Show cover of Unraveling Religion

Unraveling Religion

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.

Tracks

Mobilizing Jewish Outreach, Bringing A Person Closer To Wisdom: A Roundtable Discussion Of Rabbis Exploring Strengthening Jewish Commitment
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.'
46:37 4/12/24
The Nuts and Bolts Of Zen: 'Seeing Things As They Are' With Reverend Kyoki Roberts, First Zen Priest Of Pittburgh's Deep Spring Temple
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)
40:35 3/26/24
What's It All For?: Inaugural Episode of Unraveling Religion with Northeast Ohio's Poetic Giant Major Ragain
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.
39:06 3/13/24
Exploring Virtue: Philosophic Discourse Through the Lens of Plato, Plotinus, and Bishop Butler
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.
36:48 3/11/24
The Labyrinth, A Trailer
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
03:07 2/7/24
Seeds Toward A Future, Now: A Talk About 'The Labyrinth' Podcast with Lisa Carley
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.
06:31 1/17/24
Part 3 As A Fly On The Wall: Eavesdropping On Human Musings, Existence, and 'Coming Home'
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.
19:23 1/4/24
Part 2 As A Fly On The Wall: Eavesdropping On Human Musings, Existence, and 'Coming Home'
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?'
34:02 1/4/24
Part 1 As A Fly On The Wall: Eavesdropping On Human Musings, Existence, and 'Coming Home'
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
34:23 1/4/24
'Spirituality In Everyday Life': Amber Light, Int. and Education Training Center, Inc., A Collaboration
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.
05:58 12/22/23
A Jewish Means To Vanquish Darkness, Lighting Shabbas Candles: A Conversation With Torah Scholar Rabbi Heschel Greenberg
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
41:45 11/10/23
Visionary Landscape of Humanity's Potential, A Conversation With Chris Barbera
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.
44:10 7/13/23
Part 2 Alchemical Dialogues' Spirituality and Religion: Similarities, Differences, and Implications
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,
56:35 7/11/23
Part 1 Alchemical Dialogues' Spirituality and Religion: Similarities, Differences, and Implications
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
51:45 7/11/23
Part 2 Three Words On Your Tombstone; Three Counselors Talk On Death, Meditation, Meaning, and Suffering
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
27:19 5/6/23
Part 1 Three Words On Your Tombstone; Three Counselors Talk On Death, Meditation, Meaning, and Suffering
In Part 1 of this episode, at Joel's place, in the midst of new friendship and burning Sage, Mike Morde, Mike Pernot, and Joel Lesses talk about life, spirituality, psychology, meaning, and death. Explored are the importance and practice of meditation and mindfulness; also 'awareness of the process
27:29 5/6/23
Part 2 Nothing Wasted, Nothing Lost: Lessons from Lived Experience with Joel Lesses (Recorded for Alchemical Dialogues with Henry Cretella)
In Part 2 of the Alchemical Dialogues Podcast with Henry Cretella and Joel Lesses, more discussion surrounding wisdom of lived experience including Joel's personal history exploring mental health distress and an opporunity.  Bio: Joel Lesses founded the Education Training Center as a means of counseling people marginalized by trauma, addiction, and psychological distress, and its effects including incarceration, homelessness, and institutionalization. He is dedicated to reframing mental health distress as a potential spiritual marker and existential opportunity. Also, vested in Poetry and Literature as an educator and poet, through writing workshops, poetry roundtables, poetry, and a manuscript. Finally, other passions include the intersection of poetry, spirituality, science, and phenomenology shared and disparate in the human experience, and transformative power of self inquiry and introspection through contemplative and meditative practices explored in his podcast, 'Unraveling Religion' mystical and practical discussions as an exploration of spirituality and its relation to religion and psychology. Joel was nominated and voted previously 'Buffalo's Best Poet'; he has been published in various magazines and publications, founded Ground and Sky Poetry Series, and facilitated numerous poetry workshops. Currently, he is working on an autobiography of poetry and prose entitled 'Odyssey of Autumn's Breath: An American Collection and Life.' He has worked as a healthcare administrator, trainer, facilitator, and consultant, leading the understanding in education treatment and advocacy regarding substance use, mental health, (and medical) issues.
