2021 Catalyst, Issue 2 - Mystics Summit
Shift Network Update
By Mirabai Starr, host of the Mystics Summit
Welcome to 2021. I know, it’s only a number, but symbols can serve as thresholds, as catalysts for fresh beginnings. I can think of no better way to enter the new year than on the wings of the mystics who inhabited the heart of every spiritual path throughout the ages and whose vibrant wisdom can help mend the tattered web of this world.
I have the great honor of hosting the first-ever Mystics Summit that will unfold from February 1-5.
I will be sharing intimate conversations with nearly 40 contemporary wisdom keepers with deep roots in a vast array of mystical traditions and a lucid perspective on how these teachings, poetry, and radical aliveness can heal and activate our own mystic soul. The Holy Troublemakers we are lifting up in this summit subverted the prevailing structures in society, religion, and the arts of their time and culture to open the way for all of us to speak truth to power and lead with love.
You will have access to passionate teachings, ecstatic music, sublime poetry, and heartful dialogue with such contemporary luminaries as Fathers Richard Rohr and Greg Boyle, Anne Lamott, Krishna Das, Elizabeth Lesser, Imam Jamal Rahman, Andrew Harvey, and Gangaji.
You may rest in the sacred stillness of timeless mystics like Hildegard of Bingen, Neem Karoli Baba, and Rabia of Basra, and take refuge in the arms of the Dark Mother. You will be challenged to face the shadow of privilege in the spiritual arena and tap into a wellspring of energy for liberation from the structures that oppress the whole of the human family and the Earth Herself.
This gathering reminds us that the saints and sages of times past were not unapproachable enlightened beings whom we’ve placed on remote pedestals and can never hope to emulate, but rather flawed and wounded human beings just like us, who offered themselves to this life with full hearts and naked souls.
May we remember that mystical communion is our birthright, and sacred service is the embodiment of our soul’s connection to the Beloved. Reclaim holy longing! Let us throw our orderly belief systems into the flames of love and embody the transcendent!
As you can see, I am mighty excited about this event. Hosting these speakers and artists has been one of the great privileges of my life. I hope you will tune in during the first week in February, watching the videos that most draw your attention and checking out new voices you may never have heard of who illumine powerful wisdom from the margins.
May this offering be the elixir you need to help transmute the chaos of our times into the gold of ecstatic remembrance and embodied action.
NOTE: “The Master Key” by Robert Peng, a featured speaker in The Shift Network’s 2020 Energy Medicine & Healing Summit, is one of the most profoundly important books I’ve ever read. I can say that it’s life-changing with complete confidence, because it changed my life before I even finished reading it. I was so impressed with this book that we are serializing the section called “One Hundred Days of Darkness and Light” in future issues of Catalyst. You can read the twenty-ninth installment (as well as the previous ones) here.
— Phil Bolsta
The uplifting stories in this issue’s “The Nicest Thing” section come from mystic scholar and author Mirabai Starr, the host of the Mystics Summit... summit speakers Andrew Harvey and Rabbi Tirzah Firestone... and Tai Chi and Qigong Grandmaster Ken Cohen, a celebrated new Shift faculty.
Finally, we’d love to hear your answer to the question, What life-changing wisdom have you gleaned from the world’s mystics? To share your thoughts in our Facebook Page community, click here.
I will speak of love
until you go mad
and join me
in my mad worship
― Kamand Kojouri
Hello, friends. My name is Mirabai Starr and I have the great honor and privilege and delight of hosting the Mystics Summit. This is an incredible gathering. I’m saying this having completed a series of conversations that have truly changed my life, and that I feel strongly will be transformational for you. Something happened in this gathering, in these dialogues of the soul that was a surprise and a gift to me in ways that I will be unpacking for years to come.
To watch this 3-minute video and read the rest of the text, click here.
The Master Key
By Robert Peng, a featured speaker in The Shift Network’s 2020 Energy Medicine & Healing Summit
It’s 1972 in the industrial city of Xiangtan, China. A frail child with a heart condition sneaks into a hotel boiler room and befriends the elderly yet vibrant attendant, who eventually reveals his true identity as a revered Qigong master. He heals the boy and, for the next 13 years, secretly teaches him the keys to unlocking the spiritual and healing dimensions of the Life Force.
