of that conditioning stuff may not have burned off but at the end of the day, now if you
don’t get the car, it’s not the end of the world like it was a minute ago. And so that goes to a detachment, if you will,
from certain forms of cognition and certain forms of thoughts and thinking, so there is
a reduction in self-referential thought for most people. For a tiny percent of people there is a huge
increase in self-referential thought, like their mind just gets full of thoughts, but
the thoughts are not paid any attention to, it’s just like a background sound that maybe
someone can hear right now and they’re ignoring the sound, but it’s always there – when
there’s an increase in thoughts, that’s sort of what it becomes for people. But in most cases there is a significant reduction
in self-referential thinking, which is thoughts about you, basically, and thoughts that relate
in some way to you. So instead of thinking, “I have to go to
the post office because that’s a chore I have to do … I have to get something in
the mail to somebody because I said I’d get it in the mail to them … where am I
going to park? … What am I going to wear? … Should I go at a certain time so that
I meet such and such on the way because I like the way that person makes me feel?”
– it’s just endless. Our minds are almost entirely full of self-referential
thoughts and when those start to decline and they lose their power, people say things like,
“All my thoughts went away!” All their thoughts didn’t go away, they’re
still functioning, but self-referential thinking has taken a hit. Rick: All the unnecessary ones go away. Jeffery: Right, if you want to think of it
that way, yeah. Rick: Yeah, mind becomes more efficient. Jeffery: Yeah, totally, exactly, there’s
a lot more space for stuff that matters more … than whether or not Rick’s going to
like the color of my shirt that I picked today, or whatever else I might have thought but
just didn’t occur to me. So there’s also a reduction in … a rapid
falling off of emotions as well, compared to what was the case before. And so on the emotional component, if somebody
cuts you off in traffic you’re probably not following them for blocks, riding their
bumper, or any of that anymore. You may still have a reaction … maybe you’ll
flip them off, but pretty much once that conditioning triggers and the neurochemistry of you – up
to maybe 90 seconds, but maybe just milliseconds – fades in the body, it’s gone. You’re not hunting the guy down and showing
him that … “You hurt me and my baby and my car,” and whatever you thought otherwise. And so then if you take that and you go into
location 2, and location 1 is actually dual –not to get into dual and nondual stuff
because we can take a lot of time on that – but location 1 is really sort of dual. I was talking to John Hagelin, who is a big
TM spokesperson, he had a great slide in one of his presentations that he was showing me
over dinner one time. And he had broken up the 4 major locations,
levels in TM into first one being dual, second one being nondual, third one being dual, fourth
one being nondual, which fits exactly with this – just in case I forget to say that
later, that they are 4 locations as well. And so location 1 is essentially where we’re
still in a dualistic reality and you have a mix of positive and negative emotions, negative
emotions are falling off more rapidly, you’re usually in a deconditioning process so your
conditioning can trigger you more than it can in later locations, it can suppress the
well-being a little bit more than it can in other locations but you bounce back, you’re
very resilient. Location 2, the mind continues to quiet, the
self-referential thought continues to quiet, your experience becomes increasingly positive
in terms of emotionality. And usually if you land right in location
2 versus location 1, you have a lot more conditioning that burns off in that process of what I just
think of as neural circuits being deactivated in the brain; “burning off” sounds a little
whatever. But I think whatever the huge reorganization
that’s taken place in your brain, it has shut some stuff off that used to trigger you
because there’s just been this reorganization in your brain, it’s going in a different
direction! But some stuff is still going to be there
that triggers you, especially from spouses and parents, and possibly siblings. And so you have a continuation of what you
think about in location 1 … there’s continued quieting of the mind and the self-referential
stuff, there’s a continuing of the falling off more rapidly of negative emotions; you’ll
experience negative emotions a lot less, now you’re bias much more toward the positive,
and it’s a nondual location. And in location 3, it’s sort of what we
said earlier … a good way to think about it is if you think about the end of the Christian
mystical path – which is often described as and is mirrored in so many other traditions
– many traditions consider location 3 to be the epitome of human experience. And so it is basically like a single emotion;
it feels like you are experiencing a single emotion most of the time. That emotion has different facets to it, like
a dispersonal or a Divine love, joy, compassion, that type of thing. If you could live in a community of location
3 people … you would definitely want to live in a location 3 community people. That would just be amazing because they are
so wonderful, helpful and loving and caring, and all of that. Not a place that you necessarily want to run
a company from because you’d just give away the store. And so these locations, that’s why I call
them ‘locations’ and not ‘levels’ – they’re good for some things, not good
for others. I totally want to live around a bunch of location
3 people but I don’t want to invest my money in a company run by them. So if you think about location 3 you have
this experience where mind quiets more. Your experience of the Divine doesn’t have
