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Andrew Holecek is a recognized expert on lucid dreaming and dream yoga, but is he playing it safe?

photo by: Skeptiko

[Clip 00:00:00 – 00:00:35]

Now I could try and explain how that clip from Step Brothers relates to this show, but that would just be throwing gas on the fire. 

Here’s a clip from my interview with Andrew Holecek.  

Alex Tsakiris: [00:00:46] Why this resistance to just calling out Sue Blackmore. You quoted her in the paper, did you know who she was? 

Andrew Holecek: [00:00:52] I knew who she was, for sure. Yeah, she’s an interesting character. So again, even within that my friend, I’m just trying to be a little bit more clear about where you want me to go with this.

Alex Tsakiris: [00:01:02] Why did you quote Sue Blackmore as an example of that?  

Andrew Holecek: [00:01:04] Because she has some interesting things to say.

Alex Tsakiris: [00:01:05] What does she have that’s interesting to say? 

Andrew Holecek: [00:01:08] She has a very vast array of contributions. 

Alex Tsakiris: [00:01:14] She doesn’t have anything interesting to say because she thinks consciousness is an illusion and an epiphenomenon of the brain. She got that question wrong on the test, so she wasn’t allowed to go to part B, C, D.   

Well, you keep saying that, but you kind of won’t go there.  

Andrew Holecek: [00:01:34] Where do you want me to go? I don’t know, what’s the question? 

Alex Tsakiris: [00:01:37] Oh man, come on. 

Andrew Holecek: [00:01:38] No really. 

Alex Tsakiris: [00:01:38] What do you think, you heard both of these guys, what do you think?

Andrew Holecek: [00:01:42] Well, again, I’m trying to just be a little bit articulate. What do I think about what? Because they both covered some amazing topics.

Alex Tsakiris: [00:01:49] What did you think was amazing? 

Andrew Holecek: [00:01:51] Well, I mean, again, what I find provocative and I’m not here to judge either of them, that’s just not the way I roll. What I find compelling… 

Alex Tsakiris: [00:01:58] We’re always judging everyone. I hate when people say that. Of course, you’re either judging positively or judging negatively, but judge feel free. This is a judge-friendly zone. 

Andrew Holecek: [00:02:08] What I find compelling about what Charlie says is that again, we live in a universe, in a world where there is plenty of room for other forms of reality. 

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Alex Tsakiris: [00:02:23] Welcome to Skeptiko where we explore controversial science and spirituality with leading researchers, thinkers, and their critics. I’m your host, Alex Tsakiris, and today we welcome Andrew Holecek to Skeptiko. 

Andrew is the author of books like Dream Yoga: Illuminating Your Life Through Lucid Dreaming and the Tibetan Yogas of Sleep and Preparing to Die: Practical Advice and Spiritual Wisdom from the Tibetan Buddhist Tradition. So, we’re definitely going to want to talk about all of that, especially as it relates to the recent conversations I’ve been having with… I just had lucid dream teacher, Charlie Morley, who you may or heard of him. 

Andrew Holecek: [00:03:05] Yeah, I’ve heard of him, yeah.

Alex Tsakiris: [00:03:07] Okay, so that’s interesting. And I think Andrew’s work also relates to this larger project I’ve been on, in terms of diving into a deep look at extended consciousness and how these different perspectives might fit together or might not fit together. We don’t want to force things that don’t fit. 

Now, one of the really cool things I’ve found about Andrew is that he’s really smart and there’s no substitute for that. I mean that seriously if you’ve listened to a lot of these shows. He has a doctorate in dental studies, but before that he was graduate level physics classes, he’s really smart in that way.  Being a dentist, isn’t really his thing, but because he’s this cool spiritual guy and he has this dentistry thing, it led him to create the Global Dental Relief project, a humanitarian organization that provides dental work for people who wouldn’t otherwise get it all over the world. So that’s really cool, he does all sorts of that stuff.

He also has, for example, just to play off on this thing. So then I run across an article he’s published on an IEEE publication, which is like really hard to do, Lucid Virtual Dreaming: Antecedents and Consequents of Virtual Lucidity During Virtual Threat. I mean, this guy is kind of next level smart, but he also breaks things down in a way that’s understandable for all of us. 

So there’s a lot we can talk about, including some questions about the tough stuff. He published a post that I think is really important on his website called The Evolution of Abuse, a piece that kind of dives deep into this question that’s on a lot of our minds, people in the spiritual community, and why Buddhist Monks have joined the ranks of other nondual teachers and wind up looking like these pedopope figures that we see on TV all too often. What’s going on there?

So I’m really looking forward to this conversation. Before we get started, one last thing. I wanted to make a special thanks out there to JP, a Skeptiko listener who suggested Andrew and actually did the first reach out to connect to him. So I’m looking forward to this one, it’s going to be fun. Andrew, welcome to Skeptiko, thanks for joining me.

Andrew Holecek: [00:05:24] Yeah, thanks Alex. Thanks for the great introduction and I’m glad to spend some time with you.

 

Alex Tsakiris: [00:05:28] time with you. Well, let’s. Introduce you, I gave folks kind of a thumbnail sketch, but please fill in who’s Andrew Hola check. 

Andrew Holecek: [00:05:39] Yeah. Well, I mean, we can take that pretty far, right? I mean, Ramana Maharshi’s central spiritual investigation. Who am I? Yeah, I mean, on a relative level, I’m, I’m this guy that really approaches the nature of mind and reality through an integral perspective.

So I bring. And gather and harness truth wherever I can get it. I don’t really care where it comes from. I drank the Tibetan Buddhist Koolaid just because, there is some truth to the Zen adage. Chase two rabbits catches none. And so while that’s my path, I’ve done a three-year retreat. I’ve been serious student of that tradition for decades.

Alex Tsakiris: [00:06:16] Three-year retreat, I mean, that’s talk people through what that means. It’s quite an accomplishment 

Andrew Holecek: [00:06:23] really. Yeah, they give you the title Lama when you come up, but I’m the kind of Lama, there’s two types of Lama, there’s Lama, teacher and guru, and there’s the Lama that just carries crap around, on that kind of Lama.

So, yeah, but thanks for asking in the, in the Tibetan kind of progression of training practices to bet in Buddhism several hundred years ago, if not longer, the instituted a really compelling, rigorous, rigorous type of. Monastic contemplative training three-year, three month retreat where you it’s like going into a meditation university where during the course of three years, really 16 hours a day, very intensive practice, but also incredibly well supported.

One has this precious, precious opportunity w with zero distractions. I mean, you’re literally locked away from the world.  I became a monk. Shave the head and robes and the whole thing. But Alex would, it allows one to do is in the most concentrated, protected way to take a really deep dive into the center of yourself.

and so I had the great, good fortune of engaging in, I don’t know, 40, 50 different types of meditations, these days. Meditation is a catch all phrase. It’s a little bit like sport. And when you say sport, there’s hundreds of sports and so meditation, there are hundreds of meditations. And so it was a really incredible opportunity to just dive deep into.

