Donna Quesada: Well, with both of you starting on your spiritual paths at such a young age…
You spoke about how important it is to practice forgiveness in a long-term relationship. Could that have been possible without a spiritual practice?
Deb Shapiro: You know, having started with it at 15, I don’t know what life would be without a spiritual practice. So, it’s very hard for me to separate. You can imagine that if you are wrapped up in your ego, that forgiveness is not going to happen.
Ed Shapiro: Truthfully speaking, it’s good that you asked that. Deb is just a nice person. With some people, you walk away. With some people, you just walk away and say “that is a nice person.” Not that everybody isn’t, but a lot of people are, where you walk away and you feel like that is a nice person. There is a certain quality that is so natural to her. I mean, I am not really as nice as she is.
DEB: No, you are not.
DONNA: You like each other. That is palpable.
DEB: Do you?
ED: Sometimes. They say “chalk and cheese.”
DEB: Two things that are very different. Chalk and cheese.
ED: I’m from the Bronx and she’s from London.
DEB: I’m from the English countryside. His father was a postman. Not even a postman; he was just the guy at the post office.
ED: He did everybody’s time cards.
DEB: Whereas, I’m from… not Aristocracy, but my grandfather was Winston Churchill’s editor.
ED: And he wrote the Cassell’s English dictionary.
DEB: My mother is a writer. So, we go way back with writing and he’s just ignorant.
ED: I didn’t read books. They weren’t allowed in the house.
DEB: He writes books but he’s never read one.
ED: That’s not true.
DONNA: And do you have a personal practice? Do you meditate together? Do you get up in the morning and breathe or do Yoga?
DEB: We have over the years. Obviously, we have been to numerous ashrams. We lived in Yoga Ville, in America, for nine months.
ED: We’ve been to India six times. We met David Welch in Sweden, with 700 people. We were the keynote speakers and David went fire-walking. And we became partners in fire walking. And through our being together, we attained a friendship for a long time. And he’s created this genius with you. So, I think what took place with us… I’m involved for 50 years.
DEB: 50 something.
ED: You are better than me. But truthfully speaking, whenever we say these things… we are always joking. It’s rare. My father raised me on that. What happens is, that you become the technique. You see… You practice the technique and whatever the technique of meditation… You are suddenly walking down the street, and something busy or something happens. You say, OM, OM, OM…
DEB: Remember we were in the car the other day, and suddenly, you became so beautiful.
ED: That was very funny, but I’ll do it. I was alone, driving down the street. It’s hard to say, but I was becoming so radiant. It was like, No, I’m driving, I can’t go there. It was getting so everyone was beautiful. Radiance is beyond words. What keeps us is our mind, our ego, our intellect… With no mind, no ego, no thoughts… And it’s like, I’ve got to drive. No more of this.
But I was able to maintain myself because it was extremely powerful. That was a rare moment when I was probably going into a very interesting place of emptiness, and radiance, as Gauguin calls it. Radiance… emptiness. So, it’s not like you are empty and boring. You are beautiful and you are awake.
So, this is our nature. So, after a while, whatever you are practicing, you suddenly are it. You are breathing. You say a mantra because it’s supposed to be there. The mind is getting a little too busy. It has its way and you start learning the way. How to be in this world. Samsara, the phenomenal world. As they say, nirvana and samsara. Pure, loving awake beings. Everyone is awake.
And so, these practices help along the way. That’s why a teacher is very valuable. Maybe important to the point that it’s almost impossible to not have a real teacher. They are in the light. A true teacher… there is no one home. There is just a beautiful beingness. You might feel it at any time, walking down the beach. Suddenly, you sit down… you look at the sea… you look at the sunset, and you just feel quiet and part of it all. This is all that is there, but it’s very simple. Actually, it’s very, very simple and easy. Therefore, practice is there to train the mind ‘s direction.
DEB: Once the mind is there. For me, meditation is around me all the time. I don’t need a specific time or place… Now, I’m going to meditate. You’re it. It becomes a part of who you are.
ED: The truth is that the best time to meditate, they teach, is between 4 or 6 AM.
DONNA: The Ambrosial hours.
