Acharya Shunya is a trailblazing spiritual teacher who is breaking new ground in the world of feminist spirituality. She is a truth-teller, mystic teacher, bestselling author, and the first female head of her 2000-year-old Vedic lineage from India. Acharya Shunya is on a mission to empower women everywhere to step into their divine immensity and lead powerful, abundant, and wise lives through her revolutionary revisioning of ancient India’s primary goddess archetypes.
Acharya Shunya’s openhearted, inclusive, and nondual teachings reinterpret and re-contextualize ancient Hindu teachings and goddess legends for modern times, always honoring her progressive Vedic roots while breaking the shackles of tradition to bring modern-day women an inclusive, feminist spirituality. Her teachings are rooted in the principles of alchemical Ayurveda, yoga, universal Advaita, and the awakening of the inner goddess. Through her work with The Awakened Self Foundation and the Nonprofit Vedika Global, Inc., Acharya Shunya is empowering, educating, and inspiring a worldwide community of students through online courses, workshops, and retreats. She is committed to creating a safe and supportive space where people from all backgrounds and with varied life experiences can come together to learn, grow, and awaken.
Acharya Shunya’s latest book, Roar Like a Goddess: Every Woman’s Guide to Becoming Unapologetically Powerful, Prosperous, and Peaceful, is a must-read for anyone looking to tap into their inner power and potential. The book is a revolutionary revision of the feminine divine and carries the potential to change the face of modern feminist spirituality. Acharya Shunya’s teachings are not just for women; they are for anyone who wants to live a more authentic, empowered, and fulfilling life. Acharya Shunya is a dynamic and engaging speaker who teaches regularly at her foundation in California and at Kripalu, Ram Dass’s Be Here Now Foundation, Omega Institute, and more. She regularly addresses the confines of patriarchy, misogyny, and racism and holds space for people from all backgrounds and with varied life experiences.
In conclusion, Acharya Shunya is a trailblazing spiritual teacher who is empowering women everywhere to step into their divine immensity and lead powerful, abundant, and wise lives. Her teachings are rooted in the principles of alchemical Ayurveda, yoga, universal Advaita, and the awakening of the inner goddess. If you are looking to tap into your inner power and potential, I encourage you to check out Acharya Shunya’s work and join her worldwide community of students. And if you’re feeling inspired by her teachings, don’t forget to hit the subscribe button on her YouTube channel to stay updated with her latest offerings.
Please enjoy my conversation with Acharya Shunya.
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Follow Along with the Transcript – Episode 214
Acharya Shunya 0:00
We are free from these roles. These roles are only give helping us be more authentic, be more safe and secure, be more playful, but they are not our ultimate reality. So do what you do in life to access your inner freedom, always know that you're separate.
Alex Ferrari 0:32
I'd like to welcome to the show Acharya Shunya did I do okay? How are you doing my dear?
Acharya Shunya 0:41
Wonderful, and I'm so delighted to be talking to you.
Alex Ferrari 0:45
Thank you so much for coming on the show. We're here to talk about your new book Roar like a Goddess. And we're gonna have some, I think we're gonna have a very interesting conversations, I think you and I both have similar ideologies in many ways. And many, looking at the universe as the background items in my room. On my second. So my first question to you, my dear is how did you start your spiritual journey?
Acharya Shunya 1:12
I think I was born in a spiritual family. But, and I put I don't want to say that, Oh, you know, the universe decided it for me. Because I remember a time in my life where I didn't want to have anything to do with spirituality. I was very engrossed in my being my body, my material life. And, and I had a phase of life where I didn't want to have to do with deeper thinking. And so it's interesting that I am, I'm a child of doubt and, and questioning and challenging, the very setup I was born in. But I was born in a spiritual family, live situations, difficulties, obstacles, you know, the typical stuff makes us turn inward. And I realigned with the opportunity to study with my grandfather, who was a great guru, well known in India. And somewhere along the way, I recognize that this is the only journey that's really important to me.
Alex Ferrari 2:24
And isn't it interesting that, you know, as I studied many spiritual masters over the years, all of them had to go through some form of what you went through. In other words, you could be born, you could be born into the life of an organic farmer, but you're like, I really want to eat meat, I don't want to be a vegetarian, and you go off and you eat me for 10 years, you're like, you know what, I really, I think I feel better when I just eat vegetarian. It's kind of like you always have to kind of go opposite. Just to kind of understand the difference. There's a contrast. So I'm assuming that's kind of what happened to you, where you, I want nothing to do with the spirituality. I literally have all the spirituality in the world. I've been blessed with my grandfather and my family. But I don't want it right now. I'm gonna go to materialism. And then you came back, because you needed to go through that, that journey, right?
Acharya Shunya 3:17
Yeah. And I think, and I mean, and I'm so bored with the stories of I'm born with a spiritual spoon in my mouth. And you know, and, and then I was meditating when I was eight. And then I was celibate when I was 20. And I don't want to believe all of that anymore. Sure, I want to say that each one of us has to go through some degree of darkness. And we can't really see what's in front of us. And life is very seductive in the beginning. But yeah, we each have to own our story. And I'm so glad I wasn't conditioned into being spiritual, but it's my choice.
Alex Ferrari 4:02
And what was it like learning from a guru, like your grandfather, who you know, I mean, that must have been a blessing in many ways, but I'm assuming of a burden as well.
