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Unraveling Religion

Unraveling Religion

Author: Joel Lesses

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These mystical and practical discussions are explorations of spirituality and its relation to religion and psychology, with questions always. Beyond a specific religion or spiritual practice; what do we share, what do we have in common? These talks are a work in progress evolving our rich inner life, including reflections on religious texts, poems, art, and what is common in our human experience enhancing understanding of our relationships: with ourselves, with one another, and with the world we share.

Unraveling Religion has developed a cross-collaboration with both Lisa Carley's The Labyrinth podcast and Henry Cretella's Alchemical Dialogues podcast, cross-posting episodes both 'Selected, Best of The Labyrinth' podcast and 'Selected, Best of Alchemical Dialogues' podcast episodes, periodically.
53 Episodes
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In the second half of this two part conversation recorded, the panelist delve deeper into spirituality and practices with anticdotes, lessons, tips, and stories. Topics covered and included are Materialism and science and spirituality, relationships and consumerism, how does 'Service' relate to spirituality, healing and trusted loving relationships as spirituality, wonder and rest as spiritual practices, breath pratices connecting body mind and heart, and what role does the human body play in intelligent spirituality?  
In this dynamic and unique discussion, Unraveling Religion brings together five former guests of the show: Chris, Henry, Rich, Sara and Bettie. Together with Joel, the panel explores the fundamentals of spirituality including what it is, what means, its potentials, and practices. Lively, invigorating, and warm​ -​​ our discussion centered around exploring definitions, meaning and difference, perspective, and awareness. ​Topics covered were enlightenment versus separate self, spiritual experiences, ​connection and relationship, being at home in the world. Process? Change? Spirituality as life, with a Creation story. What role does suffering and healing play in spirituality?Biographies of the panel:Chris Barbera's biography includes currently 3 areas of spiritual life and work: working with and in relationship with the Network of Religious Communities, an interfaith human rights project; Chris also directs a prison theology writing program with inmates and faith communities; and writes, meditates and supports his local community.  Henry Cretella is a retired psychiatrist, active spiritual guide, and teacher.  He studied Sufism becoming a senior teacher before deciding to pursue his interests independent of any organization.  He has co-founded Amber Light International, revolving around mysticism and humanism. He hosts his own podcast, Alchemical Dialogues, through Amber Light.Richard Grego is professor of philosophy and cultural history at Florida State College at Jacksonville. His research interests focus on comparative and cross-cultural philosophy of religion and science, metaphysics and philosophy of mind, the philosophical implications of theoretical physics and scientific cosmology, and history of World Civilizations. His recent books-publications include: Sensual Austerity and Moral Leadership: Plato, Confucius, and Gandhi on Building a Peaceful Society.Sara Hughes (she/they) is a Relationship Artist who seeks to live in right relationship to all in the Web of Life. Sara's relational work has been primarily focused on improving conditions for young people in the unceded Seneca/Haudenosaunee region of the land currently known as Rochester, NY. More information may be found at https://mama-sara-says.comBettie Scullin's previous life activities included working in accounting and quality management in the steel, high tech and food industries.  Retired and living in Florida she offers Akashic records consultations and classes, devotes time to spiritual practices and meditations, writes poetry and enjoys participating in her grandsons’ lives.
In this final segment, more hilarity as the conversation loosens up. The poetry continues, talk of Bardos (spiritual realms), what does it mean when we first meet someone and time slows or stops, spiritual signs are discussed. The special evening ends with a favorite Rumi poem.  
In this continuation of the three part show, Joel and Lisa talk more about identity and examine it through the psychological lens, relationship as a model of teaching, repressed memories; poetry begins to emerge in this second segment, existential psychology and mental health distress are examined. What do we attach or connect to in the world. Is the world physical spiritual or both? What does it mean to be a 'good father.' Past lives and poetry intertwine. What are we as human beings 'holding together' and what does it mean when we fall apart? 