The elegance and the sophistication of, of one of the world’s great wisdom traditions and the kind of spiritual curricular that they’ve developed. And I have to say it was, it was hands down the most transformative thing I’ve ever done in my life, but it was also the most painful. It gave birth to my first book when I came out the power and the pain, which is all about understanding spiritual hardship.

And why, why is it so bloody hard to wake up and grow up on the spiritual path? What is that all about? but for me it just, it just creates a, such a tremendous appreciation for the skill set, these kinds of spiritual technologies that, especially the Tibetans have come up with that allow you to meditate.

Literally when you’re dreaming, when you’re sleeping in sexual activity, I mean, every conceivable possible state of mind can be explored with this armamentarium, the skill set of meditative tools. And for that, I feel profoundly grateful, but it was, it cost me everything. I lost my, my wife, my job, my house.

It really was a kind of death for me. but that’s where it really growth takes place.  growth doesn’t take place when you’re sitting on the beach with a margarita, had that happy growth. It takes place when you’re tested and stretched. So lots to say about that, my friend, but in short, it really was a before and after experience.

I mean, I came out of that completely transformed and I have spent the entirety of my life since then, fundamentally trying to stabilize the insights that were derived from such a tremendous kind of spiritual incubator.  so many things were really born in that type of container. And now the charter of my life is to extend it to.

Virtually every state. And that’s part of the, part of what I do with the books that I write about, dream yoga sleep, you’ll go Bardo, yoga, which works with death and dying. so yeah, in a nutshell, that’s the kind of what the three-year retreat is all about. And. Highly recommended. If people want to take a deep dive into the nature of themselves, there’s really no better way to do it than that.

So 

Alex Tsakiris: [00:09:56] I understand it can be really tough. I wonder, I’m sure you had some dark nights of the soul I’ve heard 

Andrew Holecek: [00:10:01] from my goodness. Things started to happen so quickly that I really couldn’t keep track. And so I just ended up keeping all these types of kind of meditative diaries and, and it’s, it’s a little bit like, the, the radical, iconic classic teacher  famously said,  meditation, isn’t a sedative, it’s a laxative.

And so it was like, I mixed my analogies here. It was like a three-year detox experience for me. It was like, engaging in laxity, Lexa, laxative type practices, where all this repressed stuff just comes up and that’s 

Alex Tsakiris: [00:10:38] really, 

Andrew Holecek: [00:10:38] that’s kind of part and parcel when you sign, the contract in deep spiritual practice, all the repressed.

 unconscious elements have to come into the light of consciousness. Otherwise your awakening is not complete. And this ties into what you were intimating earlier about the difference that we can get into later between waking up and growing up that the spiritual people have a lot to offer, but it’s not everything.

And so, so many experiences, my friend, I’m probably one of the most compelling for me. And again, I can talk kind of about the hardship and a bit, but one of the most compelling for me was when I was doing. exhaustive daytime practices and nighttime practices. I’m dream yoga and illusory form, where, you’re doing this stuff 24 seven, and you can really enter these quite beautiful States of mind where you can’t really tell the difference between day and night.

 you you’re, you’re kind of bleeding. In, to a, kind of a quantum as democratic nature of mind and reality where you fundamentally see that everything is a display of the mind. And that was a monumental insight for me. And one reason I’m so passionate now about what I refer to as this family of nocturnal meditations.

I mean, I have two more books coming out on that just the summer, but in terms of the hardships. Oh, Lordy, I mean, here’s, it really did feel like, like a detox. I mean, I, I have a little room. it was a group retreat by design, because you need others there to kind of rub up against right. to throw, throw all your projections out against.

And so. I have a little room and I have a little meditation box. Literally I came to call it egos, coffin. I literally slept sitting up. So I was in the meditation posture, 20 hours a day. It may seem just insane from the outside. Like why you would do 

Alex Tsakiris: [00:12:21] this? Well, what happens 

Andrew Holecek: [00:12:23] is it’s really interesting, Alex, we are, we are fundamentally.

Addicted to movement. We’re, we’re addicted to thought and Badr Yana, tantric language thought is literally called movement of mind. And we don’t realize how were junkies to movement until all movement is restricted. And so when I was so confined, I find myself really just having a super hard time and then asking really deep questions, like, why is this so hard?

I’m I’m basically just sitting here doing nothing. Why is it so hard? And then through a longwinded kind of process of deep inquiry and investigation, I fundamentally came to the realization that this retreat isn’t hard and by extrapolation, you can say life isn’t hard. I am. I’m the one that’s hard. and so retreat was kind of polarizing me.

It was basically deconstructing my reifying tendencies, where I make everything so bloody solid. And, and so it really, I started approaching my room, after the first couple of months with real sense of fear and anxiety, and then asking like, why, why am I so afraid? Why is this so hard? Then he said, Oh my gosh, I’m I’m, I’m basically, I’m in detox here.

I’m in detox from Western civilization. I’m in detox from ego I’m in detox from everything you could even say in a certain sense, the curse had side of the cult of scientific materialism. I was just basically detoxifying from that. And it was, it was really challenging. And I, so I throw this out for people who are interested in deep spiritual practice, because.

Certainly my experience I can’t speak for everybody is that deep spiritual practice is not really about feeling good. It’s about getting real and getting real includes feeling pretty crappy. And if we can’t open the aperture of our awareness and embrace unwanted experiences, then we’re just lost in a kind of a new age fallacy that spirituality, is it just a feel good project?

 there’s some validity to what Joseph Campbell said, follow your bliss. But if you just follow your bliss, you’re gonna get blissed out. I find it equally valid, if not more. So for deep divers to follow your fear, I mean, I went into three year retreat at that time because I couldn’t think of anything more frightening than having to face my mind without distraction for so long.

It was terrifying to me. But this Maxim follow your fear has been a guiding point for me. And every time I’ve done it, it’s it’s led to the most transformative. Illuminative insights because really darkness is a code word for ignorance. fear as an affective expression of ignorance, if you really want you on or it on earth ignorance, which by definition is very hard to do because it’s so insidious.

I recommend deep divers follow your fear. fear the word. Interesting, Alex, the word it’s more logically. Means it comes from a root. That means fair. F a R E as in toll. I mean, how interesting is that fear is the fair. There really must be paid to wake up. And if we don’t understand that and we can really riff on this, we will basically spend the entirety of our lives.

I mean, the entirety in a very sophisticated avoidance strategy to stay away from this thing called fear. and so if you want to go there, I’m happy to go in that direction, but I also want to come up for air and make this a bit of a conversation. So it’s not just me riffing over here. So. Long winded response to a poignant question.

Alex Tsakiris: [00:15:54] So how did that lead to the dreams stuff,  which is on one hand, seems to be gaining a lot of popularity and traction. You seem to be taking a much more serious, deeper look at it from a wisdom tradition that extends way back. Not everyone is doing that nowadays. Some people are.

Jumping in with the bio hack, how to lucid a dream and a weekend retreat. Not saying there’s anything wrong with that either, but what is, how has this become one of the things that you do and maybe putting it in a better term, what are your people experiencing from your teachings that they’re finding most helpful with regard to that?