to be there, you can also have a panpsychist experience, and so it can just feel like everything
is conscious. You feel a sense of union or merger increasingly
with that, which is where that duality sort of sneaks its way back in. It’s very subtle, the duality is very, very
subtle but it’s there. You don’t think about, “I am merging with
that” if you are nondual, but there is this experience of merging with the Divine, merged
with everything that’s conscious, and there’s a deepening that could occur in terms of that
degree of merger and what not. And then location 4 – basically it is all
different. The last vestige of emotion, that last vestige
falls away any sense of Divinity or panpsychism basically falls away. You had agency at these other locations, in
different ways, that’s a complicated topic, but in location 4 you just swear that there’s
no agency. Rick: Meaning everything is running on automatic
and you’re not the decider? Jeffery: There is no decision … I mean,
you can’t make a decision. Rick: So George Bush definitely wasn’t in
that state, because he said he was the decider. Jeffery: So there are changes that occur. It’s a very different kind of state and
people describe it as feeling very alien. Rick: Yeah, until they get used to it. Jeffery: Because it’s funny, when you experience
it … I remember the first time I experienced it and it was really interesting – of course
I have all of this knowledge about it, right, before I experienced it – and so it is fascinating
to me. And I’m analyzing it and all of that a little,
while I’m in it – I should say I’m watching my brain analyze it, I didn’t really feel
like I was doing anything – but I could feel my brain analyzing it. But there was this sense that – people were
coming to me and I was in a busy environment – people were coming to me and they were
wanting to have these conversations, and I just couldn’t have possibly been less interested
in their conversations! And what it felt like I had heard described
many times but I hadn’t really understood it, is that there’s only so much energy
– I think of it again … please excuse my psychology and neuroscience viewpoint on
this – but I think of it as there only being so much energy available to your brain at
any given time, and it takes an enormous amount of energy in our brain to process symbolic
language. And that’s of course how people are talking
to you, they’re not telepathically communicating with you, they’re wanting to talk to you. And you don’t mind talking to people, like
I could talk all day to you and it would be no big deal at all because we’re not wasting
our words on stuff that doesn’t seem like … well, it’s just fine. But when someone is coming to you and they’re
just doing their normal social approval stuff or they’re talking about the normal, mundane
bullshit people often talk about just to maintain social relationships, you don’t have a lot
of tolerance for it. And that’s because you feel like, it’s
so much better when the energy is over here, being used for this experience, why would
I want to drain it off to have this conversation? This is not valuable. And so that’s roughly 1, 2, 3, 4. Rick: Okay. A lot of times when I do these interviews
and this is no exception, I wish we could sit and read the whole book together and then
stop and discuss each point as we read it, but then it would take a week to do the interview
and that’s really not the point of an interview; it has to be a snapshot. And I do in fact have about 8 or 9 pages of
notes here that I took while reading your book. But in any case, we need to wrap it up and
you haven’t talked about the Finders Course, so why don’t you take a couple of minutes,
at most, to … you’ve tried to distill all of this knowledge into a practical thing
that people could do actually have these experiences and you call that the Finders Course, so why
don’t you explain just a little bit what that is. Jeffery: Right, to me the Finders Course is
an experiment, a crowd-source, crowd-funded experiment, because nobody really funds this
stuff. Rick: But people do pay for it if they take
the course? Jeffery: Exactly, that’s what I mean by
‘crowd-funded.’ It is basically a way that we have been able
to fund a lot of research in recent years, without me having to keep dipping into my
bank account endlessly for another decade. Which has been really nice, I have to say,
I’m super grateful for that! Because it’s not like the National Institutes
for Health is like, “Hey, that guy is studying PNSE, let’s give him a few million dollars!” There’s just no money for this, you know,
unless you want to study addiction or PTSD or meditation, which is not my focus. So to me it is an experiment. And basically the day came where … and I
had thought forever that we would solve this with technology, that literally … like I
have all these transformer technologies around here – this is a Brain Zapper. Rick: I see it. Jeffery: And this is … you probably heard
of the God Helmet, and stuff like that, and other neuro-feedback technologies. And so I thought technology would probably
solve this, first and foremost, but when we got some of the early FMRI results back, the
regions were too deep in the brain, you couldn’t get to them with these surface-ee consumer
technologies. And I really was not happy with our data set
at that point. I was very happy with the continuum and all
of that, it was consistent and I was fine with all of that but I wanted to know, who
were these people before their transition? Because if I say, “Hey Rick, who were you
3 years ago?” or “Who were you 30 years ago? Can you precisely describe for me who you
were 30 years ago?” You can’t possibly do that; I can’t describe
who I was last week probably. And so we would always ask them, “What were
you like before?” I knew that I couldn’t trust that data except
in very broad strokes, and I want the data, I want to know what changes before and after. And so we needed some way to do that and I
