SPIRITUAL ATHEISM/LOVE TO OVERCOME TRAUMA AND HEAL
Welcome to “Healing From Within” with host Sheryl Glick author of Life Is No Coincidence and The Living Spirit which share stories of awakening spiritual communication, healing energies, miracles, and ways to use intuition and inner guidance for happiness and prosperity. Today Sheryl welcomes Nick Seneca Jankel a former guest of the show to share now his newest book Spiritual Atheist which gives us access to the benefits of both modern medicine as well as timeless wisdom about human happiness. An understanding of this multidimensional form of healing can lead to lasting changes in addiction, depression, anxiety, and chronic pain.
For our listeners to hear Nick Jankel award winning thought leader and professional speaker who hosted his own BBC TV show and has taught on the MBA programs at Oxford, UCLA and Yale discuss an advanced brain based transformational methodology, The Switch On Way go to my website www.sherylglick.com and scroll down on the radio page to September 2016.
As listeners of “Healing From Within” are well aware Sheryl and her guests share intimate stories, truths and insights, into the Universal World of Energy in hopes of understanding our human condition, challenges in everyday life and to develop ways to move ahead to creating with our thoughts, words, actions and perceptions, a clearer view of how to manifest and create a healthy life and to serve our communities by sharing and living with hope love integrity and honesty.
In today’s episode of “Healing From Within” Nick a scientist and medic brings the latest science into his work, cognitive behavioral emotional and interoceptive and blends it with timeless wisdom of ancient philosophy and cultures offering tools for transformation and for self-mastery of emotions. We will discover how he has overcome being diagnosed with Fibromyalgia or Chronic Pain Syndrome and depression while studying medicine to heal his own childhood trauma and has discovered happiness in living with Spirit and physical life merged and united for best results..
When Sheryl asks Nick to think back to childhood and remember a person place event or persistent thought that may have lead them to the lifestyle and values they embrace now in adult he tells of when he was fifteen and decided that the religion he was born into had limited value in helping him answer many questions about Who we are and Where we come from? And how to make good choices. So instead, he gravitated toward science, which seemed to be full of tangible evidence and hard facts. He became an avowed atheist, convinced that reason was the only path to truth and threw off the shackles of faith and its tired rituals, scripture, and rules, and became free. Or so he thought. In the years that followed his conversion to atheism, he roamed the ranges of modern (and postmodern) life seeking certainty in the sciences; seeking sustenance in psychotherapy, travel, and hedonism; and seeking success in the intertwining worlds of corporate innovation and tech entrepreneurship.
Nick found within each of these domains lots of rich insights into how to ‘succeed’ in life but science and reason proved to be way more limited than he thought providing him with a comprehensive life philosophy, or bios, with which he could consistently make good choices that led to health, happiness and an ability to contribute meaningfully to the world around me. Although some would see my upbringing as privileged and my life successful, Nick suffered for many years with both physical and emotional distress: anxiety, depression, chronic pain, and more. Like most of us, he was never given a single second of teaching on how to flourish as a human being in his education. Even the medical and philosophy programs he spent years studying did not offer a rigorous bios with which to engage in the tough challenges of life. His spiritual soul demanded more from him to find a way to merge the best of within with the ways of the physical world.
Nick writes, “As a teenager on the threshold of adulthood, I sat in synagogue listening to the rules and they felt totally redundant to me. Was this God really interested in whether I put a prayer upon my doorpost, refused to eat pork, or washed my hands before eating? Wasn’t living with integrity and honor, compassion, and empathy more important?! I began to question not just the rules but the whole power structure of religion.
Sheryl says she felt much the same as Nick and delved into history philosophy psychology and education in search of answers of Who we were and How we were to relate personally to a divine energetic creative life force or Source.
Nick goes on to say “By the time I was in my late twenties, I had pretty much everything that I thought was important: my own home; success with the start-up I had co-founded; launching new products (like Microsoft’s Xbox), and developing new innovations (like the most successful TV show of all time); and, on paper, I was a multi-millionaire. But it all came crashing down around the time of my thirtieth birthday. I burned out and had a breakdown. My love life, business, physical wellbeing, and mental health all imploded. I had spent fifteen years living an absolutely atheistic and materialist life but I was missing so much: thriving relationships, a stable sense of happiness, and, above all, inner peace.”
