Slay Your Dragons - Malcolm Stern

Evolution of Personal Philosophy, Collective Consciousness, and Transformative Growth

June 09, 2024 John
Evolution of Personal Philosophy, Collective Consciousness, and Transformative Growth
Slay Your Dragons - Malcolm Stern
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Slay Your Dragons - Malcolm Stern
Evolution of Personal Philosophy, Collective Consciousness, and Transformative Growth
Jun 09, 2024
John

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How do we reconcile the beauty of existence with its inherent suffering? Join us in this episode of "Slay Your Dragons with Compassion" as philosopher and facilitator Tim Freke shares his journey of evolving personal philosophy through adversity. From the heart-wrenching experiences of his parents' deaths to his profound work with the dying, Tim reveals how these moments have shaped his understanding of the universe's evolutionary nature and the necessity of addressing suffering. We explore the intricate dance between spiritual experiences and scientific understanding, striving for a grounded spirituality that neither falls into naive utopianism nor cynical resignation.

Imagine feeling a profound sense of unity with humanity, as if we are all interconnected branches of a single tree. Tim and I dive into the transformative power of "deep awake" states and the quest for collective consciousness. Reflecting on our early existential inquiries and significant spiritual awakenings, we discuss how sustained spiritual practice and creativity play pivotal roles in this journey. Our conversation unravels the vision of an irredeemably loving universe, suggesting that the evolutionary process is heading towards a sublime state of collective consciousness and unity.

What if suffering is not an obstacle, but a catalyst for growth? Borrowing from Michael Mead's metaphor of the heart needing to be broken to reveal its hidden jewel, we discuss how life's challenges shape who we become. Tim and I share personal dragons we've faced, from youthful mistakes to deeper family realizations, illustrating that each hardship allows us to emerge anew. This episode underscores the continuous nature of self-discovery and growth, emphasizing that overcoming life's dragons reveals more about our evolving selves and contributes to the broader evolutionary process.

This Podcast is sponsored by Onlinevents

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Send us a Text Message.

How do we reconcile the beauty of existence with its inherent suffering? Join us in this episode of "Slay Your Dragons with Compassion" as philosopher and facilitator Tim Freke shares his journey of evolving personal philosophy through adversity. From the heart-wrenching experiences of his parents' deaths to his profound work with the dying, Tim reveals how these moments have shaped his understanding of the universe's evolutionary nature and the necessity of addressing suffering. We explore the intricate dance between spiritual experiences and scientific understanding, striving for a grounded spirituality that neither falls into naive utopianism nor cynical resignation.

Imagine feeling a profound sense of unity with humanity, as if we are all interconnected branches of a single tree. Tim and I dive into the transformative power of "deep awake" states and the quest for collective consciousness. Reflecting on our early existential inquiries and significant spiritual awakenings, we discuss how sustained spiritual practice and creativity play pivotal roles in this journey. Our conversation unravels the vision of an irredeemably loving universe, suggesting that the evolutionary process is heading towards a sublime state of collective consciousness and unity.

What if suffering is not an obstacle, but a catalyst for growth? Borrowing from Michael Mead's metaphor of the heart needing to be broken to reveal its hidden jewel, we discuss how life's challenges shape who we become. Tim and I share personal dragons we've faced, from youthful mistakes to deeper family realizations, illustrating that each hardship allows us to emerge anew. This episode underscores the continuous nature of self-discovery and growth, emphasizing that overcoming life's dragons reveals more about our evolving selves and contributes to the broader evolutionary process.

This Podcast is sponsored by Onlinevents

Malcolm Stern:

Hi and welcome to Slay your Dragons with Compassion, a podcast which I have conceived and am running together with my friends. At online events. We are interviewing a whole range of people who have come through some sort of adversity to become who they are. Sometimes these people are well-known, sometimes they're less well-known, but there's a sense from each of them that there is a sense of being molded by our life experiences. I'm very happy to welcome today an old friend most of the people I'm interviewing are old friends, actually but who's really made his way in the world as a philosopher and as a facilitator, and it's really a pleasure to engage in dialogue. So would you please welcome my friend, tim Freak. Tim hi, welcome to you.

