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Epiphany

Saved by a Poem
September 20, 2017,
Episode 5

When you see Kim Rosen on stage performing poetry, she exudes a distinct sense of certainty. But the truth is that for a period of her life she suffered from a particular type of fear that was profoundly painful. Her prayer to be released from it's confines would be answered two different times. And both times that grace came in the form of a poem. In the end, Kim’s story wasn’t about making her fear go away. It was about meeting it and doing life anyway, in a most extraordinary way.

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“The secret of freedom is giving up the choice to escape yourself.”

A prison inmate’s letter inspires this month’s podcast. In one of the most loved monologues in the archives, Gangaji speaks of the essential choice to face what has been feared or run from for most of our lives. When we give up any idea of healing and directly experience the woundedness,  we discover a deeper truth—the truth of who we are.

Learn more about the Prison Program.
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At some point in our lives, we will experience a loss of innocence. Whether that disillusionment is with ourselves, our family, or with life itself, there is a choice that arises in the midst of loss. Will we fall into cynicism and self-betrayal? Or will we meet the pain of that loss directly and in that, discover the innocence that was never lost.
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“You are free to discover yourself as Truth. You are free to rest in that Truth. You are free to be happy, regardless of your body, your thoughts, emotions, or circumstances.”

In this month’s podcast, Gangaji begins with a clear exposition on how it is absolutely possible to discover yourself as Truth, no matter your past history. Then in the lively exchange that follows, she speaks to how we deny the truth of ourselves and instead, cling to an identify rooted in our thoughts, emotions, and relative circumstances. Do you dare give up your self-denial?
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“There is no problem with pain. There is pain. If you are seeking something to avoid pain, that’s the suffering. That’s the search that must be called off.”

It takes effort to avoid our emotional pain. We can try to avoid it, but ultimately the common strategies of withdrawing, protecting, and dissociating from feelings of hurt actually turn emotional pain into unnecessary suffering. This lively exchange taken from the Gangaji archives offers a clear demonstration of how we can recognize the strategies we use and then choose to give up the power to suffer.
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“If you stop thinking about how to get out of the body that may be painful or how to keep the body that is pain free, you get to experience the truth.”

Physical pain is an essential aspect of life that serves the survival and well-being of the body, but we can easily turn that necessary pain that alerts us to injury and illness into unnecessary suffering. What is the difference between pain and suffering? What can physical pain reveal to us when we meet it directly?
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Where is the life you want?


As much as we can fear death, we can also fear living a full and vibrant life. In this exchange, Gangaji helps a woman get to the root of what keeps her fear of vibrancy running. This conversation demonstrates how each of us has the capacity to discover how to live a true and full life.

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“The strategies and avoidance around the experience of “not being” or death are what keep you from the experience of eternal life.”

As a young boy of 16, Ramana chose to stop running from what he feared and turned to face death directly. In that moment of inquiry, he opened his mind asking, “Who dies?”  All of us share that same opportunity to stop running and inquire into what we fear most—the end of “me.” In the willingness to investigate death itself, we can discover what cannot die, we can truly rest in the peace that is present here and now.
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“It was a fire. It was really a fire because it was a razor’s edge. All of sudden there are these huge groups. And if I identified even the slightest negatively or positively…I am sliced on this razor I am living on. It was really a necessary fire. I had to be quiet. I had to be still.”


This month we share the soundtrack to a special 30th anniversary video honoring the community of volunteers and donors. The video begins with Gangaji’s first meeting with Papaji in 1990. After Gangaji speaks about her earliest experiences of teaching, we see what unfolded through community efforts in the years that followed. Includes featured music from Jami Sieber, Kirtana, and Amber Terrell.


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Gangaji speaks about the role spiritual practice plays in our lives and invites us to discover what we are practicing when we “get off our cushion and the chanting stops.” What do our spiritual practices give us? What do we hope they will give us? What can they never give us?
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“It’s a lie that any thing gives you fulfilling, true, deep joy. Joy is your nature.”


We can feel deeply conflicted when following our hearts doesn’t line up with what we or others think we should be doing. When we reach the proverbial and often frightening “fork in the road,” we have a choice to be true to ourselves. Gangaji begins this meeting speaking about the difference between being normal and being natural, and then shares one of the key “fork in the road” moments she experienced in her life.


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Universal, absolute awareness is who you are.”

How is it possible to be “certain” of who we are? In the wake of an essential and undeniable experience of our true nature as pure consciousness, doubt usually arises—“Did that really happen? Is it real?” Then, we often look to our thoughts for the answer. In this powerful dialogue, Gangaji helps us see past the efforts of the rational, conditioned mind to grasp to the doubtless recognition of what is always here.
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“The error is that you are not what can be thought, or perceived, or felt. You are that which all thoughts, all perceptions, all feelings, appear in.”


In countless ways, we search for a “better” identity to replace who we think we are. This month, Gangaji speaks to the trap of misidentification. How is it possible to see your true face? Where are you looking for yourself?

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Some people have no fear of death while others brace against it, either consciously or unconsciously. If we do the best we can in life, if we live a conscious life, is it possible that we can somehow increase our own potential for a good death? Is there such a thing as making the wrong decision when it comes to death? As we struggle with subjects like prolonging life and assisted suicide, Gangaji opens the door for us to inspect our deepest fears around our own mortality. When we put all spiritual concepts aside, what does it mean to have a “good” death?
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Some people might experience it as insecurity and for others it might feel like outright self-hatred. The desire to protect ourselves from this feeling of unworthiness shows up in different ways. There are those who try to outrun it by building themselves up in the hope that no one will see their flaws, while others tear themselves down as proof of this not-enoughness. Either can be seen as an avoidance of actually experiencing the core of what we perhaps fear ourselves to be. What would a happen if we gave up on trying to be "enough"?
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Episode #7
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Episode #6
It was the middle of the night.  Harriet Watson was driving down a dark, snow-covered road alone, barely able to see what was in front of her.  Suddenly, she was startled by a loud thud.  In the moments that followed, her life would change forever.  From the frustration of a life of rigid rules and beliefs to the experience of profound freedom, this story is a testament to the trustworthiness of life.
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Episode #4
Kenny Johnson was trapped in a life that seemed impossible to escape. You could call it a kind of hell. More than twenty years in prison, sometimes just fighting for his life. What he wanted was just to be free. What happened to him was beyond his wildest imagination. This month's epiphany story is about amazing grace. It's about discovering light in the darkest of places.
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Episode #2
Mica Carew comes from a long lineage of medicine women. Her grandmother taught her that if you quiet the mind you can hear another person's body.  And from the age of nine, that's the medicine she practiced.  In her twenties, she turned her back on her native medicine.  It was a sincere and desperate prayer for help that took her on a journey she never could have imagined.
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Trained as a hospice nurse, Carole Downing held the act of tending to people as they died as an honor and a privilege.   In her early forties, the mother of a young son, the unexpected death of her husband forced Carole to face death in a way she had never done before.  What she learned in the midst of her grief is a lesson for us all.
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