It sounds like a modern-day fable, but the story is true. And with The Master Key, that grateful student, Robert Peng, invites all of us to enter the next chapter of this empowering path. Here, Master Peng brings together the unique insights of his teacher with the moving account of his own journey
Click here to read the twenty-ninth installment (as well as all the previous installments) of this profoundly moving book.
We are seeking five unique and talented individuals for important positions at The Shift Network.
Our new Sr. Manager of Podcasting will work closely with our rockin’ VP of Media and our Podcasting Team to align podcast strategy around business goals and establish best practices for podcasting. You will roll up your sleeves and help repurprose and identify new material and new pocasters!
As a Course Manager, you'll be the orchestrator and conductor in the critically important role of live course delivery. You'll work closely with world-renowned faculty and our program hosts to create a flawless customer experience with every course you manage!
Our hot new position, Vice President, Lifecycle Marketing, is tasked with optimizing the end-to-end customer journey and increasing overall LTV through innovative engagement and growth strategies informed by deep customer understanding.
As Director of Product Marketing, Mobile Apps, you’ll function as the marketing leader for Shift’s growing mobile app initiatives. In this role, you’ll develop and execute strategic and tactical marketing plans.
Our new Marketing Campaign Manager - Evergreens will be responsible for overseeing marketing funnel content with an eye for improving conversions and creating a great experience for our customers.
If you're inspired and passionate about joining our team, please click here for more information about these positions. The Shift Network is committed to creating a diverse environment and is an equal-opportunity employer.
The Nicest Thing
In this special video series, prominent authors, thought leaders, and others answer the question, “What is the nicest thing a non-family member has ever done for you?”
Ken Cohen’s Story
Celebrated Tai Chi and Qigong Grandmaster
EXCERPT: So she stops somewhere, runs out of the taxi, comes back about three minutes later with a bag that she presents to me. I ask her, "What is this?" She said, "Oh, open it up." It was an encyclopedia of Chinese sayings, including their history. It was all in Chinese. I mean, this was a big book. I mean, it was really an encyclopedia. In fact, I remember it was so heavy, I couldn’t ship it back. It was too expensive to ship back from Taiwan. I had to buy an extra small suitcase to carry it, along with some other items that I had purchased.
To watch the video and read the transcript of Ken’s 8-minute story about an unexpectedly generous taxi driver in Taiwan, click here.
Ken’s brand-new 7-week live video training, Cultivate a Tai Chi Mind & Life: Calm Your Mind, Reconnect With Nature & Cultivate Joy With This Whole-Body Healing Practice, begins Wednesday, February 3. For more details, click here.
EXCERPT: And he said, "So what are you working on?" And I said, "Well, I’m working on this new book about the sacred feminine. It’s called Wild Mercy, and I just happened to have written yesterday about Siddhi Ma and about being with her in India. In that same section, Ram Dass, I also wrote about you." And he said, "Well, this is perfect timing. Why don’t you read it to me?" I said, "Ram Dass, right now?" And he said, "Right now."
And so I read him that section. I don't know, it was about five pages or so, and he just listened with his full attention. During the course of talking to him, he cried, which he often did. Post-stroke, Ram Dass had his heart wide open and his emotions were very available.
To watch the video and read the transcript of Mirabai’s 9-minute tribute to Ram Dass, click here.
EXCERPT: This sounds completely wild in a time as dark and ferocious as ours but as Bede reminded me, when I asked him in a lucid moment what he meant, he said, "All great births are terrifying because they are more than transformations," he said. "They are mutations. They are the birthing of a new species, a species that has taken a quantum leap of embodiment.”
To watch the video and read the transcript of Andrew’s emotionally powerful 4-minute story, click here.
EXCERPT: I remember watching her in total awe and seeing things that I didn’t know existed as a fairly entitled kid, and so I followed her again. Day after day, I followed her and became her apprentice and learned how to scrub floors and learned how to work with dying people and pick up babies and diaper babies and feed people that couldn’t feed themselves. Anyway, for several months, I lived with her or lived near her and then worked with her daily. I saw things I had really no preparation for and they changed me.
To watch the video and read the transcript of Tirzah’s 6-minute story about a selfless mentor, click here.