Nick tells us the life philosophy of spiritual atheism and why it is key to long term health and happiness. Spiritual Atheism is a ground breaking philosophical thought that draws on knowledge of cutting edge neuroscience physics and psychology uniting with wisdom traditions such as Taoism Kabbalah, Advaita Vedantia, Buddhism, Zen, and Sufism in order to transform our thinking and actions to finding happiness joy and positivity in living with awareness and higher consciousness or perhaps the truth of our energetic soul life. If you trust science and relish reason but also sense that your life has purpose, your consciousness is real, and that love is a force for good, all phenomena that conventional atheism denies, then “spiritual atheism” will help you have it all without dogma or superstition of any kind. Not limited to revolutionizing your own happiness and well being, spiritual atheism can insure that together we recalibrate capitalism, reinvent politics and make business and technology work for all.
WE must come to understand the state of mind and being now being exposed all over the world to understand how this culture of despair has come to be. Depression is now the single greatest burden on health worldwide.
1. Suicide kills more people than war and natural catastrophes put together, and more US troops die from killing themselves than from conflict.
2. Suicide is the second leading cause of death for those between the ages of fifteen and twenty-nine across the planet. These numbers are set to double in the next five years.
3. Anxiety is the fastest-growing illness in those under twenty-one in the UK.
4. A third of British teenage girls say they suffer from depression or anxiety.
5. There has been a 285 percent increase in girls being treated for self-harm in Britain in just a few years.
6. Middle-aged people across the Western world are suffering from a massive increase in so-called “deaths of despair”, killed by chronic illness health, suicide, drugs, and alcohol.
7. Addiction to legal opiates kills around 50 people per day in the US alone.
8. 40 percent of older adults in the US say they are lonely (up from 20 percent in the 1980s.
9. Loneliness appears to be twice as dangerous to our health than obesity, and just as dangerous as smoking.
10. Widen the lens and we see that, because of the choices we humans keep making, virtually every ecological and economic system on the planet is stressed to the max.
11. In the last forty years, a full third of arable land on Earth has become infertile. The oceans are acidifying and ice is melting at alarming rates.
12. Reports suggest that one million people in China die each year from air pollution, and that smog in Europe and North America could be more than twenty-five times more lethal than that in China.
13. It is estimated that, globally, 9 million people die each year from air, water, earth, and buildings that we have made toxic. That means that deaths attributed to pollution are triple those from AIDS, malaria, and tuberculosis combined.
14. For the first time in human history, life expectancy is dropping in developed societies like the United States and United Kingdom.
15. Conflicts over land, resources, and identity are creating serious social and political turbulence everywhere we look. Something is clearly wrong at the heart of our modern world.
Nick shares how everything about atheism appealed to him. Atheists reject the superstitions of religion and see no need for a belief in a personal god. There is no deity in the atheist’s world, whether a white-beard-in-the-sky male Lord or an earthy and fecund female goddess. Atheists resist religious rules of any kind and are deeply suspicious of claims that a text is the revealed word of a god, as opposed to a myth or narrative written by human hand. But as time went on he discovered a need to revise atheism to spiritual atheism to complete the connection of mind and heart based realities.
Most crucially, “spiritual atheism” reunites the two aspects of our human nature, consciousness and matter, that have been at war with each other for centuries. No longer set at loggerheads, no longer driven to rule or undermine the other, both parts of ourselves can work together so we thrive; and lead others towards this state too. Spiritual atheism sees the scientific and the contemplative traditions as two different, yet complementary and equally valid, ways of seeing, knowing, and changing the world. Science is the most rigorous way we have found to give us reliable and replicable data about the material world of atoms, gravity, and light.
Contemplation, whether through ecstatic movement, tantric experiences, yoga or meditation, is the most rigorous way we have found of building up a consistent knowledge-base of the inner workings of our consciousness so that we can reliably experience compassion, peace, and purpose. Fused together, we can excel at the quintessentially human skill of being able to purposefully change our minds inside, so that we can transform problems that really matter in our world around us.
