In episode # 67, Dr. Reese talks with Dr. Dale Borglum, a spiritual teacher who has spent 40 years helping people die consciously. In this conversation they will talk about what conscious dying is, the cause of suffering, and how him, Ram Das and Stephen Levine started the conscious dying movement in the late 1970's. They will also shine the light on his trip to India and his instant love affair with the great guru, Neem Karoli Baba, better known has Maharaj-ji. Is it true, he could be in two places at once?
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Dr. Reese (00:00):
Dale, welcome to the inner peace podcast.
Dr. Dale Borglum (01:26):
Pleasure to be here. Kevin,
Dr. Reese (01:27):
How would you describe conscious, dying to someone that has never heard of it?
Dr. Dale Borglum (01:33):
Well, pretty much the same way I describe conscious living. Hmm. Okay. So, uh, the big, dirty secret here is that this whole gig I have about conscious dying is very hard to distinguish from what I would say to somebody who wants to be more awake and creative and passionate right now. However, when people have a life threatening illness, they're much more likely to pay attention, to do the difficult exploration. There's different levels of being conscious. Certainly mindfulness is a big, hot topic right now. Yeah. Mindfulness, the ability to, to have a centered awareness, to be a autonomous and present, uh, which doesn't at all imply that we can't be passionate and have strong emotions, but we're not getting lost. We're present for what it is that's happening in our lives. Mm-hmm <affirmative> the next stage of consciousness is not only being mindful, but being loving and compassionate where we're adding the heart into the, the process.
Dr. Dale Borglum (02:43):
So we're not just paying attention to what it is that's going on, but maybe even primarily paying attention to our relationship with it, compassion being the quality of the heart that allows heart to be open when there is suffering. So compassion, the same is loving kindness, but when there is suffering and then beyond that, there are all these teachers out there talking about Tora, and non-duality where we're going beyond even having a loving relationship. But what is the nature of experience? What is the nature of consciousness? Really the Western worldview, which upon which the Western medical model is based is that you and I are separate beings, perceiving an objective reality. That's out there. And that we're these perceiving mechanisms taking in information through our eyes, our ears, our skin, et cetera. I sense where, whereas modern quantum mechanics has proved what ancient, Hindu and Buddhist wisdom has said that it's no that's backwards.
Dr. Dale Borglum (03:54):
That the, the brain is not creating the mind. The mind consciousness is creating the brain and everything else that there's one consciousness that's flowing through us and creating reality. So there's that old Zen story. If a, a tree falls down in the forest and there's nobody there to hear it, right? There's no sound because sound waves being perceived by consciousness. So what we're saying here is that conscious, dying or conscious living is being present, being openhearted. But beyond that, realizing that we aren't these separate beings, I mean, we are, and we aren't that there's, we're kind of twofold beings. There's Kevin and Dale. Uh, you've got a longer beard than I've got, I've got a little more hair than you've got, you're a little younger than I am. <laugh> I'm gonna die. Maybe not the same day that you are, that all those differences. Yeah.
Dr. Dale Borglum (04:50):
But is there something that is the same? Is there something that doesn't change from moment to moment to moment, we live in a culture that's fixated on that, which dies. That which changes and what I'm doing in my work is helping people, contextualize the human drama that dying can often create in the wholeness. That is spirituality. They're both true at the same time, right? There's the sadness, there's the humanity that somebody's dying, but there's also the perfection that consciousness doesn't die. Or at least that's my, if you put that something survives death, right? And whether we call that soul or spirit or consciousness, different religions, call it a different thing. But I am saying here that there is something that survives death and that conscious dying then is being with both of those dimensions at the same time, the humanity and the, uh, pure consciousness, pure awareness
Dr. Reese (06:05):
All the years that you've been working with people on this. I mean, you're taking people in at, at their most vulnerable, their end of life phase. How do you explain this to somebody who is like, they're, you know, they're right there. They know they only have weeks left days left, maybe even minutes left. How are you guiding them to this last event?
Dr. Dale Borglum (06:33):
First of all, I have a big advantage to a lot of people who are working with the dying in that I'm running the living dying project, which advertises that we offer spiritual support to the dying mm-hmm <affirmative>. So that I tend to attract a very strongly self-selected subpopulation of people with life threatening illnesses who are interested in spiritual support. It's very different if I were a doctor, uh, or a therapist or something, just working with the general population, but going beyond that, there are really two levels of support. One level is there are techniques. There are things I can talk about. There are practices that come from ancient traditions that come from modern psychology, but much more important, I think is the quality of being, it's not what I'm saying. It's not the wise things that Dale has collected over decades of doing this work.
Dr. Dale Borglum (07:30):
But how much can I be in that place where I'm consciously living, I'm this living invitation so that if any fear comes up in me, I'm working with that. I'm aware of it. What does it feel like in my body? I'm not getting lost in the trigger, sitting across from somebody who's dying very often will resonate in the caregiver or the friend, the place in them, where they are afraid of dying. So if I'm just pretending that's not there, I'm an expert I'm here to fix you. Uh, that's not a very holistic or, uh, profound message that I'm bringing to the encounter at the bedside. If on the other hand, I'm there and I'm working with what's coming up in me. I'm having compassion for what's coming up in the, in the client or the partner there. Then they're getting the message that, Hey, even though this is a difficult situation, it's workable, it's open to mindfulness. It's open to compassion. And maybe even going beyond that, there is some sense of this spaciousness. That is the nature of consciousness. That is the nature of this non-dual consciousness. That is reality
Dr. Reese (08:43):
In working with all these people for so long. I mean, you and Ram us, you know, basically started the conscious dying movement here in the west.
