Jonathan Robinson is a psychotherapist, author of 14 books, and has been a frequent guest on shows such as Oprah, The Today Show, and CNN. He has interviewed over 100 spiritual leaders, ranging from The Dalai Lama and Deepak Chopra, to the late Mother Teresa, Wayne Dyer and Ram Dass. In his latest book, “The Enlightenment Project”, Jonathan talks about the lessons he learned interviewing renowned spiritual masters.
In addition, Jonathan reveals the key methods he discovered that led to deep awakening and inner peace for him and the teachers he interviewed. Jonathan”s work has reached over 100 million people, and he is known for providing people with immediately useful ideas and methods presented in an entertaining manner.
Please enjoy my conversation with Jonathan Robinson.
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Follow Along with the Transcript – Episode 149
Jonathan Robinson 0:00
So as you awaken, you become more identified with the awareness with the presence and the ensuing peace and love that comes from that, rather than the burden of your ego and your problems and your relationships and all the stories that we got going on in our, in our chatterbox mind.
Alex Ferrari 0:30
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I'd like to welcome to the show, Jonathan Robinson. How're you doing Jonathan?
Jonathan Robinson 1:07
I'm doing great.
Alex Ferrari 1:08
Thank you so much for coming on the show my friend, you have lived a very interesting life thus far. And I've met some very interesting people have done some amazing work. We're going to talk about your book, The Enlightenment project, and some details about inside of it. But you just have such a fascinating journey in general, but my since you've met some and we're going to talk about some of the people you've met and interviewed over the years, but my very first question to you is, what is your definition of enlightenment?
Jonathan Robinson 1:39
Well, really simple one that I like is perceiving the world without the lens of the ego. Normally, we think we're some kind of character, you think you're Alex, I think I'm Jonathan, there's separation. But when you take away that lens, really what we are is a pure awareness. And there's a lot of peace, and love and joy that comes from knowing yourself as awareness.
Alex Ferrari 2:06
Can you talk a little bit about the work that you've been doing in enlightenment in regards to the scientific work you've been doing with enlightenment?
Jonathan Robinson 2:14
Well, you know, I've been blessed to interview and spend time with 100 spiritual leaders, ranging from the late mother teresa to the Dalai Lama. And as I got into interviewing and spending time with people I, I associated myself with a guy named Dr. Jerry, Jeffrey Martin, who's a Harvard psychologist who wanted to study what enlightenment is what triggers it? What are the best methods that helped to instigate enlightenment. And so I become part of his research and part of his group of people studying enlightenment. And what you find is that a lot of what people think about enlightenment is actually totally wrong.
Alex Ferrari 3:00
What are some misconceptions of I mean, enlightenment is in the traditional zeitgeist of the world, especially in the Western world. It is the picture of Buddha sitting behind me sitting underneath abandoned tree, and you know, just blissing out. That's generally what enlightenment is thought to be, I think you tell me,
Jonathan Robinson 3:18
Well, people have various conceptions like, you know, solves all your problems, that you're a perfect being all those things. In the book, The Enlightenment project, I have a whole chapter about 25 myths about enlightenment. But let's say one of the most common ones, one of the most damaging ones, is we think that it just can happen to these great spiritual beings. But in reality, if you come up with the right method for you, having moments of enlightenment or becoming a fully enlightened being, is not that hard anymore. It's not just relegated for a few special souls, it is really a matter of using certain methods that chip away at you feeling like you're an ego, and instead identifying with your awareness or your soul. And so, you know, a lot of people have had experiences like they're watching a sunset or making love and they're just totally present, they lose themselves in the experience. Well, and fully enlightened people have that experience all the time. And you and I, if we have some of the latest greatest methods, we can experience more and more of those moments pretty easily. The problem is, a lot of people are using methods are 2000 years old. And those methods don't really work very well in the modern world. But there's a lot of methods that have been invented in the last two years, that are just phenomenally effective at giving people moments of enlightenment and sometimes tipping them over into having that experience all the time.
Alex Ferrari 4:55
So like you were saying, with your definition earlier of enlightenment, is it a brain Wave? Is it a brainwave or a vibration that you're able to measure, quote unquote enlightenment in, in subjects?
Jonathan Robinson 5:07
Yeah, you can measure it with good EEG machines. And there's a what's called the awakened brainwave that you know, people like the Dalai Lama have. But so that's one way of measuring. Or you can ask people what their experiences, there's a certain experience, where people no longer feel like an ego, they feel like they are a presence, a loving presence, rather than a ongoing person, so to speak. So there's brainwave things you can do. But there's also different levels of enlightenment, and talked about in my book that there's like four different types. And you can see that there's different brainwaves for each different type. So there's more than just as one word that people don't understand. It's really different types of peace and ways of perceiving the world that are slightly different.