Acharya Shunya 4:14
It was, it was a blessing, mostly, but it was a burden, especially when I was asked to step into his feet. And I was the first female to be ordained and a 2000 year old lineage. And I was surrounded by a sea of skeptic eyes questioning my gurus choice, and questioning me and my presence, my my existence to begin with, and that began an unfolding of looking at am I truly worthy? And that took some working but but then the unworthiness of my gender and in general, I couldn't I I couldn't, I couldn't explain away why I was chosen. But my Baba knew that I have what it takes to be a leader in this century. And he was truly he was truly a great light in my life and has prepared me to be the person I am today.
Alex Ferrari 5:22
And you are a unique unicorn in the the zeitgeist of gurus and Yogi's throughout the history of, of that tradition, because there aren't many female, you know, practitioners or leaders in in their in their lineages. I mean, the only one that comes to mind is God, her name is Ma, they used to call her Ma, I forgot her name. She's on she's on my painting in the back. But there's not many of them. Why do you think that is? Is that just culturally, you know, that they, like you said, on a sea of eyes are like, Oh God, Is she worth it? If she can she can she make it happen? It's, it's a woman, oh, my God. God forbid, by the way, I've been surrounded by women in my entire life. I have no testosterone in my life at all. So I completely understand
Acharya Shunya 6:13
I think it's really, it's an important question you asked. I want to give it the concentration because I want to say that the Vedic Hindu tradition itself, is deeply appreciative of all genders, not just a feminine gender, but also trans and mix gender, we have gods who are whose different genders come together. So it's not a purely masculine or androgynous tradition. But the society itself in India, especially as it was plagued by invasions by different cultures and religions, which are more patriarchal. Gradually, the seed of patriarchy seeped into India too, and why we still see the upholding of the Divine Feminine boldly and openly. The average woman slot is not that easy. And gradually, a class of male exclusive male priests took over the tradition and started corrupting the knowledge, putting barriers between women studying it, and women interpreting it when the original holy books the Vedas were themselves. They have contributions from female spheres. So once upon a time, the Vedic Hindu tradition was celebrating every gender and its expression. But gradually, the society became warped, and a shadow of its original self. And I was born in the 1960s of India, when women were, were asked to be more domestic, and, you know, shadows of their men. And there were these exceptions, like we had the Prime Minister Indira Gandhi, but she was another unicorn. Well, it was my fate to be one and I am not only a woman, I'm not only married, I'm also a divorced, Acharya or a leader. I'm very ripe and ready for this century.
Alex Ferrari 8:31
Without without question, you know, married divorced. I mean, I mean, you're just kept, you're checking all the boxes off just checking them all.
Acharya Shunya 8:39
I'm working hard at it.
Alex Ferrari 8:43
So you mentioned the Vedas. A lot of people don't know what the Vedas or the apana shots are can you explain what they are? And how did you discover the wisdom within them?
Acharya Shunya 8:54
The Vedas are wholly spoken transmissions and they are not wholly in terms of a single religion. Because the whole the Vedas precede all religions that come from India Hinduism, Buddhism, Sikhism, Jainism, they were the original eternal books of holistic wisdom. So you find holistic teachings for the body, mind Soul Society, for to be a more conscious for the conscious evolution of humankind. And so we find beautiful sacred teachings, mantras, chants, and directions, for conscious and empowered and human living really, and they give birth to religions gradually. And the Vedas are once only spoken orally transmitted, from master to disciple, and gradually they became written and published in every language known in the world, and now they can be found on amazon.com but the veil does come from the root word with vi d, which in Sanskrit means to be aware, to know, and to no longer be in a trance of any kind, but to truly be conscious and mindful of our opportunity in this human avatar, and my family has been teaching, studying and embodying the knowledge of the Vedas for countless centuries in India, right up till my grandfather, my father, and now I'm its first female leader, so to say, of this lineage,
Alex Ferrari 10:42
And over the years, it's been said that, that the, the, the Vedic the Vedas, or the Vedic texts are 5000 6000 years or even older, some say,
Acharya Shunya 10:54
Yeah, there is anthropological and linguistic research and evidence to support them to go back, five to six to even 8000 years ago in India. We also have archaeological surveys done and they were, there's evidence of civilization advanced civilizations, with swimming pools and roads and highways in India way before there was light in the Western world, the the light of the modern science of the Western world. So clearly, the world goes back way longer than a Eurocentric historical timeline. And in cultures like India, Egypt, China, goes way back. And radars are the the are the offerings, the beautiful offerings of that civilization, and they say beautiful things like a come septembre hubba Houda Vedanta, which is a Sanskrit saying, which says, There is only one truth, which different fates may know by different names. Or they say, you know that the world is one family. This is a teaching that they talk about planetary unity, and they talk about the equality of all genders, and that the great supreme reality does not make a distinction of male female or the other, but becomes one with whatever form it exists. And so there's deep non duality, and unity consciousness that the Vedas bring forward, ever way advance even for today's world.