ED: From 4 to 6. It’s good to meditate. Clear the mind of the day. Sit still. Just really go to a quiet place… from a quiet place. Eyes open. Close your eyes. Breath. Enter into that quietness. So, it is the best time. But, throughout the day, if you go to the bathroom and you suddenly need to breathe… Relax. Anytime that you have a chance, just be still. It can only benefit you.
DONNA: What is the proper balance between having that personal practice… whether it’s before bed… and our role in the world? In terms of bringing light to the world?
DEB: There may not be a proper balance. But, what you are doing in the evening and the morning with your practice will influence you. It will affect who you are in the world. It doesn’t mean you are going to be less competitive. Less anything. It just means that you have a deeper understanding of it. And so, you are able to deal with it, as well. You can take part in the world without having to be the top dog. Just being able to be in it… part of it… flow with it.
ED: Ananda said it, “Be in the world, but not of it.” You are not glue. You are transparent. You are free.
DONNA: Like a little bit of detachment…
DEB: It’s important to recognize the power of detachment. There is no passion. Detachment is withdrawn.
DONNA: Good point.
DEB: Withdrawn place. You are totally engaged. Totally passionate. It just doesn’t identify with it being the most important…
ED: What actually happens is, the awakened mind uses the senses in an awakened way. So, the senses are awakened. In fact, the taste in your mouth could be like nectar. The smell could be like Sandalwood. Pardon the expression, but your senses are divinized. Not just with this thing that we have here. We don’t know, but we were born with it. My name is Freddy or Jane, and then you think you are Jane. Actually, you just are. The name… You are not these things. You can be this, as long as what you are looking at is a way to connect and be of passion. That’s the whole point of awakening. Others… The most important things are others. If you can bring light, just like a child. You want so much to care for it. Suffering in the world does not have to be here. You don’t need all the ugliness and the bitterness. That’s not the point. The point is to wake up. Go to Awaken.com… See the people who are doing interviews with you. Let’s get together and make a change in the world by changing ourselves. Stop. Just stop.
DONNA: I’m glad you brought that up. I’m an animal lover. I know you are, too. You’ve probably seen my dog behind me.
DEB: There is a cat meowing right now.
DONNA: In the world, there is so much extinction and deforestation, and our animal friends are in trouble and it breaks my heart. These are some of the issues that we take on at AWAKEN, in terms of trying to promote consciousness with these kinds of issues. And as spiritual teachers, I’d like to get your input on this kind of imbalance between the masculine and the feminine. And some writers have talked about this. But a lot of this destruction comes from so much destructive energy. So much masculine energy. It’s kind of been at the helm for so many years. Would you agree with that?
DEB: It’s more than just the masculine energy. It’s the identification with the masculine energy. It’s the I’m macho… I’m male, and I’ve got to be able to do this… It buys into the power and the energies that go into it. Yet, every male has a female part of themselves. Just as every female has a male. And so, if we are able to find that within ourselves… the husbands that become house husbands. They stay at home and raise the children. How wonderful! They are finding the feminine within themselves. And therefore, the masculine doesn’t rule over it. It doesn’t take over. In many of our difficult places in the world, the deforestation… The animal killing… That is where the male energy takes over.
ED: See, the difficulty really arises completely with one word: Ignorance. Ignorance is when you see people doing things… when you see anybody doing things, even if they are not doing it on purpose… the ignorant mind. The ego mind. You can do that. So, what? Of course, the world isn’t going to have climate change. How can the world have climate change? How can human beings cause climate change? It’s constantly put into people… I can do different things… and the male ego… It’s so dominated and hard in the world.
And, I honestly believe that underneath it all, on that level, is that men are afraid of women. Because women are smarter. They just are. I’ve been around the block, man. Women could be men and still be women. Men have it harder being women when they are men. There are a lot right now who are becoming gorgeous fathers. Beautiful daddies. Caring like mommies. It’s getting there, but it’s just that strong male thing in them that causes this sense of domination. And truthfully, I’m not joking, they have more flexibility. I’m being honest. They make better Yoga students.
DEB: I was going to say, it’s very interesting… If you look at Yoga students, meditation classes, anything that helps put us in touch with ourselves… 90% women, at least.
DONNA: Why is that? Are we more willing?