thought we would do it with zapping or brain zappers or whatever, but then that didn’t
work out because of the deep regions of the brain. Rick: Not only deep, but I think that what
we’re dealing with is so much more complex than a brain zapper. The brain is so sophisticated, we don’t
really understand what’s going on. And there’s a profound, we could say “Divine”
intelligence orchestrating this universe that I think is moving everything along in an evolutionary
way to higher and higher states of realization. And we don’t even fully understand what
a single neuron is or exactly how it functions, that that profound intelligence can orchestrate
and coordinate functioning of trillions of them, and it is doing what it needs to do,
if we cooperate with it, to bring about the sorts of changes necessary in order for enlightenment
to be realized. But some crude little device like a helmet
is kind of a joke compared to what really needs to take place. Jeffery: I just had a little faith that that
intelligence could give us a helmet ☺ … or whatever, would give us some tool that I could
just push a button, you know? Just get humanity to a point where it would
provide the button! But anyway, long story short, that’s not
going to happen soon. And so I ignored so much of it; we collected
to much data and we could only process so much of it, and a lot of it was with people
… and I wanted to collect everything I could. And one of the things that we asked on peoples’
intakes form was: what worked for you? So when I was clear that technology wasn’t
going to get us there, which was right around that 2009, 2010 timeframe, we went back and
we looked at that question on peoples’ intake documents for the research. And it turned out that there is only a relatively
limited number of things that people answered, and so we started screwing around with them. And so we basically got around to a certain
sequence of them – some of them produced ‘dark nights,’ which are intense emotional
periods which can last even for decades … negative emotional periods – and so we had to spend
a year or so engineering our way around the dark night problem with some of the methods. And so anyway, what we wound up with was this
cocktail that we felt we could ethically use in research and get approved by our [inaudible],
and that had a certain ‘before and after.’ And originally, that worked on me, it worked
in a onesie-twosie kind of way on people, but we didn’t know if it would work on groups,
and so I didn’t expect it to actually work on groups. And one thing I think is important to realize
about me is that I’m almost always wrong. Like all of the things I thought were going
to be true turned out not to be true … pretty much the opposite of that, and so it was the
same with this. I set up the pilot experiment for the first
group of people using the protocol – longitudinal data collection for two years and very little
research resolution in the early part of the program. And then over the course of the 12 weeks of
the first one – the protocol is like 17 weeks now, but back then it was like 12 or
14 weeks maybe – of the 6 people we took in, and we took in
6 because we took in the number that we thought if they all went crazy we could psychologically
support, ethically. There was no way of knowing what was going
to happen, nobody had ever tried something like this before, and so it was all ethically
driven, essentially. And so of those 6 people, one of them dropped
out towards the end, so 5 of them completed it successfully. And all of them were reporting this transition
to what I call now ‘ongoing non-symbolic experience,’ because persistent means you’ve
been in it for more than a year, on an ongoing basis. And I had defined that term a long time ago
so I needed a new term for these people, now that we were in the region of the research
[with those] that hadn’t been in it for a year, so I just called it ‘ongoing non-symbolic
experience,’ so when you see ‘ongoing’ and ‘persistent,’ that’s the difference. Rick: Yeah, short-term, long-term. Jeffery: And I didn’t believe them. I mean these people, I really grilled them. They really had to sit through intense research
interviews with me, because I personally couldn’t believe that you could put people through
a 12 or 14-week, or whatever it wound up being, protocol … even though I’d seen it work
on individual onesie-twosie basis in the previous year or year-and-a-half or so. I don’t know, I just found it improbable
and so I grilled … I kind of in a way feel bad because I grilled those people so hard
– they’re very nice people of course, they were patient with me. And so right away we wanted to run another
one because we wanted to see … and I was comfortable running more people through the
second one. And so in subsequent Finders Courses we ran
about 60 people through one and it had roughly the same effect. It wasn’t 100% rate like the first one was,
but it settled somewhere around 70- 73% of people report ongoing non-symbolic experience. About 1% of people report absolutely nothing,
and some of those people don’t even have an increase in well-being! All of the positive psychology interventions
were enforced, all of the stuff that was drawn from the earlier research and the protocol
… I mean, they don’t even increase in well-being. And those people as you can imagine, as a
scientist, are the most interesting ones to me. And then the rest experience temporary versions
of it – have a peak-experience or they might be in it for a week or something, but it doesn’t
become an ongoing thing for them. And some of the temporary people transition
after the fact and get in touch with us, and some of the people who report ongoing non-symbolic
experience were maybe in it for weeks and weeks in the course, the protocol, report
falling [out of it after]. We didn’t do ourselves any favors initially,