Dr. Dale Borglum (08:53):
Well, basically Ramdas Steven Levine and me, let's not forget Steven. I mean, yeah, he was really kind of the guy that started it. Ramdas had been talking about it, but the culture was not really ready for what Ramdas was talking about. And then Steven came along and he met Elizabeth KBL Ross at one of Ramdas's workshops. Steven was the Buddhist meditation teacher at the workshop and he and Elizabeth really hit it off. And she invited him to be, uh, the meditation teacher at her dying workshop. So Elizabeth was not about conscious dying, but she was the person that really brought dying out of the closet. So to speak here in the west and encourage people to talk about it openly. And then eventually she and Steven, very amicably, parted ways. And he started teaching, uh, conscious, dying. And he invited me to be the Buddhist me meditation teacher at his dying retreats and rondos joined us. So that was back in the late 1970s actually. Wow. So eighties nine's like 40 some years ago now
Dr. Reese (10:00):
That's when I was born 79. Oh,
Dr. Dale Borglum (10:03):
There you go.
Dr. Reese (10:04):
So you've been by the bedside of many people who have, or transitioning how in the beginning, how did this practice that you had this, this endeavor? How did it support your spiritual practice and you as a person?
Dr. Dale Borglum (10:23):
One of my first meditation teachers said that until one has an intimate relationship with death, your spiritual practice will have the quality of you being a dilatant. Here's another dark secret. I'm not particularly interested in dying. I'm interested in transformation of consciousness. I'm interested in waking up. I'm interested in helping other people wake up and be free from suffering and yet in the west, because we're so preoccupied with other things. I mean, we look at what's going on now in the pandemic, how United States having so much more difficult time than almost every developed country in the world, right. What's America about life, Liberty at the pursuit of happiness. Yeah. Okay. So life kind of is at the expense of not admitting that death exists. Liberty is I can do whatever the hell I wanna do. And even though it doesn't serve the community, that's my God-given right to do whatever the heck I wanna do.
Dr. Dale Borglum (11:28):
Mm-hmm <affirmative>, there's, there's not much sense of community responsibility and, and, uh, the pursuit of happiness, uh, does not really allow people to look at how suffering is arising. How are we creating suffering? So in my experience, cancer does not cause suffering, dying does not cause suffering divorce does not cause suffering resistance to cancer causes suffering resistance to dying resistance, to divorce cause of suffering. And until we begin to do this investigation of how is suffering arising, why am I feeling this way? And seeing that it's our own resistance, not the environment that's causing, then, uh, this pursuit of happiness is gonna be a kind of a dead end journey in a certain way. And in the short term, it can work. I mean, you can watch all the Netflix you want and drink all the wine you want and do whatever you want to avoid those feelings of suffering and dis and separation, but disenchantment and separation. But they will eventually keep coming back
Dr. Reese (12:34):
Like the old saying die before you die. And you'll never die. <laugh>
Dr. Dale Borglum (12:38):
That's what St. Paul said apparently.
Dr. Reese (12:42):
And so a lot of folks, when they're in their end of life phase, they're clinging, right. They're clinging to, um, their ego, they're clinging to stuff they haven't done, or they're upset that they didn't do this or that they're, they're not accepting to what's happening. Correct. And that's causing a lot of suffering.
Dr. Dale Borglum (13:07):
Yeah. So that a lot of people who are dying, they really need to do some forgiving of themselves, of the people around them. Uh, almost nobody when they're dying, since they haven't watched enough television. Right. Almost every, almost everybody says I haven't loved enough. Right. I, I haven't, I haven't enjoyed myself enough. I haven't relaxed enough. I've been too busy. I've been, uh, I haven't been a very good father or husband or child or whatever it's
Dr. Reese (13:34):
Or work. I didn't work enough. <laugh>
Dr. Dale Borglum (13:37):
Nobody says that. Hardly anybody.
Dr. Reese (13:40):
Yeah. You must have stories upon stories dealing with so many people what a service or a Seva, right?
Dr. Dale Borglum (13:50):
Yeah. Yeah. I mean, once again, I mean, I, I'm not trying to paint myself as mother trace in drag here. I mean, I'm doing this because I wanna wake up having a, a career that's based on serving other people is really wonderful for sure. I think my parents were slightly chagrin that I got a PhD at Stanford in mathematics and threw it all away and went to India and never looked back and I didn't right. You know, take all that training and make a pile of money with it. But I'm really glad that it turned out the way that it has.
Dr. Reese (14:22):
Yeah. We're gonna talk about India in a second, but you know, I've thought about doing this. I started doing it before the pandemic with, uh, a hospital here in my city and I had to go through the training, but the training is more, you know, mainstream and, you know, I didn't get the opportunity to see it all the way through. So I have considered taking your classes. You do have trainings on your website, uh, where you bring the, the conscious part to it that I'm not gonna get from a hospital.
Dr. Dale Borglum (14:59):
Right. Let me give a plug here if I might. Sure. My website living dying.org is the most complete site on the internet about conscious dying. There's a lot of free material. Uh, audio files, video files, text files, guided meditations talks. There's a, uh, interactive online training workshop with a prerecorded part and a live interactive zoom thing. Follow up. Mm-hmm, <affirmative>, uh, people all around the world sign up for that and being trained in conscious, dying as a support person, or you're going through it yourself. I work with people individually, from all around the world.