Tim Freke:

Thank you, Malcolm. It's lovely to be here with you.

Malcolm Stern:

So this is called Slay your Dragons with Compassion. It's a concept that I conceived after the death of my daughter, melissa, and realizing that I had survived and even thrived through adversity and finding some resources inside myself. And that's what I'm. I'm interested in what we've. We've all had to come through something. No one gets a free ride on planet earth. It's, uh, not an easy planet to to be on, is it so, um? You've written a lot about um, being, being human and the condition we're in, so perhaps you could tell us a bit about your work first of all. But I won't let you there, because we'll also look at what's helped create it.

Tim Freke:

Well, in reference to what you're exploring today, malcolm, I'd say my work is about helping people experience what I call deep awake states, so shifting in the way you experience this magical, strange, bittersweet thing of being alive and and how we understand it.

Tim Freke:

And the last period has been particularly about how we understand it, and that's led me to where the last eight years intensely work on a new way of incorporating my spiritual experience with my understanding of the natural world through science and how they can fit together. And part of the impulse for that, I would say, is the experience, including the suffering, of watching my parents die and wanting to find the easy answers. I mean, I've never settled for easy answers, answers but it really needed to be a strong, robust understanding to be able to explain how life could be that sweet and that bitter, and that's what I'm looking for. How can I understand? So, I'd say mainly my work at the moment is to try and achieve that for myself and then to share it with others in case it's of value to them for myself and then to share it with others in case it's of value to them.

Malcolm Stern:

Lovely, and you've written a number of books and obviously look deeply at the nature of being human and the whole experience. And also I'm really interested in the fact that you're marrying science and spirituality, because it's been well known that science and religion may well meet at some point in time, but I think a lot of us who are involved in in the search for meaning in life these days are looking at the bridge between science and spirituality, a grounded spirituality, not a sort of like you know god will provide, but more sort of like a reasoning and an understanding. So you, you watched your parents die.

Tim Freke:

they both died at similar times, or if there was a few years gap, not much, you know, it was a particular phase of my life where suddenly I was looking after them and taking them through that experience First my father and then my mother. I've been around death a lot. I work with people who are dying. When I was younger and I've had friends die, obviously as you do, as you get older.

Tim Freke:

So it, um, it feels like any like you just said it perfectly that I really struggle with forms of spirituality which are incredibly naive. Either they kind of deny how difficult life can be and and they offer a utopian vision of you just get this, you'll just, you know, everything will just be great. And then it sounds so attractive and then it isn't, and then people are devastated and and abandon what's good in it as well as what was wrong. So I hate that. And and then on the other side, there's a kind of a? A in the modern world. There's a kind of a cynicism that comes from a certain understanding of the scientific worldview, where it's like life's tough, get on with it, make the best you can get through, enjoy as much as you can, and then you're gone. And that doesn't meet my experience either. So what I want is how can, how could, like I said, how can? It be so bitter and so sweet? And the secret for me and the secret for how I've come to understand my own suffering and the suffering of the whole world is this idea, which we've had in our human culture for a hundred years. I guess now that what we're in is an evolutionary process, that the whole universe, it's not just biology that's evolved, everything has evolved. The whole universe isn't a thing, it's an evolutionary process. And that makes me feel clearer with the situation, because then it's no surprise that I have to struggle with the less emergent levels of evolution which are all around me. I have to live with the biology of the body, which the body's a miracle, but it's also kind of arbitrary. It's got bits that aren't functioning now, or leftovers, or there may be people with genetic problems and all of that, and I will die and it will go wrong, all of that. And it's come from an evolutionary process. So I've moved philosophically.

Tim Freke:

I've moved from the idea of why is there suffering? Why would? What's its purpose? Why is it put there? It's not put there. No one intended there to be suffering.

