Stream of Consciousness Blog

Blog: The Importance of Staying Grounded

Blog: The Importance of Staying Grounded

By Judah Pollack

There are stories of Polynesian Wayfinders laying down in the bottom of their boats feeling for a long wave, their backs like a needle to the compass of the ocean. I’ve heard of Inuits in the Arctic finding their way in the midst of a blinding blizzard because they know which direction the snowdrifts form. Similar stories come out of the desert where the San people can orient through a sandstorm because they know the directions of the dunes.

These are stories of people deeply connected to the earth. This state can be rare for modern, digital humans. We hurtle through our landscapes at extraordinary speed. Most of us do not know where on the horizon the sun will set tonight, nor where the moon will rise. Some of us cannot even see the horizon. We rely on GPS to guide us through the streets of our own cities.

We find ourselves cut off from the signs and symbols of the swirling whirl of the earth and cosmos — the very cycles that gave birth to our internal rhythms. When is the last time your bare feet touched the bare earth? In short, we modern humans suffer from a profound lack of grounding, or connection to the earth and its cycles.

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Video: Isa Gucciardi, Ph.D.: Reading Thangkas: Avaloketishavara and the Images of Compassion

Video: Isa Gucciardi, Ph.D.: Reading Thangkas: Avaloketishavara and the Images of Compassion

Thankgas are paintings on fabric that often depict meditational deities or subjects. Popular throughout the Himalayas for centuries, they have provided a teaching and practice tool to help students deepen their understanding of a particular deity or subject. There are many images of Avaloketishavara or Chenrezig as they are known in Tibetan.

In this talk with the San Francisco Dharma Collective, Isa Gucciardi explores these images of compassion and the wisdom of the deities depicted therein.

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Video: Shamanic Journey Introduction with Isa Gucciardi, Ph.D.

Video: Shamanic Journey Introduction with Isa Gucciardi, Ph.D.

In these challenging times, a strong connection to inner guidance is more important than ever. The Shamanic Journey is a method of accessing inner wisdom through a meditative state. The Shamanic Journey has provided a path for shamanic practitioners to establish relationships with the unseen powers of nature for millennia. We can adapt this method of going inward to gain insight about our current situation.

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Listen: The Doorway Between the Worlds: Medium and Oracle Traditions in Shamanic and Buddhist Traditions

Listen: The Doorway Between the Worlds: Medium and Oracle Traditions in Shamanic and Buddhist Traditions

Shamanism is a form of spiritual practice based in earth-wisdom traditions whose practices rely heavily on the practitioner’s capacity to form oracle relationships with the unseen powers of nature. The Mahayana Buddhist tradition also contains oracle systems that have guided the course of the tradition and have even helped with the establishment of new schools of thought. In this talk presented by East West Bookshop, Isa describes the experience of the altered state of awareness that is common to both Shamanic and Buddhist oracle traditions.

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Blog: Liberation through Song: The Activism of Miriam Makeba

Blog: Liberation through Song: The Activism of Miriam Makeba

By Isa Gucciardi, Ph.D.

Miriam Makeba is perhaps one of Africa’s most famous musicians. I became aware of her when I was about eight years old. I was growing up near Honolulu as Waikiki was becoming a destination. In the evenings, as the sun was setting, all the hotel bars along the beach had musical shows, many of them right on the beach. Invariably, the person who was supposed to be watching me started having cocktails at about 5 o’clock at one of these bars. This meant I was free to cruise the different hotels along the beach, watching the shows.

Most of the hotels featured hula dancers and Hawaiian music, but one hotel had a band that also played African and Caribbean music. They almost always played Harry Belafonte and Miram Makeba’s recorded music before the live show. I loved the songs they sang together, and I always made a beeline to the beach in front of that bar to hear them in the evenings.

As I got older, I learned more about how Harry Belafonte and Miriam Makeba worked for social justice. I learned that Miriam was famous for her resistance to the social system of apartheid in South Africa. It was through her music that I learned about apartheid, which segregated whites and blacks and kept blacks in poorer, often substandard living conditions. I was appalled to learn about apartheid, and as I followed Miriam’s life, I struggled to understand how it persisted the way it did.

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Video: Isa Gucciardi, Ph.D.: Tsongkhapa: A Buddha in the Land of Snows

Video: Isa Gucciardi, Ph.D.: Tsongkhapa: A Buddha in the Land of Snows

We are lucky to be living in a time where we have so many erudite scholars to help guide the course of Buddhist thought. Principal among them are His Holiness, the Dalai Lama and his main English language interpreter and translator, Dr. Thupten Jinpa. Jinpa has recently written a book about perhaps one of the greatest scholars in Tibetan Buddhism, Je Tsongkhapa. Tsongkhapa lived in the late 1300s and inspired a renaissance in Tibetan Buddhist thought, founded the Great Prayer Festival and established the Gaden Shartse monastery.

In this talk with the San Francisco Dharma Collective, Isa Gucciardi explores Jinpa’s new book, Tsongkhapa: A Buddha in the Land of Snows, which so skillfully brings Tsongkhapa to life. The book offers a unique lens on Tsonkhapa’s relationship to Manjushri, the Buddha of wisdom, which is the focus of this talk and meditation.

