Riz Virk, The Yoga Metaphor |599|

Riz Virk… Yogananda… Autobiography of a Yogi… fact versus fiction… backdoor materialism?


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[00:00:00] Alex Tsakiris: a show about what yoga is really all about.

Inhale, arms up to the sky. . Good. . Remember, this is not a competition, although you two seem to be the best in the class. . It’s really important in this pose that you arch your back and keep it flat at the same time.

I feel like those are opposing ideas. No, they’re not, because you’re arching your back up while it’s flat.

And what yoga is really all about.

[00:00:30] Riz Virk: But it’s a little more than a metaphor, because if we’re taking information and we’re actually rendering physical things around us, now that’s a game and that’s a simulation, but it’s just so far more advanced.

, that’s what Elon Musk was trying to say, right?

[00:00:45] Alex Tsakiris: no. I think they’re saying something different. , I mean, you can’t have it both ways. If it’s more than a metaphor, it’s not a metaphor. I go back to your definition of what yoga is. It’s the cessation of the whirlpools of thoughts and feelings in the river of consciousness. You’re talking about God and divine here, right?

Mr. MIT tech entrepreneur, you’re way past. Any kind of, . , Elon Musk simulation, , I think we get into this kind of backdoor materialism where we kind of want to have it both ways.

[00:01:14] Riz Virk: , that’s part of it, but part of it is that we don’t have the language to express.

What these things really are. So we have to express them in language that we might actually understand

[00:01:27] Alex Tsakiris: The first clip. Was from the movie forgetting Sarah Marshall.

and it has an appearance of Russell brand who I think is one of the most. Terrific people. Producing content on the planet at this moment. So that alone is reason enough to revisit that old movie. And the second clip was from today’s guest.

who’s written quite an amazing book About Yoganonda the author of autobiography of a Yogi. One of the most important books for a Western yoga audience. Ever that’s kind of without even debate. So this was a really great chat with a really a great guy has been on the show a couple times for very, very sharp And I hope you stick around. Cause I think you’ll enjoy it.

. Welcome to Skeptica, where we explore controversial science and spirituality . Riz Virk is back. He’s here to talk to us about his new book. , Wisdom of a Yogi. Lessons for modern seekers from autobiography of a Yogi. . It’s a really interesting book. Can’t wait to talk about it. Riz, in case you don’t remember, very, very successful tech entrepreneur from MIT, , many. VC startups, absolute pioneer in video gaming, founder of the PlayLab startup accelerator, actually on the campus of MIT.

I mean, just kind of a major player and all that. And then goes back Gets a Stanford MBA because well, why not working on a PhD? Cause well, why not? And then along the way, started writing books. He’s probably best known for this one. I have up on the screen, the simulation hypothesis. We talked about that a while back, but we’re going to be talking about this one today.

Wisdom of a Yogi Riz. Thanks for coming back. Thanks for being here.

[00:03:20] Riz Virk: Sure. Well, thanks for having me back on. I’ve always enjoyed our conversations. So

[00:03:24] Alex Tsakiris: looking forward to it. Who was Yogananda?

[00:03:28] Riz Virk: Well, so Swami Yogananda, you know, was born in 18, in the 1890s, I think it was 1893. And he came to America when he was a relatively young Swami in 1920.

So it was over a hundred years ago. And some like his biographer has called, I’ve called him the first modern guru, uh, because he was really the first. Indian Swami or Yogi to come to the West and really establish a presence here. And he actually lived in America for most of his adult life. Now, there had been, you know, other Indian Swamis who had visited and had given talks and maybe opened a center or two.

But Yogananda was unique in that, you know, he, once he got here, he crisscrossed the country. He gave, uh, Meditation and yoga classes and lectures all over the country, sometimes to sold out audiences of thousands of people. He was the first, you know, Yogi to be welcomed at the White House by President Coolidge.

Um, and so, you know, he, he came to Boston originally to give a talk. At the World Congress of Religions, um, back in 1920, and he ended up in Los Angeles and in Southern California. And, and then, in the last decade of his life, uh, he ended up working almost exclusively on writing, uh, his book, Autobiography of a Yogi, which has gone on to become one of the top spiritual books of, uh, The 20th century written in English and has sold millions and millions of copies.

And basically it inspired a whole generation, uh, of folks who learn about Eastern wisdom and about yoga and meditation, particularly during the sixties and seventies. So during the counterculture movement, the paperback version of autobiography, the Yogi was passed around probably more than almost any other book out there.

And in fact, folks like George Harrison from the Beatles. You know, he would have stacks of these books, and he would just give them away to people every time he thought somebody needed a regrouping. And so it was a book not, not with techniques per se, but it was a book about swamis and sages and yoga and its history and what it means.

And it gave people a glimpse into, you know, this kind of wondrous land of magic that we might call old India today. Uh, Steve Jobs was a huge fan, uh, when he died. It was the, uh, according to his biographer, it was the only book on his iPad and at his funeral, according to the CEO of Salesforce. com, uh, he gave away these little wooden boxes.

And when, uh, you know, when they looked inside the box, there was a copy of autobiography of a yogi. And so that was kind of his last message and his gift to people. So it’s just been tremendously influential over the years. And so has Yogananda. Um, and there’s a yoga. Studio on every corner now in America.

But when he got here, I mean, yoga was relatively unknown beyond a few stereotypes. And so you can credit him with at least, uh, bringing the philosophy of yoga to

[00:06:30] Alex Tsakiris: the U S. Okay, so , super influential book at the time, autobiography of a Yogi. And then there’s kind of some strange synchronicity that leads you to become the author of this book published in India.

your whole background is kind of interesting, right? You were raised in a Muslim family. There’s a lot of friction then and still today between . Muslims in Hindi’s , in India, and yet you’re the guy selected to do this. Also, this book touched you deeply. It affected you from the very early age.

You’re into meditation. You’re doing this. And then the Steve jobs thing is, is interesting. I think way beyond, you’re kind of downplaying a little bit. There seems to be this. Kind of strange, inexplicable link between Yogananda and technology. All these tech folks seem to be hooked up with Yogananda and not exclusively so, but I can speak for my own self as well and many others.

So there’s a lot to kind of unpack there. Maybe start with a little bit of your background and then . How that led you to meditation and then how it eventually led you to this book.

[00:07:42] Riz Virk: Yeah, absolutely. So, you know, I, I was born in Pakistan, which of course was part of India back in the time, you know, when Yogananda was alive for most of his life.

And they even lived in the city of Lahore, which is right near where I was born and where we’re from. But I moved to the U S at a very early age. So, you know, pretty much I grew up in the Midwest and. During that time, I became interested in meditation and yoga, and I’m not, you know, I should admit that at the time I was very ambitious.

I wanted to become an entrepreneur. I was hoping to, you know, go to good college. And so I would look at these different meditation techniques and say, will this help me to have better concentration and to be more successful in my academic work or in my career? down the road. And, uh, but you know, I didn’t actually read Autobiography of a Yogi.

I’d seen it at the bookstore many times when I was in high school. Um, you know, and back then it was like, here’s this funny Hindu looking guy with long hair and a robe. And I never quite, you know, I picked it up, browsed through it, but it never quite moved me until after I had graduated from MIT. And I actually became an entrepreneur.

And, you know, for the next decade or two, I was pretty much involved in starting high tech companies first in Cambridge and then in Silicon Valley. Um, in Cambridge, Massachusetts, the area around M. I. T. And during that time, I was living a bit of a double life, right? During the day, I would be working on my business.

I would be a tech CEO. Um, and I would be out even traveling, giving talks on different technology ideas. And in the evenings, I would be reading books like autobiography, the Yogi, and I would be going places like the Monroe Institute, you know, learning about auto body experiences. And so, you know, I kind of like the joke.

My life was a little bit like You know, without the being famous, a little bit like Shirley McClain, where she would like in her book, she described in the seventies, how she would fly to a city and do like a show, a dance on stage. And then the next day she would go visit a channel or, you know, and so, so, you know, I had a lot of that going on, but I was recommended to read the book, uh, autobiography, Yogi by, uh, you know, uh, meditation teacher, uh, here in Boston, who was like a tall white guy.

So it was just funny that he recommended to me. That I should read this book and that I think it shows the cross cultural influences of this book because oftentimes, uh, you know, this book was written in English and now it’s, uh, become, you know, very popular in India itself. It’s, it’s an example of what a scholar sometimes called a pizza effect.

I don’t know if you ever heard of that, where, you know, something like pizza originated in some small area region in Italy, and then it came to the US and it became a really big thing. And then it went back. Because the original pizza was nothing like what we think of as pizza now. But now in Italy, the pizza looks a lot like what, you know, we think of as pizza here.

And so anyway, that, that was my background. And then, you know, as you mentioned, uh, uh, I ended up running a startup accelerator at MIT. And I actually had some health problems and, uh, you know, I can go into those later. But during that time, I decided to refocus a little bit on my life on my, my writings. Uh, and that’s when I wrote the simulation hypothesis, which was You know, based on this, this idea that our virtual reality will eventually get so good, it’ll be like the matrix, and we won’t be able to distinguish between the two.

And there was a period during that time when I was writing these books that, you know, I couldn’t do much, so I was kind of laid up on the couch. So I did what I do every few years, I read Autobiography of a Yogi again. And I said, well, I’m looking for other books that are kind of like this, and it turns out there aren’t that many books.

that are just like this that give you these kind of tales of swamis with superpowers or what are called siddhis in the ancient Indian traditions. And so I wrote a few blog posts about Yogananda and about his Uh, you know, about his book, his life, and other books that were similar from other Indian gurus and swamis.