Lifted from the archives, this from July 2013, into the deep of night, armed with Mike's Hard Lemonaid, American Spirits, Pringles, Eckhart Tolle and Rumi, in Lisa's 2001 Black Hundai Elantra in the parking lot of Allentown Trading Company Gas station, at the corner of Buffalo's Allen Streen and Delaware Avenue, Lisa Carley Hotaling and Joel Lesses explore the nature of the existential condition and its relation to identity and reveal an enduring friendship. Using psychological, poetic and spiritual lenses, Lisa and Joel laugh, talk, drink, and smoke their way through a terrain that is both deeply personal and exploratory, introspective and hilarious. Lisa was a Psy. D. student in Clinical Psychology with a Masters in Existential Humanist Psychology, poet, mother, student of Philosophy and English and artistian. 
In this panel discussion with four Rabbis from America's West Coast to Israel, Joel guides an exploration of mobilizing Jewish outreach (i.e., or 'inreach' or 'in reach') how to, why, and what Jewish tradition teaches and offers from a wide range of teachings including Rebbe Menachem Mendel Schneerson and the Baal Shem Tov. This collection of dedicated and diverse Jewish voices guide the contemporary question 'how do we strengthen the spiritual health of our Jewish community?' Discussion includes Passover and meditation, The Tanya, and Pirkei Avot (i.e., Ethics of Our Fathers). By the very question of mobilization outreach, the necessity of examining one's own intentions and purity of action in humility and approaching others in friendship as vital to sharing love of Judaism. The talk arrives at the place of true friendship as the means of transmitting the teaching of Judaism and Torah to others in the Jewish community and the vital realization that all people have significance and a role in the restoration of the World.       Biography of Panelists: Rabbi Heschel Greenberg is a preeminent Jewish thinker, scholar, and teacher. Rabbi Greenberg has brought the highest ideas to broad audiences. Across half a century, Rabbi Greenberg has elevated the way people live and feel by elevating the way they think. In a world of new media, where digital waves move oceans of information across continents, Rabbi Greenberg stands out as a voice of clarity. In the fathomless sea of information, often overwhelming and confusing, Rabbi Greenberg serves as a calming conveyer of eternal ideas—an expert lighthouse directing the ships of humanity through the possibilities of life by the light of the divine. Rabbi Gedaliah Gurfein has been a teacher of Jewish wisdom for over 45 years. His experiences have included a range from traditional yeshivot to Pueblo Indians, Igbo Tribes, China, Netherlands, Mexico and, of course, Israel. Gedaliah has also been involved in the Israeli High-Tech industry since 1995. His classic work - free to the public - is www.thepeoplestalmud.com. Rabbi Brian Yosef Schachter-Brooks is a Jewish spiritual teacher and musician. He has been teaching the practice of Presence (i.e., meditation, mindfulness) and Judaism since 2006, and founded Torah of Awakening in 2016. He is the author of Kabbalah for Beginners, published by Rockridge Press, and Integral Jewish Meditation – Three Portals of Presence for Spiritual Awakening. Rabbi Brian Yosef received s’miha (ordination) as Minister of Sacred Music (Reb Yosef Briah Zohar, Menatzeiakh, Ba’al Tefilah) from Reb Zalman z”l  (2012), Spiritual Teacher and Awakener of Souls  (Morei Rukhani uM’oreir N’shamot) from Shaykh Ibrahim Baba Farajaje (may his secret be sanctified) and Rabbi SaraLeya Schley (2012), certification as Teacher of Jewish Meditation (Moreh L’hitbodedut) from Dr. Rabbi Avram Davis (2004), and holds a Bachelor in Music from the Eastman School of Music (1991). Rabbi Micha Odenheimer: 'Born in 1958 in Berkeley California, Micha Odenheimer has been a writer, journalist, Jewish teacher and social activist in Israel since making aliyah 31 years ago. Micha’s life and interests include fields rarely seen in combination. As a rabbi he has written dozens of essays on Judaism the Torah, and social justice, and has reported on trends in Judaism and the Jewish world. Micha has a special interest in Jewish mysticism and Hasidism.'