39:37 4/21/23
Part 1 Nothing Wasted, Nothing Lost: Lessons from Lived Experience with Joel Lesses (Recorded for Alchemical Dialogues with Henry Cretella)
Henry and Joel discuss lessons from lived experience with mental health distress, including: lessons from trauma, isolation, loneliness, marginalization, existential crisis, and how mental health distress may be a calling to become a healer leader and teacher in community. Extracting lessons and asking the 'why' slowly begins to uncover answers, reveals meaning and purpose, calls us to understanding and wisdom of life's deeper questions. There, passions reveal themselves, including for Joel poetry, spirituality and mysticism. For Joel these interests formed the basis of Education Training Center, Joel's nonprofit organization, to address areas of need for individuals marginalized by mental health, trauma, and psychological distress without distinction to cause. Originally recorded for Amber Light International's Alchemical Dialogues Podcast with Henry Cretella, it is slightly edited in version.  
38:14 4/21/23
One People, Earth Breathing, Waters Living, Life's Sanctity, Everywhere: A Talk With Joy Harjo, the 23rd Poet Lau­re­ate of the Unit­ed States
Joy Harjo and Joel connect in this dusted off, older episode, to open and discuss our shared human experience in its different forms and the pervading spirit found in mountains and rivers, water and air, in people and the Earth. The shared community we live in calls us to understand our actions affect others and the Earth. Joy and Joel discuss spirituality, Joy's history and development as an artist, shared responsibity for our communities, Native teachings, Buddhism, Joy's plays, music, poetry, and art. Also discussed were generational influences and wisdom and how in years past there was a closer connection to our heart and mind. Joy and Joel also discuss the intelligence of the body and how common sense is spirituality expressed. Joy and Joel share many aspects of spirituality and life, and conclude reflecting on Joy's Eagle Poem. The end of the talk mentions Maj Ragain and A Gathering of Poets commemorating in 1990 the 20th anniversary of the shootings at Kent State, which introduced Joel to Joy Harjo's work.  Bio: Joy Har­jo, the 23rd Poet Lau­re­ate of the Unit­ed States, is a mem­ber of the Mvskoke Nation and belongs to Oce Vpofv (Hick­o­ry Ground). As a poet, activist, and musician, Joy Harjo’s work has won countless awards. In 2019, Harjo became the first Native American United States Poet Laureate in history and is only the second poet to be appointed for three terms. In addition to her many books of poetry, she has written several books for young audiences and released seven award-winning music albums. Click here for a list of Joy Harjo's latest books. Harjo is a founding board member and Chair of the Native Arts and Cultures Foundation and, in 2019, was elected a Chancellor of the Academy of American Poets. She has since been inducted into the National Women’s Hall of Fame, National Native American Hall of Fame, the American Philosophical Society, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and the American Academy of Arts and Letters. Harjo currently lives in Tulsa, Oklahoma where she serves as the first Artist-in-Residency of the Bob Dylan Center. [click here for full Bio] By Kerri Lee Alexander, NWHM Fellow | 2018-2020
22:13 4/12/23
Discourse and Rigors of Analysis of Religious and Political Spectrums and Spirituality: Richard Wicka and Joel Talk
On Richard Wicka's I Thou Video Series Richard and Joel, two old friends, talk and deconstruct meaning, trauma, and suffering and its relation to political and religous spectrums and systems of belief. Richard and Joel teach each about their perspectives in deeply honoring and respectful discourse, examining: nationalism, Hilter, neonazism, the liberal or left versus the right or conservative belief systems that influence the world, tolerance and love versus projecting one's suffering on to others. The spiritual aspect of reality and existence in relation to Trump and tendencies of liberal communities and people versus conservative communities and people. From Karl Marx to Capitalism, Joel and Richard look at a wide array of terrain to answer questions about the 'Why.' To view this talk on YouTube unedited, please click here.    Richard Wicka is a Buffalo, N.Y.-based media artist and photographer and the proprietor of "The Home of the Future,"a media access center and production/recording studio based in his Kaisertown home. Wicka has been providing a forum for artists in all media, activists, and everyday citizens of his Western New York community since the mid-1970s. He provides interested parties with technical support, studio time, and production tools free of charge, encouraging them to express themselves in ways that mainstream culture has not historically sanctioned. With the advent of internet radio came ThinkTwice Radio in 2006, offering podcasts to anyone with a subject to discuss and the commitment to produce a regular show. Wicka attended the seminary as an adolescent, then pursued a BA in philosophy from the University at Buffalo. In 1976 he founded Buffalo Paralegal Services. His work has been screened at venues and on television stations around the world. Wicka is a past board president of Hallwalls Contemporary Arts Center. For more information on Richard Wicka, visit hotftv.net.