Dr. Reese (15:45):
So using myself as an example, if, if I wanted to walk this path deeper and I took your training, and then I get my, I get my training and then I can, I could start perhaps a nonprofit organization or a business in my area and, and help and attract people that want to die in a certain way that want to die consciously and help them.
Dr. Dale Borglum (16:13):
It's really hard to make a living doing what I'm talking about here. Right? Right. I mean, part-time uh, yeah. So if you're not needing to make money doing this, it's a great thing to do. It's something you're doing on the side. Uh, if there's no pandemic, you can be meeting people in person. We have people that take the training who are adjunct volunteers all around the world, who we meet in online support groups. And they then find clients in their own community, work with them. Maybe they go to the hospice and volunteer their services. Maybe just word of mouth. People know that that's something that they're doing back when Ramdas and Steven and I started doing this work. We felt, in fact, I became the director of the first residential facility in the west to support conscious dying mm-hmm <affirmative> it was in Santa Fe in the 1980s, it's called the dying center, right.
Dr. Dale Borglum (17:09):
A direct zen-like name mm-hmm <affirmative>. And we thought that this would be the first of many of these, we'd be the Colonel Sanders of death. And there would be dying centers and dying projects in every small, medium, large size community in America. Right. We greatly underestimated the, uh, culturally based resistance to looking at dying. Mm. So, so that even right now, there's only a handful of organizations, Kevin in America that, uh, that work consciously with dying overtly now certainly individual hospices, individual hospitals are as conscious as the beings, uh, working there. And many of people in all these organizations have taken trainings with me or Steven or Rondo or Joan Halifax or Frank Eski, or, you know, there are, uh, a number of people doing this kind of training now, but there are almost no organizations who are overtly saying, we offer spiritual support for the dying as their primary, uh, mission here. And hospice has for all the good work they're doing. They have been pretty much taken over by the need to make a book that their business model depends on government and third party insurance payments and medical care, uh, practical care, emotional support come way before spiritual support spiritual support is on the bottom of the list. When they're looking at how things are being funded,
Dr. Reese (18:50):
What would you say is the number one fear that you've experienced from clients in their end of life phase?
Dr. Dale Borglum (18:57):
Well, a lot of people say that they're not afraid of death. They're afraid of dying. They're they're not, not afraid what's gonna happen after they die, but they're afraid of pain. They're afraid of loss of control. They're afraid of dementia. They're afraid of what's gonna happen to their body as a recovering mathematician. I have an equation for you here. All fear equals fear of death and fear of death equals lack of enlightenment. So that place that you or I might be afraid of pain for as an example, the New York times did a survey number of years ago. What are you most afraid of? Number one, speaking in public, number three, dying. Okay. So that's kind of humorous, but the place in me or you that would be afraid of speaking in public is gonna be there in the subconscious, in the body. When we're entering the dying process, that's still part of who we are, the place in you that has a nightmare. And you're afraid of the demon. That's locked in your unconscious and that's gonna be there as you're dying until you've gone through the work of exercising those demons, if you will. Yeah. So all fear is really pointing at what we need to do in a very precise and wonderful, although difficult way to let go of in order to be free.
Dr. Reese (20:18):
Dr. Dale Borglum (20:19):
Ronda said this great saying that I really hated for a decade or two, uh, suffering is grace. Okay. So everybody wants to not suffer, but suffering is, grace is kind of implying that the place where you or I are suffering, that's exactly showing us where we're caught, where we're still holding on, where we're still tight, where we need to let go. Suffering and pain are not the same thing.
Dr. Reese (20:44):
Dr. Dale Borglum (20:45):
Pain is mandatory. Suffering is optional. You can have pain in your body or in your emotional life and not suffer. I've seen people who are approaching death in a great deal of physical pain who are not suffering Because they were realizing through their approach to death that they weren't just the body. And in fact, the pain was helping them eject themselves from identification with the ness of the body.
Dr. Reese (21:14):
Yes. I I've learned that through my spiritual practice. That even when something like stretching that can hurt, you know, like the, your, your, you know, your hamstring's tight or something,
Dr. Dale Borglum (21:25):
That's exactly what I thought you were gonna say. That's the one I hate more than anyone is stretching the hamstrings.
Dr. Reese (21:30):
Yeah. And that pain, it's not like cry pain, but it's annoying WL pain. And it's a device to see how much you can handle. And I, I do my best to meditate through it and perhaps envision my envision, my hamstring becoming particles and things like this. And it, and the pain actually becomes much easier yeah. To handle. Well,
Dr. Dale Borglum (21:59):
I think, you know, there's a confusion in the medical community and people in general between pain and fear of pain. And there are all kinds of studies done that show that if, if people are helped to deal with their fear of pain, that they need a lot less medication to deal with the pain itself. And it's a shame to be overly medicated because pain medication often interferes with consciousness, particularly end of life. You'd rather be there to be loving people and be loved and be with God or whatever, rather than being completely zonked out on yeah. Opioids or whatever.
Dr. Reese (22:34):
And this is, this is the beauty of meditation, right. Being able to, I mean, those last moments, what else would you wanna do? <laugh>
Dr. Dale Borglum (22:43):
And in a way, meditation is a very direct training for dying because meditation is about letting go yes. About allowing the next moment to appear without a lot of preconception.