Alex Ferrari 12:46
And let me ask you, why is it that India specifically, is the center of, of consciousness in many ways in our current society that we know of and in the history that we know of where the West has taken so long to catch up? I mean, great, great, yogi's, like Yogananda came over and spread the word and has and now it's these these kinds of conversations that you and I are having, were unheard of, when you were born like this, this would have never happened in the 50s or 60s, or even even in the 80s or 90s, these conversations were a lot more on the edge. Why is that India's? Is it because of the Vedas? Is it because that's where humanity kind of became I'm just always curious about that, because the West European and the US, is so behind in the spiritual consciousness, as opposed to India, like, like what like Yogananda said, he's like, I have to, I have to kind of beg them to understand where in India, everyone just got it pretty quickly understood the concepts he was trying to teach?
Acharya Shunya 13:53
Well, there are two kinds of quests, the outer and the inner. And while the West took on the burden of the outer quest, and they took us to the moon pretty quickly, yesterday, when you compare it to the east, it was it was left the burden of exploring the vast spaces within was left to the east. We see it all over the eastern cultures, but for some reason, India became the pulse center for that inquiry, or that quest. And I think the way does and it's open nature, where it where it allows for every expression. And every inquiry was free and open. There were no Galileo's that were killed for the sake of religion, right, where scientists and seers would coexist, and, and come up on those same findings. I think in that labyrinth of that cultural space justness that the Vedas allowed for, makes India unique until today in an average Indian person who's making Chai, and you know, and selling Chai, in tea cups on the pavement or they are operators of buses and vehicles are just carpenters and electricians, even they if you look, if you sit down with them for 10 minutes, they would carry a very inwardly well developed world view. Outwardly, they may be poor, they may not have the means to get about in the world, they may not have been eating a full meal, but inwardly, they will be satisfied, happy, peaceful, they would have philosophies from the Vedas that are percolating down to them, like the law of karma, the love of dharma, the teachings of yoga, just a part of their DNA, to support them through difficult times. And as a result, there's less depression, less suicide, less alcoholism, less loneliness, in a country like India, because spirituality is the everyday toolbox for the people there. And there are as many houses there as many temples and monasteries and places of meditation. And the Vedic worldview says, You cannot minimize God or limit God or God consciousness to one, one being or one object alone. God is there for omnipotent all pervading, and so they found average Indians, fine, reverse to be vehicles have God consciousness and rocks and pebbles. And if you're living in a sacred universe, then if difficulties come your way, even if cancer is eating your body alive, an average Indian with a Vedic worldview would say, Well, this is what God wants. So it's not necessarily fatalism, but it's also working with a greater intelligence. Whereas in the West, because we were out to conquer the world with our science and tools, our ego tends to think that we can conquer everything. And that death is only one bill away. And somehow we will secure ourselves against the, you know, the blows of life doesn't happen that way. And I guess that is why India remains at the center of all conversations that that have to do with spirituality.
Alex Ferrari 17:53
It's a fantastic answer, by the way to that question, it's you took me on a journey. As we, as we were speaking about that. The, you spoke about the avatar that we're in is a concept that's very well known in the Vedic and in the yogic philosophies. But for many people, the, the need to control the outer world, which is part of this avatar, is the cause of so much pain and suffering, where you just said something that was so profound, that like, Oh, if there's a, you know, a, an Indian who has cancer, they, they just got this as God's, it's almost more of a letting go. And understanding a greater picture, as opposed to just in seeing a wider view of reality, as opposed to the West's view is very, this way, and like, I need to control this, I need to control that and when things aren't what we want them to be our expectations. That's where pain, suffering, and all these other things that we deal with on a daily basis happen. So what advice do you have about letting go of control a bit around life and letting life the universe God, your higher self, whatever you want to call it, kind of control the journey that you're walking?
Acharya Shunya 19:22
A very important distinction is to what extent can we exercise our will we are not well exercise our will, and web us we align with a greater will. And this is a constant discernment. It is not an algorithm that you and I can apply. And I'm always checking in groping the contours of my reality to know when am I being passive or fatalistic, which is not the Vedic way. But when am I being controlling and morbid and crazy and become In the source of my own dis ease, because then I have to let go. I'm actually talking to you at a stage in my life where a lot is happening wonderfully. And yet, I'm kind of really still inside me. Because I'm reading, because I'm now having fun with what is the larger will want, what is the greater will want. And so I'm playing with it. This knowledge is unique, where we do have Ville, where we do have power. And we also have a greater power that is ultimately benign. And one something from us. What the Western mind often lacks, and the Western education reinforces is this morbid sense of control of the ego. And if our life is failing means we're failing, which is not true. Because sometimes life could be failing. And you could be winning. My I had a huge Facebook following a huge amount of numbers and it got hacked. And suddenly, it's down to zero. And so you would think it's a failing, and I was rejoicing, because I was like, Yay, I'm free. You know, we're done. Yeah, like, Woohoo, we're done. I'm done. I'm done. And, and so, but if I had a western mindset, I would think this is a failure. Now I'm a nobody, I have to start again. Who am I without my following that I've built over these many years, bla bla, bla, bla bla. And so the mind goes. And so my teaching constantly through the Vedas is to my Vedic wisdom, and the knowledge that I bring forth is that you're not alone, you are playing along with a greater part of you that's invisible. That greater part of you is where the greatest strength comes from. But it's an invisible will. It's an invisible actions called destiny, upon him that will take place, and then there is you cause and effect, and you have to bring both into play. So when Destiny chose that my Facebook following be reduced to zero, then my small will has to understand that there is some hidden door here that I have to open beyond the public persona, beyond the outer, what is that in a private, quiet serenade that I'm being called to sing? And so I don't know if I'm giving you an exact answer. But definitely people like me and these conversations that you and I are having, allow for people to be okay with what's not okay. While not being passive and trying to do what they need to do.
