Donna Quesada: What have been your practices? I imagine that maintaining a state of awakening isn’t a static practice.
Would you agree with that? And if so, what has been your life saving practice? What puts you in that space?
Richard Moss MD: I’m so fortunate that I left medicine, which wasn’t really my path. And a new door opened inside of me and created the life I’ve had for 45 years. Exploring consciousness and love… loving, conscious relationship with people… the practice I’ve discovered right from the beginning. My ego would start to contract around me again, with all this energy from awakening. I had to find ways of coming back to a bigger body. I found that if I walked at the exact same speed as my energy… If I walked totally connected to my sensation… Not a goal to walk to a place. Not a goal to get up to the top quickly. Not a goal to… So, that started and then I discovered I started singing. I had this energy that was so overwhelming, that at times I didn’t even think I could get out of bed. Because it was like a new fuel in my body that I didn’t yet know how to use. So, I had to discover it. I had to discover it with touch. I had to discover it with walking. But I discovered it the most profoundly in singing.
DONNA: I’m smiling because I love to sing, too.
RICHARD: So, I realized really early that I was using my journals to report about my feeling states. To immortalize the past. The previous day, the previous week, the previous hour. And to worry about the future and where I was going. And I realized that wasn’t serving me. It was serving only the time-bound part of me. And it was also re-enforcing the ego identity. And so, I stopped. And all I did was begin to write poetry. So suddenly, starting from the loneliness or from the uncertainty or from the existential angst… It became the beginning of a poem. And then eventually, those poems became part of what I sang. And then I was singing and letting the poetry come spontaneously. And that is the practice that I do. I don’t do it every single day because sometimes that is not possible. I’m not alone enough or I’m traveling. But, I do it 250 days of the year. It’s a practice that the moment I sit down, the first sound of my voice, I’ve already dropped my right and left brain… and my heart… the sense of normal boundaries is already falling away. The oneness is already becoming self-evident because I practice this.
RICHARD: It just opens my heart every time. It opens it a little bit. It opens it big. It doesn’t open it very much. I don’t care because I’m doing it for love, anyway. I’m not doing it for some kind of feeling state that is my reward for doing it. This is a practice for heart-consciousness. If you asked me now, “your two most favorite things,” I would say, relating and making love with my wife, and my practice… I like going to movies. I love hiking in nature. I used to mountaineer. I used to rock climb. I enjoy all those things. There are so many things that I enjoy. Even poetry, sometimes. Singing poetry spontaneously. Singing out of any feeling state. Singing of loneliness. I don’t pretend that I am beyond all kinds of feelings. If loneliness comes and I remember the past and some kind of sentiment… I don’t say to myself, “Oh great”… Just drop that. That’s where I start from. That’s where the poetry comes from. There is nothing that could ever enter my consciousness that is rejected.
DONNA: I love that. And I love what you said about walking, too. And I love it for a few different reasons. For those of you watching, thinking, I have to walk or I have to meditate… You said, “I walk to the pace that matches how I feel.” It takes you out of that goal-oriented thinking… that I have to be somewhere.
RICHARD: Jogging to get to that high. It’s good. Exercise is good. We were creatures that had to walk, that had to bend… had to travel long distances. Hunting. We were made to move but we were never made to move the same way for long time periods. We’ve become obsessed with running and distance running. And of course, we enter many wonderful altered states of consciousness. But, unless those altered states of consciousness bring you home to a greater fluidity and flexibility, then what you are doing is running away from the feelings that you don’t know how to journey with. And, love… to states that make you feel more and more and more and more of the wellbeing of running. And I used to run. I used to do all kinds of exercise. They don’t come close to when I sit down and sing. And I start with a song my mother told me. Shortly before she died. It’s called “Nature Boy.” The last line is “the greatest gift you will ever learn, is to love and I’d love to meet her.” And you know, I always thought my mother didn’t get me. Difficult relationship… but then, late in her life she told me that, and I listened to that song. My goodness, my mother knew me. She knew my soul. We fought about things. She had her wounds and her rules and her structures and her limitations… But she knew my soul. She did. Just telling me that that song reminded her of me. I start up there and then I go off into my free-form improvisational thing.