If you missed any “Nicest Thing” stories, you can catch up on all of them here.
Racial Justice & Healing
Taking a Journey From Cultural Appropriation to Cultural Appreciation
A note from Rev. Dr. Aliah MaJon, Chief Inclusion Officer for The Shift Network:
If you’re like me — and many others here in the United States — you’re breathing a lot easier after the recent inauguration of Joe Biden and Kamala Harris. From the first day of the new administration, messages rang out loud and clear that Racial Justice and the healing of the Racial Divide will be one of their priorities. (Pardon me while I cry a few tears of joy because it’s been such a long time coming!) All of us who are so inclined now have a sincere invitation to begin doing our part to bring forth what it will take to "heal" the longstanding harm and the various systemic social ailments that stem from inequalities and injustices around race.
Right in step with this, the topic of “cultural appropriation” is part of what’s coming to our attention to begin to address and correct. I am personally celebrating that the time has finally arrived for us to begin a conscious journey from the previous undesirable ways of doing things to a more just, honorable, and deeply respectful approach known as “ cultural appreciation.”
Click here to watch an 11-minute clip from the conversation between Mystics Summit host Mirabai Starr and myself, which she personally requested when her heart spoke to her about taking responsibility to bring change. Our full conversation, “Interspirituality & the Shadow of Cultural Appropriation,” will be broadcast as part of the Mystics Summit on Tuesday, February 2, at 11:00am Pacific.
And here are some insightful and illuminating videos and articles on the subject...
What Defines Cultural Appropriation?
This 3-minute video features youthful viewpoints about cultural appropriation.
Cultural Appropriation: Whose Problem Is It?
Festival fashion has recently come under criticism for cultural appropriation. But if festivals are a space for freedom of expression. This 8-minute BBC video asks, “Where is the line between appreciating and appropriating other cultures?”
Avoiding Cultural Appropriation
The difference between cultural appreciation and appropriation is a matter of respectability and honoring craft and craftsmanship. On eco-age.com, Sophie Parsons considers how best to craft a costume without buying into cultural stereotypes.
Here’s What it Looks Like When Cultural Appropriation Is Done Right
This 2-minute video affirms that in fashion, cultural appropriation is either very wrong or very right. The key? Partnering with people on their culture.
Guiding Questions to Ask About Cultural Appropriation
This downloadable handout offers questions related to Source, Significance, Similarity, Commodification, and more.
Cultural Appropriation, Cultural Appreciation and Fair Trade Fashion
In this article on ethicalunicorn.com, blogger Francesca Willow explores the interplay of culture, race, and intersectionality within fair fashion.
Cultural Appropriation Bingo
How many of these unintentionally offensive statements have you found yourself saying? And how committed are you to learning why they’re offensive so you can be a more positive force for justice in the world?
Are you willing to discover that you are already whole, no matter the state of your body, your mind, your thoughts, your emotions, or your circumstances? While self-improvement can be very useful for your body and your mind, I can tell you with all confidence that if you think you have to fix yourself to come home to yourself, this is not true. It’s a dangerous lie that will cause you to suffer unnecessarily. To read more, click here.
How can one begin to explain the awe-inspiring power of mercy and gentleness? Teachers from various traditions ask us to observe nature’s closest metaphor to compassion: The element of water. There is nothing so soft and yielding as water, yet it is powerful enough to overcome the hardest stone. This soft element has the power to wash away continents. Water, like compassion, is necessary for life: “Wherever water falls, life flourishes,” says the 13th-century sage Rumi. The Earth was parched, says the Qur’an, but God sent down the waters of mercy and the Earth was “clothed in green.” To read more, click here.
What’s in the Name? A Few Words on Chanting or Kirtan
By Nina Rao, a featured speaker in the Mystics Summit
My first experience of kirtan, a form of call-and-response musical chanting, pronounced keer (sounds like peer) – thun (sounds like the first syllable of thun-der), was as a girl of 9 years on a summer vacation in my grandfather’s home in the south-western Indian coastal village of Bekal. It happened very naturally around my grandfather’s harmonium (a wind pumped reed organ). The family would gather around and follow his instructions by singing back the line that he chanted in response. My aunts, my mother, and cousins seemed to know this practice, and though my sisters and I didn’t know the meaning of the words we were singing, we quickly caught on. To read more, click here.
