209. Talat Jonathan Phillips Chronicles His Transformation From Political Activist to Spiritual Seeker
Interview with activist and author explores his personal journey with Ayawaska, ETs, and energy healing.
Join Skeptiko host Alex Tsakiris for an interview with Talat Jonathan Phillips author of, The Electric Jesus: The Healing Journey of a Contemporary Gnostic. During the interview Phillips talks about finding a balance between the worldly and spiritual pursuits:
Alex Tsakiris: If you buy into materialism, if you think you’re a biological robot and that’s all you are — you’re lost. If you buy into our materialistic culture and this idea that we need to get all we can, and we need to bomb other people so they don’t get it — all that stuff — you’re lost. But as soon as you cross that chasm and you say, “Okay, there’s something more”, then I think you run into this problem what we’re talking about. And that is materialism keeps wanting to creep itself back into the equation.
So, you’re saying, “I need to take action here. I need to go do this. I need to vote for this candidate. I need to do that.” Isn’t there the risk that we get into this back-door materialism, this “we’re in control” thing?
Talat Phillips: Oh yeah. But I think it’s both. We’ve set up an either/or and I think it’s both/and because if I look at most of my clients, most of them come in and think we’re going to talk about past lives and this and that. But most of them need to get into the material world a little bit. They need to get in their bodies and figure out jobs and live an abundant life. That doesn’t mean buy a mansion but it just means to know how to support themselves and talk with people.
I don’t want to deny that aspect because it is important. I denied it for many years of my existence and maybe that was why I was a marginalized activist. On the other hand, I definitely saw this with Occupy. It was very frustrating for me seeing all the projected anger about finances. I do a lot of anger work with clients. It’s good to express anger but when you project it at others it creates more of that fear culture. What I like with Evolver.net is that we’re more like, “How can you create? How can you follow your bliss and your passions and do what you love?”
I think Joseph Campbell talks about this. This is a dance we have of integrating. So I think what you’ve brought up is a great study that we all do. It’s an alchemy of walking as a human and being as a human on this planet. It’s being and doing and creating a right relationship between that.
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Today we welcome Talat Jonathan Phillips to Skeptiko. Talat is the author of The Electric Jesus: The Healing Journey of a Contemporary Gnostic. He is also the co-founder of a rather amazing web magazine named Reality Sandwich and an equally amazing social movement at www.evolver.net.
Welcome to Skeptiko, Talat. Thanks so much for joining me.
Talat Phillips: It’s great to be here. Thanks, Alex.
Alex Tsakiris: Well, your book, The Electric Jesus, is just a great read. I mean, I was just blown away at how it pulls you in and just makes you want to turn page after page. It’s a spiritual odyssey, as the name suggests, but it reads like a Tom Wolfe novel. Tell us a little bit about this book and how it came about and what people are going to find when they read it.
Talat Phillips: I think I might cite you on that, Alex, that it reads like a Tom Wolfe novel there. I think first I want to say how I feel like it’s a unique book in the sense I feel there are very few books out there like this, that are spiritual and counterculture and a memoir.
I grew up reading On the Road and Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test, which the title is a little bit of a reference to, as well. In small town Colorado I was like, ‘Where’s the bus here?’ Wherever that bus is I want to be on it. I feel like the book talks a little bit about how I feel the buses are arriving for a lot of people in the festival culture, spiritual movement, Ayahuasca, design science. The buses are arriving. Some of the book tracks that but it’s really my journey.
The book’s got two components to it, for those who haven’t read it. It’s my journey from being a near-Atheist, really, very skeptical political activist to going through a Dark Night of the Soul and suddenly having mystical experiences happen to me and opening me up to a different reality. It’s kind of a different way of looking at activism, from a paradigm shifting perspective, if you will.
The other part of the book is once I started having these mystical experiences, to my surprise, it’s a research book about energy and quantum physics and string theory’s now saying the whole universe is energy. But how early mystics knew about that and Shamans have been tracking it across cultures throughout the planet. My real surprise in it is how interested I was in early Christianity and that they knew all about this stuff. It’s almost like they were Yogis or Shamans themselves. Almost like? They probably were Yogis or Shamans themselves.