And then I just kind of forgot about it. I did it just because, I mean, I was sitting on the couch. I had not much, much else to do at that point. And then I, you know, went on, uh, with my writing and my, I started my, uh, Ph. D. and academic career. And then suddenly, out of the blue, I got an email from HarperCollins in India.

And, and they said, well, it’s the 75th anniversary of when… The autobiography came out, which was 1946, and they said, Well, you know, we don’t want to reprint it because there’s so many copies out there. But we want to write a new book for a new generation of people who can about the lessons in that book, and we think you’re the right person to write it.

And I said, Me? Why do you think I’m the right person to write it? First of all, I’m not a Swami. I’m not even Indian from that perspective, right? I’m Pakistan. I’m a Muslim. And I’m a tech entrepreneur. Um, and they said, Well, because your books bridge the gap, you know, between the modern world of technology and some of these ancient ideas, and that’s very true.

In fact, I drew inspiration on Yogananda when I even wrote the simulation hypothesis. Um, and so they said, you know, we want to be able to talk about these lessons with more, uh, in a more modern setting, because, you know, his stories, which he wrote in the thirties and forties, all took place in the early 1900s or late 1800s.

Uh, and so, you know, we can definitely reinterpret them for today’s readers. And so I ended up pulling in a lot of stories from my own life as an entrepreneur, as well as stories from other people I interviewed, college professors, students, entrepreneurs, Hollywood producers, all kinds of folks who were inspired by the book.

And so, you know, when that happened, at first, I didn’t feel like I was up to the task, but then I realized I just had one of these strong clues, as I call them, which, you know, had this electric feeling that said, okay, this is a task. That was put in front of me. And so it’s a task that, that I should actually accept or will, like I like to say in a video game, it’s like a quest.

, and so I ended up writing this book for HarperCollins India and it came out there a few months ago and just came out now in the U. S. Just, just this month.

[00:13:34] Alex Tsakiris: Riz, you define yoga as being about, let me make sure I get this, love this, the ultimate definition, the cessation of whirlpools of thought and feeling in the river of consciousness.

[00:13:48] Riz Virk: Explain that. Yeah. So today, you know, we think of yoga primarily in the West as the asanas or the physical postures. And what’s interesting is at the time, Yogananda wrote his book. And if you read his book, there’s very little about asanas and physical postures. And when he built his organization and he taught.

And he was actually teaching a kind of meditation, right? And he did have some physical exercises called some energization exercises. And so I thought that was interesting. So I went back to, you know, his explanation of the yoga sutra, which was written by Patanjali a long time ago. , I don’t know why I forget what it was at least probably a thousand years ago, perhaps.

, and if you read the yoga sutra, Patanjali talks about, uh, the eight limbs of yoga. Yeah. And only one of those limbs is the asanas, or the physical postures. There’s the yama and niyamas, which are like the do’s and don’ts of being a yogi, right? Then there’s like meditation, concentration, which are slightly different.

There’s pulling back of the senses, there’s… So, and there’s pranayama, which… Many, uh, practitioners of yoga may, may be familiar with, which is controlling your breathing to try to achieve certain results within your energy field and within your body. And so I went back to the original definition that Patanjali gave for yoga.

I mean, the word yoga means yoke or union, but the definition he gave was much more interesting. He said, yoga, chitta, vrittis, naroda. Okay. And so I looked at all the, the translations of that and they kind of got. The words, if you look at those words in yoga, chitta, they translate as mind stuff. Vrittis means whirlpool.

And NATA means to stop or to still, right? And so yoga was defined as the stopping or the stealing of these things called thetis. Now what the heck are these things called thetis? Well, they say it’s a whirlpool, , of chita. What is chita? I mean, these, these terms are really hard to bring into English, right?

Uh, and so chitta is mind stuff. And so it’s often translated as. It is about the cessation of the whirlpools of thought. And so I looked at that and I said, well, there’s a little bit more than just that. Uh, there’s also, like, feelings and emotions. And in a lot of the translations to English, whether it’s from, you know, Sanskrit, Hindi, or Tibetan, in the Buddhist traditions, We lose that, and it’s just about the mind, but really, if you go back to the original words, it’s about the fact that we get excited, we think about things, we have desires, we have fears, and when we do, all of these things are like little streams, little storms of these swirling whirlpools, and you can’t really have a whirlpool without it being in something, and so that’s why I kind of redefined it a little bit to say, Yoga is distilling of the whirlpools of thought and feelings in the river of consciousness.

Uh, because, you know, if you have a whirlpool, there’s gotta be a river or something that, that’s, that’s swirling. But a nice way to think about it is the snow globe, right? If you’re in a snow globe, if you shake it, uh, the, the snow gets everywhere and you can’t really see the scene. But if you just let it settle, you know, all of those things settle and you can see clearly.

And that snow globe is like what the ancient, , sages called the Kosas. The Kosas are like our energy field. There are like five different Kosas. And they, these vrittis, these thoughts, feelings, desires that we hold on to all the time, they harden into the samskaras, which are imperfections in the field, and then eventually they become asanas.

Or, , they become tendencies. They basically, they become the karma, right? So there’s a link between karma, future lives, past lives, and just stilling of the, the whirlpools of thought and feeling. And so any practice. And this is my contention, and this is what I believe Patanjali was saying. Any practice which stills the vrittis is a form of yoga.

And, you know, that could be, you know, a prayer, whether it’s a Christian prayer or a Muslim prayer. That could be, you know, tai chi. That could be… Uh, different breathing exercises, uh, that could be simple meditation that could just be going out by the ocean, by the Pacific Ocean and just letting yourself calm down.

Anyone who’s had a good physical yoga session knows that often at the end you will do Shavasana, which is, you know, translated to either corpse pose or a translation I like better, peaceful pose. And you just lay there and you realize, for me, the realization was something is still, like something that used to be like this.

Is now still there. I never knew what it was until I really looked into, you know, this definition of yoga. So, so one of the lessons, there’s like 14 lessons in the book. And one of the lessons is to practice every day, no matter how much time you have, you can practice yoga. As long as you practice something that causes a stealing of the storm of this mind stuff, that’s all over

[00:18:47] Alex Tsakiris: in our field.

I think that’s quite brilliant. I think your definition was very nuanced. And the way you explained it here will give people a little bit of an insight into the book in terms of, there’s a lot going on here with Rez and his experience with this spirituality. And I think that this also links back to this idea I have about the tech link, because one of the connections I kept making in your book is connecting it to the modern yogis that I really like and respect.

And one of them , I’ve mentioned to you before Michael Singer, of course, bestselling author, untethered soul sold millions and millions of copy Oprah kind of guy. But also a tech, , billionaire, at least at one point he was actually, you know, PhD economics, who gets a TRS 80 from Radio Shack back in the day and starts writing software.

You know, he would give the exact same, , definition, although yours is even better, of how there is this energy moving through us and we are blocking it. So our whirlpools of thoughts and feelings are what are disrupting What is already perfect. And I think the way you laid that out and the way you described it right here is terrific.

And I think it plays to this logical, rational aspect of yoga that I think you kind of just swim in naturally because that’s your world. And I think a lot of people, when they come at it from a purely spiritual standpoint, they go, wait a minute, this is almost sounding too techie, but to people like you, you’re like, Oh no, there’s this.

And then there’s some scars and that leads to karma. And even though if it’s not, even though if the language isn’t perfect or it isn’t, you know, at least it is, there’s a logical, rational explanation for almost materialistic, but in a non, in a post materialistic way, . Do you.

Resonate with any of that in terms of your attraction to yoga in

[00:20:48] Riz Virk: that way. Yeah, you know, I think there is this link between tech and tech entrepreneurs and yoga and, you know, Yogananda, one of the things that he did that was different when he was teaching yoga was he called it the science of religion, right?

And so even though he used a lot of religious language and he wrote and taught in the US. So a lot of his books. You know, uses biblical and Christian analogies, but in the end he called yoga a science of religion. And that I think is what appeals to people who have, you know, more engineering, uh, oriented minds or more technical minds.

Now, that’s not to say that everyone in the tech world is enamored with this stuff, but you know, what’s happened is, is as we’ve recognized the benefits, just like the physical benefits of yoga. are kind of stripped of their spiritual significance nowadays. And it becomes just like a physical practice.

Similarly, meditation has become popular. Now, if you go to Silicon Valley and a lot of big companies, you know, they will have mindfulness as a key part of their, you know, HR department’s offerings, like Google, and you have many, you know, yogis and swamis who speak at talks at Google, for example. , and of course, part of it, you know, there’s a lot of.

Yeah, there’s certainly a lot of folks who have come from India into Silicon Valley because it’s the biggest kind of, you know, area for immigrants in the tech industry. But part of it is, you know, we’ve seen the benefits of mindfulness. And so, so because of that, it’s gotten wider acceptance, particularly within the tech industry, probably because we do so much.

You know, in our minds in the tech industry, right? So we’re trying to break down things. We’re trying to define. I remember when I was in high school and, you know, we had a TRS 80 in my junior high school and my math teacher would let my best buddy and I skip the math lessons so we could like fool around with this TRS 80.

Modify games, but I remember, you know, one, one day, one of my teachers asked, you know, what, what is a program? , I said, well, it’s a set of instructions, a logical order. And she said, yeah, except take out the logical order. It’s a set of instructions. Right. And so I think for those of us who are trying to figure out how this stuff works, , you know, it’s very appealing in that way.

And that. You know, ties to some of my thoughts about Yogananda and the simulation, which we can talk about, you know, whenever, whenever you’d like.

[00:23:09] Alex Tsakiris: Okay. We, we will, we definitely will. , and actually I’m kind of getting there because there seems to be attention throughout the book as to whether or not you believe.