We can master our conscious experience through wisdom practices that look within; and we master our material world through science and technology that look outside. Understood through heart as much as mind, spiritual atheism is a life philosophy that invites us, calls us, to transform ourselves so we can step up as the confident, courageous, and transformational leaders we can all be and so make the world work for all. Spiritual atheism, as a new cultural narrative combines both.
Driven by physical and psychological pain (like fibromyalgia and clinical depression), and an overwhelming yearning for peace and purpose, Nick went to India. After one such night of dance and the beauty of the colors and textures of this exotic place, Nick had an experience so profound that it shook the foundations of his worldview and reoriented everything I knew about life in its wake. At the center was a realization that I was, in some hard to-describe way, at “one” with the entire universe, and that the suffering I experienced so often in life was because of a delusional sense that I was separate and alone. It became clear that all the trinkets I had collected as a materialist obsessed with achievement and recognition were fool’s gold.
Over time, Nick came to see that what he truly needed had always been waiting for him within. This quintessentially mystical experience opened the doors of his perception and showed a place beyond the chattering mind and aching body where he could find the peace and purpose we all long for. Nick has learned to return to this place, whether through meditation, ecstatic dance, or loving intimacy, to take refuge and has also learned ways to harness this spiritual experience to transform ‘bad habits and negative thoughts, and to step up continuously as a leader, lover, and father. The only problem was that he was still an atheist and a lover of science and a committed man of reason so he needed to make sense of the mystical within the context of everything that he had learned up to that point through science and reason.
Nick was not prepared to give up the rigor of reason to embrace spiritual truths without finding a way to make sense of both together. Turning to the history books, I discovered that the scientific method evolved as only one way, among many, of finding out knowledge about the world. Early scientists like Galileo chose to leave out our interior world when they created science because subjective qualities were hard to measure accurately and consistently. In time, because it was particularly successful at predicting the movements of matter, science was put on a pedestal and became seen by many, including most atheists, as the only way of providing useful knowledge about life. Spiritual truths were downgraded, and eventually ignored. Because of this, for the last hundred years or so we have lived in a world with a deeply diminished view of human experience, one that reduces all value to money, material, and metrics. We set out to scientifically explore the further reaches of our cosmos whilst forgetting how to explore our own inner realm. Many activities and substances that could help us access the mystical were suppressed. Science and reason made redundant the shamans and wise folk who we needed to return us to truth and help us change. It was then but a hop, skip, and a jump to denying that our consciousness even existed, as many scientists and materialist philosophers do today.
Trained in science, Nick was led to believe the mainstream views of scientific like so many of us, had been conditioned by culture to believe, that only physical matter was real. He was expected to be critical of, and cynical about, any claim that didn’t use the scientific method to provide proof of its veracity. This kept Nick stuck in a painful double-bind, holding two beliefs that seemed irreconcilable: Nick enjoyed a deep love affair with science, without which we wouldn’t have many wonderful things, from amazing treatments for Ebola, cancer, and HIV, to airplanes, apps, and algorithms that make life better. But he was also steadily more and more aware of, and in awe of, the mystical experience of “oneness” that his heart kept sensing was real. For years Nick suppressed any spiritual intuitions in order to succeed in a fiercely atheistic, materialistic society. NIck believed, as so many others do, that he had to choose either spirituality or science; that he could not have both.
Sheryl tells Nick that he is indeed not an atheist at all, but a Vitruvian Man of complete science art music and the wonderment of the Universe. It is only by finally resolving the divide within us: the idea of duality, that we merge the soul and heart essence with the mind and ego based physical reality, and truly find peace, total awareness of higher consciousness, and the true nature of Life.