Alex Ferrari 6:02
So, you know, since you've met so many spiritual masters over the years, I mean, I'd imagine that, you know, as you can see, I have a picture of Yogananda standing behind me, someone of his magnitude as far as enlightenment is concerned, or, you know, freedom of the world that we, you know, this this, you know what I mean, but enlightened for lack of a better word. You know, their stories of when you walk into the presence, or even near the presence of these kind of enlightened souls, that you, you have no choice but to just feel the bliss and the love and the energy. And then you, you, you know, you met the Dalai Lama, you met Mother Teresa, you've met other spiritual leaders, you, I'm assuming you could feel the difference in between what it felt like to be in those people's presence. And then someone who you've maybe seen on the EKG is like, Oh, he's enlightened there. But it's not the same thing. It's that those different levels, maybe if you explain the four levels, and then also explain your experiences, by just talking to all the spiritual masters over the years,
Jonathan Robinson 7:08
Yeah, well, you bring up that some enlightened teachers, just like some charismatic people have quite a presence. And some of them are is so strong, that it's really hard to do anything other than, you know, say your name. And I have met teachers like that, certainly, a teacher named Sai Baba was like that, there's others that I have felt had a tremendous amount of spiritual energy or transmission, whereas other well known teachers, like Adi Shanti, does not have that transmission. You know, he's not putting out so much energy that you can barely speak. So it's easier to be around him. But um, there are, say, four levels of enlightenment that are pretty common. The first one is where you just kind of lose interest in your history, and in the past and the future, and you're just a little bit more present throughout your life, that's like the lowest level. But in level two, you it's, you start to feel like you're one with everything, that, that there's just one thing going on, there's one energy and you're part of it. Level three is more like what many saints experience, which is they feel like they are love, personified. That wherever they go, that's like a presence of Love. They don't so much experience themselves as a person, but as a as almost like an energy. And then there's a fourth one, which is very different than that, which is completely non dual, where you don't really have any emotions, you're just a presence of awareness, that feels completely peaceful, maybe even a little bit blissful. But you start to lose your sense of even being human at all, because you're so united with your environment. So there's different types.
Alex Ferrari 9:06
So, alright, so out of all the people that you have met over the years, who would you say was the most spiritually advanced, and put out that kind of energy where, you know, at that level that you're talking about, and still function in the world?
Jonathan Robinson 9:23
Well, that's a really key point, because some people as they become more enlightened, they become less functioning in the world. So you know, I really like God, your Shanti because he's very enlightened and very functioning, or the Dalai Lama, you know, who has a lot to do as a busy person running a country, kind of So, but I've also met those teachers that put out so much energy but they can't really do that much meaning that they don't drive a car they don't do their taxes. They're more in a meditative state. Recently, I've met teach Here's I have a podcast called awareness explorers, where I interview various teachers and one guy interviewed recently Angelo Dillo. He's a he's a medical doctor. And yeah, he's very awake. So I prefer talking to the people who actually can be in the world but not of the world.
Alex Ferrari 10:18
So that's a that's a really interesting question. So someone like Yogananda who was not the couldn't function in the world kind of enlightened soul. He was working, he had a mission and did so. But also was able to put out a certain and it's really interesting, and I want to kind of just dig drill into this a little bit. That energy that gets put out because you read so many stories of saints, and of Yogi's who you know, they sit in their ashram, and they just have people bring them food, you know, and then they have the followers there, and they speak every once in a while. And basically, they're all meditating all the time. And that is one form of enlightenment, no question, and you agree with me with in regards to this, right? Yeah, yeah, exactly. And then then you have someone like a Yogananda, who was more contemporary was within the last into the night in the 20th century, who didn't do that was active and working. But no one could argue it was an enlightened soul. That he became an Ascended Master, there's just not even a question in that. So what makes one soul choose one path and the other one, choose the other, have a more active, enlightened being versus a more, you know, calmer, quieter, more meditative? Being? That still helps people, but not as a not at the the grandiose scale, let's say, of a Yogananda or have a Jesus, let's say that these kind of enlightened Ascended Masters?
Jonathan Robinson 11:55
Well, I don't really know the answer to that question. I think it's largely personal preference. So, you know, in Yogananda case, he just realized that his teacher and his mission in life was to introduce yoga to the west. So he had a definite mission in the world. Whereas some people like Ramana, Maharshi, you know, he never left, he never left a one square mile, you know, space in his whole life, but it certainly has affected millions of people.
Alex Ferrari 12:24
Right. So that's another thing. So like, it's just such an interesting it is, I guess, a case by case basis, no enlightened not to enlightened souls are the same as they say. Yeah, my Rashi he, I mean, he changed Western society. And I mean, he kind of had so many people that that he had to he touched, but he never left anywhere. Yeah. And he was he was a prolific writer, I don't remember now. He never wrote anything, where it was only others, his students are the ones that wrote down things or recorded things that he said, In the Beatles went over there, obviously, and all of that good stuff. It's, it's pretty fascinating. This whole enlightenment thing.
Jonathan Robinson 13:08
In the good news, Alex is that Think of it like our iPhones get better every year. And the Enlightenment technology, the things that help us to become more awake are actually improving. So I'm kind of a collector of ways that people wake up. And what I've learned is that the methods that are being used by the cutting edge today are maybe 100 times more effective than methods that were used just 40 years ago.
Alex Ferrari 13:40
So you're talking about literal technology that is being connected or just methods,
Jonathan Robinson 13:46
Just methods, although there are now technologies that you can hook up people's brain and give them awakened experiences through what's called focused ultrasound.