All the stories as being historical and factual, and you’ve already laid a couple of things written for an American audience written to appease to a Christian sensibility. So I think this is fundamental, and I don’t think you can dish it off too much is this allegorical? Is it factual? Is it? Fabricated, where do you ultimately come down on that with all the stories as a whole,

[00:23:48] Riz Virk: take the whole package?

Well, you know, there’s a lot of stories that seem pretty fantastical to, particularly to those of us in the West and even during the Yogananda’s time, you know, he, his relatives would be like, what are you doing wasting your time with this mystical nonsense? Like get a job. There’s technology, there’s science, you know, there’s all this stuff, railroads.

Uh, you know, motion pictures, there’s all this new stuff going on. Why are you obsessed with the past? But, you know, some of these stories are about levitating Swamis. They’re about Swamis that appear in two places. There’s a story of a man who, of a Muslim Fakir, holy man, who was taught by a Hindu Yogi, how to control a particular entity like a Jinn or what we would call a genie.

And this, this Jinn would actually take physical objects. And the, the, the guy’s name is also Khan could say has rock, which is the name of the entity. Take that. And but and then later when the guys also Khan is not there so they couldn’t accuse him of stealing it. Has Roth could just make it disappear and it would appear in another place.

And so, you know, some people think of these stories as fiction. Uh, as allegorical, and so I interviewed a lot of people, including Yogananda’s biographer, as well as people who are devotees, who totally believe in these stories, and, you know, the most interesting interview I did on that was probably with, you know, Diana Walsh Pasilka, who you may know, uh, you know, she wrote a book called American Cosmic, she’s a professor of religion at University

of North Carolina in her own life, She read Yogananda’s book when she was like young, like five or six, because they had a copy at the house. She grew up in San Francisco, so they had like, you know, this kind of stuff. And she said she believed all the stories. And then when she went into academia, and she studied a religion, so this was interesting for me.

She said, they teach you not to believe these stories. Right. They say it’s study religion as a sociological phenomenon, which basically means the miracles didn’t happen, but let’s study religion.

[00:25:51] Alex Tsakiris: That’s just weird. That’s just the wokeness of , modern religious studies has become.

I mean, you can’t take that seriously. They have the whole post modernism silliness. I mean, yeah, but Paul is saying there, I have the quote actually from your book, the question of whether they’re real or not may be beside the point. I completely disagree, but I’d like to hear your opinion on it.

And I’d like to really kind of hone in on whether or not you believe that. All the stories add up to being historically accurate, and I just don’t see how they can in the sense of when even say it’s westernized or it’s written for a Christian audience. I mean, that immediately kind of puts you over the line.

And then let alone the fact that if we, if we do go and read his biographer, he isn’t doing quite the same. Kind of stuff when he’s over in the United States, and he still is doing enough miracles, I think, for us to be interested in what lies beyond these extended consciousness realms. But it doesn’t bode well for taking the stories as factual accounts, as historical accounts.

[00:26:58] Riz Virk: Well, well, let me Vaisakha story. So then she said that later, she… Because she’s a scholar of Catholic history, she was given access to the Vatican’s private library, and she basically read the canonization records of Joseph of Cupertino, who was, you know, supposedly floated, and she said she saw the records of the devil’s advocate, right?

The person who was supposed to disbelieve this stuff and prove that this was wrong, uh, and that he’s not a saint. And she said she saw signatures of like a thousand people saying they all witnessed this, right? And so she’s come to the conclusion that, well, maybe these things might have happened, right?

That it’s not so, it’s not so, uh, you know, left or right, uh, yes or no. It’s not so, you know, black or white in that sense. Or like Fatima. where, you know, 70, 000 people, uh, claim to have seen weird things in the sky or like modern UFO encounters that these things may have happened. So as I went into it, you know, I, I used to, uh, one, I believe some stories and not others.

And I think, you know, that that’s sort of where I came out in that. What I found was that the Yogananda went to a lot of effort to try to show the provenance of these stories. So for example, the guy. who controlled the djinn, who would like take these material objects and make them disappear. He was told that story by his guru, Sri Yukteswar, who he trusted.

And Sri Yukteswar told him, because Yogananda was in a dormitory in this little town called Serampore, just outside Calcutta. And he said, in this room, I witnessed this myself, right? And I witnessed not just Hazrat taking things, but getting things falling from the sky that were like a huge feast. Now, you know, of a huge feast of meals from somewhere with golden plates that eventually disappeared.

And that guy, Afzal Khan, became kind of a… What they call a care of Bengal, like people knew about him in North Bengal, and they’re like, stay away from that guy because, you know, he’ll like steal tickets or jewelry, but he won’t do it in front of you, so nobody could ever charge him. Now, what happened with Afzal Khan, though, is interesting.

Uh, and this is where we get to the allegorical part of the story, too. Eventually, the guy who had taught him the technique, found him and realized what he was doing, and he tested him, and he said, you’re using Nasrath. for your personal gain. And that’s not why I taught you these techniques. Therefore, I release Azra from you, right?

And so then he could no longer control the djinn or the genie, except for, you know, certain things like when he needed food, and he issued a public apology. So theoretically, one could track down this. It was in a newspaper in Bengal. You could track this down if you really wanted to. Now, what I found interesting about that was You know, first of all, the colorful story of the jinn and the genie, and so I started to say, are there other things like this?

Other stories of this happening that people, you know, might verify? But also, when he gave him the powers, he said, this is because of your good karma, but you have a tendency, uh, to be avaricious, right? To, to be greedy, if you will. So, be careful. And of course, he wasn’t careful, right? And so, now imagine if you were, You know, playing a video game, to use that analogy.

And the test was, will you be greedy? The engine would give you the ability to do something like this, where you can automatically get whatever you want to see if you’re going to be greedy. And so isn’t it interesting that here is a story that’s actually as much about karma as it is about miracles? The karma of the particular guy, Afzal Khan, where the universe manifested for him a strange way to test Specifically what he needed to work on in this life.

And in this case, he failed the test, uh, if you will. And so you could, you could imagine someone having made up that story in order to teach that lesson. And yet at the same time, like I said, Yogananda went to great lengths. But the problem. So I asked around of my relatives, right, in Lahore. And I said, look, are there any stories?

Because we used to have. Random stories of gin, but they were more like the boogeyman type stories. Like, Oh, don’t go out there and you know, don’t be on a tree because there might be a gin there. And if you pee on them, then they’re going to like possess you. Right. And, and, and we found this story that took place in Lahore.

So there’s a very famous tomb of a saint.

It’s like one of these big, like, you know, very big tourist area and underneath it, there’s two other guys buried there. One of whom is a white guy from Britain. And so the story of this white guy is he went there and said, you know, there’s something I don’t understand about these Islamic stories in the Quran and even the biblical stories like, you know, the Queen of Sheba, you know, she came here.

And Solomon supposedly was controlling the Djinn. And her throne arrived before he, you know, before, uh, before she did. How’s that possible? The throne was big. And she didn’t bring it with her, and they didn’t have a caravan. And so this guy, British guy, was like, If anybody can answer me that question, I’ll convert you to Islam.

Okay? Here, if any, like, you know, uh, bearded, uh, imam, right? And so he goes to the Data e Rabar tomb, because somebody told him, Go there, there’s a bunch of, like, Sufi guys there, right? Who maybe can answer your question. And he runs into this bearded Sufi guy, and the Sufi guy says, Okay, I’ll tell you the answer, but first I want you to drink some tea.

And he says, Oh, okay. Or, or something, you know, what do you want to drink? He goes, I’ll have some tea. He goes, okay, sit down. And he goes. And he, and he goes like this, and in his hand he materializes like a cup and saucer. He gives it to the guy, and the guy looks at the saucer, and he almost faints. He’s like, wait a minute, this is my cup and saucer from England, right?

And I’m sitting here in Lahore. And you, and then he goes back to ask the guy about it, and the guy disappears. Now what the heck happened there? That’s very similar to other stories that I’ve uncovered about the, about. Some people with gin and how things move from London to here. And, and, and this guy is very, he became a Muslim.

He lived there his whole life and he’s, his tomb is there, right? You can go there and see one of like two or three people buried in this, this very interesting area. And so, you know. It’s stuff like that that makes me think these are more than allegorical, uh, that these things could have actually happened.

Now, is there a guy named Babaji who has lived a thousand years, materialized, you know, up in the Himalayas and still looks 24, 25, you know, so I, I said, well, are there other references to this guy beside just Yogananda, right? And I found some, uh, you know, I found a guy named Sri M who, who claimed to his His guru was a guy named Mahesh Warnock.

He called Babaji as well, but he said that Mahesh Warnock, who he met in approximately 1960, I’m doing some math, uh, was the same guy. that brought Yoga’s Guru’s Guru, Lahiri Mahasaya, to this palace. We’ll talk about this palace in another time for initialization, for initiation. And that was a hundred years earlier, in 1860.

And he was still, you know, teaching him at that point. And then you have guys like Trilanga Swami, who’s actually very well known. And, you know, Yogananda would say things like, you know, he was 300 pounds and he walked around naked in banaras and everybody knew him, and one pound for each year because he was almost 300 years old.

And then, you know, I went and looked at the sites and places dedicated and there are references to him being 280 years old when he died in the late 1800s and with Some records that, you know, from the British, British folks. So it was just, it was just really interesting. So I came to the conclusion that these things could be happening.

They are like superpowers. Uh, you know, and this, this ties to my theory around the simulation, why I think these things could happen. Now, do I believe every story? Now, Yogananda was a great collector of stories, right? In fact, that was, in addition to being a child prodigy of spiritual techniques, which he very much was, He collected spiritual techniques.

