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Simply Consciousness: An Interview with Gregg Braden

...when we change the way we think, the world will change in a heartbeat.

Welcome to Simply Consciousness…. I am honored today to have the opportunity to interview Gregg Braden. Gregg is a 5x New York Times best-selling author, researcher, educator, lecturer and an internationally renowned pioneer bridging modern science, spirituality, and human potential.

Gregg, can you please tell us a bit about yourself?

I think I have always been on the path, in all honesty. I was born in a rural community, in the Midwest of the United States, in the State of Missouri, Northern Missouri. I’ll be very honest, I come from a very dysfunctional family, alcoholic family. My father was the alcoholic. He was abusive alcoholic to myself, my mother, and my younger brother. So, we were the victims of that abuse, and I am a survivor of childhood trauma. At a very early age, my refuge from my trauma was nature, music, and science.  I felt safe in nature, and in music – with the ability to express myself without being judged because no one was listening to my music at that time.

Science, was the refuge to help me understand the deep truths of our existence. Who am I? Why am I here? Where do I come from? At five years old, I was asking those questions. Although my mom didn’t always understand everything that I was doing, she was very supportive of me and my passions. We bought books on the dinosaurs. I memorized all the names of the dinosaurs, and books on astronomy, I memorized all the planets. Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune, Pluto, and all the constellations, and books on ancient Egypt. I memorized all the pharaohs and the dynasties, and my mom was very, very supportive in those things.

In my experience, spirituality, in its deepest sense, is about relationships. It’s about our relationship to ourselves. Our relationship to the earth, our relationship to the past, our relationship to the future, our relationship to other people, to the cosmos, to a higher power, to God. All of those relationships are, for me, what have always formed my spiritual perspective. That happened at a very early age, I think, probably, because of the challenges in my upbringing.

What is your definition of consciousness, and how did your awareness process start?

Consciousness is everything. Everything from my perspective as a scientist. Now, I’ll make a distinction between being alive and being conscious. From my perspective, consciousness is what makes the world go round. Consciousness is the stuff everything is made of. A rock is conscious to the degree that it is. It has a different level of consciousness than a human. A blade of grass is consciousness. Every tree, every animal, every bacteria, every form of life.

We live in a world of consciousness where everything is conscious.  I’ve always believed that to be true ever since I was young, when I began to study and spend time with indigenous peoples.

So, for most of my adult life, I’ve explored indigenous traditions to understand what they knew in their time that we’re only beginning to understand, or maybe that we’ve forgotten in the world of science. I began to study the ancient texts, and the ancient scrolls, and the manuscripts, and the oral traditions. I spent a lot of time in the 90s and 2000s in Tibet with the monks and the nuns. I was leading groups 26 days at a time into the 12 monasteries and two nunneries in the high plateau of Tibet. Every year I’m in Peru, I have been since 1989 in the Andes mountains, in Bolivia, certainly in India, in Nepal, all through the American desert Southwest.

All of these traditions tell us that we are part of, rather than separate from, the world around us, and that consciousness is what it is that links us to our world.

As we begin to accept that we’re part of rather than separate from, it gives us the ability to participate in what happens in the world. Now, I’m using that word very intentionally. It’s not about control the world. It’s not about manipulate the world. It’s not about imposing our will upon the world. It empowers us to participate and to become part of the consciousness of all that is. 

What are you the most aware of in your daily life? 

We’re told that civilization began 5,000 years ago, 5,000 years ago is when this Peruvian civilization ended. It began at least 2000 years before that. So, we see, there’s a continuity of understanding. There’s a continuity of knowledge that has been with us for a very long time. Science is only about 300 years old, and when science came along, science discounted the wisdom of those indigenous traditions on the one hand, and on the other hand, science is now through quantum physics, quantum understanding, molecular biology and chemistry, now is proving many of the principles that were held sacred by our indigenous ancestors. So, two different languages telling us about our relationship to the world, but they’re saying, in many cases, they’re saying the same thing.

Well, I would have say, in my daily life, when it comes to myself, I make it a point to be aware of how present I am in the presence of other people. When I am with another person, it is a conscious meditation. It is a discipline for me to be present, to listen when someone else is speaking, actually listen to what they’re saying rather than formulating my answer while they’re still speaking. To be very present, it is a meditation for me, a discipline. I do my very best to be kind. I think kindness is really important. It doesn’t mean that I won’t disagree. I have no problems disagreeing with another person. But there’s a way to disagree in kindness rather than belittling someone or criticizing someone.

So, for me, my ability to be kind, and the third thing is, wherever I go it is a discipline for me to leave the place where I am better than when I used it. So, if I’m at a bathroom in the airport, I’m going to leave that bathroom better than it was when I walked in. If I’m on a seat on an airplane, if I’m in a restaurant, if I’m walking in the forest and I see trash, whatever it is, it is important for me when I walk away that wherever I’m walking away from is in better shape than it was when I encountered it.