Alex Ferrari 13:59
Well, I've had a few biofeedback sessions. And that is a pretty remarkable experience. Because you, you You've become very blissful if they turn it on, and I was shocked that how that was worded. Like, they just like, Okay, you're gonna feel bliss right now. And there's like, it's hooked up to a laptop, and it's sending you pulses to your brain. And I'm like, Why do I feel high right now? Like, it was such an interesting thing. So there is we're getting to the point where we're starting to kind of tune into this enlightenment, but the thing is, too, and a lot of people listening are like, great, I need some enlightenment in my life, my life sucks. That's generally not the way it goes. I mean, there is more than just being able to turn it on the soul has to be at a certain place in its evolution to even accept this kind of information to a certain extent. You might be able to find pieces of it, or moments of it, like you said, but to be a you're gonna under Marashi or you know, or, you know, a Dalai Lama that's a different is at a different level of it, I'd love to hear your thoughts on that.
Jonathan Robinson 15:07
Well, I think that that at first people need to know what's possible. So whether it be through technology or a good spiritual method or retreat or psychedelics, they have to see that there's a whole world outside our thinking mind. And that world can be beautiful, joyful, amazing. But we are missing it normally. So once you have that experience, it can give you the inspiration to see how far you can go. And but you're right, that just having that experience doesn't give you all the wisdom that one needs in order to live an awakened life, which is a whole path. And in my book, The Enlightenment project, I talked about what enlightened living in terms of relationships or in terms of money, or a job looks like, and even specific methods to help you bring more awakening to those areas of your life.
Alex Ferrari 16:05
So it's kind of like, you know, throughout history, at least the last 2000 years or so maybe even longer. It's always been enlightened souls were very special. They were, arguably still are. But what Jesus said 2000 plus years ago, everything I could do, you could do? Yeah, the power, the power of having is inside of you. These are very basic concepts that were built for that audience, back then you can't get too too fancy with words back then. So what we're doing now is with the technology with these kinds of research projects, are actually starting to show the potential and possibility that you can achieve this because for many years, I never even thought that this was even a path that I could even like I'm I'm you kidding me, I got problems, I got this, I've got that I've got all these things. And then as I've done more and more interviews with, you know, spiritual masters and more and more research and, you know, more and more reading and things like that, you start realizing like no, it's, it's possible for anyone to do. But it's, it's a process like anything else, it will take time. And if you're inquiring about this, if you're listening to this podcast, that's probably a good sign that you're open to this possibility. Generally speaking, if someone's listening to this right now going, these guys are quacks, probably not for you, probably probably not for you. But just by the mere notion that you're searching for this means that you're at a certain stage in your evolution as a soul to start accepting these concepts and start doing the work that might be needed to get in there. But it opens up the possibility. It's kind of like the four minute mile in many ways.
Jonathan Robinson 17:50
Yeah, exactly. And, you know, I think the world needs more awakened souls right now. You think, sir? Yes, so it's made a little bit easier for us, you know, because life is very complex now. And people are inundated with problems and technology and all these things that are what I call WMDs widgets of mass distraction. And so I think it used to take 20 years to write instruction before a person wakes up now, I think can be done in in two months, potentially. I see people go through major identity shifts, not all the time, but often in a short period of time when they find a method that really works well for them.
Alex Ferrari 18:41
But do you also believe that I think that there's so many look, there's obviously a big change has happened in humanity in the last 50 years, in regards to spirituality, regards to meditation in regards to yoga in regards to all of these kinds of concepts that were not even in the zeitgeist before now are much more common meditating is a very common thing. Yoga is a very common thing. Mindfulness is a movement now on people, all these kinds of things. Do you believe that? You know, the souls that are being brought into the world at this point? Are there souls that are ready to start making the shift to make this move to move humanity forward a little bit, whereas 100 years ago, those souls weren't really ready for this kind of information?
Jonathan Robinson 19:26
Well, that's above my paygrade Alex. Maybe a vote, you know, I love that I don't. I don't so much go into those those ideas, because there's no way of knowing, but I do know that the methods I've been exposed to in the last few years, seem to give people and lighten moments, in a matter of minutes where even 30 years ago as I was teaching some methods, I could I could do something for hours or days and it would have very little Fact. So I have noticed that there is a shift that more people seem to be waking up as they try these new things. And maybe you're right that maybe people's souls are just ready for it now.
Alex Ferrari 20:14
Okay, so when you're saying methods, what is happening in this in these in these methods and these processes? What's happening to the actual identity to the ego? What is the identity shift? Because it is an identity shift? There's no question about even in my own path, I've who I am now from where I was a year ago, is drastically different. I mean, drastically, like leaps and bounds different than where I am now. Because of the work I've been doing. And just the exposure, I've been getting to this kind of information, where I'm just curious what exactly technically is happening in the and the patients or the people that you're studying?
Jonathan Robinson 20:55
Yeah, great question. Well, you know, I was a depressed suicidal teenager. So my identity shift is rather massive, I would say so, yeah. What's happening is you know, normally you and I are normal person is identified with their body, their story. Usually, it's a story in your mind, like, I'm X years old, I got these problems, I got this relationship, I got all these stories in our head, that when you start to awaken, those stories don't have the impact or the identification that they used to. It's almost like it doesn't really matter. All that matters is this moment, and what is happening in this moment. And this moment, we're basically always have the same thing we hear some say we hear sounds, we see visuals, we have sensations, and there is an awareness that is witnessing all that. So as you awaken, you become more identified with the awareness with the presence, and the ensuing peace and love that comes from that, rather than the burden of your ego and your problems and your relationships and all the stories that we got going on in our in our chatterbox mind.