Dr. Reese (22:56):
Dr. Dale Borglum (22:57):
I mean, uh, fear of death is very closely related to fear of loss of control. Yes. And meditation is gradually training yourself to be able to let go of control. They did a survey, which was a complete setup. They did a study of fear of death. They gave it to four groups of people, doctors, ministers, psychedelic, drug takers, and meditators. And they found that doctors and ministers were significantly more afraid of death than meditators than psychedelic drug takers.
Dr. Reese (23:32):
Dr. Dale Borglum (23:33):
Dr. Reese (23:34):
You know, I heard you say once when you're dying, someone that you haven't come to peace with or forgiven is gonna show up at your bedside. And, and I remember you used an example of Donald Trump since he's such the, you know, the big lightning rod right now in society is, is Donald Trump gonna show up at the bedside of some people?
Dr. Dale Borglum (23:53):
So what I'm saying is, suppose you really love Donald Trump. Yeah. Or suppose you really don't love Donald Trump. I mean, there's not too many people in the middle it's, it's, it's a pretty, uh, bifurcated situation there. Yeah. And to the extent that that's an unconscious thing that I say, the words, Donald Trump, that something arises in you, ah, or, ah, either way I it's, it's just as easy to be caught in something you like. Yeah. And grasping at that as pushing away something don't like, so in either case Republican or Democrat, uh, what I mean by saying that Donald Trump will be at your bedside, that any place that there's some unconscious reaction to the notion of Donald Trump, that's gonna be there as you're dying. It's gonna be harder to the extent that that's unconscious to dissolve into the wholeness. That is the nature of consciousness as you're going through the dying process and all these religions, all the contemptive religions say that the dying process is the most opportune time and an extended lifetime in which to see who you are, because we don't have a body anymore.
Dr. Dale Borglum (25:00):
We're not identified with a separateness so much. Once again, you don't have the hair, I've got the hair hair, you've got the beard. I don't have the beard. That whole thing. Mm-hmm, <affirmative> no, that's not even there anymore. It's just consciousness. So to the extent we practiced just being in consciousness, then dying is another moment of that, to the extent where we're like, really identify, but I'm me. And I really love Donald Trump when I really this or that, or I'm me. And I hate Donald Trump, whatever it is to that extent that's going to, uh, make dying more of a struggle.
Dr. Reese (25:35):
Yeah. I, I know people that just watch the news 24 7, and they're rooting for this guy to be destroyed. I mean, they're root like, like it's a sports team <laugh>, they're root. And so these people that are that attached, you know, these emotions could arise in their end of life. Phase could not
Dr. Dale Borglum (25:56):
Right. Yeah. Is good in that, right? Yeah. Well, I mean, you even brought up a sports team. I mean, suppose you're a super fan of where do you live? I don't even know
Dr. Reese (26:05):
Dr. Dale Borglum (26:07):
Okay. So suppose you're a big New York giants fan.
Dr. Reese (26:12):
Dr. Dale Borglum (26:13):
Okay. Okay. And that, that's like a kind of an unconscious thing. And there you are, you're going through the dying process and that emotion that arises in you when the giants lose on a last second field goal. Yeah. To the extent that's unconscious, that's gonna, that's gonna be there then, or they, or they win on a last second field goal, you know, to the extent we're caught in that we're lost in that. Right. I mean that, doesn't just have to be politics. I bring up the Donald Trump thing because it's like so extreme for almost everybody.
Dr. Reese (26:43):
One of the deepest books I've ever read is the Tibetan book of the dead it's in, in my opinion, it's not for beginners. How accurate would you say this book is?
Dr. Dale Borglum (26:57):
Ah, boy, that's a, that's a, uh,
Dr. Reese (27:01):
Dr. Dale Borglum (27:02):
Yeah. So, I mean, I actually taught a workshop with Robert Thurman a couple years ago, who has his own translation of the Tibetan book of the dead, one of the best, if not the best translation. And I tried to read Bob's translation and I got it in about 30 pages into it. Here we are. We're gonna be teaching this together, back in New York. And I thought to myself, I'm gonna teach my thing, let him teach that thing. It's too complicated for me. So my feeling is that the Tibetan book of the dead is a wonderful metaphor, but if you're not a Tibetan Buddhist, you're not gonna be seeing those DeeDees they're talking about, you're not gonna be seeing those colors. If you're a Christian, you're gonna be seeing Christ and Mary of some, God is gonna be showing up. So that, so that basically what I've done.
Dr. Dale Borglum (27:50):
And I don't know if we have time to go into this, but I've created a story that's based on what Christianity says and Tibetan Buddhism says, and other world's religions say about the dying process. And if you peel away all of the distinctions that come from time and place and culture, they pretty much say the same thing, right. Which is that, that how you live, determines how you die and how you die, kind of determines what happens next heaven and hell reincarnation, Shirley, McClain, whatever, whatever the thing is. Right. But the notion is that that, uh, as we die, we die into the light. We die into wholeness. And if we haven't practiced being in wholeness, as we're alive, it's gonna be too bright. The Tibetan say that light is as bright as a thousand sons, right? So if it's too bright, then we, we, we recoil from the light and the stuff that causes to recoil our hopes, fears, our desires, that we're still holding onto appear almost like a life review.
