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Michael W. Taft

Chandra Easton

Embodying the 21 Taras with Chandra Easton

Host Michael Taft speaks with meditation teacher Chandra Easton about her new book Embodying Tara: 21 Manifestations to Awaken Your Innate Wisdom, the background of Green Tara, why there are 21 different manifestations, the inspirations for the book. Chandra’s lifelong relationship with Green Tara, and we take an especially deep dive into manifestation number thirteen, the so-callled “Demolition Tara.”


Resting as Awake Awareness

This practice in a way is completely trusting the always already wide awake, wide open nature of experience and that there’s nothing at all we do that can improve that. But, we can let go of the things that distract from it; let go of all the involvement with doing doing doing doing doing; the feeling of doing; the sense of taking control; or changing, or suppressing, or denying, or expanding, or all that stuff that distracts us from this already existing wide awakeness which has always been there.

Outside the Mind

Meditate Outside the Mind

I want you to look with a lot of curiosity, a lot of openness, and just see if you can notice exactly where that’s coming from. Where is the stream of thoughts arising from? Where is it arising, just in your own experience. This isn’t something you can figure out, you have to just listen, or look, or feel. Just keep trying to notice, where does that stream of thought originate? If you look very carefully, you’ll notice it’s not coming from anywhere. All that stream of thinking, all those thoughts that we spend so much time engaging with, it’s not coming from anywhere. Then look, and see if you can tell, again, without an idea, like, my head. Let’s see if you can tell exactly just in your own experience, without thinking about it at all, where is it happening? Clearly, thoughts are happening, there’s a stream of thought activity, but where is it located? You can have an idea, oh, it’s in my head, but where is it happening? They are there as an experience, but they don’t seem to be coming from anywhere, and if you look carefully, even though they appear to be happening, they’re not happening anywhere.


Finding Space and Freedom

Good. Now allow awareness to come back into the body, but notice it like new. The feeling of body sensations, how they’re just kind of hanging out in that space. It’s not like there’s some space behind your body, it’s like this vast space has this tiny little bit of body sensation arising in it. Pleasant or unpleasant, but vivid and bright, various and interesting, all kinds of body sensations. Emotions, feelings, being nervous or joyous or disappointed or frustrated or whatever. Maybe all at once. That’s all bright and colorful and interesting and kind of weird because it’s just hanging out in this space. Where does it even come from?


Can You Learn Meditation from an AI? – with Shinzen Young

Host Michael Taft talks with teacher Shinzen Young about Shinzen’s decades-long dream of computer-based meditation instruction, his current creation of a rule-based, expert system based on Artificial Intelligence, the upcoming major upheavals in science and culture that AI will bring, the problems inherent in AI, and Shinzen’s most positive vision for the future.


Gratitude for Simply Being

Furthermore, you may notice that this expression of space as body and mind doesn’t stop there. It radiates outward. This joyous expression of beauty and profundity radiates outward touching all other expressions, and all those other expressions radiate back to you. So even as this wakefulness, this wide open clarity and presence, bubbles forth into a body and a mind and a person, that bubbling forth can look back at its own source and just say thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you.


A Conversation with Jeffrey Kripal

Host Michael Taft speaks with author and professor Jeffrey Kripal about his early aspiration to be a Benedictine monk, the prophetic dimensions of the humanities, the sudden conversion, or “flip,” into a weirder worldview experienced by some materialist scientists, the phenomena of UFOs, alien abduction, altered states, Philip K. Dick, and how most breakthroughs into mysticism occur through trauma.

erik davis

Transgression with Erik Davis

Host Michael Taft speaks with author and journalist Erik Davis about the power of partaking in the forbidden and the loss when formerly forbidden things become normalized, particularly in the case of psychedelics; Tantric and Christian modes of transgression, power relationships and the guru, hedonism, rule-breaking, the desire for having safe spiritual practice environments, and the role of risk in spiritual development.

Sam Harris

A Conversation with Sam Harris

Host Michael Taft speaks with author, philosopher, and neuroscientist Sam Harris about aspects of meditation, the fusion of vipassana and nondual practice as the “gold standard” for practitioners, insights into selflessness through mindfulness and concentration,The distinction between moment-to-moment experiences and peak experiences, personal experiences with MDMA and psilocybin, the role of psychedelics in initiating spiritual introspection, concerns about the misuse of psychedelics and potential pitfalls, and more. 

Nondual Freedom within Flow and Openness

You can say that awakeness itself, space itself, is breathing; space itself is thinking; space itself is becoming somebody who feels like they are doing something. But never fixating there. Flowing back into energy, back into boundless open awakeness without any ground at all; nowhere to land, no box to put it in. You may notice an exuberance, a kind of background joy, a kind of deep pleasantness that comes with just letting this flow of experience flow without ever crystallizing into any particular thing. Continuously aware of the groundless openness at the core of it, and yet, the vivid and exuberant display of all experience. 

nondual meditation

The Simplest Thing

When we’re caught up in thinking, it’s like we’ve put ourselves in a cage. The minute you drop engagement with the thought. Again, the thoughts can still happen, we’re not stopping, we’re dropping the engagement. The minute you drop the thought, you’re out of the cage! 


The Magic of Vajrayana with Ken McLeod, Part 2 Transcript

My name is Michael Taft, your host on the podcast, and in this episode, I’m speaking, once again, with Ken McLeod. Ken McLeod began his study and practice of Buddhism in 1970 under the eminent Tibetan master Kalu Rinpoche. After completing two three-year retreats, he was appointed as resident teacher for Kalu Rinpoche Center in Los Angeles, where he developed innovative approaches to teaching and translation. After his teacher’s death in 1989, Ken established Unfettered Mind, a place for those whose path lies outside established institutions. His many published works include Wake Up To Your Life, A Trackless Path, and his brand new book entitled The Magic Of Vajrayana. And now without further ado, I give you part two of the episode called “The Magic of Vajrayana with Ken McLeod.”

aizenstat imagination

The Power of the Imaginal with Stephen Aizenstat

Host Michael Taft talks with “Boss Jungian of Planet Earth” Stephen Aizenstat about diving into the depths of our authentic creativity, finding purpose in the imaginal, the perils and promise of AI with regards to the human imagination, and asks the question: is working with the imagination simply a narcissistic bourgeois indulgence in this time of unprecedented worldwide existential peril, or might the imaginal actually be a source of our salvation?