Alex Tsakiris: That’s interesting. There are a couple of aspects there that I want to pull out. Let’s start with this Christianity part since that’s the last thread that you left lying there.
Graham Hancock writes the Introduction to your book and he pulls out a quote from the book that I thought was very interesting. It kind of set me thinking in a slightly different way than I had before. Let me read this. This is from Talat’s book, The Electric Jesus. He writes this about the Judeo-Christian tradition and that it is:
“…the underlying operating platform for our civilization, our languages, laws, mores, work ethic, sexuality, even our way of perceiving time and it shapes our worldview whether we realize it or not.”
So I think it’s interesting to look at that as a starting point and then juxtapose that with what you just said about this deeper understanding about Christian Gnosticism. Do you want to walk that bridge for us a little bit?
Talat Phillips: I feel like there are several avenues you can take addressing this. What I think that describes there, the operating system, is the cultural matrix that we’re in. But I do think that traumatic myth, however it was formed, has spread with the growth of civilization across the planet. A lot of violence and dominance. Now that’s what we’re operating in is this fear consciousness running, running, doing, doing, struggling, God doesn’t love us. We don’t know how to be in community with all of these things.
But there’s definitely been politics always involved with the development of these types of Western doctrines. Look at the New Testament. I talk about that a bit in The Electric Jesus where you had a boy’s club at the Council Nicaea with Emperor Constantine where they just decided that they were just going to limit all these beautiful texts, like four or five books.
Alex Tsakiris: That’s a highly controversial area to get into but if we can make it a little bit less controversial, what I think modern Gnosticism scholarship has clearly shown is that the 1st Century Christians were extremely diverse in their belief systems. Why is that so relevant? Why do we need to go there to re-interpret or rewrite that history?
Talat Phillips: I’d like to explain. The word “Gnostic” is a modern scholarly word. It’s made-up. I actually think there weren’t necessarily Gnostics and Christians until there was a rift that happened after the upheaval of the second Jewish Revolution against the Romans. It was actually spiritual back then. It was about initiation into deeper levels of self and understanding of the cosmos which is pretty much, I think, more true whether it’s Buddhism, yoga or Sufism.
There’s an initiatic path of understanding. Gnosis is direct knowledge of the Divine. That was taken out and the Gnostics would call the systems that came in place, these very Gallic models and I think there is a lot of hierarchy and control in them that create a kind of subservient classes, if you will, that comes with what the Gnostics would call “waterless canals.”
These new institutions that were arising that would eventually kill them off really didn’t have that Christ Consciousness, as they would say, that deeper connection with the universal wisdom and truth of Oneness. And so I think we’re all suffering from this and it’s latent in our laws and our mores and everything I talked about. So there’s a healing that can come when we start reintegrating the Judeo-Christian story and spiritual understanding into our lives without the political dogma behind it. Filter out the Baby Jesus with the bath water, essentially.
Alex Tsakiris: Again, I don’t know how to keep probing on this but I’m sure these are issues that you’ve run into all the time. So who better to talk about them with than you? That’s that all those topics are extremely controversial, even among people who are initiated, are awakened, enlightened, whatever you want to call it.
I just finished an interview with a guy named Rick Archer. You know Rick, Buddha at the Gas Pump. So you can take the 150 different spiritual teachers that Rick has had on or I can take a variety of spiritual seekers and finders that I’ve had on and you can find a diversity of different opinions about spirit guides, about this ultimate Source, this reality. They’d even be controversial about the existence of Jesus or any reality to Christianity or Judaism. So we have a challenge here, as someone who is an earnest seeker, to sort through all that. How do you guide people in that respect? You say you take a gentle approach to find your own path. But don’t we wind up trying to push people or pull people one way or another?