Andrew Holecek: [00:16:37] Well, thank you for that opportunity. I’ll look. So a number of things,  for me, Dream has come to become a kind of code word. It’s very interesting in the, what I call my term, the nocturnal meditation’s, which by the way, just I can throw what those are just so people know there are actually five practices in my cartography of what I call nocturnal practice.

There’s what’s called liminal dreaming. I can define all these liminal dreaming lucid, dreaming, dream yoga. Sleep yoga and Bardo yoga. And these are all a nocturnal in itself is a kind of code word for subtle. So basically when you’re working with these nocturnal practices, you’re working with really subtle dimensions of mind.

Specifically, the exploration of dream is very interesting. And if you look at the way, the Buddhists, I talk about this, especially Tibetans, it’s quite compelling because, well, first of all, it’s melodically here, but, literally means the awakened one. That’s super interesting. Like what did he wake up from?

What did he wake up 

Alex Tsakiris: [00:17:39] to? 

Andrew Holecek: [00:17:40] But fundamentally in the, in the Tibetan arena of dream, they talked about three dreams, three types of dream. That’s very interesting.  the first is what’s called the example dream or the double. I love this term, the double delusion. That’s the nighttime dream. That’s the nighttime dream.

The second type of dream is the primary dream. 

Alex Tsakiris: [00:18:01] Our existence on this plane is on some level illusionary and then enter into another state where we exactly, 

Andrew Holecek: [00:18:10] exactly 

Yes, exactly. Exactly. So there’s the double delusion, the example dream. And then of course, all the studies of dream yoga are about using the double delusion.

To understand the primary illusion, because working with the mind in a lucid dreaming state is really like, Evan Thompson, I know you interviewed him. He’s a dear friend.  it’s working with a laboratory of the mind in a really interesting refined distilled state of consciousness, the dream state.

And so then you take those insights, you extrapolate them back to so-called waking reality. This, this is the cult so-called primary dream. And we can talk about what that really means. And then the last dream is what’s called the dream at the end of time. That’s the Tibetans way of referring to death, which is where Bardot yoga comes in.

Pardot is a Tibetan word. That means gap transitional process. And so what’s super interesting here. My friend is that dream in my deep exploration of all these iterations of dream dream itself is a, is also a code word for manifestation of mind. Everything’s a dream. And so by understanding and working with the dream and the nocturnal arena through lucid dreaming and dreaming, Olga liminal dreaming, you’re basically working with your mind in that capacity because maybe people don’t think about this, but what is a dream made of?

There’s no preexisting dreamscape that you fall into. It’s just you in there. It’s just your mind. So dreams are very interesting expression of mind. And there’s a vast array of spectrum of dreams from, from pure raw kind of neurological noise discharge to what are called hyper lucid dreams of clear light, where,  you have a dream and these are, these are lit, literally life changing events, like a near death experience where you wake up from, just one of these puppies.

And it’s a total game changer because that type of dream. Literally is so vibrant, so real, so hyper real that when you wake up from that, this appears to be the foggy dream. And then you start asking yourself really interesting questions. What exactly is the relationship of my mind? My reality, as it expresses itself in the dream stage.

And this, and according to the wisdom traditions, not just Tibetan, but most of the nondual wisdom traditions, one of the things that constitutes so-called enlightenment or awakening isn’t in fact, realizing the ultra-economists nature of all States of consciousness that literally sleeping, dreaming, Diam, all the same, literally one taste, the great equanimity, everything in the Christian mystical tradition.

Everything tastes like God. And so we can explore there’s so much to say here. That’s why I’m so passionate about this because there’s so much untapped natural resources in the nocturnal mind. I mean, think about this week, we spend a third of our lives asleep. 25% of that is in the dream state, which means if you do the math, that’s about a month, a year.

That’s well, over six years during the course of a lifetime, you can get a PhD in less than six years. Think about how much you could learn if you literally literally had six additional years of consciousness. .

Alex Tsakiris: [00:21:25] Just what I need, Andrew. One more thing in my fricking to do list you have done this deep, deep dive into dream yoga and people really need to check that out. And the other book that I think people do apparently find really, really helpful and useful, and I haven’t had a chance to read to it. That’s why I say other people is your book on dying and the dying process.

And there’s this huge fear of death in our culture. And that I think is super helpful to people too. I’m going to kind of move it in a different direction a little bit as a way of kind of getting back to some of the things you’re talking about, talking about. So. I’m listening to interviews. You’ve done checking out your very excellent website.

You have some very thoughtful posts on there, and I definitely encourage people to check out and I ran across one that. Really caught my attention a couple ways, the evolution of abuse. And why don’t we talk about that? Tell us a little bit about the, in general, what that’s about, and then I’ll pick out a quote from that that I think can propel us into a further conversation about this stuff.

Andrew Holecek: [00:22:27] Yeah. I just recently posted this. I actually wrote it, from two years ago when. The next in the never-ending scandals. This one with a Shambala community came out and it was like, okay, here we go again. 

Alex Tsakiris: [00:22:41] The guru Sage on the stage from whatever religious tradition.

But this always has been, this has been kind of a shock for the Buddhist community and for the nondual community. We thought if I’m not on off, we, they thought they were, above that, or at least separate from that or immune to that. And clearly they’re not.

 

Andrew Holecek: [00:22:59] Yeah. It’s just, it just, it continues to cause just such a heap of hurt. And so I, I finally decided I wrote this thing and I had a discussion with some publishers and the topic was so hot, we decided to table it and I decided I’m just not going to publish it.

And then. A couple months ago, I decided what the heck, I’m just going to throw it on my site just to see what happens. And so just for listeners who are out there, yeah, it’s a,  I, I titled it the evolution of abuse because it basically tries to articulate the kind of vectors of human psychospiritual development.

Alex Tsakiris: [00:23:36] That really have 

Andrew Holecek: [00:23:38] to be, recognized in order for real awakening to take place. And this is where I draw heavily on, on what’s called integral theory, which is to me a real gift to the world that has. So much explanatory power. 

 

Alex Tsakiris: [00:23:53] This is Ken Wilber stuff we’ve talked a little bit… 

Andrew Holecek: [00:23:55] It’s not just Ken Wilber, no. I mean, Ken Wilber is the loudest voice and he’s a genius and he’s a dear friend of mine.

Alex Tsakiris: [00:24:01] But he pioneered it, right?

Andrew Holecek: [00:24:03] Well, he’s cutting edge, but if you actually look at integral approaches, it goes back quite a bit before him. Obviously, he’s a massive voice and a great contributor and I rely a lot on his work. But again, he’s not the only one, there are many are the really skillful individuals.

But the fundamental charter of integral theory, when you really kind of spend some time with it, just makes so much sense. It’s just a way to look in a much more kind of systemic, holistic, ecological, comprehensive way about the real, kind of mess of the human condition, and that you can’t really effectively put all your eggs in one basket. And so we can talk very specifically about what integral theory is. But I think for our purposes here, Alex, the most important thing for spiritual practitioners, those interested in this and trying to understand, kind of all of these abuse things, is that there are, in fact, these two different vectors of development. 