ED: Whoa, whoa, whoa. Sissy, sissy, sissy…
DEB: I remember, we were in a conference in India, and I was asked to give a talk. I was expecting… and I was asked to talk about women and Yoga. And it made me laugh because I looked out in the audience. And I said this to the audience… All men. I said, “in America, it would be all women.”
DONNA: That’s amazing.
DEB: Yeah, it was all men and if you were an Indian, then you would let your wife do Yoga, if you wanted to. Complete reverse.
DONNA: The fear of women that Ed was talking about, and that wasn’t tongue and cheek.
ED: But look at this one… So, we are standing there with our teacher. Wonderful Yogi. He had a whole village that was poor… giving presents to everyone in the village… incredible presents. And, they came out. And, people from all over the world are gathered. And, as they came out, the husband and wife… These big packages… the men walked in, and the women were holding these big packages… It was so weird.
DEB: They had them on their head. They were carrying the bags. The men weren’t carrying anything.
ED: It was just so different. It was almost like enslavement.
DONNA: What gets you up every morning? What keeps you motivated? What inspires you?
DEB: Sunrise. Waking up every day.
ED: Well, I get up at three in the morning.
ED: I love it. I’m the only one who is awake. It’s always fun. It’s sort of like, everybody is quiet, and I’m up at three. I go to bed early. Because I was trained in India. In 1968, I was in India, and became a swami. And we used to get up a four in the morning. They say four to six is the best time to meditate. So, I used to get up at three, so, I had the meditation all alone.
DONNA: I think I hear your cat.
DEB: She just woke up.
DONNA: In these last few moments we have together… What is the first order of business, in terms of waking up and making a difference in this life? In the world?
ED: What’s important honestly, and you can’t miss… Do you really want to wake up? You really, really, more than anything in the whole world… do you want to be free? Do you really want to know your true nature? Do you want to get over this silly, boring, crazy world, or be able to look at it with compassion? Rather than being a slave to the world?
DEB: I think, as Ed said earlier… Really not harming others. Never doing any harm to yourself or others. And that way, you will find that you connect with yourself.
ED: And, how do you relate to the world? Do you relate to it with love? Or aggression? Do you say yes? And, do you bow to the world? Do you respect this whole world? Or, do you want it all? That’s up to you.
DONNA: What would be the first step? Maybe, taking a breath? Here we come, full circle, that we started together. What if someone wants to get serious and take a step into their spiritual path?
DEB: Becoming aware of the breathing. Be quiet. Even if it’s just for three minutes. That’s all that matters. Start with just a few minutes of sitting quietly and watching your breath. And let that lead you into the next step.
ED: And find out. Find out… To be very honest, what is happening right now. What I can think of is to just… Go to Awaken.com. Find something that you want, and it doesn’t matter what people think about any teacher. You might see a flash… a picture… because a truly awake teacher is pure light. Sat Chit Ananda. Knowledge. Absolute. Bliss… absolute. We’re free. We are all beautiful. Truly beautiful.
DONNA: Where can people find you and is there anything else you’d like to leave with our viewers today?
DEB: They can find us at EdandDebShapiro.com
DONNA: And we will have all that information.
DEB: And what would I like to leave my viewers with… I’d tell them to always to remember to smile. It’s so important.
ED: And love yourself. Through everything. No matter what happens. Just love yourself. That’s all we have. There is nobody else. We live alone. We die alone. Love that gift. Don’t ever hesitate. If you are wrong, so what? Go wrong. Who gives a shit?
DONNA: I love it. And I love the two of you. I just love that I get to spend this hour today with you. I feel so fortunate. Blessed. Your company has just been a delight.
ED: You are a joy. What you are doing is very important.
DONNA: Thank you. I thank you personally, and on behalf of our Awaken listeners. What we have here will live on, longer than this one hour.
DEB: Thank you, Donna.
DONNA: Thank you, Ed and Deb.
ED: God bless us all. Whoever she is.
DONNA: Many blessings to the two of you. And happy holidays.
DEB: Absolutely. Have a good one.
Read and Watch Part I Here: Awaken Interviews Ed & Deb Shapiro Pt 1 – We Are Not The Movie – We Are the Blank Screen and the Observer
Read and Watch Part II Here: Awaken Interviews Ed and Deb Shapiro – Awakening Is the Evolution of Consciousness