Alex Ferrari 22:14
Now, in your experience, do enlightened souls experience the world differently? How so?
Jonathan Robinson 22:25
Well, let's take your my experience. Have you ever had a moment in nature? Where you just felt totally peaceful? And like, part of the environment? Have you ever had that experience?
Alex Ferrari 22:36
Yeah. I mean, I've had moments of it. Absolutely. Yeah, like you're in the ocean, or, you know, I know, surfers. I know, surfers feel it a lot. That's why they keep going back. Things like that. Yeah.
Jonathan Robinson 22:48
Or, you know, making love or something like that. Well, imagine that that's your experience while you're doing email, or while you're walking to your car, it is possible and enlightened people do have that experience, virtually all the time. I personally go in and out of it about 50 times a day. You know, I have a moment here a moment there. I liken it to like, there's two channels on the TV on channel two, the world of duality, you know, you are separate than me, there's problems, there's things to do. on channel one, everything's one there's all with us one energy, which is vibrates a feeling of love or peace. And in that channel, that things are always good. So go back and forth.
Alex Ferrari 23:39
So what do we need to do to stay on channel one?
Jonathan Robinson 23:43
Well, that's where these practices get important. And in studying what practices worked, one of the things that they found, the practices that most people do are pretty ineffective. Like Hatha Yoga, never leads to enlightenment. Most meditations never lead to enlightenment. And yet some I'll give a couple of very simple practices, and I have a website, the enlightenment project.net, where I give away my five favorite practices for free. That can be done in under two minutes. And most people have never heard of these practices, but like, let me just explain a couple really quickly, please imagine well, okay, so this there's the practice called what else is going on? What else is happening? So right now? I think I'm talking I'm Jonathan talking to Alex about enlightenment. Well, what else is going on? Well, I feel sensations of my butt on the chair. What else is going on? I feel this body breathing. What else I hear sounds in this moment. I see all these colors. What else is going on? There's an awareness that is aware of all these things. See, we get fixated on very small individual things like problems. But there's always this moment that has 1000 things going on. And as you zoom out, you start to become more aware of awareness than you are, say the problems going through your mind, or an emotion that is very unpleasant. So that's, you know, you could call that the what else is happening, method or imagine you're just born, like you're an alien being just put into a human body, you don't know what anything means. You see these colors, you hear these sounds, you don't judge them good or bad, because you wouldn't know what's good or bad, you're just put in this body. And you're like, just out here, that actually mimics kind of the experience of enlightenment, if you could get into that frame of mind. And that's why your babies when you look in their eyes, it's like, they're like, Wow, what's going on? This is amazing, you know. So it's not that far, it's not something you have to create, it's more something you relax into.
Alex Ferrari 26:09
So, so people in your book, you do have a bunch of methods that can help you get into to enlightenment, can you? So if they use these methods, again, and again, is it more like you're turning back to channel one more and more and more to the point where you can start going back to that channel at whim? Or going back and forth? Like you do?
Jonathan Robinson 26:31
Yeah, it used to take me Well, in my early days, like six hours to get to channel one. And then as I meditated more, took more like half an hour. And now it takes about two seconds. So you know, if channel one is peace and love are always available two seconds away, then life is pretty good.
Alex Ferrari 26:55
I would say. So. You mentioned also something earlier in regards to psychedelics. So really interesting thing. There's a lot of research being done on psychedelics right now. Ever since they opened it back up, thank God. And they started to do research in regards to that. And it's really interesting. I've seen a lot of documentaries, I've spoken to a bunch of leading people, I think I forgot the name of them. But he was at Harvard, and he's doing a lot of work in kind of forgot the hallucinogens. Who said that
Jonathan Robinson 27:28
It was probably psilocybin.
Alex Ferrari 27:30
Psilocybin, and every time he they put somebody on psilocybin, it's either ranked as the top five things that's ever happened to them, kind of like up there with the birth of your child or Death of the Family. Or, and or the top two or three things spiritually that's ever happened to them. Yeah. And I love to hear your thoughts on what is it doing? Is it just bringing down the mask that we're wearing, we're able to connect into this, into this all one on one energy that allows you to just be part part of the flow of of creation, if you will?
Jonathan Robinson 28:18
Well, luckily, I did a lot of research on these things in my college days. And my master's thesis was on the therapeutic effects of MDMA, better known as ecstasy, and psilocybin on PTSD, trauma stuff. And we found that you could often cure such things in one day, what you're doing is you're taking the mind normally very much focuses on stuff, it focuses like on problems. You know, imagine a small black.on a whiteboard, well, that black.is Our biggest problem. And we have a relationship with that black.on, that big whiteboard and relationship looks like putting our eyeball right on that black dot name complaining, oh, it's totally dark. It's nothing but black as far as I can see. Well, as you move back from that black dot and take your eyeball off it, you see that it's on a big whiteboard, that whiteboard is like our awareness. And so what these drugs do is normally Our minds are very focused on problems and survival and things like that. And they open up the aperture like in a camera. So there's right now about a million pieces of information entering your brain, but the brain doesn't know how to handle that. So limits what you're consciously aware of, to about five things. what the drugs do is they open up that aperture so you start to see more of what's going on. More of reality, more of the awareness. And along with that usually comes things like some great feelings like peace, love, and bliss. So that's what those drugs do. And there's a healing effect to seeing that, oh my God, I've been so focused on my problems, that I missed this whole world of magic and miracles that every one month old sees, every two year old has some experience of as we get older, we often get more fixated on on patterns that no longer serve us.