From the archives, the fourth ever episode recorded of Unraveling Religion, this from June 18th, 2008 is reposted In Memoriam for Reverend Kyoki Roberts of Pittsburgh's Deep Spring Temple. In speaking with Joel, Kyoki explored insights from her long time Zen practice. What is the nature of Self? Questions opening into 'what is Zen?' and the relation to Dukkha (Sanskrit, suffering), how Zen practice addresses 'when are material possessions enough?' The practical and experiential aspects of Zen practice, the streams of Soto versus Rinzai Zen traditions. Addressing the sense of a separate self or as Dogen Zenji's teaching 'dropping away body and mind.' Rinzai's koan, public case study: 'what is the sound of one hand clapping?' and Joshu's (Chinese, Zhouzhou) 'does a dog have Buddha nature? MU!' Kyoki skillfully guides the conversation toward seeing things as they are. What do we awakened to? How do we reconcile Zen practice with God? A examination of Dogen Zenji's teaching of Parental Mind, from his treatis Shobogenzo. Bodhidharma's importance in Chinese Ch'an roots, and the story of Bodhidharma and Emperor Wu, 'no holiness, vast emptiness' and merit and Zen practice, doing things for 'no reason.' Discursive mind versus Big Mind, the moment as fresh and new, all potentiation, step into the moment: here, now! What is a Bodhisattva? Exploring the Bodhisattva vow, and the question 'where can I be helpful?' Taking suffering as a way to learn and be helpful and benefit others, through action and wisdom.   Biography   Reverend Kyōki Roberts (December 17, 1951 to December 19, 2023) was a retired American Sōtō Zen priest. The single Dharma heir of Nonin Chowaney-roshi, Roberts received Dharma transmission in June 2001 and was a member of an organization of priests known as the Order of the Prairie Wind (OPW). She studied Zen in Japan and in the United States. Roberts blended her practice with art during the 2003 exhibition Gestures: An Exhibition of Small Site-Specific Works at The Mattress Factory Museum in Pittsburgh. Her installation exhibit, No where to go; nothing to do: Just Sitting, invited visitors to experience aspects of Zazen. In March 2006, Roberts served as a member of the Plenary Panel of Venerable Women: Women Living the Dharma in the 21st Century during the first Buddhist Women's Conference held at DePaul University and sponsored by the Buddhist Council of the Midwest. (Biography from Wiki)
This initial epsiode of Unraveling Religion recorded on November 14th, 2007 in Buffalo, New York explores the question 'what's it all for?' in the largest scale we can imagine. Maj Ragain, who passed in 2018, presents in this talk the intersection of loneliness and its cure, touch, and the ways in which we can comfort one another. Sharing poetry and the makeup of what is meaningful to him, Maj examines the different frameworks of modern life rooted in an ancient and sacred wisdom. Beginning with the wisdom of the Sundance, Maj speaks of how the soul was formless and did not know limitation. As the Soul found form, the human body, it knew limitation including loneliness. Drawing on Buddhism's Zen Flesh, Zen Bones and Zen Mind, Beginners Mind Maj's talk weaves the 'Big Mind' that includes the thread and voice that forms his poetry. Maj's talk includes the Tao Te Ching and its author Lao Tzu sharing 'I have only three things to share: simplicity, patience, and compassion.' Maj concludes with Meister Eckhert's notion 'if the only prayer that is said is 'thank you' that would be enough.'   Biography: Maj Ragain (1940 to 2018) was born into a small, southeastern Illinois farm town. Home-tutored and raised on Vernor Lake, he earned a Bachelor of Arts in English at Eastern Illinois University, and an Master of Arts in English at the University of Illinois. He had been on faculty, off and on, at Kent State University since 1969, where he obtained his Ph. D. in 1990. He is the author of seven chapbooks of poetry and five book-length collections, all of which contribute to Clouds Pile Up in the North: New & Selected Poems. Maj had served for more than thirty years as host to open poetry readings in Kent, monthly, downtown, mentoring hundr​eds​​ of poets through the years.