Alex Ferrari 23:14
It is it is a very fine line, because by the way that happened to me as well. I had a quarter of a million followers on my filmmaking Facebook page, and Facebook decided, Oh, you violated something, bye, bye. And it was gone. Like that. And I just said, Oh, this is where I was, at the time, I was like, I guess this is not where I need to be. Maybe I should focus on this other show that I'm doing. And that's basically where I've become because it was just, it was a very easy sign that they said, Oh, this, this is the path you need to why was it, it was a gentle push by the universe going, stop focusing your energy here, this is where you need to be. But the the issue that I always have with this concept of letting go having faith in how you're being guided by the universe, or whatever you like to call it is your own desire. Because you have a desire, you have an ability to do action. But where's the balance between doing action that you want to control something or just doing the action? So I use this show as an example. I would I wanted and many times during the course of building the show, wanted to control the numbers. I wanted to control the downloads, I wanted to control the views. I'm like, What can I do? How can I make it happen? And I started to realize that like let, all you need to do is do the work. So there's that but then you need to at that point, you gotta hand it off, and let it go. And that's exactly what I did in the moment. I started doing that. The the the audience grew at an astounding rate that I can't even comprehend to this point yet, but it was that letting go but there was that balance between action. If you have to do some you can't just sit eating bonbons and watching Netflix expect things to happen you have to do action. So where is that balance of how do you navigate that line?
Acharya Shunya 25:12
And this is where knowledge or learning comes in, in the West, and we seem to be like having this conversation about the east versus the West. And but but I guess it's important because when I say the West, I guess I'm talking about the West lives in India, too, there is a segment of people who only believe in what the senses are seeing, what is physical, what is material, what is demonstrable. What is evidence based. And when I'm speaking about the east, I'm talking about the mystical, the unknown. And so I guess we're just using the words east and west for more like our consciousness, and whether it's more closed, and more functional, or is it more open and more mystical? That's the question here, just for our listener application for clarification, yeah, for clarification. And I think it's a fine line. And a knowledge helps, for example, this piece of knowledge may help our listeners, which the Vedas give us and the Vedas say that there is a part of our mind, which is totally under our control. And I will decide when I lift this cup, or when I will put it down. And it's like, it's very individual action and the law of karma or causation, and other mystical things do not operate between this decision of mine, my brain, my hands, my nervous system, etc, etc. And this tiny individual, it's not tiny, it can be major, like I can decide to, you know, jump off a wall, and kill myself or grant somebody something. So this can be major impact actions, they are up to me and my mind. And this is known as VST, or the individual, individual empowerment through the mind. But what the Vedas say that what we forget is that this is interconnected, non dual universe. And so we are part of the connected mind, we are all connected to each other. And that is known as the some machete or the collective mind. So when I do something at an individual level, the collective mind notes that it notes that. And there are aspects of our mind that we know. There are aspects of our minds that we don't know. But others know. And there is the aspects of our mind that nobody knows, even the greatest psychologists cannot know. But only that collective mind can know. And it's observing us, and there's no fooling it, like you and I and other people who are podcasters, or teachers or artist or for whatever, or a soccer players, we cannot control numbers, we really have to get into the zone of doing being and giving. Whether it's an artistic expression, or sorry of writing it, we really have to become one with that collective mind, and then the collective mind will see that flow within us and then return that flow back to us. But until we have that little bit of ignorance that my individual mind will do it all. And we don't open any doors, we don't leave a candle lit for the collective mind to come in and help us out. Then we're still in the ego. We're still in the shadow. And I've been there too. i This is my third book, and it's doing really, really well because I don't care anymore. Because I wrote it and I wrote it from my blood. And from my raw courage, and from my Shakti my power. And I've never controlled my books as such, I don't think you and I are the hyper controlling rattlers people trying to be successful. But we're just human. And so we're looking at numbers, you know, or our publishers want us to look at numbers. But with this book roar like a goddess I said, You know what goddess? They were. I didn't write this alone. You co wrote this with me. You know what collective universe you co wrote this with me? So I'm doing my part by podcasting, by blogging by telling people about the book, but you do your part. And if you want this book to tank, there's a greater reason for it. And if you want this book to reach other people, there's a greater reason for it. And so there is an invitation that I'm bringing in that fine line of not becoming passive, and leaving it completely to fate, leaving it completely to the gods that has learned over time. And I know so many Indians who use spirituality to be to be passive to be fatalistic. Right, they give a lot of philosophy,
Alex Ferrari 30:48
Right, they give away all of their power, and that's, but there is a balance, you just can't sit in a cave and expect so many things to happen to you, you have there has to be a balance between action and will. But at a certain point, there is a handoff like you said, I need to write this book. But at a certain point, the book is now written, I must release it into the universe. So my part was to write the book and I will continue to do my other things, which are doing interviews, talking about it blogging, about to do anything that's within my power, but at a certain point, you can't go out there, put a gun to people's heads and go buy the book, it's not something you can do.