we just kind of stopped and didn’t provide people with any guidance after they were done
with the protocol. And people would just sort of return to their
old habit patterns and their lives, as we talked about earlier, you have got to treat
this well. Rick: Yeah. So now the course is not being taught by you
anymore; it’s being taught by something called the ‘Willow Group,’ and does it
provide ongoing guidance? Jeffery: We hired Willow to handle all the
registration because you know, we’re a lab, and I don’t want to run a course. But the crowd-funding works out really, really
well to get subjects and to get the thing to pay for itself. Rick: And you’re still going to be offering
more Finders Courses? Jeffery: We’re doing one right now that
uses stuff like this, it is the first time we’re connecting the biometric data. So this headband goes on your head like this
… Rick: Oh, cool. Jeffery: And this is heart strap, you put
it around your upper chest, right under your nipples. And this is a GSR device, and you stick these
two electrodes (demonstrating) basically like this onto your fingertips. Rick: So you get biofeedback on what’s going
on? Jeffery: Yeah, it gives you a really accurate
read on your sympathetic system. We didn’t run a Finders Course for about
a year because the psychological data was solid and we just didn’t need any more of
it. But then a mutual friend of ours, Deepak Chopra,
he’s been on me for a while about collecting more physiological data – and he really
is a doctor, an M.D. Rick: Oh yeah, an endocrinologist
Jeffery: And finally I thought, “Well, if there’s enough of these consumer devices
out there and there’s a company called Neuromore that makes a pretty good app that can stitch
them all together.” So we ran an FC-9 about 4 months ago or so,
we just started FC-10 on Saturday. [Audio cuts out for 3 seconds]
I assume we’ll keep running them, I assume that we’ll keep collecting data, but I can
never promise that because for a whole year I didn’t run one because we couldn’t think
of more data that we needed on it. Rick: So let’s say this: I could ask you
a million questions about the Finders Course, I could spend another 4 hours bringing up
points that I took note of when I was in your book, but that’s not the point of an interview;
the point of an interview has to be a bit of a snapshot. So let’s say we’ve given people enough
of a taste, and you’ll be writing a book, it’ll be coming out pretty soon, you’ve
got a website, there’s a Finders Course website – I’ll be linking to that stuff
– and if people are intrigued by all this they can find out more. They can get your book, they can read your
website, they can possibly enroll in the next Finders Course, if you offer one, and we’ll
call it a day, because I really love talking to you but we probably should wrap it up. Jeffery: I don’t know when the book will
come out or if I will use it in the Finders Course – halfway through the Finders Course. Rick: Yeah, it’s in pretty good shape. I’ve just been reading it and enjoying it. I sent you an email with a bunch of typos
that I found in it. Jeffery: Awesome, thank you. And every time I run a Finders Course I ask
people to find the typos, and people are still finding them … it’s crazy. So the best place for information, for right
now for Finders Course stuff, is at . They can get on that mailing list and they
can get notified of later ones running. But the information, where they can really
get the information is on the core center’s website, which is at And on the ‘Publications’ page there is
this summary paper, which is a little dated – location 1 is a little … I would say location
1 a little differently now than I did in that paper – I just haven’t updated it yet. Rick: Okay, I’ll be linking to all this
stuff, you have tons of stuff. Jeffery: Videos, interviews, data presentations
from academic conferences where we dig into the minutiae of all this, and this and that. So that’s the place, that’s basically
the place. And your interview is at the absolute top
of it … I’ve waited so long. I just knew that you were going to deliver
a great interview because of your perspective. It is very rare because ordinarily you’re
interviewing with people who don’t know what the heck any of this is, so I’m going
to stick you right at the top with Jeffrey Mishla who did a pretty good interview with
me recently too. Rick: Okay, well you were very patient and
you actually never asked me for an interview, but I think we both sort of knew we were going
to do one eventually. And I just felt like, “Alright, let’s
do it,” and you were available and I appreciate your flexibility on doing it in a relatively
short notice – not that you needed to prepare. Jeffery: Well I appreciate all that you bring
to it. You ask the good questions, you have the perspective
– you don’t know how valuable that is, or maybe you do, I hope you do. I hope you realize how much we all appreciate
you. Rick: Well thank you, I appreciate your appreciation. Oops! Infinite feedback loop (makes screeching sound)
☺ Alrighty, so let’s wrap it up then. It’s really been a joy talking to you and
I’m sure I’ll see you again soon, probably in October out at SAND, if not sooner. And as usual, I’ll link to all the stuff
on your various websites – I’ve already said that 3 times … Irene is reminding me. So let me just make a couple of general wrap-up
points; one general wrap-up point, which is that if people would like to know more about
my show, go to B-A-T-G-A-P. You can subscribe to the YouTube channel and
YouTube will remind you whenever a new interview is posted. Otherwise, go to and there
is an ‘At A Glance’ menu, which we put together last week that kind of summarizes
everything that’s on the site and links to it, so that would be a good place to start. So thank you for listening or watching, and
thank you Jeffery, and we’ll see you next time everybody. {BATGAP theme music plays}

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