Alex Ferrari 30:34
Now, we've did mention that you've met a few people along the way. I just love to hear your experience with a few of these people. You mentioned the yogi that you are blissed out just by being next. It was the yogi's name again. Sai Baba. Sai Baba. So, what is that? Like being in the presence of an enlightened soul like that? Who is projecting? What was it like being in the room? What was it like see the other people and how they were reacting to it? Did you ever see anything that was like, it's almost like when you walk into his field? You Your it's like a pet superpower. Almost like you can't not feel this way. What was it like?
Jonathan Robinson 31:19
Well, my first experience of Sai Baba was he was known for being able to manifest things out of thin air,
Alex Ferrari 31:27
A yogic yogic superpower, as they say,
Jonathan Robinson 31:31
Yeah, I was a little skeptical, but I'm an amateur magician. So I know all the tricks. So the first day I'm there, he walks by me and as he's walking by me, he puts his hand maybe six inches from my face and starts manifesting ash. And he man who'd Mathis ashes reminder that we all return to ashes. But I'm not talking about a little bit ash, he manifested like two cupfuls. I'm being inundated with ash. And I look to see if he has like a false thumb or false anything. And I couldn't see any of that. And then he looks at me, he normally didn't speak English, but he looks at me. And then he says, are you satisfied Magic Man?
Alex Ferrari 32:10
So you haven't spoken to him?
Jonathan Robinson 32:13
No, no, no. And so I said, yeah, that's pretty satisfied. Then he bends down to I thought it was gonna be whispered something in my ear, but he sneezed on me. And when he sneezed on me, it felt like, I was hit by a Mack truck of love. I remember thinking, let go, you're about to die. I remember entered into his formless bliss. And then came to about three hours later in a different location, they carried my body to a room, because he sometimes does this to people. And, and they said, you're gonna be here for a while, you probably can't, you know, feed yourself yet, but you'll recover in a day or two, and then be on your way. Yeah, so that was impressive.
Alex Ferrari 33:01
I knew that I would know.
Jonathan Robinson 33:04
But, you know, I met other people that were impressive and equally phenomenal ways. You mentioned before we started this interview that you knew Papaji.
Alex Ferrari 33:15
I know of him. I didn't know him personally.
Jonathan Robinson 33:18
So I met him. And I didn't really know much about him when I got to his ashram. So I get to his ashram, which was his house. And as I enter the his living room, she points to me and says, sit here. So I sit in front of him. I'm all nervous, you know, I don't know what's going on. And he looks at me, and he says, Who are you? And I didn't really know the protocol. So I said, I'm Jonathan Robinson from the United States. And he and the 30 people in the living room, just busted up laughing. And I thought, well, that was the wrong answer. So no, he says, Who are you really? And I go, Well, I'm a seeker. And he shakes his head. No, I so I'm a man and he shakes his head. No, I'm a writer. He shakes his head. No. I saw my husband. He shakes his head. No. So I did this for about a minute or two. I ran out a rolls. So I just started looking at him in his eyes and Papaji would have like, literally, his eyes were like, sparkling with light coming out of them. And I thought that was really interesting. So I just look in his eyes and everything got silent. And then there started to be this feeling to my chests. That was a little bit uncomfortable. And I said, Well, you know, just go with it. As I open to feeling. It was like being exploded by love. And I started weeping in his lap uncontrollably. And as I'm weeping in his lap, he Pat's, me on the head and he says, this love that you feel, that's who you are, and your job. job is to get back there as best you can. I always remember that. So, you know, I've had all these encounters. And you I wrote the book because I've been really blessed that way. And I want to just pass on, like the greatest hits of what it's like to be around these people and what their ideas and methods are that really do seem to work.
Alex Ferrari 35:19
You've also got to meet the late mother Teresa. I mean, yeah. I mean, talk about someone who is. I mean, I don't know anyone who doesn't who's not heard of Mother Teresa. You know, that's even a thing. Like, what do you think you are Mother Teresa? Like it's, it's a thing? Because she was she was a living saint in our time. What was it like speaking to Mother Teresa?
Jonathan Robinson 35:47
Well, it's kind of a funny story. I never met her. What happened was in 1993, I was writing this book where I was interviewing spiritual leaders. And so I went to a library to find a phone number for her organization in India. And so I find a number now calling any place in India 1993. And getting anybody to pick up was like, calling a random number, and getting somebody on the space station to pick up you know, it just didn't happen. But you know, I figure what the hell call us number and a woman answers the phone. And I say, you know, I'm doing a book where I interviewed spiritual leaders. I'm trying to interview Mother Teresa, do you know anybody who knows her can get a message to her? And the woman says, Yeah, this is mA. And I said, Ma, you know, do you know anybody who knows Mother Teresa? And she says, Yes, this is mA. I go, this is Mother Teresa. And she says, yes. So once again, I start crying. And the first thing that comes out of my mouth is why did you pick up the phone? Don't you have people for this? Yeah, right. Right. And she said, it was ringing when I walked by.