Dr. Dale Borglum (28:51):
And are we going to then push away or grasp with the notion of Donald Trump or New York giants winning or losing or whatever it might happen to be mm-hmm <affirmative> or can we just let those things go? Because we have the advantage of we've just died. We've just been in the light. So here's an example. Suppose you've just died. And like most people during your life, you felt you were not complete that if you had more money or more intelligence or a nicer partner or a bigger house or better emotions or whatever, that you would be a better off human being. Right. So you've died. And the, the projection of that sense of inadequacy that need is out there in the after death state. And here goes this person walking in front of you in the, after this status, who's the perfect soulmate for you intellectually, emotionally, financially, sexually, spiritually, every way.
Dr. Dale Borglum (29:53):
This is the complete manifestation of your needs, your desires. So do you realize or desires mm-hmm <affirmative> so do you realize this is just your, uh, a projection of your need or do you take it really, uh, personally and you go over this person say, Hey, I'm kind of busy dying right now, but when I'm done, I'd like to get together, you're gonna have your phone number, right. Obviously that person doesn't exist, but that place in you, uh, does. So like in the Tibetan book of the dead, that would be a demon that showed up to entice you at a certain stage in the after death process. Can I tell you a brief story? Yes, absolutely. Okay. So long ago, the first person I ever really quote worked with as in conscious dying, uh, Steven Levine and I were living in, in Santa Cruz, two different places in Santa Cruz.
Dr. Dale Borglum (30:49):
And we had a Tuesday night meditation group mm-hmm <affirmative> and, uh, a young man came to the group who had been living in Toronto. He was a Canadian broadcasting company engineer. He had non-Hodgkin's lymphoma. He was pretty sick. And for some reason that he didn't know, he moved from Toronto to Santa Cruz, California. He started coming to our group. His name was Chris, and it was pretty clear that he was dying. He was getting weaker and weaker, and he was, he was in his late twenties. Chris was really bothered by the fact that he didn't have enough energy to be a sexual being. Uh, I hadn't known him before. He was really sick, whether he had been sexual before he got sick, I don't know, but he was clearly not strong enough to be a sexual being. He barely get outta bed and he complained about, oh, I can't have sex.
Dr. Dale Borglum (31:40):
Oh, woe is me kind of thing. So I ended up, uh, through the luck of the draw being at his bedside alone the night before he died, uh, the people in the meditation group kind of gathered around him. We created a schedule. People were supporting him. And there I was throughout the night, Chris had been in a light coma for a couple days. He hadn't spoken. He'd barely moved in the middle of the night. I'm sitting there meditating. And I hear him rustling and I opened my eyes and his eyes were wide open. He was like looking at the ceiling with a look of rapture. And I thought maybe who's dying. And the heavenly host had come to greet him or something. And I said, Chris, Chris, what do you see? And he said, beautiful women, wherever I look. And those were the last words that man ever spoke in his life. Wow. And the next morning he was actually actively dying. And Steven was there a, a number of other people had come and as he was dying, Steven said, Chris, if you see beautiful women, as you're going through the dying process realized that it's only a projection of your own mind. It's not real trust the wisdom and the compassion that you have cultivated. You don't have to buy into those projections anymore.
Dr. Reese (32:53):
Dr. Dale Borglum (32:53):
And it felt like those words really deeply penetrated into Chris and that he died really well, whatever that means.
Dr. Reese (32:59):
Hmm. Yes. It's been said by many gurus that you can call on your guru, whoever that may be, whether it's Jesus or Buddha or potentially, or someone of the modern era.
Dr. Dale Borglum (33:15):
But I think a lot of people don't have gurus and they feel, oh, what's gonna happen to me if I don't have a guru. Right. And the guru is really only a manifestation of a level of consciousness. So that in a way everybody has a guru, which is their own true self. Right. And if, if you haven't gotten into some religion that has a deity figure, uh that's okay. I mean, it's really how much love, how much generosity, how much kindness, how much clarity have you developed in a, in, uh, a lifetime, even if you don't have a guru or you haven't been off the India or, you know, any of those things that you've just been working on yourself in a very direct way that that's, that's fine.
Dr. Reese (34:02):
Right. And I, I once read a Ron dos book book, uh, walking each other home and he, I think that's the last book he wrote before he passed. Yeah. And in that book, he talks about having, um, uh, Bob NEM, Carol's picture there and he's like that, that's all I want when I die. He says, I just need my picture and that's it. And, and he'll take, take me, take me home. Uh, do you, do you think that he, he got his, his wish,
Dr. Dale Borglum (34:37):
I try to remember how realm, you know, rondos died last December as probably you and many people know. Yeah. Uh, I can't even remember if he died in the hospital or at home, uh, whether he had a picture there or not. I'm not sure. I don't think it makes too much difference. Yeah. Uh, certainly he had a very loving and close relationship with his crew and my group ni Crowley, Baba Maharaji he, even himself said that the review you get for the play of life that you've been acting in is not based solely on the closing line, but how you did in the whole play itself. So there are Buddha stories where Buddha showed people, how there was this horrible warrior who had killed many people. And right at the moment of his dying, in a battle, he, uh, a beautiful golden deer went running through his field of vision.
Dr. Dale Borglum (35:34):
And he had a moment of open-heartedness and then he died. And he went to a heaven realm because his last thought was, oh, of beauty and, and, and grace, and the people that Buddha was telling the story to said, well, that's not right. He killed all those people. He is a bad guy. Why does he get to go to heaven? Just cuz the deer went running by and the Buddha said just be patient. And after a very short amount of time, a minute or two, maybe I don't know, the rest of the guy's karma overwhelmed that fleeting moment right at the end. And he went to a hell realm. Now whether heaven, realms and hell realms exist, I don't know. But the Buddha said that, trying to understand reincarnation and rebirth and, and karma are two things that can unhinge the mind, make you crazy, trying to figure it out.
