Brian E Pearson
We live too much in our heads. From way up there we form judgements about other people and opinions about the world and assessments of our own place in that world, all from a seemingly safe distance, as if we're above it all. We even attempt to control our own bodies from that remote command station--feeding them, exercising them, perhaps even "listening" to them, like they were a foreign conveyance for what really matters, the grey matter that lives upstairs.
But we are not separate from our bodies. Neither are we isolated from our fellow humans, nor detached from the natural world. We're part of it all, and all of it is part of us. Our Western culture would try to convince us otherwise, that we really are separate entities, each striving toward the ultimate goal of "self-achieved independence." But actually to achieve such a state, as symbolized by the gated mansion on the hill and enough money to do as we please, would mean dying to the very thing that makes us human--our deep connection with the earth, with one another, and with our own bodies.
This week's podcast explores this vital reconnection. And it came about, tellingly, not by my efforts to find an interesting guest for the show. It happened because of a network of relationships, a connection between the past and the present, and a string of synchronicities. Self-achieved independence would never have resulted in such a timely and utterly engaging conversation.
I knew Philip Shepherd in high school. He changed his name when he became an actor and then kept that stage name as he went on to become a widely sought after writer and teacher of what he calls the Embodied Present. It was a mutual friend who suggested I listen to a podcast where this modern thinker was interviewed. I did listen, recognized his distinctive voice, and made the connection. I bought his first book, New Self, New World--a 450-page tome serving as the foundation for all his work since. As I read it, not only was I reconnecting with my old classmate who had gone on to become a world famous guide, but I was reading precisely what my soul needed to hear, about a more grounded way of being in the world.
Philip was happy to hear from me. We caught up about former classmates, recalling (distressingly) how many have died, and I explored with him this exciting territory he now helps people to rediscover for themselves. As he spoke I could see how the roots of his present work stretch all the way back to high school, where his restless capacity for asking the big questions and eschewing easy answers was not a little intimidating. I asked him if I could interview him for The Mystic Cave.
You'll hear for yourself how Philip draws us out of our heads and back into our bodies, which not only have their own intelligence, but reconnect us with the present moment where things are not separate and isolated, but whole and integrated. He invites us to resist the orientation of our culture toward control and domination, isolation and fragmentation, and to return to that almost primitive sense of wholeness, where we are grateful participants in our world, not proud conquerors of it.
But you'll only hear these evocative thoughts because somehow the Universe brought us together again. The more we open ourselves to the invitation of the Present Moment, the more we are reminded that we are not isolated and alone, controlling everything from our lonely headquarters. We are part of the very breathing of life itself, where we are connected to our bodies, to one another, and to the vast cosmos that is our true home.
This Week in the Mystic Cave: A Conversation with Philip Shepherd.