He tried a lot more even than what are listed in the autobiography. You have to like read his biography from his brother and these other biographies to see all this crazy stuff that he used to try as a kid, which reminded me of things I used to try. But, uh, but his real talent, one of his real talents was collecting stories.

Whenever there was a saint that could do something amazing, he would be there in Calcutta and he would see them or everywhere he went, he would collect these stories. And he would, you know, recounted these stories decades later in detail. I mean, it’s amazing to me how he did that. And those stories are meant to inspire.

They’re meant to open up a Westerner’s mind that in a physical world, miracles are still possible. , So that’s kind of where I came, where I came out is I think some, some actually happened and some may

[00:35:46] Alex Tsakiris: be risk. Do you realize you just kind of went full circle there again, as you do in the book, which is terrific because I think you’re really struggling with it.

Those way that every reader of this Western reader, at least has struggled with it. Since the time they first got it is like, he is very meticulous in terms of documenting the origin of these stories and all that kind of stuff. But at the same time, it does look like so much of what we’ve come to understand as spin a little bit, you know, as telling a good, as motivation, but I really, I really want to hone in on this.

It’s kind of a, Sticky point for me. I love Diana Mos Pasilka. Her book, American Cosmic is super important. She’s been on the show, a lot to go in there and maybe we’ll touch on that at the end. No, it’s not beside the point. It is the point and it is the point two ways, you know, quick story. I remember, . , several years ago I was interviewing this guy, it kind of becomes the punching bag now on the show, but he’s at Ohio state university, religious studies guy, and he’s written a book on Scientology.

And he’s saying I’ve thoroughly researched this and yes, . , L. Ron Hubbard really was in the desert with Jack Parsons and they really did this ritual to bring forth the whore of Babylon to bring forth the Antichrist into this world, but it doesn’t really matter if that’s right or wrong. Real or not. It only matters that they believed it.

And it’s like an exaggerated point to your point, which, because I kind of said, well, you’re just completely wrong. Of course, hit first and foremost matters beyond all else. Whether there is any possibility that this is real, whether there are any extended consciousness realms in which these entities can exist and can affect us down here.

That is the question that is not beside the point. That is the point. And then maybe another just quick story from an interview that I just did. And everybody knows this, but we kind of forget this is that it’s the same problem we have with Bible. I mean, there’s stories in there and we’re told that some of them are allegorical, but we’re told quite.

Definitively from religious scholars that some of them are historical and some of the main stories like, and the one I always pick out is Pontius Pilate. So Jesus is doing the sit with Pontius Pilate who is deep state, right? He’s Roman. And he says, man, I can’t see anything wrong with this guy. And he goes to those darn Jews out there and they’re hammering, no, you got to kill him.

And he goes, I washed my hands. And what are the Jews say? Let his blood. Dane are people now and forever. If you believe that that story is historical, , you’ve got a real problem. I mean, how can you not be antisemitic? And also, if you look at that story from a historical perspective, because history is important and we have to understand history for trying to put in context, how would we possibly believe in any way that that story, it just, it doesn’t ring true in so many ways.

So two points. One, I think it is the opposite of beside the point as to whether or not these stories are true. But number two, I think we have to hone in on where there is exaggeration. I think you do a great job of explaining why and how they might have been exaggerated. I think we’ve got to know that.

I mean, I think that’s a key part of this. What do you

[00:39:16] Riz Virk: think? Well, I do think that. It’s not entirely beside the point, you know, . , I mean, I asked people, okay, . , is, does this, is there a guy named Babaji, . , which by the way, You know, when I read that name, I was like, well, that just means, you know, honored father and Baba means father G is like an honorific you give to someone like Yogananda G, or, you know, I might say Alex G, right?

And so it’s not a real name. And, and many of them said, well, that’s sort of beside the point. It doesn’t really matter if it is or isn’t. Did Yogananda just use This, . , you know, this mythical figure who lived hundreds of years in the Himalayas as the founder of his lineage in order to get credibility, uh, but, but that’s why I went to look for other people who might have seen him and that, and I call river yoga a river, right, because there’s so many tributaries and so many branches, . , that it’s very hard to find what is authentic and what is inauthentic.

And so for me, it is important, but, okay. That these things are possible. Right, but stories do get exaggerated over time with followers. I mean, did Buddha’s mother really give birth without any pain standing up in the field? Like it’s, you know, told, well, that was 2, 000 years ago. Probably she had some pain while she was giving birth to the Prince Siddhartha, who would later become the Buddha.

That doesn’t detract from, you know, my belief that the Buddha did have mystical experiences and he did. He did basically become awake. He figured out that this whole world was a kind of a dream. And so you can see, you can have both of those in the same overall tale. It’s, you’ve got to be a little bit careful when you have followers and devotees who build up or accept every specific thing.

And the Bible gets even more fraught, you know, because when you look at who are the people that compile these stories and where did they come from and things like that. So, . , you know, uh, but, but, but for me, it is important to get these superpowers, you know, one, that they have a lesson, uh, and two, whether they actually occurred or not.

And, and I’ve come to believe that many of them could have certainly have occurred. I don’t think it’s like, I’m not a Western materialist in the sense. That these things just didn’t happen. So, for example, I interviewed another professor of religious studies. This was for my UFO stigma in academia study.

I was studying why academics have such a stigma around studying UFOs, and they said, Either in social sciences or in the hard sciences, but they said they use the term that’s been popular in the media recently since the recent UFO disclosures, you know, which is the ontological, right? There’s been this term ontological shock, which John Mack certainly popularized.

I don’t know if he was the first one to use it with experiencers, but people are experiencing too much ontological shock with these stories of not just. Craft in the sky, but the U. S. Government has these UFO craft, right? But basically they said it’s okay as a scientist, social scientists, or a professor in the academy, respectable professor, let me put it that way, to treat UFOs as a sociological phenomenon, right?

It’s okay to tell the history of the UFO groups or of Scientology or these other groups, but it’s not okay. If you cross the line and say, this is an ontological phenomenon, which means that this is a real thing. And they said, then you’ve crossed the line. You’ve kind of gone native. You’ve gone rogue.

Right? You’re off the reservation, if we can call it that. . , and so he said that he studies Christian, early Christian theology. And he says, you know, there’s only two types of people who study early Christian theology. The people who say it didn’t happen because it doesn’t happen today, therefore it didn’t happen then.

And then the people who say, who are Christian, devoted, and say that it was God who did the miracles. And he said, what if… There’s something in between. What if they actually happened, and it may or may not be exactly how it’s presented to us in the Gospels today, but that, you know, many, many people saw these miracles.

What if there is some ontological reality in some other way, in some other laws? And that’s what I like about yoga, because in yoga, these cities are superpowers. They are part of the tradition, but they are also, uh, you know, sometimes stumbling blocks, right? They’re stumbling blocks to our spiritual progress, so it’s an interesting tradition.

in that way. And they really go and Patanjali lists a whole bunch of different cities, you know, in his yoga sutra. And he says, yes, these things may happen, pay attention to them, but don’t get too obsessed with them. And, and that’s, you know, the story of the jinn is a perfect example of that, right? It shows you, uh, but, but if you fundamentally believe.

That this is not all there is, which is, you know, I’m quoting from Battlestar Galactica here. It says, uh, you know, the Cylons believed in some, in, in a god, and they said, what is the most basic article of faith? That this is not all there is. And that pretty much describes every religion, right? The most basic article of faith is that this is not all there is.

Then you have to accept that there might be other beings and other planes of consciousness that we can’t see, whether it’s shamanic, it’s Judeo Christian. Or it’s Hinduism or Buddhism in the Eastern traditions of a soul reincarnating. Uh, they all believe that there are these other planes of existence and you know in the Islamic traditions the jinn play play a pretty Uh, you know central roles in many in many in their cosmology anyway as other beings who exist So so I I have come out where I think you know many of these things May happen they may happen in ways that we don’t understand.

I mean if you have objects Going from London to India at the time, which, by the way, I found other references to interesting stories of the same kinds of thing, and it’s usually a djinn involved who is doing it, . , that I consider to be a little, you know, relatively credible, although you never know, because we weren’t there.

. , but if that happens, then there is something beyond what we can see. We don’t know exactly how it works, and so, you know, our science, which is not that old, really, when you think about it, Just doesn’t understand how a lot of this stuff works. We think we know like 90% of the laws of physics, right? Yeah, we don’t know 90% of matter, but we know 90% of laws.

Turns out it’s more like 3% or 5% in my opinion. And a thousand years from now, we’ll realize that this stuff could have happened, that the theological interpretations may not be the exact, they may have been exaggerated. They may be extra theological to make their own traditions look good, but that doesn’t mean these things couldn’t have happened.

[00:45:40] Alex Tsakiris: . That’s really the point is what you just hit there. What is Samadhi?

[00:45:46] Riz Virk: Uh, well, you know, so Samadhi is, . , a super conscious state as defined within the Hindu Swami traditions and You know, that is the goal of many of the esoteric practices and many of the yogic practices is to get to samadhi, which is basically the goal of the word yoga is union.

And so samadhi is union with the divine. And so, you know, at one point when Yogananda was younger, he asked his guru, do you promise to show me God? And he says, yeah, yeah, I promise to show you God. And then, you know, a few years later, the Yogananda, young Swami, who was very impatient, like, well, I still don’t know God, can you show me God?

And he went up to him and he touched him like somewhere around his heart. And Yogananda felt this, this, . , kind of warmth and this joy and then he got into what he calls, . , or what I like to call a little samadhi, right, which is like an experience of the big samadhi, which is he got into the super conscious state where he could see.