Dr. Dale Borglum (36:25):
Right. So, so certainly let's not wait till you're at your deathbed and grab a picture of Jesus. You tur you go to the news today and you see stories about, uh, people going broke because of, of the pandemic and losing their jobs. So when you, when you see that story, that here's somebody who's really frightened because they just lost their job and how are they gonna keep their home or something. Do you think, whoa, I'm glad that's not me. And then you go to the next story, do you push it away? Because really feeling what that person is going through is like it's overwhelming or it's almost overwhelming. I mean, it's like, uh, to think you might lose your house, how can you, how can you support your child? Uh, or can you just take a moment and just open your heart to the situation that person is representing to you?
Dr. Dale Borglum (37:22):
And to the extent you're doing that, that's preparing for death each moment, including this one is, is preparation for dying, right? So here's the Kevin and Dale conversation. And to the extent that we're just going through the motions and Dale's telling his stories and Kevin's being a good interviewer and all that stuff is going on, then it's not very good preparation for dying. But to the extent that I'm really surrendering into this moment and being with you as best I can, then I'm kind of dying into the moment. I mean, suppose the next out breath you take is the last one you'll ever take. And the next in breath is the first one you'll ever take. I mean, there's the last breath. And then you're reborn the film critic, Roger Ebert, who died of cancer, as you may know, mm. Uh, was being interviewed. He was writing, typing out answers to these questions about how cancer had affected him.
Dr. Dale Borglum (38:17):
And he was typing as I'm typing this sentence. I don't know. I'll be alive to type the period at the end of the sentence. So in Buddhism, there's this motivating truth. You're gonna die, but you don't know when intellectually obvious, but when say, we don't know when we think we're gonna get done with this interview, we think we're gonna be here tonight for dinner. We think we're gonna, uh, get a paycheck at the end of the month. If that's the way it works, it's sometime we're gonna die, but it's not now, but suppose we didn't know, suppose we really didn't know what it was. Suppose. You're the last face I'm ever gonna look at Kevin Reese. Right? How would that then change the way I'm relating to you? I don't know. You I've, I've got people that really love in some ways a lot more than I love you because I've lived with them. I've got a child I've got, I've got people I'm really close to. Uh, but you're the last person I'm ever gonna see the people who are listening to this right now are watching this. Yeah. I'm the last face you're ever gonna see? How weird is that? Right? Yeah. And can, and can we live in that way?
Dr. Reese (39:29):
Dr. Dale Borglum (39:30):
I mean, that's, that's the message.
Dr. Reese (39:32):
Dr. Dale Borglum (39:34):
That death is bringing that this is the moment in which to awaken. It's not, it's not waiting for later when it's a, you know, it's the, the, the traffic isn't so bad or the weather's better, or you like the politics a little better or the pandemic squad or something,
Dr. Reese (39:51):
Right. Dying into life. Speaking of Ram da you know, he's one of the most popular spiritual figures of the modern era,
Dr. Dale Borglum (40:03):
Dr. Reese (40:03):
His story, similar to yours, right. PhDs who kind of throw it away, go to India, meet guru. When did you meet Ramdas? What, what were the circumstances?
Dr. Dale Borglum (40:18):
I was a graduate student at Stanford back in the 1960s. I was at the forefront of the consciousness explosion. So on the east coast, Larry and rondos Larry and Richard Albert, and, uh, Ralph Metzner were the three guys at Harvard that started taking psychedelics that got kicked outta Harvard. Yeah. On the west coast, it was Ken Kesey and the acid tests. So they, they, they both started at pretty much the same time. Larry was a much better promoter. So the east coast version of it got a lot more press, but pretty much at the same time. So I was getting a, a PhD at Stanford math, and I was all done except for my thesis. And I got involved in psychedelics and psychodramas and I was in the mid peninsula free university, the largest free university in the world. Anybody could teach anything except violent overthrow of the government, which was against the law.
Dr. Dale Borglum (41:15):
So, uh, and across the street for me was a guy named Joel who had lived with Ramdas after those guys got kicked out of Harvard, they lived at a big mansion called Millbrook up in upstate New York somewhere mm-hmm <affirmative>. So when Ramdas would come to Northern California, he'd stay at Joel's house. Joel's my buddy. So Ramdas and I got to be drinking buddies when I was a graduate student, whenever he'd come to California, he'd come to Joel's house and Joel and Ramdas and I would go driving around to Joel's old Cadillac convertible with the big fins and, and, uh, got to know each other. And, uh, he had, he had gone to India and met marajhi and then he came back and he was around us. And that's when I met him. And then he and I, and a bunch of people went to India for the second time that he was there. The first time I was there. And that's when the Westerners gathered around this guru named Crowley Bible.
Dr. Reese (42:10):
Dr. Dale Borglum (42:11):
So I didn't know him before he was around us,
Dr. Reese (42:14):
But you, you definitely got to see his evolution, I guess you could say.
Dr. Dale Borglum (42:20):
Yeah, yeah, yeah.