Acharya Shunya 31:26
Now, and, and it's a game at some point to the smaller me, and the greater me, it's a game. And I gotta, I gotta play back and say here back to you, I'm gonna go to just hold the ball and just like
Alex Ferrari 31:46
And you know what, and from my experience, it's exhausting to try to do all of it yourself. And to try to believe that you have control over everything is very exhausting, and stressful. And it just wearing on you the moment I started to let go at that handoff point, in certain places, I became so much stronger, so much lighter, so much more aware, more conscious, more empathetic, because I didn't have my mind. Like, it's if I failed, it failed. I was I was I had that same Western ideas. Like if everything around me is failing, I must be failing, until I finally let go of that. And that when that's when my life changed, and it's been, it's been it's not, it's an everyday process. This is not like a once and done thing. You have to deal with it constantly. Because when you put so much energy into something, like I spent 25 years, chasing a dream to be a huge movie maker. And I got so close, so many times. And I kept saying why, why? Why did this happen? Like I'm talking to the biggest movie star in the world. And yet, it doesn't go through. And I do this again and again. And it kept happening and happening. I'm like, What is the purpose of this? Even then I was asking these questions like, Why would God give me this desire for this? Only to just continuously beat me up for a course of decades, till I finally got to the point where I'm speaking to you right now. And I go, Oh, I understand. Now. I understand why I went through that. But that's only in hindsight, while you're going through it, it's hell.
Acharya Shunya 33:31
And this is where the Vedic knowledge is helpful, because it helps us classify our desires, look through them. And then also not necessarily like at some point, that desire remain, but it changed within you to a journey inverts. Yes. Like the outward journey, change your journey inwards. And so yes, in hindsight, we can say that all that was to just come back home to you already were
Alex Ferrari 34:10
Isn't that amazing? And I never thought of it that way. But you you're very eloquent in the way you placed it is like, and you did the same thing in your life where you went outward. Because you wanted to reject the inward which is the the spirituality aspect of your family and your place in it. And then same for me, I went out to this outside journey, I think only in time you realize the like, once you understand that this is all Maya, the illusion. And you're like, No, let me go back inward. That's when you start finding peace, and also strength and resilience that you never thought you would have because you've let go. It's such a weird place to be especially if someone's listening, and they're in the throes of the other side. If I would have heard this in the middle of my journey, I would have been like, these people are crazy.
Acharya Shunya 34:58
But this conversation Shame that we're having, which is so raw, so honest, and the conversation of people who are not afraid. We, that's important because samsara world is like Lego Legoland, and including all the Lego pieces, but it's still Lego. Lego, it's not real people. It's not, it's not true. And so you could build a marble, but it's still Lego. And to the whole purpose of, of samsara are the worldly success or worldly striving, whether success or failure, other striving is that we realize that we can strive for a little bit like a distraction, but we shouldn't put like a lot of merit into it. And the real merit is, in experience we have between our own breaths in watching a sunrise and just being alive and letting it all flow through us. Success and failure, fame does fame, friendship, and betrayal. These are all phases of life, and they come and go, and a greater presence, which is within us then begins to become anchored. And so what you may have experienced through trying to put that, you know, trying to put the Legos in a certain way and not having it work is was good, because if it had happen that way, we would have lost you for four more decades, watch a couple more lifetimes of paths your den search, because in my work as a spiritual teacher, I have also been with people from Hollywood and Bollywood and, and I've experienced their pain and their brokenness, and their disillusionment, though they may come to me in a Ferrari, versus a Honda or something. But it's the same person broken, and then they begin their journey home. So I always say that darkness failure, pain, disillusionment, disappointment, social media accounts being hacked, all that good news on planet earth. Because that's like, a quicker way than the slippery slide of success. And I'm not saying this because the grapes are sour, because from an outwardly perspective, my work and career successful, I'm smoking more from a perspective of really, I mean, what is the barometer of success then? And if I compare it to many other successful if I compare it to others, it is less successful and it never ends. You're never questioning that whole paradigm.
Alex Ferrari 38:06
Oh, yeah. And me coming from Hollywood, as you can imagine, I've worked with and met so many different personalities that you see them, they outwardly have, they seem to have everything, but inwardly they're their shells, they're, they're hurting. And it's it's difficult, not everyone, there are some who have a balance and understand their place and in the world, with fame and fortune. But But many don't know how to handle it. And you're absolutely right. If I would have gotten when I was 26, those the big movie roles and the big roles, but big movie projects that I was up for, I would have disrupted, I would have been itself disrupted completely. And I would have believed that that was the way and nothing you would have told me would have brought me back. And you're right, it could have been a couple lifetimes, before I discovered, oh, I need to come back. But I love the concept that you're saying is, you go through all of this externally, to go to find your way back inwardly to go home is such a powerful statement to say. Because people need to understand that they get caught up in the drama. They get caught up in the players that video game that we're playing this avatar that we're walking around, and they don't understand that they have to come back to the inward to understand the truth of the one truth that we are one we are all connected and in the come back home, such a powerful, powerful idea. Now, as far as the illusion of ego, and how can we look through that illusion of the ego which is controlling every aspect of our lives in many many ways, if you allow it to and embrace the true spiritual self, which we what we've been talking about.