This episode asks the questions: How do we resolve life's Existential Delimma and paradox? What is 'Virtue?' Can 'Virtue' be taught?   Joel drops in at Before Your Quiet Eyes Bookstore and finds Ken Kelbaugh, David White, and 'Ted' Estragon in philosophic discourse and joins the discussion examining Bishop Butler, Plotinus, and Plato. A few minutes into the conversation, Rochester poet Stephen Lloyd joins the conversation. Through the evolution of the talk, an examination of 'Virtue' begins to take shape.  What is Virtue? Is it inherent? Can it be cultivated? David outlines Bishop Butler's discourse on the topics of Human Nature, The Divine, Thought, Conscience, and Intellect and shares Butler's raison d'etre to 'seek the truth unashamed to learn.' Ted shares 'we [human beings] are not a being, we are a becoming.' An examination of 'daimon' versus 'intuition' is sought. A myth of Zeus and the human question is shared. Through this deep investigation of Virtue, myth and religion are explored. The day's discussion closes with David White reading from his original poem Astratto. Biography: David White's birthplace was Fitch's Sanitarium in the Bronx (founded in 1920 and closed in the early 1960s) now he is in senior housing. David was born on December 29, 1946. The axis of his career is in philosophy, religion, and drama, and turned when he came to understand Bishop Butler’s explanation of the prophet unheeded. David's first poem was written on assignment for a college English class. On the last day, the professor handed his poem back, unmarked and ungraded. She said she had the poem on her desk since it was turned in, David reported that when the course had ended all she could say was, “I don’t know, I just don’t know.” Vladimir Estragon ('Ted') is a militant Platonist, Plotinian, and Dionysius-Areogapitian - but insists on radical moderation in others. His career aspirations include learning Attic Greek, juggling with flaming torches, and performing 'Lucky's Speech' in a stage performance of 'Waiting for Godot.' Ted host's a monthly film viewing at Before Your Quiet Eyes Bookstore every 3rd Thursday of the month (except April), starting at 6:00 pm. This event is free and open to the public at 439 Monroe Avenue, Rochester NY. Stephen Lloyd is a Rochester poet and frequenter of Before Your Quiet Eyes Bookstore. Ken Kelbaugh is the owner of the Before Your Quiet Eyes Bookstore.
In this trailer of The Labyrinth Podcast, Lisa Carley introduces the podcast's orgins, philosophy, topics, and terrain covered in curiosity of life and existence with these conversations, an invitation to join.        2015; 'The Sound of Silence' (Instrumental); Immortalized; Reprise Records
This conversation with Lisa and Joel explores Lisa Carley's new podcast 'The Labyrinth' and its slogan 'Destination Unknown' and its relationship to the 'Unraveling Religion' podcast, whose own slogan 'What You Are Is More Than What You Want.' These two old friends share deep vision of hope and work toward a brighter future as they deconstruct meaning, mission, and purpose, and the mechanisms of what comprises the most vital aspects of life and relationship. In this brief discussion, Lisa and Joel outline the parallel journey of spirituality and curiousty that forms the basis of their timeless bond.
In Part 1 of this three part episode, Joel lassoed Rich Grego and Lisa Carley into a conversation recorded weaving threads through time and space and love, itself. This conversation meanders among these three old, dear friends, and touches on nihilism, dissolution and romanticism, Dharma decay and Dharma renewal, changes and spa
In Part 2, Lisa, Rich, and Joel explore knowing the 'why' and knowing the 'big picture' versus being in the flow of life. The talk continues in the examination of life asking 'What is being asked of me? What do I need to learn about this situation? What do I need to perceive in this situation?'