DONNA: Well, I love that. I find there is nothing more healing. I used to sing as a girl. And for thirty years I didn’t sing because I didn’t think that I sang well. And when I started singing again, I found that nothing is more therapeutic. I share the walking and the singing with you.
RICHARD: I know of nothing that is more therapeutic, and I have a lot of experience. Every form of trying to help people heal. There is nothing more therapeutic… more liberating… more integrating. You can meditate a lot and it will not do the same thing. If you sing… I sing and then I meditate. But I’ve already dropped in. And I don’t have any expectations what so ever of what meditation is or should be or what it will bring or does. I don’t care. It is an opportunity to sit down and see what my mind does. And what I believe, what I think, what I assume. And that means there is a distance from that… not in order to become disengaged or dissociated, but simply that I am not the victim of my mind.
DONNA: I love that and you said so much. It’s so rich and juicy… I don’t want it to get lost on the trail. Different states of consciousness… and I’ve been to so many retreats where this question inevitably comes up: “what about substances that bring you there?” And so on and so on. You sort of answered that without meaning to. It’s more escapism, unless you are able to channelize it into your life in a useable way?
RICHARD: I have an openness about journeying in that way. It hasn’t been fundamental to my path. My wife has journeyed very deeply with plant medicines. What I will say is simply this… Once there is awareness of awareness… When you journey, you have a relationship with phantasmal imagined richness that can be horrific in one extreme or beautiful beyond worlds, on the other. But, there is no experience you could ever have with LSD, ayahuasca, that is bigger than awareness. There is always relationship.
And so, the relationship… letting anything you want happen in ayahuasca… and whatever it brings to you… Wonderful. But when you get home, what it brought you needs to be grounded in how you treat your dog, your cat, your husband, your wife, your children, your house, your clothes, your body. You don’t have to be fancy. People wear special attire to announce that they are… You just need to wear something that expresses cleanliness, dignity, gravity. To have a human body… to have a human consciousness… you keep your house. Any kind of house. Simple as can be. Clean. Simple, basic acts of dignity. Ways of saying thank you. I’ve taken birth on planet earth! We don’t know of anything like it. I’ve taken birth on planet earth. I’ve gone through the first miracle of developing a separate self. And now, whatever created me, created human beings… created us with the capacity to digest our separateness and become heart-based people that understand inter-connectedness.
And we have to… every single day, stop that desire to be separate, to be selfish, to be self-involved and keep that openness there as a path. I mean, If God created us, I think we are creating God. Evolution brought us to the point that we can evolve ourselves. We are the creation of the path that we choose. You get up in the morning and you love your singing and you do it; it creates you. If you read science, you will have a vision of what science exists in the universe, that can go into your poetry. It’s part of your singing. You can read literature. You can see how beautiful human beings are, of expressing good human drama.
If you understand even a little bit about evolutionary biology, or even the miracle of the periodic table of the elements, you have all of these pieces and then it’s living in your heart… in your right brain, as your prayer… your activation of aliveness. It couldn’t be activated without the knowledge of what this world really is.
This, literally, is 50 years ago… we had less. 100 years ago, we had less. 200 years ago, we had almost nothing. We can help nature help us and help all of life. And we are understanding exactly how to do it. Isn’t that a vision for human people… They want to be educated for heart-consciousness and then later, take on the science stuff. The left brain stuff. So, they can now implement in the world what relational based consciousness looks like. Like, if you are a biologist, what does relational based consciousness look like? If you are in physics or a chemist? And engineering is interesting because it’s assembling things. But, an engineer should be able to go home with someone. And drifting to the edge of possibility, in intimacy, in discovery… And engineering is incidental.
Some of the great mystics of the last thousand years were scientists. Combine that with humanism. With just heart-awareness and incredible confusion and suffering that we have… In our craze to differentiate… we differentiate even gender right now. But, we need a foundation, something so rich and alive. Before you worry about finding yourself by worrying what your gender orientation is… find yourself in your heart and your body. It doesn’t matter what name you call your body… what gender you have. When you land deep enough in your body, you are landing in miracle and mystery.
DONNA: Why is it so important to be grounded in the body?
RICHARD: It is fundamental to be grounded in the body. Why? There are a thousand answers. One of them is, if you are deeply grounded in the body, the slightest movement that closes your heart is felt instantly. If you are deeply grounded in the body, and anger starts to happen you already know what you’ve been telling yourself. You probably caused the anger and you have a choice how to use that energy. That’s part of it.