What was the deepest internal change that you have personally experienced from transforming your consciousness and how it did impact your life in both spiritual and practical ways?

I think that would have to be early in childhood, and again, for those readers that are familiar with dysfunctional families, specifically alcoholic families, one of the characteristics of an alcoholic abuser is the criticism of those around them. They will criticize their abilities, they’ll criticize their achievements, and to an individual that does not know what to do with that criticism, they are vulnerable and susceptible to believing what they are hearing about themselves. So, if they hear over and over and over that they’re not good enough, that they’re not worthy, that they can’t do anything right, they may begin to believe that.

For me, the transformation for me at an early age was I asked myself, honestly, I said, “Is what I’m hearing true?” I was told that I couldn’t play music, for example, or that I would never amount to anything, or that I couldn’t be a scientist. I was told all of those things. When I was young, there was a time where I began to believe it and I woke up one morning and I cannot tell you why it changed, but I woke up one morning and I asked my heart, not my brain, I said, “Is this true where I’m being told?” And I realize it’s only true if I allow it to be true. We are only defined by our past if we choose to be defined by our past. We all have trauma in our past.

We all have challenges, and we all have crises, but we’re only defined by that trauma, for the rest of our lives, if we choose to allow that trauma to define us. There was a time early in my life and I said, I choose to become more than my past, and that happened early in life, fortunately for me, and it has influenced to this day, to this day. I have to say, when I find a challenge in my life and the way I respond to it, I have to say that I’m responding from a perspective that I choose to become more than the limitations, I choose to become more than the hurt, than the lost, than the betrayal.

I’ve had people lie to me, steal from me, and hurt me very deeply, and it’s easy to buy into that. It’s easy to succumb to that, and I’m not saying you blow it off and you discount it. You deeply own it. But I own it not in my brain, because your brain will always … your brain’s a polarity organ, left brain, right brain, good, bad, right, wrong, success, failure, worthy, not worthy. A heart is not a polarity organ. The heart doesn’t think that way, and when I begin to solve my problems from my heart, it’s not about right, wrong, good, bad, success, failure. It’s about me dedicating myself to become the best person I can be in that moment. And if I’ve done my very best and I can do no more, that is all that I can do, and I’m good with that, and I’m ready to move forward.

What is the best advice, words of wisdom that you would like to share with our readers about the importance of becoming more conscious?

We’re all conscious. I think the key is that the better we know ourselves, the better equipped we are to embrace whatever life brings to our doorstep in a healthy way. The better we know ourselves, if we buy into the false science that tells us we are limited beings, that we are separate from one another, that we are powerless victims of our environment and our circumstances, if we believe that, then you will have a pretty miserable life, and that’s where the suffering comes from. If we begin to understand the deep truths of our existence, that we are extraordinary, extraordinary beings with extraordinary potential, we’re the only form of life that has the ability to choose to self regulate our biology.

We were the only form of life that can choose to create a stronger immune system, to choose to awaken the longevity enzymes. Choose to create more resilience to the trauma in our lives. Choose to transcend the hurt and the suffering. No other form of life can do this consciously on demand. We are born with the ability to do this and as we begin to embrace this potential, it doesn’t change what happens in the world, it changes how we feel and how we respond to what happens in the world. This is where our highest levels of mastery come from.

Please inspire us by telling us about your current project or projects.

As a geologist, I’m consulting on archeological projects that are revealing new discoveries about our relationship to the cosmos, and our relationship to the past. I think what the science is telling us very clearly is we have been led to believe that civilization began 5,000 years ago, primitive, and that there has been a steady growth and advancement. And that we are the pinnacle of technological civilization, and that it happened one time.

The problem is that the science doesn’t support that any longer. What the discovery is showing now is that civilization appears to happen in cycles.

We are the most recent 5,000 year cycle, and the archeological discoveries are now showing another 5,000 year cycle before ours began 10,000 years ago, at the end of the last ice age.

Highly advanced, sophisticated technology, the hot and cold running water, electricity running through wires in pipes under the ground, stained glass windows, advanced mathematics, advanced cosmology, and another 5,000 year cycle that begins even before that. So, as we begin to think of our lives in terms of cycles of experience, and we look at the conditions that begin and end each cycle in the past, our cycles have ended with war and conflict.

Climate change is cyclic. When the climate changes and food becomes scarce, for example, it’s difficult to grow the food and new climates & conflict has ended some of the most powerful civilizations in our past.