Everything that was going on around him, you know, even beyond the walls and down the street and, but he felt this love, this indescribable bliss and love. And, you know, he stayed in that state for a little while, and then he came back, uh, and then later he asked his master, when will I meet God? And his master says, well, did you expect a guy with a beard?

That is, you know, if you can get to that stage. state, you basically are becoming one with God because of the love and the compassion. And so, you know, I found this an interesting description. Now there’s other descriptions for how do you get there? You move up the Kundalini energy up the spine, up the chakras to the crown chakra.

And once you get there, you get to what’s called this breathless state. So in the yoga tradition, Samadhi is, is Associated with the breathless state. It’s also within the Buddhist traditions. You, you know, they don’t focus so much on move energy up the spine, right? They do it more from a, uh, you know, meditation point of view and, uh, interestingly enough, it gets back to the definition of yoga that I talked about earlier, Patanjali later than the Buddha and the Buddha said.

You know that if you if something is subject to arising, it is subject to cessation. That’s it, right? I mean that is the same secret If stuff comes up and we build up this stuff and all of our karma is based on all this stuff that we do our actions and our thoughts and our feelings Like that is the fun of so they take a very different approach.

So they don’t necessarily talk about we talk about nirvana As the term that’s used, but for we, you know, we use enlightenment in the West, . , for, . , this, this kind of a state where you can remember, you can remember that everything is just a dream. . , and so, you know, I, I was actually, I looked around, I interviewed some guys.

There was a, there’s a guy named Ryan who, . , runs a website called Kriya Yoga Online, and he was a disciple of a guy named Roy Davis and Roy Davis was one of the direct disciples. And there’s a few of these guys who went off and started their own organizations like Swami Kriyananda, started the Ananda Foundation.

Roy Davis went off and helped start the Center for Spiritual Enlightenment in San Jose. And he says when Roy was younger, you know, he was like a young, young buck with Yogananda trying to learn these spiritual techniques. . , Yogananda was with another guy named James Lin. Who became the leader of SRF after he died.

And he was one of the few that Yogananda said who could achieve this spiritual state. And he, he asked something and Yogananda said, wait, what, what did, what did you ask? And then a young, . , Roy says, well, . , I want to, I want to get to Samadhi. And he looks over, Yogananda looks over at, . , James Lynn, who had became kind of a, kind of his buddy in a way, he knows his disciple.

And he laughed and he goes, he wants to experience Samadhi. And they both laughed. And then later, When, when he was alone, he went up to Roy Davis and he did the same thing. He like touched him, uh, on his heart and he felt this indescribable wave of love. And, and that’s where it’s interesting because I think sometimes we miss that.

In the English definitions of this stuff, we’re talking about how it works mechanistically, our thoughts, instilling our thoughts. But when you do, what’s beneath is actually this light. Yogananda talks about the world being of light and then the light of the creator, which is what sustains and creates this world, which also comes with love and compassion.

So you can’t separate the emotions. From the thoughts and we try to do that because that’s the Western tradition, right? Western tradition is materialistic. We, we, we, there’s the thoughts and then the body and then there’s the feelings which are just chemicals in the body anyway, right? But, but in the yogic traditions, they’re all kind of interwoven together is, is what I was able to, to glean from all this.

Again, man,

[00:50:41] Alex Tsakiris: you’re bringing it now because like this does relate back to the earlier point though. . If we break it down logically, what we want to know with yoga is, is it true at a fundamental level that you’re talking about here, not in, but not whether particular stories are true, but whether the supernatural part of it is real, whether there are these extended consciousness realms, and then what are those extended consciousness realms.

And now let’s return. To Mr. Riz Virk’s definition, because I think this, it’s much more profound than it might have seemed, and it seemed pretty damn profound from the beginning. So if Yildiz Nanda is telling us. That’s samadhi, which again, from the scientific standpoint is something we can kind of say, okay, this is a real phenomenon.

It happens in this world. Right? And there’s tons of contemporary accounts of people experiencing it exactly the way that you said, and then we could have process how we would process accounts and the fact that experiences. Do matter. You know, we do take those into account with people, whether you’re having grief or depression or joy, those are experiences.

And we do count those in science. So he’s saying yoga, Nanda is saying Samadhi is love and merging with God and the divine in the river of consciousness. So now back to your definition of what is yoga, the cessation of whirlpools of thought and feeling. in the river of consciousness. So now we can substitute that back in like you just did.

And I think we really see where you’re going with this. So you’re not trying to play some middle ground, . , phony materialistic, . , kind of trick. Like maybe it really is just, no, you’re saying it’s about merging with God and divine. Get over it. I don’t even have to know what that means completely what God and divine is to say there’s all these accounts that that is possible and the way to get there is the kind of stealing the water from these whirlpools.

And I, I think you already said that, but I just wanted to put an exclamation point on it. There is, you know, you live in two worlds, you have your whole life because You wanted to be an entrepreneur that was important to you, not only on a personal level, but I’m sure on a social level, you’re an immigrant.

You never at any point play the race card in any way. Yogananda doesn’t seem to be playing the race card in any way and anyone deserves to totally imagine. What he experienced, but by the same token, . You had to experience all that, , you know, coming over here, , an immigrant and your parents being immigrants and all that stuff.

There’s kind of a lot to unpack there in terms of how you do have to kind of play it straight for. All your MIT friends and your VC friends and all the rest of that stuff that does come through in the book. And I think it’s, it’s totally legit. I get it, but do you want to speak to that at

[00:53:48] Riz Virk: all?

Yeah, sure. I mean, that is something that I think, you know, those of us who live in two worlds, right. Sometimes have to do. And I would say I did that more in earlier in my career, when I was more worried about my career, right. . , is I would keep the two separate. . , but, you know, I was recently at Rice University with Jeff Kreipel, whom, . , you may know, and, you know, he writes books about superheroes and, and, . , impossible experiences in the archives.

He ordered, he organized the Archives of the Impossible, which has all of Whitley Strieber’s letters, which are like, You know, thousands of letters and, uh, Jacques Vallée’s letters are there. Now, John Mack’s letters are going to be there as well. I think they’re still working on those, but, but he, you know, he talks about the Clark Kent versus the Superman side.

And he says, you have to show the Clark Kent side to the world, particularly in academia. In order to, you know, have a respectable job because, you know, they want Clark Kent. But if you’re interested in these other things like superpowers, et cetera, you know, you don’t necessarily show that up front, but you have to have enough of both when you’re teaching this stuff in order to be accepted.

But one of the reasons why I wrote, uh, the simulation hypothesis and is because I felt they bridged the worlds in a way that other things, other models of the world don’t. I mean, it’s hard to go. You can go to physicists. At MIT and say, Well, let’s talk about what it would mean if the world was a simulation.

You can also go to, uh, you know, Buddhist monks and talk about what This idea that the world is an illusion and how that relates to this idea of assimilation. And so you can actually bridge, using this metaphor, you can bridge these different worlds together. And that was part of the reason why I wrote that book, was because it was bridging my different worlds, which is the world of video games, the world of science, you know, the world of like spiritual seeking, and the world of science fiction.

And it kind of pulls it all together. In a way that you can have an intelligent conversation and there are folks who like when Nick Bostrom first proposed the simulation argument back in 2003, there are many atheists that went to him and said, well, you know, I was a staunch atheist, but if the world is a simulation, anyone outside the simulation.

Anyone who’s like a programmer or a super user would look to us like it’s supernatural. So maybe at least it’s possible, right? Whereas before there were just like these non atheists who are like, no, that’s it. It’s not possible that there’s anything, uh, any of this stuff could ever have actually happened.

Uh, but yeah, in my own life. You know, when I was younger, I probably hid it a lot more than I do now. Now, I’m just kind of out there, right? I’m a little bit older, also, you know, went through, uh, Yeah, certainly, you know, there was a little bit of that immigrant story and being in a minority and how that affects you when you’re growing up.

And, you know, even after 9 11, but by then I was well on with my career. And so. . , you know, I don’t think that that affects me too much these days, but but in fact, if anything, I’m kind of, I’ve kind of returned to my roots, right? I grew up in West. And so I was very, you know, very Western oriented, but I started to explore more of the India and Pakistan and the Sufis and Islamic traditions now as well.

. , so Yogananda was a bridge between East and West, right? . , and there was a, there was a Swami that he used to go to, . , the levitating saint, he called him, but, . , funny thing is a lot of lessons that he taught Yogananda had nothing to do with levitation, . , which he ascribed to a specific kind of breathing technique, forceful breathing called Bhastrika, and he said that, You know, to a young Mukunda, which is, you know, Yogananda’s given name was Mukunda Laagosh.

And he said to a very young Mukunda, who would just go and visit the Swami, and all his dour followers were like, why do you let this kid come in who just sits around and laughs at all your stories and stuff? . , and, you know, he said to Yogananda that, He was getting letters from America. . , and they were curious about yoga.

They were rediscovering India, but much better than Columbus did, right? Because Columbus thought he was going to. He thought he had arrived in India, when he had actually arrived in the West. And so, you know, Yogananda came from India, brought His, the teachings here became more of an inspiration here. He was actually better known here.

And now he, it’s like it traveled backwards, right? I mean, when you said for Westerners who might be skeptical, well, you’ve got modern Indians who are the same way, right? You know, Rudyard Kipling had that line about east is east and west is west and neither of the twain shall meet. Well, except that these days, you know, you can’t say.

The West is material and the East is spiritual. I mean, there’s as much materialism you can find, as much business, as much technology, you can find in India or China in the streets of Shanghai, or in Bombay as you’ll find in Los Angeles or New York. And so the world has become, you know, much, much more integrated in that sense.