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Blog: The Three Little Kosher Chickens and the Big Bad Coronavirus

Blog: The Three Little Kosher Chickens and the Big Bad Coronavirus

By Judah Pollack

Many of us are familiar with the children’s story The Three Little Pigs. It dawned on me that it is a wonderful parable for how we can handle this current crisis.

(Growing up Jewish I was never really comfortable identifying with the little piggies. So please indulge me as we tell the tale of the Three Little Kosher Chickens.)

Once upon a time there were three little kosher chickens. One lived in a house made of straw, one in a house made of sticks, and one in a house made of bricks. One day the Big Bad Coronavirus showed up and the three little chickens ran into the house made of straw.

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Podcast: Episode 61: Matthew Fox and Robert Thurman: Cultivating Peace in Difficult Times: Part 3

Podcast: Episode 61: Matthew Fox and Robert Thurman: Cultivating Peace in Difficult Times: Part 3

On this episode, we reach back into the archives for part three of this historic talk between Buddhist scholar Robert Thurman and Christian theologian Rev. Matthew Fox. In this final installment, Bob and Matthew discuss the men and women who inspire them, including the Dalai Lama, Gandhi, Meister Eckhart, and Hildegard of Bingen. They offer insight into creating more compassion in our lives and hope for cultivating a more compassionate world. Isa Gucciardi moderates this talk that took place at the Sacred Stream Center in 2017.

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Blog: Reflections on the Spring Equinox

Blog: Reflections on the Spring Equinox

By Isa Gucciardi, Ph.D.

On the day of each equinox and solstice, I make a point of spending some time alone in the early morning hours at the Sacred Stream Center in Berkeley, CA. The center was the home of a Lutheran church for almost one hundred years. It has beautiful stained glass windows and large open wood-paneled spaces carefully crafted by Finnish carpenters in the early 1900s. The sun always rises through the arched stained glass behind the main altar, illuminating the room in a spray of rainbow light.

This morning on the spring equinox of 2020, I am here to check on the center to make sure the repair on the roof is keeping out the rain. We are almost a week into the Shelter in Place Order due to the coronavirus pandemic. It is always quiet in the sanctuary in the early morning, but this morning it is especially still. The usual sound of starting cars and people heading off to work is absent. There is no laughing or singing from the neighborhood children who often pass by as they walk to the school down at the other end of the street.

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Blog: Life in the Time of COVID-19

Blog: Life in the Time of COVID-19

By Laura Chandler

I’m fired up! I just read the most myopic “opinion” piece on a well-respected news site and it has me boiling. Not only is the news site prominent, the positioning of this opinion piece was, too. I like opinion pieces. I often learn things when I read them. However, after reading this, I was left feeling irritated and wondering how anyone could find this opinion useful. I am not going to site the article here, simply because I feel when people behave in this way, they are pretty clueless that they are behaving badly, and I don’t want to bash anyone. What I would like to do is point out the significance of focusing on what is important and what we all have to learn. This isn’t going away anytime soon, and we need to develop some tools for coping if we haven’t already.

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Video: Navigating Coronavirus Fears: Part 7

Video: Navigating Coronavirus Fears: Part 7

In this video series, Isa Gucciardi, Ph.D. and Laura Chandler offer thoughts on how to maintain a steady course during the #coronavirus pandemic. In this segment, Laura and Isa talk about freaking out and cultivating trust. Also, Isa offers an inspiring story about a Tibetan monk.

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Podcast: Episode 60: Matthew Fox and Robert Thurman: Cultivating Peace in Difficult Times: Part 2

Podcast: Episode 60: Matthew Fox and Robert Thurman: Cultivating Peace in Difficult Times: Part 2

On this episode, we return to the archives to bring you part two of this historic conversation between Christian theologian Rev. Matthew Fox and Buddhist scholar Robert Thurman. In this talk, moderated by Isa Gucciardi, Bob and Matt offer thoughtful and sometimes humorous ideas about how we can cultivate peace individually and collectively. They talk about what led them to their respective spiritual paths and how they have navigated obstacles along the way.

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Video: Navigating Coronavirus Fears: Part 6

Video: Navigating Coronavirus Fears: Part 6

In this video series, Isa Gucciardi, Ph.D. and Laura Chandler offer thoughts on how to maintain a steady course during the #coronavirus pandemic. In this segment, they talk about how people are adapting to the new normal of the virus and Isa offers a guided meditation for centering if fear arises. This segment features a special appearance by celebrity guest, Yam.

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Video: Navigating Coronavirus Fears: Part 5

Video: Navigating Coronavirus Fears: Part 5

In this video series, Isa Gucciardi, Ph.D. and Laura Chandler offer thoughts on how to maintain a steady course during the #coronavirus pandemic. In this segment, they discuss the healing power of nature and several alternative therapies for these times. Please note, they are not medical doctors and encourage you to check with your healthcare professional when treating any illness.

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Video: Navigating Coronavirus Fears: Part 4

Video: Navigating Coronavirus Fears: Part 4

In this video series, Isa Gucciardi, Ph.D. and Laura Chandler offer thoughts on how to maintain a steady course during the #coronavirus pandemic. In this segment, they discuss the fears that are arising during these times and how to deal with our own fear, the fear of others, and the concerns that arise when we are away from loved ones.

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