Alex Tsakiris: [00:25:02] This is the waking up, growing up thing.

Andrew Holecek: [00:25:04] Which Ken got from John Welwood, that comes from John Welwood. And so the waking up is kind of a state, it’s kind of development or evolution of state level consciousness, and that’s what the East, so to speak, specializes in, working with different states of consciousness. And this ties into what we were talking about earlier. Fundamentally obtaining lucidity, again lucidity is another code word for awareness, right? A lucid dream is an aware dream. 

So state vectors of development, waking up, is basically fundamentally about extending awareness, consciousness, into all states. Somewhat what we were talking about earlier. So that eventually, in fact meditators already know this, studies have shown this. Meditators have more lucid dreams because they’re basically working with lucidity, i.e. awareness during the day. In the mind of a medication master, as outrageous as it may seem, all their dreams are lucid, there’s no such thing as a non-lucid dream.

And by the way, for people who may not know what a lucid dream is, let’s say a beautiful state of consciousness when you’re dreaming, in the nighttime dream, and something clues you into the fact that you’re dreaming. So you wake up, you become lucid while you’re still in the dream. So you’re actually conscious and unconscious at the same time. So, that’s one state level of development. 

The next one of course is attaining consciousness, awareness in the deep dreamless state.  

Alex Tsakiris: [00:26:31] Before we go down that path, be we were talking about waking up and growing up and then you’re talking about the Western psychological aspect of the growing up stuff.

But I want to take it in a slightly different direction from a quote in the article, one of the points you make is that if you’re leaning on a lie, it’s only a matter of time before you’re going to fall.

But, now let me take that in a different direction from where you were taking it, because later in the article, you quote my friend, former guests on this show, Sue Blackmore, who I think this is like spiritual nondual people. They don’t see the fricking lies that they’re leaning on. And I think that’s one thing that I want to bounce off of you.

So Blackmore is leaning on this huge lie that you understand from your understanding of  scientism and materialism, and Sue Blackmore is leaning on the  consciousness is an illusion lie, and she says, in some kind of Buddhist friendly terms that a lot of people fall for, but if you really look at what she says, and if you interview her like I do, and you press her on the data, she’s in this consciousness is an epiphenomenon of the brain. It’s a brain body thing all the way. 100%. And that takes us in a really strange, bizarre place that has to be called out for… Nothing against Sue Blackmore, but it’s a lie that is perpetuated the materialistic science that we see.

Andrew Holecek: [00:28:04] Yeah, it’s a belief system fundamentally. You’re throwing so many noodles against the wall here. First of all, I wouldn’t say consciousness is so much an illusion as consciousness is illusory, that the appearance of consciousness… 

Alex Tsakiris: [00:28:17] I didn’t say you said it, I said, Sue Blackmore said it. 

Andrew Holecek: [00:28:20] I understand that.

Alex Tsakiris: [00:28:21] And she does say it, and everyone in science, that is the mainstream science positions. So Neil deGrasse Tyson says it. He says, consciousness will come to understand that it’s nothing. And I think there’s a subtle difference here that maybe you want to talk about, maybe you don’t. When you say consciousness is illusionary people, like Sue Blackmore, turn that around and say, consciousness is an illusion, and they equate the two and they couldn’t be more different.

Andrew Holecek: [00:28:49] Yeah, exactly. It’s a conflation due to a polysemous misunderstanding of the nature of the term itself. And so you have to direct me a little bit, my friend, in terms of where you want me to run with this because you’re throwing a lot of noodles on the wall. They’re really interesting. One is, do you want me to talk a little bit about consciousness as illusion, or do you want me to talk a little bit about my view of the cult of scientific materialism and how I think that’s off? Just so we’re on the same wavelength here, maybe you can guide me towards where you want me to run with this. 

Alex Tsakiris: [00:29:18] Well, I think the cult of scientific materialism and in particular, how that has worked its way in, in a strange way, into modern American Buddhism and people like Sue Blackmore who do wrap herself in a kind of Buddhist cloak and this atheistic Buddhist, and that’s okay, and you can really pursue spirituality and still believe consciousness is an illusion. 

I’m just picking up on your term, I think she is leaning on what is fundamentally a lie, and if I was to go back to your earlier quote, that I really like, is that it’s only a matter of time before you’re going to fall. I don’t know why we don’t call that out. Why there’s resistance to just calling out Sue Blackmore. You quoted her in the paper, did you know who she was? 

Andrew Holecek: [00:30:15] I know how Sue is, for sure. to say. Oh, for sure. Yeah, she’s an interesting character. So again, even within that my friend, I’m just trying to be a little bit more clear about where you want me to go with this.

Alex Tsakiris: [00:30:25] Why did you quote Sue Blackmore as an example of that?  

Andrew Holecek: [00:30:28] Because she has some interesting things to say.

Alex Tsakiris: [00:30:29] What does she have that’s interesting to say? 

Andrew Holecek: [00:30:31] She has a very vast array of contributions. 

Alex Tsakiris: [00:30:37] She doesn’t have anything interesting to say because she thinks consciousness is an illusion and an epiphenomenon of the brain. She got that question wrong on the test, so she wasn’t allowed to go to part B, C, D.  

Andrew Holecek: [00:30:52] Yeah, again, I’m not terribly excited about going after people and their views. I’m more interested in the kind of the integral approach to reality. And basically, my understanding Alex is that Sue is basically talking from a particular bandwidth of understanding based on all kinds of very interesting things that I think is more interesting to talk about. And so within the context of the way I approach certain things, there are aspects of her work that are true, but partial. 

So what I think might be more fruitful is to talk about what might be more encompassing, for instance, your intimation about the limitations of scientific materialism, I completely agree with that. It’s really more a belief system and a religiosity that is founded on hubris where the elegance of the scientific method. Please understand I’m a huge fan of the scientific method, I’m not a fan of reductionism materialism. I think that’s science gone bad, and especially as you put it, that’s when science flips into scientism. So I’m not anti-science, I’m anti-materialism and I’m anti-reductionism in that regard. 

So what might perhaps be more fruitful is to talk about how we can take the essence of the scientific method, and this is where your conversation, I’m not sure if it went in this direction with Evan Thompson, that we can look at the exploration of mind as a type of science, only in that it’s empirical. 

Alex Tsakiris: [00:32:24] Well, you keep saying that, but you kind of won’t go there.

Andrew Holecek: [00:32:28] Where do you want me to go? 

Alex Tsakiris: [00:32:30] Okay. So I wrote a book a few years ago and the title of the book was Why Science is Wrong About Almost Everything. The premise of the book was that if you can’t get consciousness right, then you really can’t get much else right, because if consciousness is fundamental, then you can’t measure things. 

So, Sue Blackmore seems like a nice person and I like her hair and she’s a great entertainer and we need science, spiritual entertainers. I’m not looking to mud at her, but I think she’s part of this, whether you want to call it deliberate disinformation, or just kind of useful idiot kind of thing to redirect people towards this idea that all you need to do is like things and buy things and accumulate things. And she’s part of that because everyone knows that consciousness isn’t an epiphenomenon of the brain. Everyone knows we are not biological robots in a meaningless universe. So when people like Sue Blackmore perpetuate it, I think we have to politely draw the line. 