But there are still these, these philosophies. Uh, and that’s, you know, I find my role in life a little bit too. You know, to try to, to bridge these different worlds, uh, cuz e even though east and west have been bridged, the philosophies themselves haven’t been bridged that, who

[00:59:04] Alex Tsakiris: is Dan Brinkley and what did you learn from him?


[00:59:08] Riz Virk: so Dan Brinkley, , , he’s a guy who, , got struck by lightning back in all the way back in like 1975 I think it was. And he wrote three times I think. Yeah, three times, right? He’s been dead. He’s been dead like four times now. And I mean, you know, uh, like when I went through some, some heart issues, which I’ll talk about in a minute, he was going through some, so we were on the phone talking, you know, , about that, but, but he’s been dead almost four times now.

And, , you know, when Raymond Moody was putting together his, his book, About near death experiences, , you know, I think if Daniel met him somewhere in North Carolina or South Carolina and, , you know, Raymond described, realized that his near death experience had, you know, many of the different stages, the commonalities across near death experiences, uh, and for me, I first heard about Daniel through his book and when he was giving talks and now I’ve gotten to know him quite a bit and he’s become a friend, but to me, one of the most profound aspects of his experience was the, Panoramic holographic 360 degree life review, right?

And this is when he says that there was a, it was a being of light, right? It doesn’t say it’s an angel or it wasn’t. It was a being of light who was basically guiding him through what happened to him up to that point in his life. And he replayed every single experience, uh, in like full color detail. And more than that, it felt like he was there, but he had to experience it from the point of view of the other people.

Yeah. That were that he was interacting with. And he had been a bit of a bully. It was a big kid used to beat up other kids, and he went into the military and said he actually shot people. And during his first life review in 1975, it was, I think, uh, he actually had experienced what it was like to have been beaten up by himself, right?

And he realized not just the physical pain, but the emotion that the other people were going through and what it was like to be shot and killed by him. But more than that, yeah. To see the ripple effect of that on that person’s life, right? If somebody dies there, they may have a wife, they have parents, uh, siblings.

What ripple effect does it have? So, you know, it was basically the lesson of the life review as I take it is that, you know, this is how your actions ripple out. And so the life review is kind of giving you the purpose of life. It’s how you’re

Karma. Well, when I was in Silicon Valley, you know, we were able to take a video game and record it, but we were also able to put on a virtual reality helmet and we could see what it was like to if you were a video game character who shot another, we could replay that. So you could actually see the bullet coming towards you.

, and so that was where this idea of, , the simulation and recording, because I’m, I’m a scientifically minded guy. So if It’s going to replay every scene, that scene, all that has to be recorded somewhere. And not just your scene, but the other people’s scenes too. Because sometimes the life review will, will pull up these other, you know, what other people felt.

And it turns out in Islam, uh, and even in the Bible, there are recording angels. Right? Recording angels, depending on who you talk to, and whether you’re talking about the Bible or the Quran, either just record the name of people who get into heaven, or, like in the Islamic traditions, The scroll of deeds and the recording angels have names and they’re supposed to write down all your good deeds and your bad Well now that’s a metaphor, right?

I mean 2, 000 years ago, you could talk about angels writing stuff down if today you were to say There’s going to be, you know, you wouldn’t say there’s an angel for every person. There’s like 7 billion times 2, 14 billion angels. You would say that we’re just going to record everything and then you’re going to review it.

Like, like you might at the end of a video game session. And, and so for me, you know, talking with Danian and hearing about his life review was a, an interesting link between my making that connection with what the religions have been telling us, what near death experiencers have been telling us. And, and I do believe that they saw.

Their life experiences. And I believe the life review is real, right? It’s not just the

[01:03:17] Alex Tsakiris: neuron. Why do you believe that? See, this is again, back to the point, pushing back on Diana Walsh Pasulka. It doesn’t matter if it’s true or not. No, it does matter. In this case, I think it does matter. Yeah. The reason that we care, the reason I care so much about near death experience science is I think it really paints the way forward.

I’m not big on at the end, when you go this kind of. , middle ground between science and spirituality. I think what we’re headed towards is a post materialistic science, which embraces the science methods and , the curiosity of science and the openness of science, but gets away from these falsified ideas.

That’s the important thing about near death experience. Science is number one. We got Max Planck 100 years ago saying consciousness is fundamental and everyone’s sitting around a ring in their hands and going, is it really true? And then we have near death experience science saying, Oh, consciousness survives death.

The most parsimonious explanation for that is consciousness is fundamental. And then the other thing, you know, when I interview like a dear death experience researcher, they all say the same, but the one who says it most clearly is like Jeff Long, who has a database of 4, 000. Near death experience cuts.

And he says, Alex, you know, the one thing that gets kind of lost in this or tunnels and life reviews and all the rest of this is back to your point earlier, back to Yogananda’s point, love, love, love, love 90%, something like 90% of the respondents say that is the most. Predominant most important experience they get from the experience.

So this is where I think science can lend a hand. And I think it merges perfectly with , how we are to understand the most important things of what Yogananda is trying to tell us in the

[01:05:12] Riz Virk: book. Yeah, I mean, I do think that, you know, near death experiences and near death science and even looking at, you know, when there’s no brain activity for a period of time and the coherency of these experiences, but also the message that they bring back, right?

And so, you know, Yogananda used, uh, a, uh, a metaphor of, uh, a different metaphor than that was used in the past, right? In the past, like the Buddhist traditions and even many of the Hindu traditions use the idea that the world is like a dream. And Tibetan dream yoga is all about learning to do lucid dreaming, waking up in the dream so that you can do lucid dreaming while awake and realize that all of this is Maya or illusion, right?

And Maya doesn’t just mean illusion. It means carefully crafted illusion. Like when you go to see a magic show, you like, like put out your disbelief so that you get entranced by the show, or if you’re, you know, watching a science fiction movie and you really want to get into it, you got to put aside your disbelief while you enjoy.

The actual world or the movie, but that the world is like that. And, you know, he had an experience where Yogananda had an experience where he was meditating and suddenly he was on a ship in world war one, a German guy, and he got shot and he felt what it was like to die. And he came back and tears were streaming from his eyes.

And he was like, you know, Lord, why do you let me, why do you allow such suffering? And the answer that he got back very clearly. Was that, you know, life and death are relativities within the cosmic dream. Uh, that if you look at the newsreels of World War I, and you think of how movie projectors work, they’re projecting the screen and you get so entranced by it that you think everything is real, but you forget there’s a movie theater around you.

And so he used the movie projector as his. Uh, you know, metaphor, and it was a new metaphor. It was using new technology at the time, uh, and the world, he said, is made of light, uh, and, uh, and that, uh, that science was also reaching this conclusion, uh, that there’s a great, great quote from Autobiography of a Yogi that I have in Wisdom of a Yogi, which is let it be from science then, uh, if it must be so, let man learn.

Uh, the philosophic truth that there is no material world, it’s warp and woof is maya, and I believe that, you know, near death experiences, uh, are actually a great way for people to understand that consciousness is separate from the physical body, you know, and for me, Since, since, you know, we live in a world of the internet, social media, and video games.

Um, I like to use that, and I believe Yogananda would use more modern metaphors if he was around today. He wasn’t a traditionalist. Like, there were many traditionalists who wrote, he ruffled their feathers by teaching yoga to large groups of people and audiences using correspondence courses. Like, these were things that were a big no no in the, in the yogic tradition in the past.

[01:07:57] Alex Tsakiris: . I get all that and I think that’s important and it ties back into this point we were talking about in terms of technology and also there’s a pragmatism to Yogananda and it comes through in his biography more than autobiography but in his biography he’s like okay how do we get this done guys I didn’t come over here to learn the American get it done ethos and then not to apply it but I want to talk about metaphor because we talked about this last time you’re on and we Kind of don’t exactly sync up on this.

We’ve already used a bunch of metaphors. It’s like a river. You know, life is like a river. It’s like a dream. It’s like a movie. Now, so video game. Okay. It’s like a video game. Great. And that’s your background. It’s still a metaphor. I mean, it’s metaphorical, right? And I guess the reason that I kind of pull back on that and want to exaggerate that is pull it up

And you alluded to this, but there’s people out there that are that take it as way more than a metaphor . They take the simulation hypothesis and the idea that we might be in a video game is way, way more than a metaphor. And you mentioned Nick Bostrom.

We could also throw Elon Musk in there. And so that’s really what you’re kind of pushing against. And I kind of feel. I want you to, to come down one way or another on whether or not this is a truly metaphorical, or if it is in some way, somehow pointing towards something that is more than metaphorical.

[01:09:29] Riz Virk: Well, I think it’s both, like the metaphor is the way into this, right? Like, I think if Yogananda were alive today, he would say, You know, it’s like a movie, but it’s like a stage play, but everybody has their scripts and they can make choices, but we’re all playing it together, right? Shakespeare, in Shakespeare’s time, the actors were called players, right?

Uh, and we’re all playing this together. And in the Hindu traditions, the world is Lila, or the divine play, the play of the god, or a stage play in a sense. So there’s this multiple uses of this word play. And in the Quran, even they talk about we have created this world for you as a pastime, as a game, as a sport, right?

And so these metaphors, I think, are more than just metaphors, right? They are ways for us to understand something that’s actually pretty profound, but that’s very difficult to express in words. Now, when it comes to the simulation metaphor, I think the video game is the ultimate metaphor because there’s a player and there’s a character.