Tim Freke:

Suffering arises because there's a natural process. The question is we are at this leading edge, it seems, of this 14 billion year process and we get to consciously come to suffering and go. Okay, what we're going to do about it. So, and we've done that. So you and I have, compared to our ancestors, lived wonderful lives. I'm sure you know that we've lived longer. You know you suffered this awful tragedy with your daughter, but most people experienced the death of their kids before they were five. All of that has changed because we've gone. Let's move the suffering and that doesn't mean there's not other types of suffering that have come, but it enables me to go okay. So the key thing is is how do I? The suffering is inevitable, not all the time, but some of it, and you never know what. How can I? How we respond to it will govern what happens to us, collectively going forward, and also individually, how it shapes you, like you said, how you find a response I think that's that's a key, key statement, isn't it really?

Malcolm Stern:

because it's it's not about I used to think it's it's about what happens to us. You know that I'm I'm a good person, so therefore life is giving me lots of gold stars and it's quite an easy ride. And then I realized after a while, a while, that that wasn't true and that I wasn't being punished by some nasty god, but I was actually being tested. Again, it's a bit that sounds a bit clinical, but but being tested by life to evolve in relation to what my experience is and that's what excites me is that actually? It's not not what happens to us, it's what we become. And and joanna macy recently spoke at st james's um and alternatives of the series that I used to run, and she spoke about being the great turning. This is the time where we're either going to the evolution is going to take a giant leap, or we we could perish as human beings. I don't know what your thinking is on on that I don't think we're going to perish as human beings.

Tim Freke:

I think we've come so far. I don't think I think that's. I think there is a continual worry throughout history. I've seen it in my lifetime and as an historian I see there's apocalypticism is constant in the human story and I think it's because you feel that you are on the edge at any moment.

Malcolm Stern:

We will have a personal apocalypse and we'll die. Yeah, exactly.

Tim Freke:

So I'm not apocalyptic.

Tim Freke:

I think it plays into the worst of us, not that we shouldn't be careful and pay attention, of course, but no, I think we are evolving, I think we've evolved.

Tim Freke:

One of the things which I would love to wave a magic wand and have more people aware of history, because if you have a sense of history, suddenly the ubiquitous problems we face, which are awful, which make people go, oh, it's a terrible world, and you go, yeah, it really is, is and it's so much better than it was on all of these major counts, just all of them, and that's because human beings have made it better and it's our ability to reflect and imagine and create and come into more emergent states.

Tim Freke:

I mean, one of the things I think about sometimes is just if you look at human beings, and what have we got? We've got this ability to the psyche, the soul. We can reflect in a way that it seems other life forms just can't, and we can imagine and look at us now from a hundred years ago or two thousand years ago or four thousand, and it's unbelievable. And look at the other life forms in the natural world. They're pretty much doing what they were doing. It doesn't change really it's changed a little, but ours has completely changed and there's been all sorts of horrors and all the rest of it, but also there's been this by the best, there's been this attention to how can we manage what's bad and increase what's good, and and I have immense faith in us to do that and that's interesting because I can.

Malcolm Stern:

I can look back and you know, just less than 100 years ago, at the holocaust and just the suffering that man is capable of visiting on man and man and men and women yeah, then it's sort of almost unbelievable. It's still happening in our times in Gaza and Ukraine, sudan, all over the world. There is enormous suffering and it's easy to get sucked into. This is a terrible world and actually I love the sort of the optimism that you show that actually this is yes, there are terrible things that happen in this world and we are in the process of evolution. So where would you see this evolution heading? What would? What would? What would look like from your historian point of view?

Tim Freke:

well, I can tell you my, my, um hope. Let's say yes. I mean, the first thing I want to say, you know, especially for people listening, is that the key thing is it's not that there's not terrible suffering going on and people aren't doing horrible things to each other individually and collectively. That's always the case If you look at the data, it's that you are so much less likely to die in a war now than 100 years ago. I mean, it's dramatic that poverty has gone down dramatically, that child infant mortality has gone down unbelievably, and this isn't just in rich countries, this is everywhere. So it's not like a blind oh, don't look at the bad bits, it's all great. I'm not saying that, not for a minute. I'm saying we need to keep going.