So let me give you a number two, because there are three of these and they’re all going to be just as much fun as that first one, trust me.

Alex Tsakiris: [00:33:45] So here’s another lie that I think we lean on, and it comes from an interview I did with really a terrific guy, and again, it’s going to sound like I’m bashing him and I’m not because he does fantastic work, he’s at Ohio state university, religious studies department. But the book that he wrote was on the Church of Scientology. And I love the subtitle, A History of a New Religion. We all know that Scientology is a cult. It’s not a new religion, it’s a cult. So when we talked about the origins of Scientology, which I don’t know if you’re into that kind of stuff, but the origins are, this guy named L Ron Hubbard, who we’ve heard about, is out in the desert with Jack Parsons, who is a number one student of Aleister Crowley the occultist, and they’re performing this ritual by which they’re trying to bring forth the antichrist. They’re trying to actually bring forth the Whore of Babylon, so that they can have sex with her and then she will give birth to the antichrist and the antichrist will come and take over the world and they’ll have some control over that and wouldn’t that be great.

Now, the interesting thing is that that is Dr. Urban’s research finding. His finding, let’s make sure we understand each other, is yeah, that really happened. So when I push him on that and I say, “Don’t, we need to understand whether or not there is any reality to the extended reality they were trying to tap into?” And he said, “No, it really doesn’t. It only matters that they believe that there was a reality to it.” And I would suggest that this is leaning on a lie because the lie is understanding, however, we were to understand it through a Buddhist perspective or a Christian perspective, at least get it on the table. That by now we understand, despite what Sue Blackmore says, we understand that extended consciousness states are not an illusion, they’re real, and that’s what matters first and foremost. And then secondarily it matters what you believe and how you manifest that and how you interface with it.

But we’ve completely dropped the ball in the humanities, in so many of the places where the integral studies people really like to go, completely dropped the ball in terms of leaning on this lie about extended consciousness realms and suggesting and making it okay to say, we don’t know if they exist or not. Yes, we do know they exist. 

Andrew Holecek: [00:36:18] Yeah. So there’s a lot there. So again, I’m happy to take this anywhere you want, but maybe just help me out a little bit, in terms of where you want me to run with it. I’m thrilled to talk about my understanding about consciousness and why it’s illusory and what’s more foundational than even consciousness, because the wisdom traditions as I’ve come to practice and understand them obviously speak a great deal about this, and consciousness has a very limited kind of bandwidth, in terms of the spectrum of mind. There’s something actually more foundational. 

So if you want me to run with that, I’m happy to do it. So it’s just maybe a little bit of guidance from you in terms of the baton you’re handing on to me. 

Alex Tsakiris: [00:36:56] I can’t really give you any more guidance that that. I think pretty direct.

So let me do this, I can see that you’re kind of struggling with this.

Andrew Holecek: [00:37:05] You’re just being a little bit opaque. 

Alex Tsakiris: [00:37:08] I couldn’t be more direct when I tell you…

Andrew Holecek: [00:37:11] What’s the point you’re trying to make to me that you want me to respond to?

Alex Tsakiris: [00:37:15] I’ll sum it up for you again. 

Andrew Holecek: [00:37:17] Great. 

Alex Tsakiris: [00:37:19] Extended consciousness realms matter and they’re real. And our inability to understand that from a serious academic, intellectual, scientific, forget it, they’re still stuck on consciousnesses is an illusion. But the fact that we can’t even begin to approach extended consciousness realms, and that Dr. Urban feels like it’s okay to say it only matters what they believe, therefore sidestepping the whole extended consciousness realm thing, is problematic, I mean, it’s very problematic. 

Andrew Holecek: [00:37:56] Yes totally. Well, that part I 100% agree with you because then what happens is this kind of myopia, this kind of centrism that only reality can be disclosed through certain types of consciousness experiences. And so I could not agree more with you on that track. But when, I think, you’re talking about extended consciousness and extended realms in my vocabulary would in fact, be this type of archetype of awareness of lucidity, where in fact, we can indeed open the aperture of our mind and our heart and become available and aware of dimensions that are utterly, as Huxley and other scholars have talked about, I’m completely part of this beautiful, vast mystery of the cosmos. 

So that part I completely agree with you. And then what happens with belief systems with scientism, with even the academic need, is we just continually…

Alex Tsakiris: [00:38:51] So you think it was okay that these guys were trying to summon the antichrist? 

Andrew Holecek: [00:38:56] I’m not saying that’s okay. Not at all. 

Alex Tsakiris: [00:39:01] Is it not okay? Is it bad? Are we in a position to make any kind of value judgment on that? I framed it in a way where you would say, “No, I’m not saying it’s good.? Maybe it is good. You know, do what though wilt, we’re all trying to exercise power and bring…

Andrew Holecek: [00:39:15] I mean, you’re talking about a type of radical relativism, kind of the extreme of postmodernism. I don’t think that’s particularly healthy because fundamentally reality is not an infinite sliding scale. If you think it is you’re called a psychotic. So I think what I’m trying to derive from what you’re throwing in my direction to respond to is that no, not everything is just okay. There have to be kinds of metrics for reality and what those metrics actually are, that’s a monumental question. Who is to decide upon that? I think that’s one of the great issues, contributions, and contestations from all these different types of traditions that go after it. 

So I’m definitely not saying that’s okay. What I am saying is, it’s kind of the near enemy of this integral approach. Integral theory, integral thinking is about, again, opening, realizing, honoring and incorporating the truth from all of these different traditions. But a certain point, here’s the very interesting maxim. It’s really, really important to have an open mind, but if your mind is too open, your brains will fall out. 

So somewhere in there has to be a middle way, that we want to maintain, honor and incorporate different dimensions, realize, which is always very difficult because by definition these are blind spots, the limitations of our own ways of looking at the world, increasing our tolerance, receptivity, and accommodation, so that then, from that is born humility for ourselves, in a sense of tolerance and receptivity and acknowledgement of others. 

 

Alex Tsakiris: [00:40:46] Are you okay with calling Scientology a cult? 

Andrew Holecek: [00:40:48] Yeah. I th I, it’s absolutely a call as far as I can tell. I mean, I’m not a deep scholar of that tradition because it doesn’t take very long to realize they’re like pretty far off base, but yeah, I would say it’s absolutely a call it of which there 

Alex Tsakiris: [00:41:01] isn’t an, a problem that we can’t call it a cult in religious studies, you don’t find a religious studies professor or,  look at where integral studies  are going in academia and find one of those people to stand up and say what we all know.

It’s a Colt. Yeah that 

well, 

Andrew Holecek: [00:41:17] I, again, that’s kind of a car blog salmon statement, I think some may, but honestly I think again, and I’m not, I’m not that fast style in, in kind of cross cultural studies when it comes to things like Scientology. But I think most people, honestly, you probably know more about this than me.