Alex Ferrari 37:09
Jonathan Robinson 37:10
So So you know, we I composed myself, I asked her these questions. One question I asked her is, how do you meditate? And she said, Well, I don't really meditate or know much about it. But the Dalai Lama knows about a lot about meditation. Would you like his phone number? And I said, Yeah, that would be very nice. He was crazy. But you know, when you are trying to be helpful to people, and you come from the right place, I think that you can Oh, no magnetized, Grace. Miracles can happen. Oh, yeah.
Alex Ferrari 37:54
There's there's no question. So then you call the Dalai Lama? And,
Jonathan Robinson 37:59
Well, him I did get to meet in person he was going to be in my city. Three months in the future, and we were able to connect,
Alex Ferrari 38:08
And what was that? What was that? I mean, how was how was hanging out with His Holiness?
Jonathan Robinson 38:12
Well, one thing that's helped is I am not. I'm not intimidated by such people. I tried to just be myself. And I think they really appreciate that because they don't get much human contact. You know, if you're the Dalai Lama, everybody reacts to you, like, you know, you're Jesus. So it's, it can be challenging for them. And they really like human contact. So I was very much myself, we laughed a lot. He's like a five year old kid with the wisdom of the Buddha. He was very playful. And we we really seem to enjoy each other. I had a great time talking to him.
Alex Ferrari 38:53
That's amazing. Yeah, I mean, I, I've, I've worked in Hollywood for many years, not comparing the Dalai Lama to anyone in Hollywood by any stretch of imagination. But even when you meet some of these Hi, big actors, it's the same thing. Everyone is just like, Oh, you're the you know, this person or that person. And they don't treat them like a human like, right. Right. And it's, that's where they lose track of reality sometimes, as we have we seen in the news,
Jonathan Robinson 39:22
The gurus can do that, too. You know, they get involved in these sex scandals. You don't have to be a perfect human being to have a higher consciousness. And these people can make dumb mistakes, but they do have peace.
Alex Ferrari 39:35
So let me ask you that because there is there is, there are some of these gurus who, who's had that happen over the years. I know they had a whole documentary on Showa. I think there's his name shown. The one that was he built the whole you know, Colin league in California. I bought it like a valley and then they started getting guns and 50 Rolls Royce CES and I'm like, oh, OSHA, OSHA, OSHA. So I'm like listening and I'm watching this I'm like, How is like, how can you be an enlightened soul and have 50? Rolls Royces? It didn't make sense to me. But then I hear from people in that region of the world, I've spoken to the like, if you listen to this man speak, or read a book of his, you'll understand what I mean. So I'm like, is it a cold? Is it is it actual enlightenment? What what's going on with? So why do certain enlightened souls, if you will, or at least awakened souls go through these kinds of struggles?
Jonathan Robinson 40:37
Well think of it that just because Tiger Woods is the best golf player that's ever played, doesn't mean that he's a good driver. He drives a car well,
Alex Ferrari 40:50
Okay, fair enough.
Jonathan Robinson 40:52
Just because he's a lousy driver doesn't mean that he's not the greatest golf player that's ever lived. So these people have tapped into a very deep peace, and very deep love, but they don't, they're not necessarily well matured in other areas of their life. You know, I was talking to audio Shanti. And people would ask him, What should I do in my three year old child? And luckily, audio Shanthi will say, I have no idea. I don't have any kids. You know, if you want to ask me about consciousness, I can tell you stuff. But if you want to ask me about your business, you know, I'm a total buffoon.
Alex Ferrari 41:36
It's a really interesting way of looking at it. Because you're right, just because they have found they're experts in their field. If you go, so should I invest in this? I don't know anything about investments? What are you talking about? It makes it does actually make a little sense. Like, parenting advice. I'm like, I've never had children. Why would I know? But you're enlightened. That doesn't mean I know everything I just have been able to tap in to this. There are souls that, you know, you walk in, and you could ask them about anything, and they just happen to some sort of reservoir of knowledge and, but those are different. It this is a very interesting conversation, Jonathan, because it's like it opens up so many different wormholes, if you will, of, of type of enlightened souls, because, I mean, there's someone obviously like Baba Ji, who was really brought into the the zeitgeist of humanity through Autobiography of a Yogi who's considered the most enlightened soul that is manifest. And he they Yogananda says he's still alive. It's been alive for 2500 years, he chooses to be here and so on. I'm assuming if you're lucky enough to get in front of Baba Ji. He's probably gonna, he's gonna know, okay.
Jonathan Robinson 42:51
If I get in front of them, I'll ask him. What do I do spiritually? But I'm not going to ask him what stock to invest in.
Alex Ferrari 42:58
Because at that point he'd be, he'd be like, please leave, please. It's time. How did you get security security? How did this man get into my ashram? My floating ashram in the Himalayas? How is this a thing? Can you imagine?
Unknown Speaker 43:16
You've made the hike you've gotten to. And all of a sudden you run into Baba Ji, you're like, so Tesla, what do you think? Should I buy Should I sell?
Alex Ferrari 43:31
That's amazing. So we've been talking about technologies and what they're doing to help us enlightened. But there's, there's also the technologies that like you call it like, Matt, was it massive distractions, I forgot what you call them.
Jonathan Robinson 43:47
WMDs widgets of mass distraction.