Tim Freke:

It's still rough and there's individuals who are having a really bad time, but overall, the lovely line from martin luther king where he said the arc of history tends towards justice, and it's like the arc of history tends towards the good, and that's what you, we can see if you look at it, especially over the last 400, 400 years, and then it's like, well, where it's going to go? And my feeling is it's going to go somewhere. I mean, I know that's stupid, but it is, and if history teaches us anything, it will be something we don't expect. So everyone at the moment is focused, quite rightly, on technology, which I think will have a huge impact. Ai is going to be massive, I think, and all the rest of it, but the evolution that interests me is the evolution of human beings, because all of that's coming from human beings. It doesn't come from somewhere else, it comes from the human imagination, and my sense is that we're not just more technical, we're more compassionate, much more.

Tim Freke:

We live in a world where a lot of people have a sense of empathy with people on the other side of the world. They'll never meet, they know nothing about, but there's a common human empathy. Well, most of history is the opposite of that. You hate your neighbors that's history and do terrible things to them that's history. And do terrible things to them. That's changed.

Tim Freke:

So my hope is when, who knows? But that the deep awake states I mentioned earlier, which I think people are accessing more and more and more, will become normal, and that that profound realization that, although we're these glorious individuals that need to keep flowering into any ever greater individuality, that we're also like branches on one tree, that not only life, not only human human beings are branches on one tree, but we're branches in the one tree of life, and then the whole universe is one thing evolving and that I meet you as someone who's both individual and not. There's also one with you, and that changes fundamentally how I see the world and how I see you and everything. So my hope is that that's where we're heading, and I think we could be.

Malcolm Stern:

That doesn't sound like Mickey Mouse philosophy. I mean, I think a lot of people I've been involved with, especially around the sort of like what was loosely called the New Age scene, were what were described as spiritual bypasses. Everything is glorious and everything is beautiful. The New Age is coming, there'll be no more suffering, we don't need to earn money. There's all that sort of stuff that went on and I saw a lot of it around me. But then there's also much more what I see as a grounded spirituality that, yes, there is much more to us than meets the eye and that we need to find if we're to really enjoy and thrive and evolve in this life. We need to find what you're describing as these deep awake states and these deep states of actually recognizing the exquisiteness of who we are, and most people I've spoken to and I just mean the podcast series, but in in various ways in life have experienced some sort of transcendent thing in their lifetime.

Malcolm Stern:

I've had two or three. Um, they can be inspired by hallucinogens, which is one way of looking at it, but that that's not the way. Ram Dass used to say that you can get there quickly that way, but you can't sustain it. So we have to find a way of sustaining this experience. Now, you didn't start life sort of thinking, well, what's the nature of the universe and life? Something will have driven you in the direction you're in. Can you take us back a little bit and just see what made Tim free?

Tim Freke:

I think actually I might have started life like that, because there's not a time when I can't remember that and I can remember having conversations with my father about it when I was very young. I remember walking with him very distinctly and was quite small, out for a walk with our dog and me asking all these questions about the nature of existence and suffering and death, and him saying, oh, timothy, wiser men than you and I have asked these questions and found no answers. And I can remember distinctly feeling as this young kid that's crazy. If there's a question this big, there must be an answer, and I'm going to find it, and it was. It was a very strong feeling that that's what I, that's what I was here wanting to do, and that led not directly some years later, to my first deep awake experience when I was 12. Again in my little hometown, with my dog funnily enough, my little shamanic guide and thinking these same same questions like what the hell is this? And then something, just off, I went. What happened? Well, I would now say that I came into this deep wake state. There was a, there was a connection with the but what I, what I, what I had at the time was oh, this is God, and I kind of agree with that, actually still. But I mean something very different by the word God now, but that's all I had.

Tim Freke:

I grew up I went to church, often on my own, actually, because something was happening there.

Tim Freke:

I thought, you know, maybe, and it spoke towards something, and so the way I experienced it was this enormous love, like the whole universe was just pulsating with love, and I remember crying and the colors and whoa, and I have no idea how long it lasted, and I went down the hill that I was on and became a teenager again, but something it was like Carl Jung talks about sometimes in a life there's a seed, and that was my seed and one way or another I've been exploring that ever since and I'm doing it exactly now and in some ways I feel like what I'm constantly trying to do is write the book or create the body of work that I would have wanted someone to give that 12 year old boy and go try this Cause. I had to look everywhere I could and did to come back to that experience, to deepen that experience, and then, because I'm a real, I love creativity and communication to share it with other people. So that was a big, always been a big part for me as well, since I was a teenager.