Dr. Reese (42:21):
He, in, in his talks, he's, he's, he's very transparent and he's very open about, you know, how uptight he was and you know, how, you know, you know, problems with his father and things like this. And if somebody were to sort of follow his career, they could see the timeline and him sort of changing as the decades go yeah. Into a guru himself, if you will quotes, you know, when he gets into his seventies, eighties.
Dr. Dale Borglum (42:53):
Well, you know, he had that major stroke, uh, back in the late nineties, I guess, sometime in the nineties, he had that stroke for the, he was stroked out for the last 20, some years of his life. And initially he was really mad at God. He was mad at Maji. I mean, why have you done this to me? And it took him a while to get over, being very resistant to the fact that he'd, he'd had this stroke. So yeah. I mean, I knew him through relationship difficulties and this, he was, but through it all, he had a remarkable gift to be able to take these very esoteric teachings from the east and present them to people that just walked in the door and had never even thought about these things in a way that somebody said, oh, right now I get it. You know, I mean, his lectures and his book be now changed the lives of probably millions of people actually.
Dr. Reese (43:50):
Yeah. He was a master communicator.
Dr. Dale Borglum (43:53):
Yeah. He was. And then what did God do? Give him a stroke so he could barely talk.
Dr. Reese (43:58):
Dr. Dale Borglum (44:01):
Which is about the most difficult thing that could have happened to him. Right. In a certain way. It really, it forced level of humility and compassion that, that, uh, might have been very difficult coming in through any other, other circumstance.
Dr. Reese (44:18):
Yeah. And there's a documentary on Netflix about it. And I, it seems that it's after the stroke that his spirituality went to the next level. So yeah. Yeah. There it is. The grace boom, <laugh>
Dr. Dale Borglum (44:33):
Suffering is grace blanket or not
Dr. Reese (44:35):
The device. So you went to India, you got to, you got to sit around this great Indian guru. What was Maharaji like with his blanket?
Dr. Dale Borglum (44:49):
Well, now we're getting into, uh, deep waters and one very wonderful VIPA teacher. Joseph Goldstein said that Mara must have been a very great teacher because he had all the most difficult students.
Dr. Reese (45:02):
Dr. Dale Borglum (45:03):
Right. So, uh, I got my body to India in the, in the, in the process of it. I got malaria and hepatitis, and it was not an easy thing to do. And it, there were initially about a dozen of us around Maharaja and it grew and it grew, and it grew, I had been getting a PhD in mathematics. I was taking psychedelics. I was feeling this whole mathematics thing. And what was going on in America was something wasn't making sense. Uh, I went to, I went to India and the first moment I met Maji, he looked at me and I looked at him and it was the first moment in my life that I felt like I was at home. That my life wasn't a mistake in India. They say the work of the GU takes place in one second. And after he shows you that it's up to you to be able to manifest that in your life and become that, which he's showing you so that the PE different people around Maharaji had very different relationships with him.
Dr. Dale Borglum (46:06):
I didn't have as much a physical relationship where I wanted to be touching his feet and hanging out, or, and even after we came back to America, my relationship with Maharaja is more an in of meditative, one than pictures, all around the house or something like that. Right. So he was, I I've been around a lot of great saints. I've been on with the Dai lamo when he was unknown, the no Nobel prize or anything. I was in a room with Dolly Lama to other people and the, the Rimpoche and the previous car Duche and the, the heads of all the sex of Tibetan, Buddhism, and Suzuki Roshi, and an undermine. I'm not trying to impress you. I'm just saying that I I've been with a lot of, I really made a point of finding what seemed to be the most evolved people I could find.
Dr. Dale Borglum (47:00):
And, uh, Maharaji seemed, and of course I'm prejudiced because my karma connections was with him, not with his other people. He seemed to be the most pure embodiment of love that I had or have ever experienced. He, he, he didn't, he didn't care about, uh, collecting devotes or money or sex or power. His main, he, if you came there and you wanted freedom, all he wanted was to help you find freedom. Mara, you just seemed to have this quality of love. That was, was just vast. And it's hard to put into words. I'm not gonna try to, uh, explain it all, but,
Dr. Reese (47:48):
But he could also be stern too, right? Just like a Zen master would be.
Dr. Dale Borglum (47:53):
Yeah, very much so. And I mean, what I really like about Hinduism and the bet and Buddhism is that there are deities who are fierce as well as ones who are protective and kind that God just doesn't have a sweet face. God has all the faces that the beloved can only be everything that, that the pandemic is part of God's grace. I mean, it's it, I'm not gonna say that to somebody whose child is dying. Right. But at the same time, everything that's going on is drawing all of us gradually, gradually, slowly back to our, uh, unity with knowing that we are pure consciousness and it, it, but in no way, diminishing the profound human effect of suffering. I mean, I, it's not like, okay, it's all perfect. Then why are you suffering? Because people are dying. No, both of those are true. Uh, Suzuki Roshi, the founder of San Francisco Zen center had this wonderful quote. You know, he was my first meditation teacher. He said, we're all perfect, but there's still room for improvement.
Dr. Reese (48:57):
Dr. Dale Borglum (48:59):
The other thing he said that I really love is the most important thing.
Dr. Reese (49:06):
Dr. Dale Borglum (49:06):
So, uh, for me, being around dying is helping me find the most important thing. Right. That's why I'm doing it. Not because I'm some great who wants to help dying people, but the dying death itself, the existence of death is showing me, uh, what is important in life doesn't mean I don't watch Netflix. It doesn't mean I have a, I don't have a glass of wine once in a while. It doesn't mean I goof around, but somewhere in there, I know that life is precious. Each moment is precious. Doesn't mean you have to be serious. Doesn't mean you have to be tight about it, but there is a preciousness.