So it gives that perfect sense. Of what’s inside what’s outside and the sense that everything around you is part of the illusion. Now, where I come down is, you know, I, I got into this and we talked about this last time where I was playing a virtual reality ping pong game and it was so realistic that I decided I tried to put the paddle down on the table.

I tried to lean against the table. I almost fell over because there was no table. Uh, and so I projected where where will our technology be and the way that video games work. Is that they render based on information and all my explorations into quantum physics hasn’t convinced me that there is a material world basically that the material world is information that gets rendered for each of us individually and for all of us together and that’s why I use the video game metaphor.

But it’s a little more than a metaphor, because if we’re taking information and we’re actually rendering physical things around us, now that’s a game and that’s a simulation, but it’s not like our laptops, right? Our devices are not like our laptops. It’s just so far more advanced. Then what we have available that when you say it’s, you have to say it’s a video game in a thousand years.

And that’s what, that’s what Elon Musk was trying to say, right? It’s no,

[01:11:49] Alex Tsakiris: no. I think they’re saying something different. They’re saying, I mean, you can’t have it both ways. If it’s more than a metaphor, it’s not a metaphor. So when I say life is like a river, . , there’s no question that it’s more metaphorical and you couldn’t push me.

And I said, well, it’s really more than a metaphor. You know, it’s this, I’d say, no, it’s, it’s just metaphorical. I go back to your definition of what yoga is. It’s the cessation of the whirlpools of thoughts and feelings in the river of consciousness. You’re talking about God and divine here, right?

Mr. MIT tech entrepreneur, you’re way past. Any kind of, . , Elon Musk simulation, you know, supercomputer kind of stuff. It, I don’t think, I think we get into this kind of backdoor materialism where we kind of want to have it both ways.

[01:12:36] Riz Virk: It’s not just having it both ways. I mean, yes, that’s part of it, but part of it is that we don’t have the language right to express.

What these things really are. So we have to express them in language that we might actually understand, right? So imagine trying to explain video recording to someone 200 years ago. That’s kind of what we’re like today We’re trying to explain something that’s profound and perhaps divine and we’re trying to explain it using The English language, you know, which is, I mean, we’ve

[01:13:08] Alex Tsakiris: done that though.

We’ve done it successfully. You did it in your book. Yogananda did it in his book. There’s been thousands of spiritual books and direct teachings throughout the ages that have explained it. We don’t lack the language. We

[01:13:21] Riz Virk: don’t need, but you’re going to use metaphors. And

[01:13:24] Alex Tsakiris: so did everybody else and their metaphors.

He never says this is a little bit more than a metaphor. This is closer to it. We don’t need it. By virtue of the fact that, again, your definition of yoga doesn’t need any kind of MIT computer game understanding , forward looking deep. So, you know, it doesn’t need any of that.

[01:13:45] Riz Virk: Well, it depends who you talk to, right?

Because it is a metaphor to my definition is a metaphor, a river of consciousness, right? That is a metaphor. And so. You know, that metaphor works for certain people, but it doesn’t work for, for other people. And so, you know, we live, I mean, whether we like it or not, right? The dominant paradigm in our society today is immaterial.

If you go back to Galileo’s time, the dominant paradigm was theological, religious. You know, Catholic church paradigm. And he was talking about things that seem to be outside of that dominant paradigm. Today, we’re talking about things that are outside of the dominant paradigm. And so we have to somehow bridge the gap.

And I see that as part of my, part of my mission is to, .

[01:14:27] Alex Tsakiris: I see it as your mission. I just think you should go about it more directly. , what would Yogananda think about transhumanism? Thank you. And the transhumanist agenda, if you buy into that, I don’t know how anyone can not buy into that at this point, but what would, what do you think Yogananda would say about that?

[01:14:43] Riz Virk: Well, I think he would use, you know, the modern technology as a way to Talk about yoga and to get people interested in yoga techniques. That’s exactly what he did back then, right? He talked about Einstein relativity, talked about quantum mechanics and light and projection as a way to explain what, you know, the movie projector analogy and what, what he had learned in his meditation.

So I think today, like today, for example, here’s an example. I was at Uh, uh, a little gathering at Arizona State University. And these were all kind of technology oriented, you know, academics and, and the, the title of this talk, or this, this discussion group was when will the first person live to be 150 years old?

Like, who will that person be? What, what technologies will they cause it’s gonna happen soon. That was kind of the, the, the point and I said, and I think Yogananda would do this exactly, and I said, I question the assumption that there’s nobody that’s lived to 150 already, because, you know, there are tons of stories, not just like a few of people in the yogic traditions who’ve used yogic techniques to get there, and so, you know, I think Yogananda would say you don’t need it.

Transhumanism, you can get there using yoga, but he would use it to say, what is it you want transhumanism to do for you? Okay, this yoga can actually do that already using about he would call it a technology, right? See, back then he called it the science of religion, because that’s What was acceptable today, I think he would call it the technology of spirituality is what yoga is.

Because today we all use technology so much more than we did back then, that I think people understand that, that, that idea much more. And he would say yoga is a kind of technology.

[01:16:29] Alex Tsakiris: So Riz, in the book, Wisdom of a Yogi, you do a terrific job of kind of your mission from the beginning is pulling out these various accounts.

And turning them into lessons that have a pragmatic real world kind of application. , what are some of the lessons that are really resonating with people

[01:16:47] Riz Virk: sure, I’ll tell you a couple. The first lesson in the book is called, you don’t have to go to the, and, you know, Yogananda spent a lot of his boyhood, he had a vision.

Of these, these kind of meditating swamis in the mountains and he said, Who are you? And they said, We are the swamis of the Himalayas. And it was such a strong vision that he knew right then and there he wanted to be a monk. Right. And so he had this vision of the future. So he spent his childhood trying to run away from home, run away from Calcutta.

To go to the Himalayas and find a guru to the point where he was in high school. He and his buddies got on the trains. They, you know, put on European clothes and there was this chase across northern India because his older brother would always go and fetch him back because you’re too young to run away, you know.

And so he had to promise his father he would. You know, at least graduate high school before he went on, right? And so in the end, you know, he did eventually leave Calcutta and tried to go to one of these holy places. But when you met his guru, he ended up being in Serampore, miles from Calcutta, where he had grown up.

And so, you know, the lesson there is you don’t always have to go someplace far away to find your spiritual practice or your mission in life. And, you know, I interviewed people and this happened with Steve jobs. First of all, he went all the way to India. And he went into, uh, you know, his little hostile room where he was staying and somebody had left a copy of Autobiography of a Yogi.

And then when he came back, that became the book that he read every year. Now, he wasn’t necessarily, you know, a disciple per se. It was just that he believed in the stories and what they were trying to say about consciousness. I mean, he did more Zen meditation than anything, right. In terms of, you know, his actual practice, but, but he went so far away.

And I remember interviewing a guy named Peter, who was a Hollywood producer, and he went all the way to Rishikesh. Uh, and back in, I don’t know, the eighties, I think it was. And he went there and he went to a bookstore. And he found Autobiography of a Yogi and he looks at the picture of, you know, Yogananda has got this kind of, this very serene face with his eyes that are kind of glowing.

And he goes, wait, I’ve seen that picture before. And it was in the LA Times newspaper. And it turns out there was a, you know, a Yogananda center like right down the road from where he lived in Hollywood and that became his spiritual practice. And so we always think we have to go somewhere else. But start with where you are, uh, and, and, and, and, and you will find things around you that speak to you.

And even in my case, you know, I found, you know, some teachers early on that helped me, uh, with different aspects of, of, of consciousness. And it was right there in Boston, right around MIT where I was. Um, and so that’s one of the lessons. Another important lesson is sometimes the universe gives you a task and ready or not, that is your task to do and you might not feel the best qualified to do that task.

So when Yogananda was asked to come to America in 1920, he was a young, he’s a pretty young Swami. He wasn’t like, You know, the Yogananda, the Guruji that everybody thinks about today. Um, and he had, he rarely ever gave talks except to some kids. He had a school for kids that he set up and he had never given a talk in English.

Now think about that. Okay. Uh, he was asked to go represent the Hindu religion in America, in Boston at this, this religious conference. And yet, even though he wasn’t the most qualified, he had this intuition. These clues just like he had this in the intuition earlier I mentioned that he would be a wandering monk now in that case We often get these visions of our future like if you had asked me in high school What are you going to do in life?

I said i’m going to be a software entrepreneur and then i’m going to be a writer now. How did I know that? I feel like there’s a script that we have written for ourselves, but it’s a broad script. In Yogananda’s case, he became a wandering monk, just not wandering around the Himalayas. He was wandering all around America, and that’s where he spent, you know, most of his time.

And so I feel like we get the essence of these things, but we may get the details wrong. Uh, and then sometimes we’re called to do something we don’t feel qualified. And Yogananda didn’t feel qualified, but he had a vision of these. People that he took to be Americans, and that was an inner, inner vision.

And then it was accompanied by an outer invitation, like someone actually invited him after he had that vision, and he realized, that’s what my vision was telling me, that I need to go to America. And there were all kinds of obstacles to him getting here, like it was, World War I was just finished, and he literally had to find the first boat out of India.

He didn’t have a visa, he didn’t have, uh, you know, it was full, he didn’t have a ticket, he didn’t have any money, his father didn’t want him to go. I mean, it was just like all these things and eventually they all kind of melted together, melted out of the way. And, you know, he ended up going to America and, and, and doing very well in that talk.

And, you know, tying back to my earlier story about when I was asked to write this book, I did at first, my first thought was, you know, I don’t feel qualified to be the one to write this book. But then the more I thought about it, the more I realized that this was a task. It was literally placed in front of me out of all my books, right?