Alex Ferrari 43:51
Right, exactly. Because, you know, social media, and a lot of these things that we have in the world. And the internet is very powerful. It's one of the most powerful tools we've ever invented, and can connect people in ways and get information to people in ways that is unheard of. I mean, this conversation will be broadcast around the world, and anybody with an internet connection, and a YouTube, go to YouTube or, or go to a podcast and listen or watch this was unheard of. 2025 years ago, there's an unheard of. So there's great power of to do good. But there's also great power to do damage. And I think that's what you mean with the distractions because if you get caught down the rabbit hole of any of these social media platforms, it can really do a lot of damage, especially to young minds. So what's your what's your opinion of technology where we are right now and how can we use it to better ourselves?
Jonathan Robinson 44:50
Well, the first step is to get clear on what you're aiming for. You know, are you aiming for love and peace? Are you aiming for Facebook friends, because 1000 Facebook friends does not equal one really good friend. And it certainly doesn't equal feeling the peace and love inside of yourself. So you got to get clear on what you're aiming for once, once you know what you're aiming for, then certain things are obviously not helpful. It's not helpful to watch horror movies, if you're aiming for peace. You know, but people forget that. So, you know, I became very focused, I want to know the best ways to find inner peace because I, I almost killed myself, I was so depressed as a teen. And I as I saw that there was some things that could really make me feel better, especially methods that were really easy to do, you know, I got on the Oprah show a lot in the 90s. Because I specialized in collecting ways that took less than a minute, you know, if I'm lazy, but I'm not that lazy. You know, I'll put down a minute of effort if it leads to a good feeling. So but in order to do that, you know, like, I don't do Facebook, I don't do social media. And that has helped me to find more peace and more joy and more actual love, than getting lost down the rabbit hole of the bad news of the day, the social media posts, the latest app, the latest, whatever, that that can be very distracting and does not lead you necessarily to where you want to go.
Alex Ferrari 46:37
I would agree with you. And I would agree with you. Yeah.
Jonathan Robinson 46:41
Then again, as you said, you know, this podcast, I have the podcasts app on my phone, and I listened to a lot of great podcasts. And if you use it well, and you know what you're trying to aim for? You know, when I was a college student, my roommate was the best basketball player in LA. He's always challenging me to game a one on one basketball, I'd say no, thank you, Tony. But one day I said, Okay, I'll play a game of basketball on one condition, I get to bring out a one ounce gadget and place it wherever I want. So he said, Okay, so we go out to the court, and I get our one on, gadget. It looked like this a blindfold, I placed it over my eyes. And I say let the games begin. Now, it still ended up being pretty close. But I'd be one of the best basketball players in LA because I knew what I was aiming for. Right? And if, if you throw enough things in the right general direction, something's gonna work.
Alex Ferrari 47:42
Fair enough. Fair enough. You know, and with, with all your studying of enlightenment, you know, a lot of people, you know, obviously talk about religion, and spiritual paths. In your experience, what is there? I'm not asking you, which is the best religion, I don't care. But in your in your experiment or experiments, but in your research? What did you find that how did people get there? I mean, did even go through religious path? Or did they go through more of a spiritual path? Or did they go through no path at all, and just use methods to kind of start opening up the doors that we've been talking about?
Jonathan Robinson 48:21
Yeah, it's a great question. Well, I think most people who have really gotten far into enlightenment, actually, their religion, their religious background didn't make much difference. It was more like they found a method, maybe from their religion, or maybe from another religion, or maybe from no religion at all, that seemed to get them in touch with inner peace and love. So even somebody like, say, Mother Teresa, her main method was looking at everybody as if they were Jesus. Well, if Jesus entered the room, you'd probably be filled with love and all yourself, right? Well, I don't know if that's a method in Christianity. So she kind of came across her own method that worked for her. And there are different systems to get to this place. You know, in Buddhism, they use a lot of awareness techniques in Christianity, they use a lot of love techniques. In Islam, they use a lot of surrender techniques. And these are all different approaches to get to this place that feels truly amazing and and lessens the egos effect on us and the problems that ego creates.
Alex Ferrari 49:46
So a lot of the things that we're talking about with enlightenment, what are some obstacles that we need to overcome to even start this path?
Jonathan Robinson 49:54
Well, the first obstacle is knowing that there's something possible and that it's possible for you, you It's not possible for some saint you heard about, it's actually very available. That's the biggest obstacle. Once you get past that obstacle, it's the obstacle really laziness, like, are you willing to try a few things? Are you willing to read a friggin book? Are you willing to listen to some teachers on YouTube? And, and try out what they say. So, you know, the Enlightenment project was written partly because I'm lazy, I wanted all the best methods I'd ever come across in one book. But, you know, there's a lot of stuff out there and you see what you resonate with. And if you're willing to try stuff, are you willing to be a little bit persistent with it, you know, give it 10 minutes a day for a month. And, and then I think it's also really helpful to have people whose Surrett you surround yourself with who are into the same thing. Because you know, some people, they're just not into it, they're into making money, which is great, I like money, or they're into a relationship, or they're into achieving something, that's all great. But that's a different focus than trying to find the peace, love and Heaven with Him.
Alex Ferrari 51:15
When you turn on to channel one, the Enlightenment channel, which I would subscribe to, by the way, I think I think everyone was subscribed to that streaming service,
Jonathan Robinson 51:25
It's streaming all the time.