In Part 3 Lisa, Rich, and Joel examine the secret to the existential delimma and how to resolve it. The answer, 'service.' Also, surfing and meditation and the story of Reb Zusha, a Hasidic Master. A Jewish Kabbalistic look at death, judgment, and Heavenly Decrees, ultimately who judges us? Does human life have spiritual veils and what do they hide? Also discussed is American Zen Buddhism and the two most influential books in American Zen, 'Zen Mind, Beginner's Mind' and 'The Three Pillars of Zen.' From Zen Mind, Beginner Mind, 'The basic teaching of Buddhism is the teaching of transcency or change.' and 'That everything changes is the basic truth for each existence.' What actually determines the quality of our life: is it what we receive from others, or what we give to others?  What is our relationship to Death? What are we forced to let go of in life and what returns to us in the future?  These explorations build into a final poem Lisa wrote and reads.
Henry Cretella and Joel discuss collaboration to present a series of four workshops in 2024 from Amber Light, Int. and Education Training Center, Inc.'s Ground and Sky Poetry Series entitled 'Spirituality In Everyday Life.' The topics of the four workshops are: 1. Spirituality And Service 2. Spirituality And Relationship 3. Spirituality And Mental Health and 4. Spirituality And The Arts. Also, Henry discusses some of the aspects of Amber Light, Int. and its podcast Alchemical Dialogues and Joel explores the Programs and Services of Education Training Center, Inc. and the ways it seeks to address mental health and marginalization. In this brief talk, the foundation of Amber Light, Int.'s relationship to Sufism and the threads found in all world's traditions are discussed as well as Education Training Center's podcast Unraveling Religion's relationship to build and support mental health through a strong spiritual or existential foundation, and other programs and services of Education Training Center, Inc. that address mental health without distinction to cause. Listen to this collaboration to build healthy community with two old friends who share a common vision and passion to improve the quality of life for others.
From The Lubavitcher Rebbe, Menachem Mendel Schneerson, to the Ba'al Shem Tov, to Maimonides and Moses this discussion includes topics of the security of the Jewish people and the Land of Israel and how the Jewish people can fortify their existence and safety. Rabbi Greenberg and Joel examine the best Jewish responses to the terror attack October 7th, 2023. The journey of this conversation addresses Jewish Unity, and the exiles and returns to Israel of the Jewish people, Family Purity (i.e., Niddah), Shabbas, and Kashrut (law of keeping Kosher), Gematria, examining the teaching of G-d's name and the Tetragrammatron, reducing the ego as a step in giving Tzdekah (i.e., Charity), the mind of the Teacher toward their students, the Kabbalistic teaching of the masculine and feminine energies as refined through discipline, the influence of Torah on marriage, the 613 mitvot and the Talmudic teaching of 248 postive mitzvot correlating to the 248 bones of the human body, and the 365 'negative' (i.e., 'don't do') correlating to the 365 days of the year. Also examined are the Zohar, Mishnah, Talmud, and Kabbalah and lighting Shabbas candles as a weapon to dispel darkness (i.e., Neshek). Please join us to engage in this fascinating dialogue exploring aspects of our humanity and Judaism's role in illuminating the triumph of 'Good' and creating the World as it was meant to be from the beginning.  Biography: Rabbi Heschel Greenberg is one of the world’s preeminent Jewish thinkers, scholars, teachers, inspirations, and inspirers. With a sublime blend of incredible intellectual prowess, vast encyclopedic knowledge, beautifully articulated language, and resounding resonant relatability, Rabbi Greenberg has brought the highest ideas to the broadest audiences. Across half a century, Rabbi Greenberg has elevated the way people live and feel by elevating the way they think. In a world of new media, where digital waves move oceans of information across continents, Rabbi Greenberg stands out as a voice of clarity. In the fathomless sea of information, often overwhelming and c