61:23 3/19/23
Blessings of Lived Experience with Mental Health Distress, Flourishing: A Conversation With Karl Shallowhorn
Karl Shallowhorn and Joel talk about lived experience with mental health distress, the different ways to improve the quality of life for people with mental health distress, Karl's own history and biography, personally and professionally, with lived experience. Karl and Joel explore the importance of peer to peer connection not just for people with mental health distress, but its importance for all people to see what is shared, what we have in common, our shared human condition. Together Karl and Joel share personal and professional history and hopes for our collective future. Karl wears many hats, working at Mental Health Advocates as Director of Youth Programs, Karl Shallowhorn Consulting, he also has his own radio program dedicated to discussing the relationship music has with mental health ‘Mental Health Verses’. Thursday, 03/02/2023, 7:00 Karl presents Mental Health Verses: Live, a multi-media talk based on his 91.3 FM WBNY radio program of the same name. For tickets to attend or support, please click here: https://secure.qgiv.com/for/mhaoeci/event/mentalhealthverses/   Bio:  Mental health advocate, educator, speaker and coach, Karl Shallowhorn, has a proven track record of delivering engaging and informative presentations to wide-ranging audiences across the United States. His combination of lived experience and clinical expertise makes him a unique resource. Karl is the author of Working on Wellness: A Practical Guide to Mental Health, Leadership Through the Lens of the 12 Steps and is the creator of a Mastermind course based on the 12 Step Leadership concept. He has been a featured blogger and writer for BP magazine. Karl has received numerous awards for his work in the mental health field including from the National Federation of Just Communities and the Buffalo Association of Black Social Workers. He has also been selected as a presenter for TedX Buffalo 2021 with his topic being, “African American Men and Mental Health: Crisis or Opportunity.” Karl is a much sought-after speaker and a member of the Black Speakers Network, He is the host of a Facebook Live public affairs and health program sponsored by the Community Health Center of Buffalo. As a person in long-term recovery from bipolar and co-occurring addiction disorder, Karl’s goal is to help people discover their unmet potential and eliminate the stigma associated with mental illness. He has educated diverse audiences, including behavioral health providers, law enforcement, youth, educators, veterans and faith communities, among others.
38:07 2/28/23
A Short Description Of Alchemical Dialogues and Unraveling Religion, A Collaboration
In this brief talk, Henry Cretella, MD and Joel examine the history and relationship between Amber Light's Podcast 'Alchemical Dialogues' and Joel's own podcast 'Unraveling Religion.' Henry and Joel have been friends since 2014, and have cross-pollinated sharing ideas and wisdom including episodes regarding dreams, poetry, the spiritual path, psychology and mental health. 'Alchemical Dialogues' are live and unscripted conversations with topics from our current social and cultural climate, and an emphasis on humanism and spirituality. Amber Light International is a non-profit educational/spiritual group. Through it, Henry and his partner Kathleen offer spiritual guidance, individual and group retreats, workshops, intensive book studies, celebrations and other related experiences. Amber Light link here: https://www.amberlightinternational.org/podcast/          
04:14 1/27/23
'Where Do I Fit In?' An Examination of The People's Talmud, Judaism, Love and Hate, Antisemitism, and Human Unity: A Conversation with Rabbi Gedaliah Gurfein from Jerusalem
Curiosity delving deeply into the Talmud and Rabbi Gedaliah Gurfein's website 'The People's Talmud' https://thepeoplestalmud.com/home (which is all in English). Rabbi Gedaliah Gurfein and Joel discuss a vast terrain of time and topics, in Judaism, Judaism's relation to the World, and a Jew's responsibility and obligation to their community. Every single aspect of life is address in Talmud, the interface of G-d and this physical World, Torah. Joel and Gedaliah outline the Sages from the Talmud, Hillel and Shammai, the need for discourse and dialogue in the course of antisemitism. The People's Talmud’s reach has a following in West Africa and China. Also explored is ‘what is a Jewish Soul,’ from a practical and mystical perspective. The People’s Talmud is not a translation of Talmud, but a narration of the Talmud. Love and Hatred as the same energy, the difference is how it is expressed. Wisdom versus Knowledge, the importance of falling or failing in life as a way of gaining wisdom.  Gedaliah 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.
50:14 12/25/22
Part 2 Rabbis and Prophecy, Meditation, Judaism, and Mental Health: A Conversation With Reb Brian Yosef from Torah of Awakening
In Part 2 of this talk, Reb Brian Yosef and Joel talk about the second and third Portals of Awareness, as taught by Reb Brian. Feeling the breath, the relation of the many meanings of the Hebrew word 'Ruach:' spirit, wind, breath, and soul. The practical instructions of mystical teachings, awareness, and consciousness, meditation. 'I am this awareness, the open field.' Encouraging the realization of Self. Aryeh Kaplan writings, the spiritual and mystical teachings from 'Jacob's Ladder.' Creation of postive and negative angels, Jacob's awakening stating 'the Divine is in this place and I did not know it.'    Bio: Reb Brian Yosef Schachter-Brooks is a Jewish spiritual teacher and musician. He has been teaching the practice of Presence (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.Reb 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).