Nick wrote, “Like so many of us, we have not been conditioned to believe that happiness or internal well being is the most important value for success prosperity and health and have been conditioned by culture to believe that only physical matter was real. I was expected to be critical of, and cynical about, any claim that didn’t use the scientific method to provide proof of its veracity. This kept me stuck in a painful double-bind, holding two beliefs that seemed irreconcilable: I enjoyed a deep love affair with science, without which we wouldn’t have many wonderful things, from amazing treatments for Ebola, cancer, and HIV, to airplanes, apps, and algorithms that make life better. But I was also steadily more and more aware of, and in awe of, the mystical experience of ‘oneness’ that my heart kept sensing was real. For years I suppressed any ‘spiritual’ intuitions in order to ‘succeed’ in a fiercely atheistic, materialistic society. I believed, as so many others do, that I had to choose either spirituality or science; that I could not have both.”
Sheryl says that she believes that a merging of our spiritual and intellectual mind -based or ego- based reality is the key to learning that happiness is a natural state of mind and is our spiritual birthright.
In her book The Living Spirit she wrote, “ As I receive intuitive messages for my clients, many people have asked me, “ How can I find peace and happiness in my life. This is the answer I give them: Before there can be peace and happiness in a person’s life and in the world, every person must be responsible to do their own work about acknowledging what needs to change within their attitudes or actions so they can better relate to the outer world. Finding true happiness and joy is the natural outcome of self-investigation. There are no shortcuts. No one can make you happy or unhappy unless you give him or her the power to do that by surrendering or giving your own power away…Since we are always in a state of change the ideas and wishes of others are not nearly as important as our welcoming the experiences and challenges that surface and handling them to the best of our ability…. Recognizing another avenue for finding happiness is possible when we finally admit, “Not only are we not perfect, no one is perfect.”
Much is at stake beyond our own personal happiness. Nick believes that the political frictions, terror, conflict, economic inequality, and environmental turmoil that we face can all be traced back to the schism within that separates us from ourselves, from each other, and from the planet that we rely on for our very lives. Nick can trace in everything from the rise of ugly nationalism, to the dominance of daily life by consumerism, to this split within our hearts and minds.
Spiritual atheism, as a new cultural narrative and bios, balances our spiritual intuitions to contribute to the world with purpose and love with our materialist instincts to get stuff done and keep ourselves and our kin safe. It provides us with tangible and practical ways to recalibrate capitalism so it works for everyone, without the need for big government, or forced equality.
In our times of resurgent Christian, Islamic, Jewish, Hindu, and even Buddhist religious nationalism, which is damaging the fabric of our societies, we must find a pathway to open-hearted spiritual values or risk the world being destabilized once again by dogmatic and dictatorial religion. We need heart-led qualities to be placed back into the core of our existence without any dangerous religious dogma or corrosive rational cynicism.
Recognizing our individual and personal connection to spiritual energy and finding truth in your essence and eternal nature, allows you to move past mind control group think and controls by others, as you pursue your own destiny and self-development.
Nick found what was missing or didn’t work from the self-help and personal development books. As he deepened his connection to the “oneness,” he came to realize that his projects, including this book and all the ideas within it, are not “mine” at all in any sense. Everything we create is owned by us all, whether we copyright it or not. We all have gifts, gifts that we need as a species to thrive in the Digital Age. When we see such gifts as public goods, rather than as an individual’s private property, we can unashamedly support each other to bring more of our hidden talents to fruition and so increase the flourishing of people and our planet. In summary, he has done his best to ask and answer the question that has animated his adult life as rigorously as possible with my available knowledge: What life philosophy can help us make better choices and on goingly transform ourselves and our systems so that we all suffer less and thrive more?
Nick offers two key psychological modes or mindsets that he believes we all must master to thrive in life, love or leadership. We in the modern West see ourselves primarily as individuals, discrete and alone, while Africans consider themselves part of an interconnected whole. It is easy to feel afraid, needy, and greedy as a lone player when we feel scared and alone. Control and Protect Mode sees everything as separate and atomized so we need to fight for what we want. However, it is far less existentially agonizing to feel part of a whole that loves you, cares for you and, in some way, actually is you.
This is how we see the world through Create and Connect Mode. Nick is deeply grateful that he had the opportunity to be cloistered away from individualistic advertising, consumption, productivity, and achievement during his time in Africa where he experienced a different orientation to life. When NIck tried to shove Western science and Anglo-Saxon grammar down the throats of his pupils, he lost connection with them. It was only once I opened my heart and put aside the rational agenda he’d brought there to deliver—to fill their minds with scientific content from their former colonial masters—that he reached them. And we both learned in the process.