Just probably don’t,  spend a lot of time on something that’s just so overtly, overtly kind of cultish and off the Mark, at least that’s what I do. It doesn’t take long to scratch the surface and realize,  there’s just some confusion here, but  

Alex Tsakiris: [00:41:45] again, I’m quoting,  I’m quoting an Ohio state university professor respected professor, and it’s not like his position is unique.

Well, let me play your. Running out of patients. I can tell 

Andrew Holecek: [00:41:57] I’m not running out of patients. I’m just trying to figure out where you, where you’re running with all this. I’m definitely not running out of patients. 

Alex Tsakiris: [00:42:03] Let me play some clips for you from my interview with Charlie Morley and then with Tom Zinsser and I’m like pause during these clips 

Andrew Holecek: [00:42:09] straight off the bat, I don’t believe in any objective existing, external, evil.

I don’t even believe in evil as a concept. I believe in. Traumatized people acting out unintegrated trauma, which manifests as seeming human evil. So from a Buddhist, whatever the hell arounds or as real as this waking life, but it also is unreal is this waking life. And then I get way out of my depth. If the client believes that they have a spirit within them.

And if you do like an exorcism and you really go for it and you enter into that, what I was entering into, into the psychosis of the client and the exorcism could work, right. It doesn’t necessarily mean though that there was an externally existing objective entity there in the first 

Alex Tsakiris: [00:42:49] place, though. Okay.

So that was Charlie Morley and he is a super excellent guy. Loved talking to him. 

Andrew Holecek: [00:42:56] Great guy. 

Alex Tsakiris: [00:42:57] . He’s a lucid dream teacher in the UK and we’re having this conversation and he’s gone down this kind of line, which I don’t totally agree with. But then I played for him a clip that I’m going to now play for you, Andrew.

And it’s from. Clinical psychologist, Tom, Zinser 

Tom’s insur has spent Oh, 15 years working with mainly traumatized people who have experienced a disassociation in one form or another.

I think you’ll catch on to what his, what his practice has been like. 

Andrew Holecek: [00:43:31] Okay. My 

Alex Tsakiris: [00:43:32] work is basically identifying those things within person that blocks the light from them. So the protocol developed for the ego stages, make the contact, communicate with them, make it safe for them to receive 

Andrew Holecek: [00:43:49] this light love energy.

Alex Tsakiris: [00:43:51] Once they receive it, 99%. They’ve wippy 

Andrew Holecek: [00:43:54] God, 

Alex Tsakiris: [00:43:55] I love this. I don’t want to 

Andrew Holecek: [00:43:56] be without it. 

Alex Tsakiris: [00:43:57] And then they will move through the sharing and release of what happened to them. For spirit attachment outside entity. It’s a different protocol. They don’t belong with the person they need to leave. And in the worst cases, 

Andrew Holecek: [00:44:14] protocols 

Alex Tsakiris: [00:44:14] designed to get to a point where they could be removed.

  It’s going to sound like I’ve got a, 

Andrew Holecek: [00:44:19] well, I’m not contradicting myself, but also the Buddhist view is that this is not the only realm of existence. There were like six realms of existence, which can actually be all contacted through the human realm. If I had to do it. And these include like, hell beings, 

Alex Tsakiris: [00:44:33] heaven, realms, I’m 

Andrew Holecek: [00:44:35] hungry.

Ghost realms. 

Alex Tsakiris: [00:44:36] I want 

Andrew Holecek: [00:44:37] to say about entities because I realize I gave you the Jungian view on entities. I gave the Buddhist view on entities. I didn’t actually give you my personal view on entities. Which is like, yeah, man, anyone who’s had like a DMT experience or like moving into kind of psilocybin therapy or I was girl or something.

Alex Tsakiris: [00:44:53] These are, 

Andrew Holecek: [00:44:54] these are not internally generated experiences. Like when people are all having the same experience of mother Iowasca coming over to them and she appears in the same way and often is offering the same guidance. You’re thinking this is existing dude. 

  Alex Tsakiris: [00:45:09] So I kind of laid a lot on you there, but for people who are listening, just so you understand, Charlie has gone down this line.

 He’s an awesome guy, but he has to kind of hold to that Sue Blackmore material as,  it’s all in the brain kind of stuff. And that’s what he’s saying at the beginning,  and you can manifest it. It’s just your own psychosis and all the rest of that. Then we talk about Tom Zinsser and Tom Zinsser says I’ve worked with hundreds of people and I spirit possession.

I don’t know how else to talk about it with just associated ego States within these individuals seem to be a reality. And from a young end perspective, you treat it like that. And it works like that, and it follows this protocol. And then you go back to Charlie and he goes, Well, yeah, I guess there is that part of it too, that the Buddhists do recognize that there are entities that do inhabit consciousness and maybe it can fold into Tom’s idea of these separated  sub-personalities that separate.

So a lot to cover here and I just don’t want to gloss it all over and integrate it and talk about how dream yoga answers this question. I don’t think it does. 

 

Andrew Holecek: [00:46:18] What’s the question, what’s the question? 

Alex Tsakiris: [00:46:20] Oh man, come on. 

Andrew Holecek: [00:46:21] No really. 

Alex Tsakiris: [00:46:22] What do you think, you heard both of these guys, what do you think?

Andrew Holecek: [00:46:26] Well, again, I’m trying to just be a little bit articulate. What do I think about what? Because they both covered some amazing topics.

Alex Tsakiris: [00:46:34] What did you think was amazing? 

Andrew Holecek: [00:46:35] Well, I mean, again, what I find provocative and I’m not here to judge either of them, that’s just not the way I roll. What I find compelling… 

Alex Tsakiris: [00:46:43] We’re always judging everyone. I hate when people say that. Of course, they’re either judging positively or judging negatively, but judge feel free. This is a judge-friendly zone. 

Andrew Holecek: [00:46:53] What I find compelling about what Charlie says is that again, we live in a universe, in a world where there is plenty of room for other forms of reality. So, what I find compelling with his statement in particular is I really liked what he said that these dimensions are just as real or unreal as this. That to me is the crux of it, Alex, where basically,  the charter to de-reify, to look at our reality in a more humble, contextual way, to realize that fundamentally we don’t know everything, we don’t have, kind of ontological rights of supremacy that this is the only reality. I think that’s what I derive from what Charlie was saying, is that once we really open, again, that’s the charter at I’ve come to understand it and experience it, is we open our minds, we open our hearts, we’re opening ourselves to different dimensions of reality. 

That to me is the important point, that there isn’t just one particular reified thing as the scientists, as the materialists tend to put forth. My view of things Alex, is that reality is plastic. I think that’s what I’m deriving from what I’m hearing here, this kind of ontological plasticity that really the world responds in kind to the kind of apparatus of perception, belief systems and the like that we bring to it. 

So this may be tying into some of the other things that you were talking about, we don’t see things the way they are, we see things the way we are. And so that’s a really quite important statement, because again, it brings about a sense of humility that my view is just that, it’s just my view, which is why I’m always reluctant to criticize the views of others, unless they’re ragingly off.  