Talat Phillips: Whoa. The Santo Daime is very clear on this, this Ayahuasca church that I was talking about. You cannot push anybody. You don’t even invite somebody. What you do is maybe you talk about it once or twice to somebody if you’re passionate. Then they might ask to come to a ceremony. Maybe by the third time they ask you’re like, ‘Okay, they’re really actually being called to this.’
So yeah, I go on interviews and talk about stuff and do a lot of public speaking but mostly I only work with people who are called to it. I have this bio-energetic healing practice and I only work with the ones that are really feeling called to transform their lives. I don’t want to push things. They’ll get there on their own.
I do love the skeptic’s path because that was my path. I love the skeptics because man, there are probably lots of people out there saying I’m crazy or whatever. That’s fine because they’re going on their journey and whatever truth they earn, they frigging earned it, you know? It wasn’t an easily done thing. That’s kind of mine. I don’t believe it until I experience it. I just see all these New Agey circles where everyone just believes everything the person says.
So, Alex, I actually really appreciate your caution on this. I personally feel this frustration because I’m a religion blogger for the Huffington Post. What I’ve noticed is if you actually blog about spirituality, the actual essence or experience of it, it’s hard for them to post. If you blog around things, then you can get it out there. It’s like a watering-down that constantly has to happen. That said, I’m still grateful there’s some type of bridge to mainstream culture.
Alex Tsakiris: Wow. You know, Talat, every time you say that there’s like 14 different directions I could go with. Let’s just hone in on that because it surprises me in a really interesting way. The spirituality angle—what I think I hear you saying is people go, “Yadda-yadda. Spirituality.” And yet when you dive into it and say, “Oh no, it’s a progressive New Age Christian Ayahuasca church,” boom! Now at least you’ve connected on some level and you can start having a dialogue that brings it back to something that people have a reaction to. Am I getting that right or am I totally getting that wrong?
Talat Phillips: I have to say you lost me. One, I would never say that Santo Daime is a New Age thing. It’s one of the most intense disciplines I’ve ever come across. Imagine doing meditation on…
Alex Tsakiris: How did New Age get such a bad name? I guess I’ve been guilty of slamming it, too. We know what “New Agey” means but doesn’t it need to be rehabilitated and reintroduced?
Talat Phillips: I’m a believer in some words are unfixable. I’ll give you a few. New Age, activist, hippie, I think all of these are so laden…
Alex Tsakiris: Activist, from an activist. You know what? I’m going to totally switch gears. You’ve got to tell people who are listening to this and are already spaced out on this conversation about Johnny America and that path, that part of your life.
Talat Phillips: I was working for this September 11th Fund Ongoing Recovery program and I was very moved by the people there. They were so upset with George Bush creating the wars for what they thought were like political gain and they were using September 11th to enact some real atrocities, I feel. And I feel now that looking back on it we can look at Iraq and Afghanistan and say, “Wow, we should have thought a little more.”
Alex Tsakiris: Yeah, really?
Talat Phillips: So at that time I was so frustrated and I wanted to do something because of that work at the September 11th Fund to get involved. I’m an artist and I’d been to Burning Man so I had this kind of wild-eyed idea to lead an American Revolution against King George the II and his corporate tyranny. So with these media pranks we did where we dressed up as very fancy, shiny patriots, it was like if you took Bootsy Collins and Benjamin Franklin and put them into some particle accelerator you would have gotten this out of it. I loved it. We were in Time Magazine. I was on the cover of New York Magazine. A lot of media.
It was the largest protest ever against a political convention in New York City. I thought political action alone could change the day. Then what happened is he won that election and I looked at the last year of my life. I mean, activists are always talking about burnout. I was burnt out. Just looking at the global situation and a lot of that Garden of Eden stuff we were talking about and I just thought, ‘My God, we need a paradigm shift.’ Democrat, Republican, none of these institutions are even fit to face the titanic problems we’re looking at. I was looking for a paradigm shift.
As you might remember in the book, my girlfriend, Jade, who I think is an awesome character in the book—I love her character—she tells me that I’ve stressed about politics and paradigm shifts for months and I need to take some MDMA and get my ass on the dance floor. That night, for the first time in months, I got out of my head, I got into my heart, into my body, and I connected with the people around me in community.