Also, the body is intelligent. Your body is the end-point of evolution. There is nothing like a human body on this planet. There is nothing like the complexity of the human nervous system. Cetaceans… whales, dolphins… They grow brains relative to their body size, like we do. They don’t have anywhere near the complexity of the periphery nervous system that we have because we are on land and we use our hands. They also have a consciousness with their sounds. Whales can communicate over thousands of miles. They are in a state of oneness where up or down… they always have to be oriented up to get air. We are oriented down because of gravity.
So, I have no doubt that cetaceans carry a kind of consciousness that we need. So, if we make them extinct… Getting into right brain consciousness is going to be diminished by the loss of what they are contributing to the collective field of consciousness of the planet. I think every creature does that. Here we are reviling viruses and bacteria. But, bacteria are the information transferrers… they give us information. Your immune system is actually a commune system. They teach you how to relate to things that are not you. So, the body becomes more and more sophisticated. More communal. It knows how to set boundaries. So, it’s being educated by this virus. People die from these illnesses of course, but the people who live with AIDS on the triple medication… Their bodies are learning something that other people will never learn. And that will be passed on evolutionarily. We won’t be able to measure what the genetic transfer from those people are, in coming generations because they fought that battle, and they were helped by science to survive. They are going to pass on an intelligence. They are already doing it… so are the survivors of flus and so are the survivors of pandemic. It’s intelligent.
DONNA: So, Richard, for someone who might be watching this and maybe wants to start a journey into awakening because maybe they are where you were… in the middle of a crisis, or they are in an unhappy job… or, there is too much in their head all day long. Would it be fair to say that a body-centered practice would be a good place to start? Where would you tell them to start?
RICHARD: I would tell them to start with… learn a little bit about meditation, learn about contemplation. Start to sing. Walk at a speed that maximizes your senses. Do a little bit of exercise just to tone the body. No obsessing. Eat really well. Whole food, plant based. Because a couch-potato vegan has a longer life expectancy than someone that eats the standard western diet, but exercises. So, when a body is happy because you feed it really well… Your body is happy because you let it sing. Then your feelings become more positive, more genuine, more open. The mind begins to be a servant, with clarity… to a positive relational potential. So, happy body, positive feeling, clear mind.
DONNA: I love that.
RICHARD: And the body leads the mind. You can practice with the mind, but in all meditation practice, there are two things… stay in your body and yes, you can go into multiple fantasies. Come back to your body. Learn how to come back to your body. There is a point in your life where you shouldn’t be spending more than 30% of your day without awareness of your breath. So, 70% of the time you are awake, you are aware of your breathing. You are feeling your body breathing. And you are doing your e-mail. And you are cleaning your house. And you are working as an attorney. And you are working in the garden. Feel your body. So, I would start right there. Cultivate awareness of your breath.
Then, begin to watch your thoughts and see what they do to you. And know that you don’t ever have to be the victim of a difficult feeling because you start to sing it. It will move. It will be eliminated in unpredictable ways. It takes someone like me and you and the intention of this interview. With all the other people that you have done this with. To put this information in front of people, and everyone has the spark of awakening in them. So, they will internalize this and make it their own. Stay in your body is the starting point.
DONNA: And with that I will thank you for spending this hour with us, Richard Moss. And we will have all your information. Is there anything else you’d like to say to the Awaken community?
RICHARD: No, I want to be part of the community.
DONNA: We are happy that you are a part of it.
RICHARD: Thank you. I just want say that we are so blessed. We are so blessed to have a conversation like this. To be human beings that can outgrow ourselves infinitely. There is no end to this. No end. There is no final state. No one has reached a final state. If you reach a final state at one level… there is still integration. We are evolving at so many levels and there is no final state,so I’d say to my community of other teachers of conscious people… but you know it already. We are people who can learn, so let’s help other people learn.
DONNA: Beautiful words. Thank you.
Read and watch Part 1 Here: Awaken Interviews Richard Moss M.D. Pt 1 – Awakening Is In Service To Love
Read and Watch Part 2 Here: Awaken Interviews Richard Moss M.D. Pt 2 – Are You Choosing From Love or Fear