Alex Tsakiris: [00:48:48] There also is this interface with this reality. So what I appreciate about Tom Zinser, who again is a clinical psychologist, right? He is a people helper in Grand Rapids, Michigan. He’s retired now, but for years and years, and the interesting thing about Tom’s story is he’s got a PhD, trained in a mental hospital. He’s got all the credentials, right? And people are coming to him and he’s frustrated because he’s not able to help people. People have trauma and he could sometimes help them, but not always right. 

When he starts having an encounter with a spirit guide named Gerod, Gerod starts guiding him in terms of how to help these people with spirit entities that are interfering with their life. 

Now we can take your approach and say, “Well, gee, I don’t know if there’s any reality to that. It’s what we make of it.” Or we can go back to Hugh Urban, “It doesn’t matter if that’s true, it matters what they believe.” But at the same time, I listen to you and you are a practical guy, in terms of the interface with reality. So you say, “Sleep on your right side, keep one nostril closed, do this meditation and you’re more likely to enter a lucid dream state.” So that’s very practical, this world kind of stuff. 

So in that same way, Tom Zinser is saying from a practical, real world standpoint, you could be encountering these kinds of spirit entities in your day to day life, and they could be interfering with your life. I don’t want to gloss that over. I don’t want to accept that it’s true, I’m not saying it is true, but we don’t have the means to even deal with it, it seems like. 

Andrew Holecek: [00:50:30] Deal with it in which way? Just deal with it philosophically or ontologically?  

Alex Tsakiris: [00:50:34] How about practically? Should we follow Tom’s protocol? Should we follow your protocol? Should we sleep on our right side with one nostril closed? 

Andrew Holecek: [00:50:45] Well, I mean, you’re kind of all over the map here, my friend, if I might say. Doesn’t the practicality derive from our relationship to mind and reality? I guess that’s where I’m coming down on. So if it’s perhaps helpful for someone to relate to a deity or to an entity and the like, why not use that as a segue, as a skillful means to develop some communication with that individual and then work with them at that provisional level? It may not be the ultimate reality, but again, who are we to say?

Alex Tsakiris: [00:51:20] Of course we are to say, we are to make value, judgments, believe judgments about what reality is. Of course, we do that all the time. This is the good part of science, this is the scientific method part that you said you appreciate. We do things. We test things. We see if they work, if they’re repeatable, if they’re falsifiable. We do have a certain attachment to reality, yes.

Andrew Holecek: [00:51:45] For sure. Yeah, if we didn’t have that, then the whole egoic structure would fall apart, and we’d be in deep doodoo. So yeah, I mean, I’m trying to find the bandwidth of kind of, harmony and resonance between what I’m trying to extract from what you’re saying and what perhaps I can say that could be of some benefit or contribution.

And so again, I’m just trying to articulate to my ability, maybe it’s my lack of understanding of what you’re saying. When you put those things forward to me, where does that land with you? Where does it challenge you? I mean, what do you come down on that doesn’t settle or does settle with you?

Alex Tsakiris: [00:52:24] Well, to answer that question is try and be as direct as I can. I look at the forces in culture that have kind of boxed us into where we would understand the answer to that question. And I see scientific materialism and I see our friend, the punching bag for this show has been Sue Blackmore. She’s not a bad person, she’s just representative of that. 

So, my kids, I told you my daughter is at CU, you’re there in Boulder. What she encounters in the humanities department and in the school of science in general, is you are a biological robot in a meaningless universe. That is what is drilled into her. So, when we look at Sue Blackmore, you think she’s going to come with some kind of wisdom, tradition of great Buddhist thought, but no, she’s going to trick you into that and then she’s going to come back and tell you, in fact, you are a biologic robot in a meaningless universe, so don’t think about it too much.

And then if we look at the other side, where we might go and mainstream perspective for an understanding of that deeper part, we’d look at religion. And then we’re leaning on another lie. They’re really just good guys over there, those Catholics, just a few bad apples, instead of what we really all know that it’s institutionalized sexual abuse, rape of kids and it comes out over and over again. 

Andrew Holecek: [00:53:50] Some of them are that way, I wouldn’t just say they’re all that way. 

Alex Tsakiris: [00:53:52] Institutionalized. I would say at this point, any thinking person would have to acknowledge that at the very least, the burden of proof is on the Catholic Church at the highest level to prove beyond any doubt that it is not an institutionally supported and understood practice that’s been enshrined for many years. That’s just the evidence, that’s where the evidence leads. We can’t keep saying it’s just a few bad apples. 

But again, if those are the two forces you’ve have, if you have science on one hand saying you’re a biological robot in a meaningless universe, and on the other hand, you have this really corrupted religious kind of understanding, I think people are looking for something like which way to go here thing. So that’s my read of it. 

Andrew Holecek: [00:54:41] Yeah. I mean, isn’t it true, Alex, that the human condition is really just very sticky, very messy? So I think what we are trying to do, people like you and I, is make sense of a very complex situation. And so I do it with a particular apparatus of biases and value judgments and skillsets, you do it with your own. But, I keep trying to come back to something very positive about just looking at all of these different manifestations of the human condition, whether it’s a Sue Blackmore, whether it’s a Charlie Morley, and really appreciating the historicity, appreciating what it is that brings them to that particular view of reality. How we can understand the limitations of our own views. I think that perhaps maybe the most important point, that we are all really limited.

And this is what we never finished, that I want to just ping back for just a quick second. When we were talking about those two vectors of human development in my article on the evolution of abuse. One of the most important vectors that comes into play right here is the vector of the growing up, where we have these structures of consciousness, these developmental levels. that by definition are fundamental archetypal blind spots. We don’t see that we don’t see. 

So I do want to throw that back into the mix because I do think this is really important, that in a certain way it’s circumambulating everything we’re talking about, that we have these complex vectors of psychospiritual human development. And if we don’t understand those two vectors, Alex, that’s when we get into trouble, whether it’s the Christians and the Catholics and the Buddhists, basically every human. If we don’t realize that we have these two, what are called orienting generalizations, one vector of psychological structural development, which John Welwood talks about, is growing up, the other vector, the state level of waking up.

To me, what I’d like to drive home with your audience is that understanding the complexity and really paying homage and allegiance to the power of these two vectors of human development are really important, because otherwise then our knowledge, our relationship to ourselves and to the world is really limited, and then we’re really lost.  It’s like Mark Twain said, “It’s not what you don’t know that gets you in trouble, it’s what you do know that just ain’t so.”

So to me it’s like, what are, in fact, these archetypal blind spots?

Alex Tsakiris: [00:57:14] What if that ain’t so Andrew? It’s like when people get spinning off on the internal stuff and the wake up, grow up stuff, and I just offered you an alternative perspective, an alternative view. And that’s not to shout down yours, I want to put yours on the table, but I want you also to have mine on the table.

Andrew Holecek: [00:57:37] Yeah, totally. 

Alex Tsakiris: [00:57:38] Well, no it’s not totally, because I don’t get that vibe, and I don’t get that vibe, not just from you, I don’t get that vibe from so many people in the nondual community and they put up this front…

Andrew Holecek: [00:57:48] Alex, let me ask you this. What is the approach? When you say “that”, what you’re putting on the table, articulate specifically, what is “that” that you’re referring to?