Acharya Shunya 39:53
The ego is meant to be our friend. It's meant to keep us safe and secure and Um and and when it's a true friend it even takes us to the right books, the right teachers, the right podcast and really guides us it's like our guy, you know, it's our friend. But if you're beginning to feel anxious, a lot distressed a lot, feeling out of control a lot, if you're needing substances to make your ego feel secure, then probably our egos on an overdrive. What is the ego ego is nothing but an I thought, around which a lot of strings of thoughts are wound up like my, my, my laptop, my, my mind, those people are mine. And that thing is mine. And I am this person, me my mind, and it's all I. But if you if you undo those thoughts, and if you just go in an anti clockwise way, then gradually you realize that you've borrowed everything. You've borrowed this body from the sperm and egg of your parents and the food they ate. And the food comes from the art firewater space ether that has entered the universe, the air you breathe is not yours, it's borrowed from the universe, every thought you think has already been thought and the universe. You don't you don't own anything, you're just clear, we just play the AI is just claiming territory, and believing that it's this persona. And this eye has to be educated through conversations like this, through books, such as the kind that are out there, which help us align with the true self and not just read this false self. I don't want to malign the false self, because it takes us down crazy corridors of life. But at some point, we begin, we don't want to give it like the complete control of our life. Because if I gave my ego, the complete control of my life, my ego is meant to make me secure and safe. But sometimes that's all it can think about. But my true self can also think about sacrifice, I can think about duty, I can think about commitment, I can think about, you know, a hard course of yogic discipline, and those are things my soul can choose. That may be uncomfortable in the moment. But they are what lead me towards the light. And, and my ego is, you know, always looking out for me, and I let it do that part. But at some point, I think, Alex, you may agree that maturing means becoming the adults, the soul becomes the adult and we let the ego just be the infant that it is. It's okay to begin with the ego. But like I'm sitting in this podcast with you, from a soul place, not from my egoic place. Because if I was speaking from an egoic place, I'd won the last word and I maybe want to like, Flash something about my book, you know, somewhere, insecurity unsafety, the need to be reassured, all those things would jump in, or even private fears around? Am I being spiritual enough? Am I being holy enough? All right, letting you know I'm celibate. What am I doing here? You know, but when your soul becomes the master, and this is what the Vedas say that there is a confusion. It's a cognitive confusion, of letting the shadow be the master. And the true Master is kind of in a trance, and of Maya or of universal cognitive spell of near science, and waking up the true self to be the master. Then when I'm sitting in this podcast, I can be vulnerable, I can be truthful. I can share trivia and tidbits about my life, which may or may not look great on the resume of a spiritual teacher of a lineage. But those things an ego driven person cares for, not a soldier in person, I can see that your soul is present when you talk about your own disappointments and disillusionment are your own trans and once the ego is a bit retired, we can have more real, authentic, truly valor. about satisfying conversations and relationships in life
Alex Ferrari 45:07
Without question, my dear without question. Now, the one of the things that I get asked a lot about is pain and the suffering and the trauma that so many of us have to go through. From your point of view, and the Vedic point of view, or the Vedas point of view, why do we have to go through pain, suffering trauma in our lives, because it seems to my understanding that everyone, everyone who has incarnated in this life goes through some sort of pain, some sort of suffering at different magnitudes, even some sort of trauma, in one way, shape, or form, and maybe less or maybe more. But what is the purpose of it because there's so many people listening right now, who are in pain, or suffering, who have trauma and they want to make sense of it.
Acharya Shunya 46:02
We have to understand that the landscape that we have taken our avatar to either there's half light have dark, there's morning and night, there is birth, and there's youth and old age, so it's half and half the polarities coexist. So at any given in any life in any person's life, happiness will only be 50%. That's nice. It just, it's part of the package. It's where we are these where we have chosen to take an avatar manifests ourselves. Secondly, there are two kinds of sorrow. One is self generated due to our own ego, foolishness, false expectations, delusions, refusing to let go, and the other is existential, due to aging or decay, or the death of a loved one, we should strive to not create more and more self created sorrow, by coming into more and more wisdom by seeking the company of ice people, wise books and wise traditions, learning, and it takes the ego, a couple of tries to really learn not pretend that as learned but. And as for the existential sorrow, we must look at the larger cycle of life, to see that depth always leads to rebirth. Autumn and fall, are necessary for spring. So bring in a greater philosophical understanding of aging decay, that to see life, not just as a linear journey, but a circular journey of wholeness. I think we should reduce our attachments, so that we can allow for this drama of life, with all its colors of sexual youth and scary aging, all played out in the same theater to take place while we simply observe and see how interesting, interesting. Instead of being so caught up with every change that tears that are being and rips our ribcage and bleeds our hearts, we should be a little bit more detached into what is known as SOC Shibayama. of witnessing consciousness, just like we witnessed changes in our dream. And we wake up from it because we know it's a dream. We should try and witness life that pain decay. You don't hurt us that much. I think some philosophy must have supported you and me surely, when we heard of our vast following collapsing on social media, and I was wrong. I was in India at that time and relative said, you're really cool. You're enjoying a cup of chai, we're not hearing you complain. And I was like, What is to complain? When things rise, they come to a foul at some point. That's okay. That situation, you know, a news it has birthed a new situation where I will birth a new me now. So our greater philosophy, legal understanding is like a state of yoga. The whole problem with humanity is we are too fused. And we are so controlling and it's the ego that wants happiness and more of it and only a certain way. And that's not coming anytime soon.