I think the value of understanding that is to recognize that we are in a cycle now, we’re closing a cycle of climate. That is a big part of our cycle. Conflict is a big part of our cycle. Conflict occurs on a cyclic basis. So, we are in a cycle of conflict right now.

The question is, are we going to make the same choices this time that we’ve made in the past?

Or, can we learn from the past and make new choices that bring us together as a global family and allow us to transcend, to thrive in the new world that’s emerging. Not just survive, but thrive by working together and honoring nature’s principle of cooperation. Are we going to make that choice or are we going to make the choices that we’ve made in the past and fall into becoming a victim of our circumstance and victim of conflict?

I think this is a very exciting opportunity because it’s rare. It’s rare that humankind has the opportunity to be at this crossroad and to consciously know that we are making that choice.

Dr. Bruce Lipton, author of “Biology of Beliefs and a colleague of mine, and I were asked together to speak to the United Nations in New York not long ago as a team. Bruce is a life scientist. I’m an earth scientist. We’re both talking about cycles of time, and what we can reasonably expect to happen in the world over the next 15 years. They were asking us our opinion because the United nations, the UN, is wanting to put together the plan, and the resources, and the people, and the technologies so that they can be prepared for whatever it is that is coming down the road.

I said, “If we have the wisdom to recognize our relationship to the cycles of the past, or where we are in the cycles today, then we also have the wisdom to make new choices that transcend what has happened in the past.” I’m not going to call them mistakes, I don’t think they’re mistakes, but I think they are choices that led to consequences in the past that we don’t want to experience today. So, I believe, and I know a lot of people don’t agree with me on this, but I think this generation, I think we’re going to see some, and this is where I’m very inspired. I think we’re going to see something happen in this generation that we have not seen in over 5,000 years, maybe 10,000 years of recorded history.”

I think we’re going to see our global family make a choice to walk away from the use of war to solve our problems. I’m not going to say we won’t have a little conflict here or there, because that’s human nature. But the kinds of wars that we have seen in the 20th century and before, and the use of war to solve our problems, I think is rapidly becoming obsolete. Because the idea of war is that someone wins and someone loses, and that there’s a benefit to the winner. And the kinds of wars that we’re talking about today and the technology that we have means that everybody loses. There are no winners in the wars that are possible right now.

I’m inspired when we look at where we are in terms of the cycles and see the choices that lie before us. And now, we recognize that we have the ability to make a choice that leads us away from war.

On the social level, I see governments and I see individuals. I see the UN, I see brothers and sisters, we’re all finished with war. I think everyone is tired of what war has brought to this world. And if we say to ourselves, how far can we go this time, how far can we take this world and how beautiful can we make this world together?

If you watch mainstream television, they’re not telling you that. But what I’m seeing behind the scenes, what I’m seeing that is not being shared in the media encourages me in ways that I will wish everyone could see, and for me that’s my inspiration.

What is the biggest problem in the world today?

I believe every problem that we look at, whether we’re talking about ISIS in the middle East, or we’re talking about the atrocities of human trafficking, slavery, we’re talking about the fires that we’re seeing and how we respond to those, we’re talking about the hate, all the things, all of the big problems that we see in the world day, drug abuse with young children, addictions, suicide rate of young people. All of these things, as different as they are from one another, there’s a common denominator to all of them, they are only possible because of the way we’ve been taught to think about ourselves, and what we have been taught is not true.

We’ve been taught that we are separate from one another, that we’re separate from the world. We’ve been taught that we are the product of a random process, random mutations, and that the process of evolution, struggle, competition, conflict has led us to the success that we see as a species today. The best science of the modern world is telling us none of that is true. So, I think the common theme, as we change the way we think about ourselves, who we are and our relationship to the world, as we change the thinking, the way we solve our problems and the way we live our lives will reflect those new discoveries.

So, I think the greatest challenge that we have right now, we have a new generation of young people, and we have the opportunity to instill within those young people the values that say to them nature is based upon cooperation, not competition, not conflict. To say to them, you are part of the world, you’re not separate from the world, to say to them, nature is your friend, nature is not your enemy. To say to them that we are connected to one another in ways that are so deep that we influence one another and our friends and our neighbors and our society through the choices we make in our lives.

Think about what the world would look like if we had an entire generation of young people that think that way rather than thinking that we live in a world called dog eat dog, where you have to fight for everything, all the good things that come to you, and you have to eliminate your competition and the world is based on struggle. Think how different the world would be, and we have the opportunity to create the world based on that right now. So, there’s a new human story that is emerging, and it is a beautiful story of hope and possibility based up on deep truths that are being revealed by peer-reviewed science, the best science of the modern world. And that new story, I think, is the key to changing the thinking. And when we change the way we think, the world will change in a heartbeat.

Additional information about Gregg Braden including links to his social media channels can be found at www.greggbraden.com.

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