Malcolm Stern:

Well, I've seen that often in you as well, that wanting that willingness to actually to give of who you are, and it's one of the things that's inspired me about you. It's interesting because I look at your dad and that statement and I would say and I'm not using the word ignorance here as an insult I would say that's compassionate ignorance, compassionate. Yes, he couldn't see any way of getting to this, whereas what I'm hearing is that you are actually on a quest. You have seen a way you are on that. Nothing will stop you from that quest. This will be your lifetime quest. You're not going to suddenly change and become something else. You're developing yourself to answer these questions and to use the burgeoning technology and spirituality that's in our midst as well to come to this place yeah, so so I think it's yeah, you, you're, you're right, and I also.

Tim Freke:

I love my dad for it, because it's great, because it's kind of true, it's kind of beautiful. You know, greater, greater men than me have asked this question and no one comes to a conclusion. But that I understand. That now I don't expect to. I don't think there's a statement that could be the truth. So it's more like look, I understand that people before me have done their best.

Tim Freke:

My job, if it's my particular calling, which it seems to be, is to do my best and then pass it on to the next generation to make it better. And that's what we do. And I've only got the ideas that I have got to think with and I can make up new ones based on them. But when I look back into history, you see people just didn't have the ideas we have now. They couldn't think these thoughts. But the experience is interesting because that seems that love, that sense of profound connection with something greater and coming into a state of communion I would call it so that it's very much the individual, but the individual within the universal that seems to crop up again and again and in one way it doesn't change, but the understanding of it can change.

Malcolm Stern:

I think the experience of it is actually probably native to many of us. Yes, we have actually touched into that as you were speaking. I just remembered when a friend of mine's um father died and I went to. In the jewish tradition, you have a shiver, a time where you sit and you're comforted by people of your friends, and I didn't know his mother very well, but at the end of the, at the end of this, the shiver, at the end of the time when there's prayers and then there's conversation and other things, you go and wish the, the bereaved, long life.

Malcolm Stern:

And I went up to his mother and I put my hand into hers and suddenly all her grief flooded through me and I found myself sobbing and she looked at me and she said this is so beautiful, what have you done? And I thought my god, I've become awake. I was awake in two seconds. Um, I was sort of longing for that to to last, but it went. But in that moment the love that you talked about flooded through me and I awakened to that love and I think many had that so.

Tim Freke:

So you know, when I was thinking about slaying your dragons with compassion and I was thinking, what does that mean to me? And I would say, you know, I've had a really easy life compared to many of the people I meet and know who've had the most awful things. So I feel glib talking about things that I haven't experienced. I don't want to do that, but I do feel that ultimately, what's got me through has been that connection with something bigger than me, which is incredibly loving, utterly benevolent, and I don't know how people who don't have that get through. They often don't how people who don't have that get through. Yeah, yeah. So part of you know it's not what, what.

Tim Freke:

What moves me is not just like well, I want a good philosophy, I want to understand it. I do, and I think that's powerful and it gives meaning, and that's meaning can also get you through when times are hard, even because you can't always feel that it's like you're cut off from that, you can't feel that transcendent beauty. But if you've still got meaning, you know it's there and if you've got a deep, meaningful understanding of what life is, you can hold on to that long enough to get you back to the place where you go, it's okay. There is something here which is redeeming all of this suffering, and it's redeeming it because it's leading to something so beautiful that the suffering isn't diminished but it's contained in something bigger. And there's a both, and it's a bittersweet, but the sweet is so beautiful that you go okay. And so I want to introduce people to that and I want myself to go into it. I want to introduce people to that and I want myself to go into it.

Malcolm Stern:

I want to share that. Yes, I think it's just something very interesting, though, which has just put a jigsaw piece into place for me, which is that it's irredeemably loving. It's just I didn't use that word, but something like that that there's this place of benevolence. That is just love, and I think I've been picturing the world through the dualistic lens of good and evil. There is suffering and there is beauty, but I think what you're looking at is beyond a dualistic state, into actually there is a state of transcendent state of love. Beauty and awakening, which is our destiny as human beings, is what I think I'm hearing you say.