Dr. Reese (49:52):
Before we wrap this up, do you have any stories about Maharaji? I mean, I've heard reports, you know, that he would just show up randomly <laugh> in someone's room and things of this nature. I mean, do you have any stories?
Dr. Dale Borglum (50:11):
Ramdas wrote a, a book. My favorite book of all time, maybe he didn't write it actually, but it's, it's a collection of Maraj stories with short introductions to the chapters by round us. And the book is called miracle of love. Now, uh, Kevin is, uh, referring here to, there are all these miracle stories where Maharaji could be in two places at the same time, or he could do this and that, but the real, real miracle is how much love he, he manifested more so than these seeming tricks. And there are all kinds of saints out there. Kevin, who can, who can do miracles. So I'll, I'll tell you two brief stories, uh, about two levels of miracles. So the first story was Miraja was traveling somewhere and he decided to get a, a, a haircut or a shave or something. So he went to the barber though in India, a barber is often just a guy on the side of the road with a kerosene heater to heat up some water and a little blanket to squat on, well, he's shaving you or cutting your hair or something.
Dr. Dale Borglum (51:22):
So he's shaving Maharaji and he's halfway down. There's soap on one side of his Mars, his face, the other side is clean shaven. And the barber starts bemoaning the fact he's an old guy that he had lost track of his only son. And in India, there's no social security. Your social security is your children. And somehow through some misunderstanding, his son went somewhere and he went somewhere and they lost touch with each other. And he, he couldn't find his son and he was old and he didn't know who was gonna take care of him. So Mara Mara said, I've got a pee, uh, I'll be right back. And he runs behind a building. He's gone for three or four minutes. He comes back and the guy completes the shave, right? The next day the barber son comes and, and the barber's overjoyed and said, how did you know to find me?
Dr. Dale Borglum (52:11):
He said, yesterday afternoon, I was in my shop, a couple hundred miles away. And this guy came running into the shop. He was half shaving. They had soap on the other half of his face. And he said, your father really needs you. He's in such and such a village. You've gotta go there. Okay. So there are all kinds of stories. I was not there for that story, but there are stories like that where, but supposedly people saw those things, whether it's true or not, I'm not trying to sell anything here. Right. But there are all kinds of stories like that. But I will tell you this other story that happened to me. So I'm sitting with Maharaji with a friend named mine, a friend of mine named Steve was given the name Mohan eventually, and a bunch of Indian devotes. And Maharaji was talking to the Indians in Hindi, Steve and I were just quietly there.
Dr. Dale Borglum (53:00):
And he turned to us and said, how much do you pay for milk in America? And Steve did a quick calculation in his mind. And he said, X number of rues per kilo, which is the way you buy milk in India. Maji turned to the Indians and started saying, can you believe they pay so much for milk? He's going on and on. And on talking five, 10 minutes about the price of milk I just gotten there, just got my PhD from Stanford. I'm thinking I'm kind of smart. And I've come all the way halfway around the world. He's talking about the price of milk. I don't care about the price of milk. I wanna talk about God, <laugh>, you know, what's going on here, right? I mean, this is kind of boring. And then he turns to says, how much was it again? Steve told him he went back and he's going on and on and on.
Dr. Dale Borglum (53:41):
And I'm thinking maybe he's not who I think this guy is. And all of a sudden there is an explosion in my mind. And all I can do is tell you that I knew it came from him. And the message was, we can talk about God. We can talk about important things, but that just makes the mind busy. We're talking about this mundane bullshit, which allows us to be resting in this ocean of love. And I went into this BLIS state that I could barely function in for the rest of the day. And I was just in union with him. I didn't care if we were talking about the price of milk or about who God is, didn't make any difference. Maybe that's a nice place to yeah. End this conversation.
Dr. Reese (54:24):
Sounds beautiful. The, the guru disciple relationship is quite beautiful. Dr. Borg, miss been pleasure. How come you never
Dr. Dale Borglum (54:32):
Used? How come
Dr. Reese (54:33):
You never used doctor?
Dr. Dale Borglum (54:36):
Because I'm not. I mean, I'm not doing the doctor thing. I mean, yeah, it does say somewhere on the website, it does say PhD somewhere. Yeah. So I I've got a BS and Ms. And a PhD, and I was told that BS means bullshit. <laugh> Ms. Means more shit. And PhD means piled higher and deeper.
Dr. Reese (54:57):
It does. It really does. That's great. I love that. I really appreciate your time and your patience. We got canceled last week because of a storm.
Dr. Dale Borglum (55:08):
Well, I'm glad to be here. Thanks so much for doing what you're doing. Kevin.
Dr. Reese (55:12):
I hope you got a lot out of this recording with Dale. I've been telling you throughout this podcast, that your death is the most important event of your life. And if you deepen your spiritual practice, you will realize yes, that the work, the spiritual fitness you put in in your life will lead up to that event. And this event can be very, very beautiful. I recommend you go back. Listen to the episode I did with, uh, Dr. Nicole burs entitled death 1 0 1 or even a few episodes ago with Don Miguel Ruiz, Jr. Check out my meditations on Spotify, apple, and YouTube, spread this podcast around. Let people know that it exists and check out Dr. reese.com. That's Dr. Spellt out. And I'll talk to you on the next episode.