27:20 12/4/22
Part 1 Rabbis and Prophecy, Meditation, Judaism, and Mental Health: A Conversation With Reb Brian Yosef from Torah of Awakening
Part 1 of this talk, Reb Brian Yosef and Joel share thoughts and perspectives on Divine Providence, dreams, spiritual awakening, meditation, and the importance of how to integrate awakening experiences into our daily lives, in an enduring way. Also, seeing beyond our human conditioning into our deeper self, our Soul, and the intellect as a tool for spirituality. Buddhism and Judaism are compared and contrasted, things like 'Mu-shin,' or 'no-mind,' the mystical aspect of life seeing into emptiness or Reality. What is Kabbalah: what does it mean? who is it for? what does it offer? Kabbalah, Chasidism, The Ba'al Shem Tov and the historical developments of Judaism's spirituality. What and why does spirituality benefit people?     Bio: Reb Brian Yosef Schachter-Brooks is a Jewish spiritual teacher and musician. He has been teaching the practice of Presence (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.Reb 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).    
30:19 12/4/22
Fatherhood And Hope: A Conversation with Rah, Podcast Host Of Fatha Torch
Rah and Joel discuss the life of fathers, Rah expresses the benefits and challenges of fatherhood today and of the spiritual side of parenting. Rah teaches regarding his experiences as a father of nine, and his deep desire to improve the quality of life for parents, fathers, and children. Through his deep wisdom and life experience, Rah shares with Joel insights and hopes he also explores in his podcast 'Fatha Torch.' About 'Fatha Torch:'  the podcast to help you become the dad you always wish you had. Each episode is an open discussion about fatherhood and the struggles faced as and by Black men in America. Topics include self-love, the child support system, emotional trauma from toxic relationships, societal injustices and reentry after incarceration.  To listen to Rah and Fatha Torch here: https://www.fathatorch.com Rashakim 'Rah' Hudson, a father of nine children, artist and founder of Abimilechh Foundation in Rochester, NY, became a father in 1996, and struggled to be a good father or at least better than his own. Rah had struggled with emotional traumas and mental health issues for an extended periods. He was inspired by friends and family members who saw in him in a 'truth as a father' and to establish a fatherhood curriculum and program to connect with other fathers. 'Who is struggling, making common mistakes, and juggling a career, among other things such as their mental health, feelings of anxiety about parenting, and the life of a dad?' Rah has had the privilege of meeting and sharing his real-life experiences and lessons learned with parents worldwide since then.  
45:22 9/27/22
Taking Shelter Beneath The Wings Of Friendship: Thoughts On Poetry And Life With Poet Samuel Floyd
In this conversation recorded, Sam, a deeply gifted poet, and Joel deconstruct aspects of friendship and creative writing and its process. Sam and Joel share some of their own personal influences, also talk about story poems, and Shakespeare. Together the two explore 'Where did poetry find you?' and 'where did poetry bring you?' Also, reflections on poetry and the contemplative aspects of life are shared. Sam is working on a new book of poems. Contemporary masculinuity is explored, and the aspects of justice and mercy with the masculine. Also, 'What can poems do?' 'Why do we practice poetry?' A parent's experience, and it relation to God, the support, and meaning, and richness of Sam's life as a father. Sam and Joel recall how they first met at a writing group, Sam shares some new poems, and Joel and Sam seek to deepen life experience by sharing in a genuine authenic and congruent way.    Sam Floyd is a poet, advocate of those with a wide range of disability and mental health conditions, and a peer with lived experience (i.e., having anxiety and depression). His podcast, Comma 23, creates and builds a safe space to share stories with familiarity and trust. As a poet and person with lived experience, Sam has learned a great deal through the struggles with depression. He displays the ability to discover and reveal grace, through the honest expressions of his personal experience and how, at times, it can feel impossible to do so with anxiety. He is working currently on a manuscript of poetry of his early years.