Tim Freke:

So I mean I don't want to lead us off course from the topic, because it's such a deep topic. I think this will key into it and I'll just try and say it fast so I don't get caught up in too many ideas. But a big shift for me. Big shift was well, I had the experience when I was a kid. I told you about it. It was God, god. I almost became a friar at one point.

Tim Freke:

I've been, I felt a real sense of devotion, a love affair. It's been very big in my, my youth, and that tailed off because I couldn't make sense of the, the God at the beginning of time who created anything, even in the most abstract sense, because of the suffering of life I've never found. You know. It's like if this is created by and intended by anything, that is a, it's cruel and it's like, well, you need suffering because otherwise you wouldn't know joy. Yeah, okay, but you don't need those little insects that goes in kids ears and eats their brains from the inside. You don't need that. There's, there's a level of gratuitous brutality that does not fit with that experience that I had, and and and also the kind of craziness. Like we now know, there was five complete extinctions. So any God that's intending all of this is mean, stupid, and. And yet I'm experiencing, oh wow, this is. There's so much goodwill and and, and the place I've ended up at the moment, malcolm, which has really, really worked for the last period, is going. Oh, of course.

Tim Freke:

Of course this evolutionary process starts with the simplest of things, and the simplest of things is just the one, and I mean what we mean by the number one something undifferentiated, not God, not love, not intelligence, nothing. It's nothing. Something which is undifferentiated, which is in relationship to itself, has differentiated into everything and arrived at us and then arrived at psyche soul, everything and arrived at us and then arrived at psyche soul. And my hunch intuition is that the thing we're experiencing is that sublime god is not, is not at the beginning, it's where it's going, and that, as we come into these deep awake states, souls combine to form a super system, just like cells have combined in my body to form a super system which is my, my biological body, that our psyches are combining and forming something greater than us, and it is in the same relationship. It's not, it's not creating the suffering, it's not, it's also like I am, but on a higher level, reflecting on it, and that's that compassion.

Tim Freke:

And so when I touch into it, that's why I say it's redemption, it just goes. We can redeem this, we can find a way to redeem it. And if you think the death isn't the end which I don't, which I do, it's not the end, I don't think then there's the chance for every psyche to find that redemption and come into this, a place which, it seems to me, I call it the univigil communion. So we're individuals, but with that sense of communion or unity. And that's what, that's what it feels like to me where our, our, our, our individuality is. It's the next level of that. It's flowering of the whole universe, actually, but flowering of us individually into something greater, and that really helps me deal with the bitterness of the world.

Malcolm Stern:

Yes, and I guess we have to also keep an awareness of time that in our rushed state we've got this one wild and precious life and and, and it's going to come to an end, to 80, 90, whatever it is, years or sometimes less. Um, and so time is running out from is what our joint thinking often is. But effectively what you're saying is time isn't right, time is not really even a concept we need to look at in relation to this. There have been five great extinctions. Actually, our concept of time is totally off.

Tim Freke:

Yeah, we're in a very big process. It's got us from the little fact I got this from Brian Swim always makes me laugh. The cosmologist of this idea that 14 billion years ago there was just hydrogen and a little bit of helium, there was gas, and that gas is now you and me having this conversation, I mean just to get that is extraordinary. That's the level of the I like, I think of it.

Tim Freke:

So not intelligent design, but the but the evolution of intelligence Just evolving, and then the idea of maybe there's another level to this intelligence beyond us which is arising and has been for some time, which we can plug into. And that's why, when we touch it, it feels so good, because it feels like whoa, you know that kind of I'm'm reminded of. Do you ever see dogs or sometimes cats, but mainly dogs when they're around human beings that they like? And they're like oh, I want to be around you because you're, you're doing something I don't know what it is, but I like it and I feel that about god. It's kind of like oh, I just want. I want to be around you because there's something so more than me that I can partake in.