This is the only one where literally it was like somebody came to me and HarperCollins India in this case and said, we want you to write this book. Uh, so it was a different experience for me, right? And, and I’m not, you know, necessarily shy about, uh, I think I can accomplish a lot of things, but, but I had doubts as well, you know?

And so as part of that, uh, I, I wanted to go and see where Yogananda wrote. His book, and it was in Encinitas, right? Not far from from where you are, and it was overlooking the Pacific Ocean and what’s called Swami’s Beach now, and it was during COVID. And, uh, you know, I wasn’t able to, uh, you know, it wasn’t open to the public, but luckily SRF opened it just for me and gave me a nice private tour during a time when I was still trying to find the inspiration to write this book, and I went in.

Uh, to to to his office with a couple of months, and I was able to stay there as long as I wanted. You know, you open the doors, and right there is overlooking the Pacific Ocean, and I meditated, and I had a vision while I was there, and I very clearly saw Yogananda there with a stack of papers on his book, which I assumed was his writing of, like, autobiography, and to my horror, he took this stack, he looked at me almost mischievously, honestly.

He took it, Out the French doors and he threw it through the papers off to the wind in the Pacific and I was like horrified like what are you doing as a writer, like, especially in those days, you didn’t have, you know, back up.

[01:23:18] Alex Tsakiris: I don’t want you to kind of breeze past this non ordinary experience because at one hand you’re saying.

Very ordinary stuff like the folks from SRF let you in and a lot of people can go now and tour it and they’ve left it all like it is. There’s some weirdness about the SRF folks, but won’t go there. But you have , make sure we get this. You have a non ordinary experience and encounter with, in your understanding of it, Yogananda , in this extended consciousness realm, which is just a placeholder because we don’t even know what that is.

But that’s what you’re talking about

[01:23:53] Riz Virk: here. Yeah, I mean, it’s I was meditating in the room, you know, with my eyes closed and it was a spontaneous vision and I consider it to have been, uh, you know, an actual connection with the spirit of Yogananda. Now, it’s a vision that was tailored to me because I’m a writer, right?

And I was there seeking inspiration for my writing. Uh, and so, so then I saw him throw off these. You know, these papers and I was like, they’re going to go everywhere in the Pacific. And then all the papers turn into little white dogs and took it out. And he’s like turning to me and he says, you see your pages, the message, they carry the message long after you’re gone.

And that’s why you have to write this book. And so it kind of helped me, um, you know, one, not be, not hold on so tightly to this idea to let go a little bit, but two, to realize that there, this was a task that the universe had given to me and that, that I could accomplish it, uh, thinking about Yogananda’s own life and what he accomplished, uh, you know, over so many years.

And so, so that was a non ordinary experience that I had, you know, while writing this book. Um, so yeah, so that’s another lesson. , and if we have time, I’ll give you one more., which is that sometimes, you know, setbacks are part of your path, right?

Because It’s easy for us, you know, you hear these stories about whether it’s a successful author or a guru like Yogananda, especially with Yogananda, and he tells all these miraculous stories. And you think, well, the guy didn’t have any problems, right? Wow, it was just a magical life. It was divine intervention and all this stuff happened.

But, you know, one of the things that I really learned. And from his biography, looking at his life, in addition to his book, was, you know, he had setbacks like everybody else. In fact, he had a pretty major setback, uh, after he had been in, in, uh, U. S. for 15 years. His, his, he had brought his buddy, Swami Duryodhana, over, uh, and there, you know, he was teaching a lot of the classes while Yogananda was traveling out everywhere.

And, you know, they had this big scandal that came up, uh, where some, some guy thought his wife was having an affair or doing something nefarious with Swami Duryodhana, and he supposedly went up and hit, you know, he punched him on the nose, and this became like a huge media storm, like if you think of what we call a viral story today, like all the Hearst pandemics?

You know, we’re spreading this story. Hindu Swamis are cooking American women and, you know, and this is back in the 1920s, right? Or in the early 1930s, uh, and, you know, Yogananda had to be pulled from my, in Miami lectures. There were all these guys that were going to physically beat him up. Um, and, and, and, and after that, you know, Swami Dharamanda left and, uh, took, took, you know, a lot of people from Yogananda’s organization and it kind of fell apart.

You know, a lot of things fell apart for him, and it was almost like he wasn’t sure what to do next, and he went to Mexico and meditated, and he was kind of praying, you know, please let me just go back to India, like, you know, all this craziness here and all this effort in the West, maybe I’m not meant to be here, you know, and he clearly got the message that he still had to work to do here, but that setback was a key part of how he spent the next You know, 20 years of his life while he was alive, which is he started teaching a smaller number of students and then he started thinking of ways to get his work out there and he spent the last almost 15 years of his life or maybe not less than 15 years writing autobiography of a yogi and he realized that that was what was going to spread his message and so, so this idea that if you have a major setback, That that by itself, uh, is a problem is, is, is not necessarily true.

The setbacks may be part of our story. If he hadn’t had that setback, he may not have spent so much time writing this book. He would have spent more time teaching and building the organization and doing all these other things he’d been doing for the past, you know, so many years. And, you know, something like that happened to me in my own life, and I talk about it in the book, where, you know, I was kind of at the height of my…

You know, career as an entrepreneur, having sold multiple companies, became a venture capitalist. I was running a startup program at MIT. And then I had, you know, some health problems, literally had to have heart surgery, triple bypass. And that, you know, right, right before I was to give the big talk at the end of our Playlabs Accelerator at MIT.

And that was like a major setback. Um, and, uh, basically it meant that, you know, I couldn’t do anything for a while, and I was literally stuck at home, uh, for many months and had to keep going back to the hospital. And every time I would start to recover and I think I’m going to jump back in the business world, things would go south again.

And that’s when I realized that the message that I was being given pretty clearly during, during and right after the surgery and afterwards was that I had spent too much time in the business world fighting what I like to call our outer tigers, uh, referencing the story of the Tiger Swami. Uh, the Tiger Swami had spent a lot of his life.

You know, out battling these, these tigers, physically fighting these tigers. And at one point he got a message that it was enough. Now he should start focusing on his inner tigers of doubt and fears and his desires and focus on them. But he actually got the message from his father through Swami and he didn’t listen.

And he ended up getting mauled by this one tiger in his last fight. And it literally took him six months. And if you’ve ever seen anybody get heart surgery, and I was never mauled by a physical tiger. But it felt very similar, like they cut you up completely, open you up, and then you got to get back together.

And it took me about six to nine months to recover. And then after that, I realized that the message I was given was that it was time for me to get on with the second part of my life, my career, which is to be a writer. That’s when I focused on my writing. And that’s, you know, the Tiger Swami then decided he had no, you know, he had no more interest.

He had fought his outer tigers and there’s nothing wrong with that. I had fought my outer battles in the business world and that’s part of your karma. It’s the stuff that you’re drawn to, uh, but then sometimes it takes a major setback to course correct you to then get on with it and say, okay, you fought your outer tigers.

Now it’s time to fuck. We are inner tigers. And for me, it was to put down all this stuff that I’ve been thinking about. And I knew I was going to be a writer. And so the lesson is setbacks may be part of your story take them in stride and understand that they may have Well beyond the physical the physical thing or the obstacle that gets in your path.

[01:30:24] Alex Tsakiris: Fantastic. And at Riz, you know, as we move to wrap this up, if people do go to zenentrepreneur. com, they’re going to find all your books there. What else are they going to find?

[01:30:36] Riz Virk: Links to my podcast, a lot to my articles that I’ve written on a bunch of different topics, you know, uh, science fiction on spirituality on simulation.

[01:30:46] Alex Tsakiris: Where else would we direct people on this? ZenEntrepreneur. com. You got a lot of good stuff on entrepreneur stuff.

[01:30:54] Riz Virk: Yeah, I got a lot of entrepreneurship articles. I mean, that was my day job, right, was as an entrepreneur for many years and as an venture capitalist and investor, and I wrote a book called Startup Myths and Models, which is a kind of a collection of lessons that I learned over 20 plus years of being in Silicon Valley and being an entrepreneur and all the myths that people have about how startups work.

Uh, and so you can download, you know, free chapters from pretty much most of these books on my website. And so there’s also a podcast called the simulated universe, where I interviewed a number of other folks, uh, who have explored this idea. Um, and then you’ve got videos. Some of my videos are up there as well, including, I think, links to like my talk at Google.

Um, here you can see some articles I wrote for Stanford and a few other places. And so there’s, there’s, there’s quite a bit there. And there’s even a couple of my UFO articles. As you mentioned as well. And then there’s my blog on Medium, which I haven’t been updating as much lately, but there’s quite a few articles that I put up on that over time as well.

[01:31:55] Alex Tsakiris: So it’s been absolutely fantastic having you on again. The book you’re going to want to check out, Wisdom of a Yogi, lessons for Modern Seekers from Autobiography of a Yogi.

Rez, thanks again so much. Best of luck with the book. I, I, I think it’s going to sprout wings, just like your apocryphal story said, and you never know where it’s going to go, but this is the kind of book that if you , pick it up, , there’s no doubt going to be some stuff. I think that’s going to resonate with you right where you are right now, because it kind of talks again, all these different lessons.

One of them is going to hit you right with right. What you need at the moment. I have a feeling. So thanks again.

[01:32:36] Riz Virk: Thanks so much for having me back on.

[01:32:38] Alex Tsakiris: Thanks again to Riz Virg for joining me today on Skeptiko. The question I tee up from this interview is have you read autobiography of a Yogi? And what did you think about the book? What lessons did you learn? Let me know your thoughts until next time. Take care. Bye for now.


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