This energy was moving through me, this higher-vibrational energy. By the end of the night, poof! The lights turned on and I could start seeing what I now understand are energy fields. Some people might say there are auras around people and things, which was really hard to integrate for a long time.
Alex Tsakiris: Let’s talk about that integration and let’s also talk about the drug use. Obviously, that’s going to be highly controversial with a lot of people. I did ecstasy and it opened me up to these energy fields and I’m a bio-energy healer. That’s going to strike people. It’s going to get a reaction. The “I did DMT and I kept doing more and more and more. Dave’s telling me to do more, more, more, and I opened up.”
You know what? I want you to address that head-on because I’ve heard you do it and I think you’re very thoughtful and have some deep insights into how and when these other substances might work with our consciousness in a way that actually moves us forward. But I wonder if you also have thoughts on when maybe it’s not such a good idea?
Talat Phillips: Oh yeah. Most times alternative substances are not a good idea. That’s how I see them used in society. I sound a little judgmental there. Let me pull back my tone a little bit. You know, we’re human. It’s a risky, dangerous place as it is but that’s a criticism I have. “Oh, this guy’s not a serious spiritual seeker. He took a pill and thought he saw something. That’s cheating.” I’m sure you could go on Amazon.com and see a review or two like that. But you’re going to see a lot more that say, “Wow. He’s spot-on.”
I feel like this is very ancient. What was going on there is taking a psychoactive—entheogenic is the word I would use—God-inducing substance and coming together as community and singing and dancing is as old as it gets. I hope nobody’s going to go to some Native American and be like, “You know what? You really shouldn’t take that peyote and sing those prayer songs.” I feel like this neo-tribal revival happening with the festival culture, they are revisiting that in ways.
That said, I also see a lot of people at festivals that are like, “Hey man, I’ve done my ‘shrooms and I did ecstasy and I did this.” I’m like, “Whoa, whoa, whoa. Have you eaten today? Are you grounding?” They don’t even know to connect or pray with the medicine that they’re taking. Personally, now I probably will never do MDMA again because I’m on a deeper initiate’s path.
I only work with the medicines of my tradition which happen to be the Daime, which is a version of Ayahuasca. The great thing about it is it’s a plant accelerator. It’s like rocket fuel. So if you use it very safely, like Daime does, it’s one of the strictest, rigid containers I’ve ever come across, you can clean out your energetic system very quickly. You can illuminate the electric energy body, which is what most mystical traditions talk about, quicker.
But if you use it improperly, and I see plenty of Ayahuasca use like home-brewers. They go to the Amazon and they go to Eketo, which is like the Times Square of Ayahuasca. They end up with a bad shaman and dark stuff can get in. So we really need to learn protection, reverence, responsibility, self-actualization, and have a mature relationship around it.
I think one of the reasons we have an immature relationship around consciousness-altering substances is because they’re prohibited in weird ways. I think the drug we have the most issues with is alcohol. The misbehavior I see in New York City with alcohol and just recklessness that happens here is quite concerning to me.
Alex Tsakiris: Sure, but Talat, you’ve now stepped into territory that has a lot of minefields in it. Graham Hancock, who wrote the Introduction to your book and did a very nice job of it and is well-known for chronicling his own use with Ayahuasca and other substances, has talked about connecting to the spirit. A spirit entity that is associated with Ayahuasca. He has found that in his work or his research, if you want to call it that, that the shamans he’s worked with have said, “Yes, there is one spirit entity that is behind Ayahuasca.”
So there’s just a lot of different places we can go here but now we’re into connecting with. If we take that at face value, we’re at using this plant that is somehow altering our consciousness and we’re connecting with some other spirit body that we don’t know anything about.
And now you’re talking about we have to use it carefully. You’re trying to put the FDA warning on it and stuff like that. Aren’t we just in a minefield of questions that we can’t even begin to answer? Should we be going there? Should we even venture into that? Can’t we just sit at home, cross our legs, and meditate?