Malcolm Stern:

So it's a love of God, effectively, but then you can't actually name God either, can you? It's the fact you want to be around the creative force of the universe, and if you're looking at religion, they try to compartmentalize it into a physical being of God, whether it be Christ or Buddha or whatever else it is being of God, whether it be Christ or Buddha or whatever else it is.

Tim Freke:

Yeah, I mean, I would see it. I see it. I mean I use the word because it's a powerful word, although sometimes very misleading, but I see it much more like well, let me use a completely opposite analogy, which has the opposite danger, but more like look, if you've got lots of computer systems and you plug them all in together, get a supercomputer. And if you get lots of awakening souls and you plug them in together, you get a really awakened soul. And that's what we're touching into, that, that super system, um, that that's arising. So it's come it. It itself is a, is a flowering of the process of the evolving universe.

Malcolm Stern:

That's how it feels because, um tick, now, hansa, the next buddha will be a community, yeah, individual, yeah, yeah, and that's exactly what you're describing this the, the community of souls, awakening, hopefully, and I mean it's it. I can see myself wanting to go well, is it next year or is it the year after? But it's because it's. It's none of those, it's just what's happening and we play our role in contributing to what life is leading us to.

Tim Freke:

I think it's the.

Tim Freke:

The role it plays for me is the meaning role, because I mean I've, I've got no, you know, I'm not a prophet or anything like that and I, I most of them talk nonsense, but uh, I it feels like if it's, if there is a understanding which seems reasonable, plausible, which links in with all of the things which we understand, which we can understand robustly. It means that how I confront my own challenges is not just me in my little life, with my big challenges, but also within a greater story, so that I'm plugged into something bigger than me the whole time, if I want to be, and that is, you know, I think of Viktor Frankl in the, you know, in the camps, and and how the people that came through with those that had a bigger story, had something else. That's a meaning and and and. To go back to where our conversation started, one of the problems that's happened, I think, is that with the collapse of mythic religion which I think needs to collapse myself, I mean not that it's not got beautiful things in it, but it's done what we've taken on in the intellectual mainstream is this reductionist science which has no room for these spiritual experiences there. I mean, it has no room for any experiences. Everything that the psyche is experiencing is really just the body, and the body is really just chemicals and blah, blah, blah. So it so that we are being, in a sense, cut off from what, in my life, has been the most important experiences a human being can have.

Tim Freke:

And at the moment, it looks to me like what's on offer is either go back to the mythic religion, which a lot of people are doing right now, or some naive, half sort of new version, which you were talking about, or you go east, where there's an awful lot of denying of the world. The world's an illusion, the self is an illusion. It's undercutting the very process. So, in answer to your other question that came up, it's like what comes next.

Tim Freke:

I think it's a return of spirituality to the mainstream, but not like anything we've had before, a post-scientific spirituality which comes back and robustly says no, this, this fits with science, this fits with the worldview, with the naturalistic worldview. It's just the most emergent level of the one process of evolution. It doesn't stop with biology. It goes on into the evolution of the psyche. The evolution of the psyche to be able to survive the death of the body. The evolution of the psyche to come in states of communion that creates a transcendent being of love. All those things which spirituality has been exploring are are real and they need to be re brought back into the human understanding. And when that happens you know well when and if I think the impact on everything about human life will be utterly enormous.

Malcolm Stern:

That's interesting because I think it's visible, sort of like the beginnings of it are visible, yes, yet there's a frustration that the sort of incredible suffering we're still inflicting on ourselves and each other as human beings, yeah, and I haven't quite squared that, that equation, yet inside myself I think it's part of the impulse, isn't it?

Tim Freke:

I mean, what you've been exploring is how that happens to us individually, those awful things that happen, and you know that the one, one of the best bits, one of the things I'm most proud of writing is the end of my book Deep Awake, and also Soul Story and sorry Mystery Experience, because it's the same book edited down and I just thought I'm going to because I want to, as someone who's talking about these deep awake states and you know da-da-da and this philosophy. I just wanted to. I just wrote something very short and autobiographical of going I've had this happen and it's amazing, and I've had this happen and it's awful.