Dusted off as one of Unraveling Religion's original episodes back in 2008, Activist and Poet Chris Barbera joins Joel for a talk exploring the landscape of our collective sorrows and how to address them. The terrain covers the root response to suffering found in exploring spirituality. The question of 'work' and how work is defined was answered. Chris begins with his own expressed spiritual development and biography, culminating with a deep awakening in the Tenderloin district of San Francisco. The realization placed for Chris the understanding of the inequality of systems of power against many of its marginalized citizens, mainly due to the drive to consume and commoditize, an unexamined priorities, in our nation and world.These power structures have sought to accumulate wealth and power, and in the talk Chris and Joel also explore the validities of all the world's religions. Chris came to realize G-d is not an idea but a living Reality. Through the talk, Chris and Joel discuss how these systems criminalize the poor. Also examined were ways to alleviate suffering, guided by various spiritual doctrines, and searching 'where does G-d fit into all of this?' The differences of science and religion, and how the ancient cultures made no distinction between the two.A profound examination of humankind's direction, hope, and potential outcome.Biography of Chris Barbera: Chris Barbera has lived in the backs of empty churches and intentional communities and worked on various social justice movements and has, for many years, administered an educational nonprofit, Jesus the Liberator Seminary of Religious Justice, which focuses upon developing a “Prison  Theology” with people incarcerated. He currently lives intentionally at the interfaith nonprofit, Network of Religious Communities. In short, he has lived and worked with poor people at the intersection of grassroots justice movements, spiritually lived ideas and experiences in relation with institutional structures, traditions, and nonprofit efforts, as well as at the intersection of poetry and theology. All is all in all rooted and wind.
Part 2, continues the vital disucssion regarding the implications of spirituality, of religion, or neither? Continue listening to this panel discussion with five practitioners who are either involved or have been with both spirituality and religion, as they explore their views and experiences. Aude Chesnais, Ph.D., has encountered various spiritual traditions before finding her family on the Sufi path since 2017. She is a political ecologist and senior researcher for the Native Lands Advocacy Project, and has been working closely with native communities in the USA for the past 10 years on issues of land sovereignty and Traditional Ecological Knowledge, particularly in support of regenerative food-systems transitions. Aude’s work reflects strongly on her positionality as a white researcher working in Indigenous settings. Although her spiritual path has led her on the quest to understand oneness, Aude’s professional path and commitment to social justice constantly reminds her of the real social impacts of human distinctions on their lives. Reconciling these two coexisting realities is Aude’s lifetime quest. Aude received her MA in social and solidarity economics from Université de Haute-Alsace, France and her Ph.D. in sociology from Colorado State University, CO, USA. Henry Cretella, M.D., is the host of Alchemical Dialogues and co-director of Amber Light International. He is a retired psychiatrist who received his medical degree from Vanderbilt University and his post-graduate training at the University of Rochester’s Strong Memorial Hospital in Rochester, NY. Henry was raised Roman Catholic and later began initial studies in Shamanism and Tibetan Buddhism, as well as in the martial arts before finding a home in the Sufi lineage of Inayat Khan. Henry no longer practices an exoteric religion, but teaches and guides others in a mystically oriented spirituality that incorporates the wisdom from many traditions and disciplines. For Henry, he believes that we are in an era calling for each of us to find and follow our own unique spiritual path. He also believes that we can connect with others and a power greater than ourselves, in order to further a positive expansion and evolution of human consciousness. Tania Day-Magallon is an artist born in Mexico City and has collaborated in various art events and exhibits in Chicago, Mexico City, and Rochester, NY. She identifies as Muslim and is a Sufi practitioner. Tania started her art education at a young age, and she attended prominent art institutions in Mexico City. Tania’s art frequently uses symbolism and imagery emphasizing her own cultural identity and spiritual views. Tania became a member of the group formerly known as Women of Color in the Arts (WOC-Art) collaborative, where she curated an art activity and installation titled “Hands of Sorority”. Tania was also commissioned to design the cover of an issue for the academic journal Frontiers: A Journal of Women Studies entitled Deterritorializing Frontiers. Tania earned her BA in Visual Arts from SUNY Empire State College, where she continued her studies in visual arts and psychology. She is currently earning her MS in Mental Health Counseling at SUNY Brockport. Tania believes that mental health, spirituality, and the arts are interwoven, and her current work is focused on exploring her roots, the Divine Feminine, and decolonial mental health approaches that include the creative process as a fundamental aspect of human wellbeing. Margot VanEtten has a wide and varied background in spirituality and meditation, interfaith study and dialogue, martial arts, and ministerial practice including as a lay minister in the Catholic Church for many years. She holds a Master’s degree in Sacred Theology from St. Bernard’s Institute in Rochester,