Alex Ferrari 50:01
Yes, avoid pain and enjoy pleasure. We don't want any pain whatsoever. We just want the pleasure all the time, and the way that we want it. And the way we want it. Absolutely. On top of it all, one of the things that we have such a problem with as well in this journey is fear. Fear. Fear is one of the biggest driving forces, which is connected to pain, obviously. But the fear of everything, have everything, even manufactured things in your head that have no no understanding of, it's kind of like when you're young, and you don't call your mother, when you get home from school. And then she starts to worry. And sooner or later, if she doesn't hear from you in an hour or two, you're dead in a ditch. That's how far her mind went. And that was the fear that just blew boo, boo, boo, boo boo and just went with it. It wasn't a rational thing. But that's fear. But just fear of moving forward fear of things. Is there any advice you have for dealing with everyday fears in our life?
Acharya Shunya 51:02
Yeah, we tend to catastrophize. And we're all doing it humanity's doing it. And I think it's because we're going to come back to the ego again. And this time, I'm going to say the opposite. I'm going to say we have to love our ego some more. It's almost like the ego, we have ego like a little child that's like running crazy, and has no adult in the house. And I have thought countless people and they have become free of this fear is by simply soothing yourself. When those fears come up. There is a part of you that's observing the fear rise, and the observer is your true self. And that part should just literally vocally say, no, no, that's not real, you're safe, all as well. And then use your imagination. To imagine yourself in a safe place. Like we use our imagination to go into an unsafe space, let's use our imagination to come back into a safe space. It's all about the game, play it, play the brain, don't be a victim of it, the brain is a silly puppy, just Could you all lead back into being so that otherwise it's gonna mess was just gonna go crazy. So talk to yourself, soothe yourself, develop some music that you know, choose a selection of music, cultivate that, certain images, certain words, and even touching yourself. These are ways to calm your nervous system, which is connected to our ego. And I think the fear is escalating. Because humanity as a whole, our ego problem has worsened. We are more and more unsafe. We with technology, we are in new and new terrain. It's uncharted terrain, our personas are getting caught up in that technological trance. We don't know who we are, we don't know our limits, we don't know what we should do or not do when to let go or let go. And as a result, we're really scared. And we did this to ourselves, where we can soothe ourselves back down to a basic breath. Drinking hot water. Sometimes I say things like this to myself. Now Now I understand you're fearful. We're just going to have this cup of tea. You and me. So I have two people, self and the UN me right here. I'm there for you. We can parent our inner being back into safety. Because this fear is irrational. There is no rational approach to it. Only love and comfort and repetative presence of your own being towards that can sort it. They say the Vedas. And it works. I used to have a lot of fear for a while. And then I applied my own teachings and I don't have irrational fear. I have rational fear of, hey, if I'm going to poke my hand in this fire, it's going to burn me. But I don't catastrophize myself to death every day,
Alex Ferrari 54:34
Which is what most of us do on a daily basis without question that was beautifully
Acharya Shunya 54:40
Ourselves a fight, flight or freeze and maybe we do all kinds of obnoxious things because of that fear and needed was your presence your love.
Alex Ferrari 54:50
Yeah. And it hurts our body. It makes us get sick. It weakens our immune system. It does so much damage to us. It's It's It's remarkable.
Acharya Shunya 54:59
Causes chronic pain causes chronic pain, inflammation, immunological disturbances, all of that calm down when you start you the self view the soul, you the conscious one, start looking after the unconscious Maya Transfield person inside you, please love you.
Alex Ferrari 55:25
Yes, yes. One of the one of the issue I had a long time I didn't have I didn't have this issue myself. So many people do as far as finding your purpose, your innate purpose in life, why we're here. And many of my listeners are, are getting to midlife or getting a little bit past midlife. And they're even questioning the purpose that they've been here for. Even though they might have had a career of 30 years somewhere else, like myself, who was a filmmaker and still am, to a certain extent, but my day to day living is not now being a filmmaker, it's being a podcaster, which I always laugh when I say that, because it sounds insane. But we're doing what we're doing. And the the idea of being able to find what we're really here to do you have any advice on how you could do that either at the beginning of your life, or even midlife or later that you might want to change your lane, you might want to find that thing that you're truly here to do.