Tim Freke:

I've been this person who's gone, oh, ecstatic love. I've been this person drunk in a bandstand, you know, just in despair. I've been this person, I've been this and just those opposites of a human life, of when you felt like yes and when you felt like broken. And to get that is the process that we go through and that we become who we are. We shape our character. You know that old thing that my parents used to say it's character-forming stuff and it always felt like, you know, go on please. And now I think, oh yeah, that's exactly what it is.

Malcolm Stern:

I think you're right. It's interesting the thing you you know, please. And now I think, oh yeah, that's exactly what it is. I think you're right. It's interesting the thing you spoke about broken. Michael Mead, who I've quoted in my book, says that in order to become who we truly are, the heart has to be broken, not just broken once, but many times, in order to reveal the jewel that's hidden within it, or something along those lines, and I think that's right. The suffering actually does. We're like diamonds that come out of the earth.

Tim Freke:

So I want to agree and disagree. Sure good. So I do think it breaks us open and it creates a space for us to be new. The thing I want to undo is this spiritual idea that somehow there's who we really are already. It's there and we've lost it, stupid us. And if we have the suffering, it'll break us open and they go oh, that's who I really am. How did I forget? I think now, personally, that is complete nonsense and it's part of this, all that you know. We've got this new idea of an evolutionary current and it's optimistic. A lot of the old spirituality is all about we're not forming, we're fallen, we, we, and what I want to say is let's ditch that idea and instead go. You, go through this. The old you is broken open and from that is going to come something which has never existed before. It's not that your true self. It's like it's your next self. It's the more emergent you in the same process that got us from hydrogen to life. It's like it's it's you partaking in that process.

Malcolm Stern:

Yes, I think that I can. I can live with both of those things as well. That's powerful. So we're coming towards the end of our time together and I've loved our dialogue. Actually, Tim, I'm really inspired by you, know the exchanges that happen in your thinking as well. And the question I ask people at the end of the and I don't tell them I'm going to do it because I like it and the question I ask at the end of each of the podcasts is what is the dragon you've had to overcome, to slay, in order to become who you truly are, or who you truly are at this stage?

Tim Freke:

I know that yes, who you could be, yes, who I've become. Now I hear the question yeah, what is the dragon? I feel like there's been lots of little dragons. Yeah, there's been the, the, the. I think learn. A lot of the dragons have been mistakes.

Tim Freke:

Um, in my understanding and I don't mean that as an abstract thing, not like you know, but actually how I was living, so getting caught up in a guru cult when I was young, or my marriage breaking down and looking back on those things and going, oh, that was me, wasn't it? It was about my own unconsciousness, and I would say that's happening more to me now I'm in my 60s than ever. I'm looking back, so it feels like there's like dragon after dragon, after dragon, and to go, to be able to look deeply into my own soul and go, oh, I couldn't see that. I couldn't see that, I couldn't see that. I mean, I think of. Just to give you one little example which has come up for me. These are small things, I know, but they're big things.

Tim Freke:

Just thinking about my father, who I mentioned earlier, and how, when I was younger, our neighbor took him to D-Day celebration because he was part of the landing, but I was a pacifist, I was on the left, I was pacifist, I was on the left. I thought I had no. You know, I had no awareness whatsoever of what he went through when he was 18. I was just aware of what I was going through when I was 18. And I look back now and I just that's where I feel ashamed, and I'm pleased to be ashamed, and so I feel like that there's a slaying of the dragons bringing it into the big love, and that's all very nice, but there's also a slaying of the dragons for me, which is being willing to be ashamed and to just go. I didn't see that All those years. I didn't see that, of course, the payoff is you now do see that. And then I've evolved, I've become someone more, and that's how I arrive where I am continue like that.

Malcolm Stern:

Yes, thank you, tim. I've really enjoyed this, uh, this dialogue, and I really appreciate you coming along and and being a part of my series and, um, it's been good to see you and we'll be in touch. Lovely, lovely, thank you.

Evolution of Personal Philosophy in Adversity
Exploring Deep Awake States and Connection
Exploring Transcendence and Universal Love
Slaying Dragons for Self-Discovery
Personal Growth and Gratitude