24:13 7/30/22
Being Lakota, Relations, Thankfulness, and Cultivating Redemption For People: A Talk With Dr. Hilary Weaver
Dr. Hilary Weaver and Joel connect and speak of relational understanding the web of life for all people, all life; the talk opens discussing the Lakota people and ways, her devotion to people through her vital efforts to improve the quality of life for people as a Social Worker, her past experiences working with inmates on death row at San Quentin, the shootings in Buffalo, NY and how to view darkness in the human condition, and how the Sun and Dead Kennedys helped her heal. Hilary and Joel also speak of the vital necessity of tolerance for others, and embracing and celebrating diversity, spirituality, and why Unraveling Religion might seek a new name.  Hilary N. Weaver, DSW (Lakota) is a Professor and Associate Dean for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion in the School of Social Work, University at Buffalo (State University of New York). She received her BS from Antioch College in social work with a cross-cultural studies focus and her MSW and DSW from Columbia University. Her teaching, research, and service focus on cultural issues in the helping process with an emphasis on Indigenous populations. Dr. Weaver received funding from the National Cancer Institute to develop and test a culturally-grounded wellness curriculum for urban Native American youth, the Healthy Living in Two Worlds program. She is a member of NASW, Chair-elect of the CSWE board of directors, Global Indigenous Commissioner for IFSW, and currently serves as President of the Indigenous and Tribal Social Work Educators’ Association (formerly American Indian Alaska Native Social Work Educators’ Association). She was inducted as an NASW Social Work Pioneer in 2020 and was named the American Public Health Association’s Public Health Social Worker of theYear in 2020. Dr. Weaver has presented her work regionally, nationally, and internationally including presenting at the Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues at the United Nations in 2005-2008, 2013-2019, and 2021-2022. She has numerous publications including the text, Explorations in Cultural Competence: Journeys to the Four Directions (2005), the edited book, Social Issues in Contemporary Native America: Reflections fromTurtle Island (2014), Trauma and Resilience in the Lives of Contemporary Native Americans: Reclaiming our Balance, Restoring our Wellbeing (2019), and the edited volume Routledge International Handbook of Indigenous Resilience (2022).  
32:10 6/13/22
Part 2 An Atheist's Perspective; Science, Secular Humanism, and Religion: An Examined Existence with Graham Sears
In Part 2 of this talk, Graham and Joel touch on common ground between them, forms of contemplation and how the best minds, poems, paintings, are formalized spirituality. The mystical experience, Science, the elemental construction of nature, what is our relation as humans to the Universe? Does the soul exist? The Theory of Evolution, Gravity, laws of Science and consciousness, Religion as an unintended consequence. Does Religion and Spirituality address our needs and hopes as human. Is fear a good motivator? What is the relationship between the Bible and Shakespeare?    Biography of Graham Sears, born in Buffalo, New York in 1953. His education includes The Nichols School and Liberal Arts at Hobart College, then the University of Buffalo. In 1984 and 1985 studied at the School of Fine Arts in Paris and have been working artist for 25 years. His work is shown in New York City (Robert Steele) and museums across the United States. Graham is a serious student of philosophy, science the history of ideas and the history of expression. Personally, Graham rejected utterly his Christian upbringing beginning around age of 12. He writes "Haunted by great poetry, music and literature. Life is beautiful, people are beautiful, love is beautiful. Religion is a tragic sexist delusion more responsible for human misfortune than any other single cause, it is niether the source of truth about man, origins or morality nor is it justifiable as a source of comfort despite its' factual absurdity it is in short completely unneccesary and dehumanizing..."
31:32 5/15/22
Part 1 An Atheist's Perspective; Science, Secular Humanism, and Religion: An Examined Existence with Graham Sears
In this old talk with a dear friend, reposting from the archives from August 2009, Graham and Joel cover religion and ethics and Graham's formative ethical and philosophical development, including the history of religion and the philosophy of religion, exposure to the Koran, Bhagavad Gita, and the old and new Testament. Graham and Joel continue to explore how to inform oneself with moral awareness, the relation of religion and law, morality found in children and primates, religion and science and the human condition. Essentially, Part 1 of this talk explores is religion necessary?  Biography of Graham Sears, born in Buffalo, New York in 1953. His education includes The Nichols School and Liberal Arts at Hobart College, then the University of Buffalo. In 1984 and 1985 studied at the School of Fine Arts in Paris and have been working artist for 25 years. His work is shown in New York City (Robert Steele) and museums across the United States. Graham is a serious student of philosophy, science the history of ideas and the history of expression. Personally, Graham rejected utterly his Christian upbringing beginning around age of 12. He writes "Haunted by great poetry, music and literature. Life is beautiful, people are beautiful, love is beautiful. Religion is a tragic sexist delusion more responsible for human misfortune than any other single cause, it is niether the source of truth about man, origins or morality nor is it justifiable as a source of comfort despite its' factual absurdity it is in short completely unneccesary and dehumanizing..."
33:49 5/15/22