Alex Tsakiris: [00:57:59] So when I played the clip from Tom Zinser, he’s talking about a protocol because one of the things I appreciate about Tom’s work is it’s clinical work. He’s worked with hundreds of patients. He’s tested it out. He’s seen when it works, when it doesn’t work. He’s tried to test it, tried to refine it. He has a different model than wake up, grow up. That’s not the model. The model is that your ego states can separate, and that separation can lead to kind of a reduction in your immune system from being interfered with by spirit entities. Okay?

Again, this isn’t my… I’m not onboard with this, I’m just drawing out the fact that this is not consistent with what you’re saying. This is not wake up, grow up. It’s something different. 

The whole point of this project that I’ve been on, is just to show how we’ve accepted the ineptitude that the intellectuals have for dealing with this, for someone to say, “God, that’s right. I have to figure out whether Andrew’s right or whether Alex is right.” So when you’re Hugh Urban at Ohio State, you’ve got to say, “Stop the presses. Stop the research. Just stop all of the bullshit about it only matters what people believe, I have to get to some kind of bedrock of what is the nature of this extended consciousness realm, not just talk about feelings and beliefs and the rest of that.” 

We may never know, but you seem to be interested in science when you say sleep on your right side and close your nostril. Which I’m going to try tonight. I’m not against that. I’m biohacking all the time. So I’m doing ice baths, I’m doing yoga. I try everything as a biohack because I want to get to some of these states. And as you say in your book, experience does kind of hook us in, but I think we have a real blind spot when it comes to really taking a real bite into these extended consciousness realms, of trying to figure out how we might come to a pre-scientific, but at least somewhat scientific understanding of what’s going on, without just leaning on some wisdom traditions saying, “Oh, it must be that because that’s what the Buddhists say.”

Andrew Holecek: [01:00:21] Well no, it’s not true my friend. Again, I hope you’ll understand this. Even the Buddha himself said Buddhism is not a belief system, Buddhism is an anti-belief system, it’s an unbelief system. 

Alex Tsakiris: [01:00:34] Better that most, yes.

Andrew Holecek: [01:00:36] Yeah, exactly. And in the very deepest sense Buddhism is empirical. I’m not going to say it’s scientific because I agree with Evan Thompson’s very lucid attack on the exceptionalism and the kind of elitism of thinking that Buddhism is somehow a science of mind, I think there’s a lot of traction to what he says. But the great thing about these wisdom traditions and it’s again, why I am an allegiance with them, is because of their empirical nature. They’re not based on beliefs and conjecture, they’re based on the some say, they say, “Here’s our hypothesis, there’s this thing called the enlightened state. Here’s our hypothesis, there’s this thing called lucid dream, lucid sleep. And then here’s a way to actually bring this into your own experience.”

And so that empirical approach, the ability to test it, to find out for yourself, whether this speaks to you or not, is really what’s important. And, yeah, I mean, I guess that’s where I rest and it’s one reason I take refuge in those approaches because they don’t really espouse belief, they espouse criticality. And in fact, the Buddha himself said as with Socrates questions are more important than answers. The questions are what’s really important, how send the mind in either directions that are conducive to the inquiry into reality or not. And even Heisenberg very famously said what we discover in science is not reality itself, but reality is it’s revealed by our methods of investigation. 

And so therefore, to me, again, it’s how we ask the questions, where we direct our intentions, where we direct our efforts. And then reality, in a certain sense, is cooperative, reality will disclose itself based on the kind of investigatory lens that we bring to it.

And so I think that’s what’s somewhat important here and that people have different lenses. Some are more in resonance with reality than others. Some send them barking up the wrong tree, versus trying to find the right one. And so to me, it’s like honoring that, understanding that, acknowledging the kind of messiness of the whole thing, and then realize we’re all more or less trying to do the best within the limitations of what we have. So, I mean, somewhere in there, there kind of a handful of noodles that I throw against the wall. 

Alex Tsakiris: [01:02:57] Fair enough. Excellent really. Our guest again has been Andrew Holecek and he’s been super kind and generous with his time and put up with my badgering questions.

There are a couple of books you’re going to want to check out and I want him to tell us more about that, and some of the upcoming books he has in the works, it sounds like. But Dream Yoga, Preparing to Die are two of them. Andrew, what else is coming up for you? 

Andrew Holecek: [01:03:23] Thank you, Alex. It’s always appreciated when I can set up my lemonade stand for just a second. Yeah, I have two books coming out this summer. One is more of a kind of prequel entry-level book called The Lucid Dreaming Workbook. It’s kind of a more on ramp to the practice of lucid dreaming altogether. 

And then on the complete other end of the extreme is a very deep dive, this is the second book in a trilogy I’m writing for my publisher Sounds True, this one’s called Dreams of Light: The Profound Daytime Practice of Lucid Dreaming, and this is a deep exploration of the daytime practice of lucid dreaming during yoga, which is called the practice of illusory form, and the science that supports it, the meditations that help you reveal it. And the reason I wrote this book Alex is because as you probably know, lucid dreaming promises a great deal, it promises a lot but it’s hard to deliver on these promises. Lucidity is not such an easy thing. So this book was written as a way to give people a different set of skill practices that allow one to realize the same kind of dimensions that inside lucid dreaming and dream yoga bring about using daytime methods.

So again, it’s this larger charter of using these great gifts from the East and the West. It’s basically a way to perhaps invite a development of the human condition; how can we actually be more awake, be more lucid and therefore be of benefit to ourselves and others? So, thanks for the opportunity to plug those. I’m always grateful when people provide that for me. So I’m really excited about both books, but the Dreams of Light book is one I’m really quite excited about because it’s a pretty deep dive. So. Thanks for that. 

Alex Tsakiris: [01:05:12] Well, that’s awesome, Andrew. And again, it’s very encouraging for me when people can have these kind of, sometimes uncomfortable, but too infrequently done kind of conversation. So thanks for hanging in with me and all that. 

Andrew Holecek: [01:05:28] Appreciate it. 

Thanks to Andrew for joining me today on Skeptiko, and a special thanks to JP, a Skeptiko listener who helped me set up this interview. JP I hope we got what we wanted on this one, it may be different than what we thought. 

Any rate though, the one question I’d tee up from this interview is the haters ball kind of question, and that is, it’s nice to be nice, but is it good to be nice? I mean, this is kind of a deep Skeptiko question, but maybe it’s kind of pretentious to even think we can answer any of these questions. But if we can, I kind of play off the idea that Donald Hoffman threw out a few episodes ago, and that is, if we are going to speak, let’s try and be as precise as possible. So for Hoffman that’s mathematics and that has some nice aspects in terms of being precise, but also has some limitations as well. But maybe precise in this case means, sometimes not being so nice. I guess there’s a question in there somewhere. 

Let me know your thoughts. Join me over on the Skeptiko Forum, or just drop me a note, let me know what you think.

 I have some good stuff coming up, stay with me for all of that. Until next time, take care and bye for now. 

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