Talat Phillips: Well, sure. You can do that. That’s where I’m saying it’s everyone’s journey. For one, it’s not up to me to say anyone should or shouldn’t do any of this. I’m just sharing experiences of my life.
Alex Tsakiris: No, don’t get me wrong. I’m not criticizing you. I love that you’re out there sharing it. Let me fine-tune that question. What about the spirit behind Ayahuasca? Is that something we need to worry about?
Talat Phillips: First, I want to say I don’t mind if you criticize.
Alex Tsakiris: But I’m not. I’ll let you know when I criticize.
Talat Phillips: I’m just being honest, you know? If things strike me in a certain way, I’m trying to be honest and not be right or good anymore. Just honest and authentic and vulnerable as much as I can. What I’m coming to terms with is for me, Daime is different than Ayahuasca. Daime is considered connected to this Christ Consciousness energy, this Divine, very healing , vibrational high energy. Ayahuasca, I don’t trust as much because I hear about dark shamans. I’ve seen dark shamans that use it in life. Daime is very specific. It’s a whole doctrine of love and light and healing and the transformation of ourselves and even suffering souls that need help. So I really trust it.
But that said, I probably never would do Ayahuasca again. I would do Daime. I used to do two or three ceremonies a month and it was very healing but it was also very difficult on my system. You’re challenged so psychologically, in the body and the mind, everything. So now I’ll do it like once a month because I need that healing but it’s just calmer. I’m doing a lot more yoga and meditation and these things to integrate it all.
That said, the most profound yoga experiences I’ve had are through Santa Maria, which is sacralized marijuana or cannabis. In the Daime, some of the traditions they pray. They do the Rosary and they consider Santa Maria really connected to this kind of Virgin Mother and also the Queen of the Forest. There’s not really an either/or in the Daime. It’s not like, “Oh, it’s the Virgin Mother. It’s the Queen of the Forest, it’s the Cosmic Mother.” I feel like the Daime understands how fluid and complex the universe is. It’s not creating rigid boundaries or ideas.
So I do this and I’ve got to say working with the spirit of Santa Maria very carefully maybe once a week, has really upped my yoga practice. I go to classes but I just understand it at a more energetic level. What teachers have been trying to tell me for years, I get now much more. I finally am starting to understand.
Alex Tsakiris: I’m trying to think. I don’t want to keep asking these same questions. I guess the question that keeps going through my mind is, how does someone know if they’re supposed to open themselves up in this way? Through these substances?
Talat Phillips: I’d like to answer this in two ways. First, I see with Ayahuasca is people are either called or they’re not. If they’re called they’ll find it because it’s still a Schedule 1 substance in the U.S. even though it’s one of the most healing medicines I’ve ever come across. I don’t know how tobacco is legal and Ayahuasca is not. They’re called to it and they’ll find it. Usually it will go well.
If they’re kind of half-assed, it doesn’t come around usually. Or they force it and they might end up in trouble. I think people really need to feel a calling to something and if you’re not called, don’t go there. Trust your inner self. We’re just taught not to trust our inner self all the time.
Like this is a message I would just like to give to everyone out there. Maybe we can end the dialogue of should we, shouldn’t we. It could be more of like what is right for you? How is it integrated in who you are?
Okay, so that said, I just want to put a framework because we’re working from a misconstrued perception on drug and non-drug. I don’t even call these drugs. I call them entheogens and medicines. Drug, for me, is Prozac or aspirin or something. This is a homeopathic remedy or something. Herbal.
That said, I really want to just say, Alex, that I think we are feeling, sentient beings and everything we touch, everything we ingest is a conscious-altering experience. So if you’re around loving people and they’re opening their heart, it opens your heart. It changes your consciousness. If you eat a lot of processed sugar, that is a consciousness-altering substance that can really affect you. If we can start understanding ourselves as living, feeling, breathing beings and sensors that are connected to the world, suddenly this line that we draw between things starts to disappear.