Alchemical Dialogues held a panel discussion regarding spirituality and religion. These two practices not the same, but this can be confusing for many. Westerners, in growing numbers, identify as 'spiritual, but not religious.' Likewise, there are many who list their religious affiliation as 'other.'   Atheism and agnosticism are growing, often touting the benefits of community without the perceived negatives that religion and spirituality add—or do not. What are the implications of spirituality, of religion, or neither? In late 2022, Henry Cretella's podcast Alchemical Dialogues brought together a panel to disucss religion and spirituality, a discussion with Aude Chesnais, Henry Cretella, Tania Day-Magallon, Margot VanEtten, and Joel David Lesses. Listen to this panel discussion with five practitioners who are either involved or have been with both spirituality and religion, as they explore their views and experiences. Aude Chesnais, Ph.D., has encountered various spiritual traditions before finding her family on the Sufi path since 2017. She is a political ecologist and senior researcher for the Native Lands Advocacy Project, and has been working closely with native communities in the USA for the past 10 years on issues of land sovereignty and Traditional Ecological Knowledge, particularly in support of regenerative food-systems transitions. Aude’s work reflects strongly on her positionality as a white researcher working in Indigenous settings. Although her spiritual path has led her on the quest to understand oneness, Aude’s professional path and commitment to social justice constantly reminds her of the real social impacts of human distinctions on their lives. Reconciling these two coexisting realities is Aude’s lifetime quest. Aude received her MA in social and solidarity economics from Université de Haute-Alsace, France and her Ph.D. in sociology from Colorado State University, CO, USA. Henry Cretella, M.D., is the host of Alchemical Dialogues and co-director of Amber Light International. He is a retired psychiatrist who received his medical degree from Vanderbilt University and his post-graduate training at the University of Rochester’s Strong Memorial Hospital in Rochester, NY. Henry was raised Roman Catholic and later began initial studies in Shamanism and Tibetan Buddhism, as well as in the martial arts before finding a home in the Sufi lineage of Inayat Khan. Henry no longer practices an exoteric religion, but teaches and guides others in a mystically oriented spirituality that incorporates the wisdom from many traditions and disciplines. For Henry, he believes that we are in an era calling for each of us to find and follow our own unique spiritual path. He also believes that we can connect with others and a power greater than ourselves, in order to further a positive expansion and evolution of human consciousness. Tania Day-Magallon is an artist born in Mexico City and has collaborated in various art events and exhibits in Chicago, Mexico City, and Rochester, NY. She identifies as Muslim and is a Sufi practitioner. Tania started her art education at a young age, and she attended prominent art institutions in Mexico City. Tania’s art frequently uses symbolism and imagery emphasizing her own cultural identity and spiritual views. Tania became a member of the group formerly known as Women of Color in the Arts (WOC-Art) collaborative, where she curated an art activity and installation titled “Hands of Sorority”. Tania was also commissioned to design the cover of an issue for the academic journal Frontiers: A Journal of Women Studies entitled Deterritorializing Frontiers. Tania earned her BA in Visual Arts from SUNY Empire State College, where she continued her studies in visual arts and psychology. She is current
In Part 2 of this talk, Mike, Mike and Joel continue deconstructing meaning death and spirituality. Joel tells a story of his 'good friend' John Bednarchik who passed in 2012, and John's profound influence on Joel through his living example cultivated by John's long and devoted practice of Zen
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