Acharya Shunya 56:25
So I'm so glad you asked me that question. I don't know when you will release this episode. But we're kind of having this dialogue at the beginning of 2023. And a new year is January is typically a month where people think a lot about their purpose, their mini purpose for that year and their general life purpose. And I have some wisdom to share from the Vedas, which is so liberating. So we walk around with this big burden of what's my great purpose, what's my great purpose. And the Vedas say that. Here are these four points of experience. And if everyday, you're going to experience some of this, you're meeting your life purpose. And so it's so relaxing and relieving. So the first one is known as Dharma, DHA, RMA Dharma, you may know about it, but for our readers, for our listeners, I want to say Dharma is that is that conscious part of you. So dharma means to lead a life of purpose, to be a purposeful person, try and be a more conscious person every day. And to be a conscious person, you also have to be a contentious person, a sensitive person and empathetic person, a sympathetic person. And it also means you are a forthright and an authentic person. Because you cannot be a conscious person if you're not an authentic person. So every day in every moment, whether you're writing a book like I do, or you're podcasting, or you are baking cookies for a living, or you're being taken care of your children, whatever you do, make sure you do it in an authentic way. And, and when you're authentic, when we're truly authentic, when we truly honor ourselves, you cannot dishonor another, when you truly are tuned in with our pain, we cannot be insensitive to another pain. So Dharma is what makes us humane. Dharma is what makes us sensitive and compassionate and aware. Dharma is many, many things. But I would say Dharma is what Shakespeare would say the milk of human kindness, but you Floyd towards yourself, too. So in anything you do, make sure it's authentic and conscious. That's one thing. Then they say, make sure that it makes you feel emotionally, and financially safe. Don't do things that don't make you safe, they make you safe. They make you unsafe, don't do those things and don't relate unnecessarily with people or do things that are making you emotionally unsafe. So if by podcasting, you are feeling more safe, more anchored, more, you know, and you're connected with your dharma, you're you're already having a purposeful flow of life. So the second part of safety and security is called artha. And the Vedas say it's important. So maybe when you are broadcasting or somebody's painting or somebody is making cookies, If we want to make sure we're earning a living too, because that's going to make us safe, where we want to make sure that people are saying thank you to us, and we are receiving those thank yous, that makes us feel more secure. So that's part of artha. Don't just do it one way. Don't just give, give give, also receive to be safe and secure. The third point of this continuum is karma, which means pleasure. When you're baking the cookies, writing the books, podcasting, banking, or being a clown in the circus, don't let it don't let your joy be cut off from it. Make sure you do just enough to have fun to play, to have some recreation can also include sexuality. It includes play and entertainment theater, but it also includes the the joy that we experience while doing what we're doing. For example, you and I are experiencing a joy in this conversation. Yes. So this is a greatly purposeful conversation for us. Because it's filling us up with one we are authentic. Burma. Two, we are both talking about safety, security with becoming more safe and secure, and making others more safe and secure. To that artha. TARDIS karma, there is pleasure, it's not a burden. But if you were doing this every day, then it's a burden. If you were doing this for four hours, it's a burden. So what's your limit to when you can be playful and enjoyable. And finally, the fourth one is important. It's called Moksha. Moksha means freedom. Do everything in such a way that if it were taken away from you, or if it fell apart, or it ended or came to a natural end, you would still be who you are, you will be free of that. Do it in a detached way. So you are not a podcaster, and I'm not a teacher, we are free from these roles. These roles are only given helping us be more authentic, be more safe and secure, be more playful, but they are not our ultimate reality. So do what you do in life, to access your inner freedom, always know that you are separate. And instead of developing a great life purpose, whatever you do, because life is bringing you these different opportunities is not that just you, you and I chose for our social media to fall apart. It's not like you alone chose that I'll make 600 films or I'll not make a film, you know, there's a greater will that was working through you know, it's not that I was chosen to do this or not do a greater well was working through me, but can be in each moment. Make sure that we have the Herma consciousness and authenticity, we have our thoughts safety and security and unapologetically, we ask for our payment or our fee, or whatever makes us secure. We get our pleasure. And we don't do things to the point where they become unpleasurable. And finally, to doing those very things, we recognize our inner truth, which is forever free of the things we do. Isn't that fascinating?
Alex Ferrari 1:03:45
It is a wonderful, wonderful answer to that question. Honestly, I've asked that question so many times in the show. And it's probably one of the best answers I've ever heard. Because it is it takes the pressure off of this grand, I have to change the world vibe. And you just do those four things. And you're living a purposeful life. And that includes in the grand scheme of things, this grand purpose that you're doing without having to worry, the ego doesn't have to worry about this grand purpose. And the fourth one, by the way, is very important in the sense of power. My experience is I used to when I was younger, associate myself as just a film director. And, and my identity was wrapped in that. So when I failed as a film director, I was destroyed. I was I had nowhere to go because I was like well if I'm not making it here. I have no value I've known and that was such a dangerous place to be where now it's like I'm multiple things and I am and that's the big I am regardless of the the roles, Father, podcaster, writer, filmmaker, whatever other Things are thrown on top. I am I'm still who I am. Regardless of these roles, these are all roles I play in my in my play of life.
Acharya Shunya 1:05:11
You are a poster boy for my teachings.
Alex Ferrari 1:05:15
I appreciate that very much. That's very, very kind of you. Now I'm gonna ask you a few questions. I'm gonna ask all my guests. What is your definition of living a good life?
Acharya Shunya 1:05:28
I live where I am free
Alex Ferrari 1:05:35
What is your definition of God?
Acharya Shunya 1:05:40
Or reality that transcends form and name and is everywhere inside me to
Alex Ferrari 1:05:48
And what is the ultimate purpose of life?
Acharya Shunya 1:05:53
To recognize that God within me when once I was pursuing God outside me, I discovered that right here in this polluted crazy tainted aging body God wants
Alex Ferrari 1:06:11
And where can people find out more about your new book Roar like a Goddess and the work that you're doing?
Acharya Shunya 1:06:20
Acharyashunya.com is my website by my name? Awakenself.com is my foundation. You can also look up roarlikeagoddess.com you'll find me just put my name somewhere. You'll find me.
Alex Ferrari 1:06:38
And do you have any final words for my audience?
Acharya Shunya 1:06:42
I love being on your show. You're an amazing listener and you're doing great work. It's so rare to meet such deep, deep souls. You have not failed at all. You have achieved a light for all of us. Thank you so much.
Alex Ferrari 1:07:09
Oh, that's so kind of you. Thank you so much for that. I appreciate you and the work that you're doing for the world, my dear. I appreciate you. Thank you!
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