This is probably as New Agey as I’m going to get but any energy healer that’s connected—if you tap your hand into a crystal and start feeling those frequencies because energy is all geometry in the end and textures and colors and stuff, you can start absorbing that through your hand and then through your heart. You can actually start getting healings. We all have negative energies in us that turn into disease and things like that. There are some other ways we can heal that we’re not aware of because we don’t understand how sentient we really are.
Alex Tsakiris: Awesome, Talat.
Talat Phillips: It seems like everything I’ve been doing I’ve been going into a minefield. [Laughs]
Alex Tsakiris: Well, that’s the terrain. Maybe that’s your mission, man. Look at your life, look at your experience so far and that’s the story you’ve written. You can’t write yourself out of the plot.
Talat Phillips: And look, your mission is you are a bridger and a translator so maybe what the dialogue we’re having here is I’m leaning off the edge a little bit and you’re holding a hand out and calling back to some other folks and being like, “Hey, what’s going on on the edge?”
Alex Tsakiris: The other thing that I think I’m trying to do because I struggle with it myself is there’s a lot of people leaning off the boat on all different sides. I’m comfortable with that but I also have a side of me that says, “Hey, why aren’t these two together? Why is this person leaning that way and I like them, respect them, and appreciate their path and what they’ve gone through in their experience. Then why is this person saying something else?”
I’m okay with there can be many paths and there can be this diversity but I want things to make a little bit more sense in this world. I don’t want to talk to one person who says, “Reincarnation is a myth. It isn’t real. I’ve gone and ascended and it doesn’t happen.” And then speak to someone else who says, “Reincarnation? Yes. But you only reincarnate three times.” And then I talk to another person, very advanced, someone I truly like, who says, “Hey, forget about the whole idea of reincarnation. We are simultaneously reincarnating all the time. That’s the only way we can explain this idea of time being this illusion that we’re in.”
So we’ve got all these people and then you come along and you’re saying a really beautiful thing—I like what you said about reframing the role that if our body is and our brain is this vessel that is tuning consciousness, then realize that we’re constantly messing with the tuning no matter what we’re doing with that bag of potato chips or that cigarette or with the Ayahuasca. Those are conscious choices we can make at different times. But do you understand my dilemma in trying to get all these people on the boat talking in the same language so I can figure out what to do?
Talat Phillips: Oh yeah. I love your dilemma. You know, what I heard when you were reflecting what I said about realizing we’re these feeling, sensing beings is when we do that, we can walk with a lot more consciousness of our actions and how we interact.
You read my book so you’ve followed the full journey from complete skeptic to little experience, little experience, and that. We kind of jumped right into some stuff. I think if people read the book it’s got a trajectory. I haven’t had anyone say, “I can’t follow that journey,” when they’re doing it. Even Atheists who have read the book have said, “That was cool.”
But in the book I’m very conscious of not saying anything is absolute. Let’s take Jesus, for example. One of the main questions I get is, who is Jesus? Did He really exist? Is he a cosmic implant? Is he some archetype? My answer is I don’t know. I just hold the quantum possibilities of it all being possible and using discretion to work within that.
When you really fix something and say it is absolute, in quantum physics they call it “collapsing the wave.” You’ve just collapsed all these other possibilities into one thing. It’s kind of like a party-bummer, really. I’ve experienced that first-hand. There’s this author—I don’t know if you’ve heard of him, Timothy Freke, who wrote The Jesus Mysteries. I saw him and he said, live in front of a whole Gnostic group I was coordinating, “Jesus did not exist. Absolutely. This human never walked the planet.” And my whole Gnostic group laughed like, “Piss off.”
We love this guy; how can he say that? Unless he was there investigating all the lands over time, maybe he could possibly say that’s true. And so he collapsed the wave for us. Like I said, it was kind of a party-bummer, really.
Alex Tsakiris: One thing I want to talk about before we run out of time is this www.evolver.net thing that you’ve helped found and that you’re a part of. It’s a fascinating experiment. Tell people what’s going on. What is www.evolver.net?