What stops us from being able to master these modes easily is it is incredibly challenging to integrate the transformations that take place during travel—around the planet or within our own consciousness— into our everyday thoughts and habits. Without learning how to rewire our habits, we return to old patterns of protection and control all too easily. The feeling of being connected, of being in it together, emerged from time to time in my joyful moments.
Sheryl says…Fear and our societal training and trauma as children when we were indoctrinated into the mindset of the family and community and painfully lost pieces of our own soul and joyful enthusiasm for life, is hard to rewire, reprogram, and to then renew our faith and trust in ourselves and a larger divine plan for our life. It is done by letting go of what no longer serves us, and finding our passion for what does serve us, and then filling ourselves with love, positive intention, action, and living an authentic part of life while respecting and honoring that others need to do the same, even when their way is quite different from your own perceptions and reality. All is as it should be and when we allow accept and surrender to the larger plan it brings us much freedom and peace.
Therefore no scientist will ever be able to prove to you that experiences of connective consciousness—of enlightenment—are real or an illusion. You can only discover the truth of oneness for yourself. Given that hundreds of thousands of people have reported experiences of connective consciousness, over thousands of years, this is a compelling reason to believe that we all can get there too. Connective consciousness is empirical fact from the school of life, even if we cannot replicate it easily in a lab to ‘prove’ it.
Nick would like readers of Spiritual Atheist to take away with them some of the The Spiritual Atheism Principles:
* Be open to non-Western ways of experiencing and understanding the world, like Ubuntu, that might offer us unique and essential insights into what it means to be human.
* Travel not to escape into exoticism or to appropriate the trappings of othercultures but to transform ourselves in deeply respectful relationships with other people and nature. All the while, avoid projecting onto other traditions, cultures, and individuals the idea that their wisdom is better than ours; or that we need their aesthetics and accessories to thrive.
* Dance, move, and connect with our bodies, as much as our minds, to release repressed pain, break down protective patterns, and transform trauma to find peace. Living fully embodied lives—developing ever increasing awareness of, and mastery over, our inner experience as a single, unified ‘body mind’—is critical to personal transformation and thriving.
* We have everything we need within our body mind to feel free and at peace at any moment, no matter what is happening around us.
* Build nurturing communities that foster the optimal conditions for shared healing, thriving, and joy through daily open-hearted connections between individuals. Within such loving and connected communities, our protective patterns can dissolve quickly as they are no longer needed for safety and survival.
In summarizing today’s episode of “Healing From Within” Nick Jankel, a free open- minded man of heart soul and intellect has shown us a clearer way to understand that science religion and metaphysics seek to offer us a way to know ourselves and our connection to the Universal Source of Life or Energy of Creation and to find greater trust in living with love and compassion faith for creating a life of purpose passion and authentic happiness.
Nick wrote, “The great challenge to people of reason is that we cannot push through to the mystical with the reasoning mind alone. Trained in the ways of Western rationalism, I had for years approached it with my intellect. I had read mystical texts and analyzed them with my mind rather than allowing them to be felt in my body mind. I did not know, until I experienced oneness regularly, that the metaphorical “organ” through which we experience unity is not our head but our heart. Simply put, we cannot experience the expansive sense of the Connector through our thinking Protector. We need to get out of our head and into our entire body mind. We must find practical and experiential ways to leave Control and Protect Mode and enter Create and Connect, and that means opening up our hearts and allowing our minds to be free. As one of the early Sufi mystics tells us, in an incredible Persian poem about finding oneness within called Conference of the Birds: “Give up the intellect for love and see, in one brief moment, all eternity”
Nick and I are delighted you have joined us today on this journey within, to the truth of living with excellence and individual awareness of intuition and compassion for the physical and spiritual essence of life. Be open to new thoughts and live each day in exploring your inner joy as this state of being conquers the fears of the physical and ego based world reality.Today’s Guest