Alex Ferrari 51:28
All the time, if we could just patch into that, that'd be great. What happens to you in your daily life when you're connected in that channel? Because you said you come in and out of it about 50 times a day? So how how did you How do you walk through life differently when you're on channel one versus channel two?
Jonathan Robinson 51:45
Well, my wife would say, a more empathetic and more loving, and there's a different look in my eye and more peaceful. It feels like a great burden has been lifted, called the human mind, which is always focused on some some problem or something. So it's a it's a feeling of almost like, a vibration of total love, is how I experienced it.
Alex Ferrari 52:17
And you can you function.
Jonathan Robinson 52:21
I have a hard time doing certain things. Like, I could probably I can talk to you now and experience that, but I can't do email. I can't do my taxes. But I can do simple things. Well, in that experience.
Alex Ferrari 52:37
Are you in that? Have you been in that experience in this conversation?
Jonathan Robinson 52:39
I've gotten in and out about 10 times.
Alex Ferrari 52:43
Oh, okay. All right. It's very interesting. No, it's a really fascinating thing, because it really does change the definition of what we heard is enlightenment. You know, again, if you use the classic Buddha, finding enlightenment underneath the tree. One thing I want to just say, and I think this is a misnomer that so many people have had that is and I think is what you've been saying throughout in your book and in research, is that it isn't a special person that everybody who's ever that we've ever read about ever studied, ever heard about, who found enlightenment who found some sort of connection to the source at a high level, Yogananda Buddha, Jesus, you know, and many of the people you've spoken about. They didn't come into this world like that. They didn't just show up as a baby and go, Oh, I got it all figured out. They they had to go through trials and tribulations, even Buddha had to go through his situation, Jesus, there was a there's a missing 30 year block. I don't know what happened during that 30 years, something. Many, many say he was in India, hanging out, figuring some stuff out. But there's always that pattern that we have to go through. So why couldn't we go down that pattern as well? If what Jesus said originally, everything I can do, you can do? The Kingdom of Heaven is within you. Is that? Is that? Would you say that?
Jonathan Robinson 54:11
Yeah, I'd say any sincere person who explores enough and finds what works for them can definitely experience that. And that is something that is very available. You could say it's our natural state. You know,
Alex Ferrari 54:27
It will it is I mean, we're it's our soul, ourselves, not worried about the black.on the whiteboard. Exactly. That's not so much. It's we're the ones worried about the water bill. To say the least. Now I'm going to ask you a few questions. I ask all of my guests. Okay. What is your definition of a good life?
Jonathan Robinson 54:48
I think having lots of peace, love and joy and living your life so that you bring peace, love and joy and contribution Listen to the people around you.
Alex Ferrari 55:03
What is your mission in this life?
Jonathan Robinson 55:06
I have a very specific mission, which is to get the best ideas and methods from all these teachers and gurus, and the simplest ideas, most effective ones and let as large an audience as possible know about them. So far, I've reached about 100 million people. And my goal is another 100 million.
Alex Ferrari 55:28
Not bad, not bad. You're slacking a bit. But you know, what do
Jonathan Robinson 55:32
I know I know I'm lazy.
Alex Ferrari 55:34
I mean, I mean, I've had at least a billion, but that's just me. Now. What is the ultimate purpose of life?
Jonathan Robinson 55:43
Well, it's interesting. I've asked all these these teachers, what the meaning and purpose of life is, were we here to do? I stopped asking after 50 of them, because the first 50 gave me the exact same answer. Okay. Now, you can't get 50 scientists to agree that the sky is blue. But if you can get 50 different spiritual leaders to agree, what we're here to do, that's pretty amazing. So what is what is the answer, sir? Well, for 14.95 people can find
Alex Ferrari 56:13
Jonathan Robinson 56:17
I will tell you for free, if they resist long, they deserve to know, okay, they say we're here to do two things. Find peace and love inside yourself, to whatever extent you can, once you found that, go out and help other people and help the world.
Alex Ferrari 56:37
That's pretty much it, isn't it? But the thing is, you have to find it in yourself first before you can share it.
Jonathan Robinson 56:45
Exactly. That's that's a hard part. And but you know, it's not as hard as it used to be used to have to spend 20 years in a monastery and do all that now, I think a sincere person can can have a major shift in their consciousness in in six weeks if they apply themselves an hour a day tops.
Alex Ferrari 57:08
And Jonathan, where can people find out more about you where to buy your book, The Enlightenment project and all the other stuff that you're doing?
Jonathan Robinson 57:16
Well, they can, of course, buy the book at amazon, it's an audio book or Kindle too. But if they go to the enlightenmentproject.net, they can find out a lot about the book, they get the first chapter for free, they get an e book about my five favorite methods that can be done in under a minute. And again, audio meditation of me guiding them through five different methods. So that's a good deal. And there's also a lot of extra information about the book there as well.
Alex Ferrari 57:46
Jonathan, thank you so much for coming on the show. And thank you for the work that you've been doing all of these years helping the 100 million plus people that you've you've connected with, and hopefully you'll be able to do more and more work. While you're here with us. I hope you're in enlightenment right now, as we're speaking, but I appreciate you my friend. Thank you again for sharing your knowledge with us.
Jonathan Robinson 58:08
Great fun, Alex. Thanks for such a fun interview.
Links and Resources
- The Enlightenment Project
- Awareness Explorers
- Jonathan Robinson – Official Site
- Books by Jonathan Robinson
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