Talat Phillips: I think I’ve got to explain how it started, which was I had gone through this initiatory journey of mystical experiences and such. Being a countercultural guy, as well, I wanted to get back into activism but a different type. I didn’t want to do the same kind of stuff, going through mainstream media and having them smash and squash all your beautiful stories into either taking out the essence or being cynical.
At that time, I ran into Daniel Penchback, author of 2012: The Return of Quetzalcoatl and Ken Jordan, a digital democracy pioneer, and this artist, Michael Robinson. They were starting up a magazine called Reality Sandwich. As soon as I saw that I was like, “I’m onboard,” because it was exactly what I wanted to do. It was media activism about transformation.
It started off as, “Dudes, we now have a lot of women running the organization,” which I’m happy about but we’d all been these counterculture activists, artists, writer-guys, and we suddenly had these mystical experiences and became interested in Buckminster Fuller design science and shamanism and open space technology and complimentary currencies. All these different avenues, the Green Movement, being interconnected.
So we launched this website, Reality Sandwich, where we could share our stories to see who’s out there. Very soon we gathered a pretty dedicated international audience. But what we saw is they didn’t just want to stay online. They really wanted to transform their communities. So we started up what we call the “Evolver Spores,” based on the mycelium interconnected spore networks out there in nature that create so much abundant life. They share information with each other.
We started regional chapters and we now have 50 Evolver Spore chapters out there. It’s great. They host alternative film screenings for movies that have no other place to go, like Wake Up or Thrive or that kind of thing. Book tours—I got to do an amazing book tour around the country and Canada, as well. Ecofestivals, cleaning up beaches, perma-culture gardens. They started a local currency in Baltimore to help that. It’s now in 200 stores. They’ve started time banks and gift circles.
So a lot of positive, good transformational things. You know, we’ve had a very esoteric conversation but I’m a really practical person and so are the people in Evolver and Reality Sandwich. So we want to see this consciousness really grounding and taking root. Maybe that’s my problem with a lot of the New Age movement is it seems very self-absorbed. Workshops, self-improvement, and that, but it’s not about how we act in the world. Maybe that’s one of the reasons I’m so excited about like Jesus as a mystical figure. He’s a yogi and an activist at the same time, turning over tables in the temple, that kind of thing.
Also, I’d like to say that as an energy healer, this is a larger-scale project of mine. I have a lot of energy clients and it’s such rewarding work, seeing their lives transform. But I think as a society, energetically we’re a house divided. We fight for resources; we fight for money, jobs, whatever it is. And what the Evolver chapters are working on doing, and there are a lot of others, too—we partner with a lot of other groups—is I’m seeing it develop as more of a sacred geometry, where instead of blocking each other we start sharing each other’s resources. We create circles of energy that actually can create abundance instead of scarcity and flow the resources around in a way that they haven’t with more of the hierarchical models.
Alex Tsakiris: Yeah, yeah, yeah. I’d love to go there. There are just so many problems with activism. There are some fundamental spiritual questions about whether we are supposed to act or whether we’re supposed to—there’s a back door materialism to activism that is inescapable. That is that isn’t the world perfect just the way that it is? Isn’t our awakening really an awakening to that? How do you deal with that part? I’m sure you’ve come across that. How do you deal with that vibe, if you will?
Talat Phillips: Well, I think that’s a very deep study that you’re talking about. It’s one I’m starting to see with Occupy people. Like Evolver was very helpful for them in being like, “Don’t just complain about everything. Let’s vision what we can create.” So our model is really about creation. I think spirituality is very creative.
You know what? I think you’ve asked a great question, Alex. You asked about activism. There’s this thing about activism—I like that question.
Alex Tsakiris: I guess the part I’d like to hear you talk a little bit about is this idea of materialism. If you buy into materialism, if you think you’re a biological robot and that’s all you are, man, you’re lost. If you buy into materialism as it exists in our society, that we need to get all we can and we need to go bomb other people so they don’t get it, all that stuff, you’re lost. But as soon as you cross that chasm and you say, “Okay, there’s something more,” then I think you run into this problem of exactly what we’re talking about. And that is materialism keeps wanting to creep itself back into the equation.
From that questioning part that you’re saying, limitless possibilities, non-collapse of the wave function, to this “I need to take action here. I need to go do this. I need to vote for this candidate. I need to do that.” Isn’t there the risk there that we get into this back door materialism again where we really think that we’re building this stuff that’s going to do this stuff for tomorrow? You know what I’m saying? Isn’t there a little bit of a creeping back into that “we’re in control” thing?
Talat Phillips: Oh yeah. But I think it’s both. We’ve set up an either/or and I think it’s both/and because if I look at most of my clients, most of them come in and think we’re going to talk about past lives and this and that. Most of them need to get into the material world a little bit. They need to get in their bodies and figure out jobs and live an abundant life. That doesn’t mean buy a mansion but it just means to know how to support themselves and talk with people.
I don’t want to deny that aspect because it is important. I denied it for many years of my existence and maybe that was why I was a marginalized activist. On the other hand, I definitely saw this with Occupy. It was very frustrating for me seeing all the projected anger about finances. I do a lot of anger work with clients. It’s good to express anger but when you project it at others it creates more of that fear culture.
It’s actually a violent energy projected. We call that “psychic attack.” There’s so much of that going on, so much projection, so much anger. You could tell it was exhausting them out. It wasn’t just to the police or everyone else; they were getting their energy systems depleted. What I like with Evolver with this is we’re more like, “How can you create? How can you follow your bliss and your passions and do what you love?”
I think Joseph Campbell talks about this. This is a dance we have of integrating—in the book I talk about this—this serpent energy which is the material, the mother, and the dove or eagle energy, which is more of the spirit and the freedom and the flowing. That’s a beautiful cosmic dance that you see really manifested in the dragon, who is a being that is very magical in Eastern cultures because they have managed sky and earth and mastered all of the elements. So I think what you’ve brought up, Alex, is a great study that we all do. It’s an alchemy of walking as a human and being as a human on this planet. It’s being and doing and creating a right relationship between that.
Alex Tsakiris: That’s awesome, Talat, and I think you’ve drawn out a couple of really nice parallels there between non-action and action. What I hear you saying is we’re all acting anyway so let’s be more conscious of the actions that we’re taking. I think you’re doing the same thing when you’re talking about using any substances. Hey, we’re taking substances into our body anyway. Let’s just be more aware of what substances we’re taking in and how they’re affecting our ability to move towards whatever we’re trying to move toward.
Awesome work, man. I can see why everyone’s so into Talat Jonathan Phillips and The Electric Jesus. Tell us a little bit about what else is going on with you. Where people can find more about you or find you in the flesh.
Talat Phillips: Well, I’m moving to San Francisco in a month so I’m very excited about that. I have international healing clients. I’m now working part-time with Evolver so I can devote a lot more time to my healing practice. I do Skype sessions if anyone’s interested. Also, I’ll probably be doing a healing school in the fall. I’m really being called to that because there’s only one of me and I’d like to have some other people to recommend folks to that use the certain bio-energetic techniques that I use.
Also, Alex, I just want to put out a call out there to folks who are intrigued about The Electric Jesus book. You can buy it on Amazon very cheaply. If you want a signed copy you can get it at my website, www.talathealing.com. Just send me an email with the receipt if you get it on Amazon or something and I’ll send a 25-minute chakra activation mp3 gift. It’s a sound healing using color vibration, that kind of stuff. And if you believe it or not, you can give it a try. Just make sure that when you email you that you say you heard it from this show to get that gift. That’s a little thanks.
Alex, I want to say thanks, man. I really appreciate your perspective and the way you hold space and also can challenge. I think it’s quite an artistic thing you’re doing.
Alex Tsakiris: That’s great to hear; thank you so much, Talat. It’s been great having you on and I hope we stay in touch. I’d love to hear as things move forward with you what you’re up to. So let’s stay in touch.
Talat Phillips: Nice, yeah. Hopefully I’ll see you in Cali.
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