I no longer think of that ultimate truth as just sitting there passively, waiting to be grasped. It’s out there, all around us, pressing in on us, almost desperately seeking any opening it can find. Call it Holy Spirit, or perhaps it is simply the next phase of human evolution – the one we must embrace if we are not to vanish altogether... What I had seen as the object of heroic striving I see now as the only subject that is, and that our part is in fact a tremendous letting-go... an emptying out, a making room... To read more, click here.
Since 1990, Gangaji has shared Papaji’s invitation to call off the search. This essential teaching serves our conscious discovery of who we truly are and is profoundly relevant to living our daily lives. In this recording, Gangaji shares a teaching story, written by a sangha member, that is relatable and true. What is discovered when we are willing to completely call off the search and simply let ourselves be found? To listen to the 15-minute podcast, click here.
Imam Jamal Rahman, a featured speaker in the Mystics Summit, along with Pastor Don Mackenzie, Rabbi Ted Falcon — together known as the Interfaith Amigos — started working together after 9/11. Since then, they have brought their unique blend of spiritual wisdom and humor to audiences in the U.S., Canada, Israel-Palestine, and Japan. Their work is dedicated to supporting more effective interfaith dialogue that can bring greater collaboration to the major social and economic issues of our time. To watch this 13-minute video, click here.
Dr. Edith Eva Eger, an eminent psychologist, author, and Holocaust survivor, shared an inspiring message of hope and resilience on Holocaust Remembrance Day on January 27. As she says in this 2-minute video, “Just remember, no one can ever take away from you what you put in your own mind.”
Edith’s new book is The Gift: 12 Lessons to Save Your Life. This practical and inspirational guide to healing shows us how to stop destructive patterns and imprisoning thoughts to find freedom and enjoy life.
Click here to watch Edith’s exclusive 45-minute video interview for Catalyst about her book, The Choice: Embrace the Possible, a powerful and beautiful memoir about her experiences during the Holocaust, and how her own traumatic experiences enabled her to help her clients heal from trauma of their own.
Jim and Eckhart: The Stream of Thinking
Animation video by Chris Ellingworth
He writes: “The stream of thinking has enormous momentum that can easily drag you along with it. Every thought pretends that it matters so much. It wants to draw your attention in completely. Here is a new spiritual practice for you: don’t take your thoughts too seriously. How easy it is for people to become trapped in their conceptual prisons.” Click here to watch this innovative video.
The Shift Network is in service to creating a movement of more conscious individuals who co-create a healthy, peaceful, sustainable, and prosperous world. Toward that goal, peacebuilding has been one of our key “Impact Areas,” in addition to Racial Healing, Women’s Empowerment, and Democracy 2.0.
Given the many challenges we’re currently facing across the world, people are feeling heightened levels of stress and anxiety, perhaps exacerbating the trend toward polarization and “othering” of those with different beliefs, including those with different religious beliefs.
While these global situations can seem overwhelming, peace does start with each one of us. It’s clear that we each need to uplevel our ability to find peace within ourselves— and from there, find greater harmony and tolerance for those around us. Our individual acts can add up to significant changes in the world. By participating in joint endeavors, we can see we are not alone in wanting to create a better world.
With that in mind, The Shift Network is delighted to celebrate the World Interfaith Harmony Week by joining the Compassion Games in a 7-day global challenge to promote acts of peace, collaboration, and tolerance between people of all faith, spiritual, and humanistic traditions. Beginning on February 1 and going through February 7, individuals and teams will use the spirit of cooperation to inspire collaborative acts of service to give back to their communities and strengthen mutual respect, understanding, and harmony between people of all backgrounds.
The World Interfaith Harmony Week was first proposed at the UN General Assembly on September 23, 2010 by H.M. King Abdullah II of Jordan. Just under a month later, on October 20, 2010, it was unanimously adopted by the UN, and henceforth the first week of February will be observed as a World Interfaith Harmony Week. Compassion Games is proud to present the World Interfaith Harmony Week Coopetition.
We invite individual players and team organizers to sign up for the World Interfaith Harmony Week Coopetition to bring the reality of peace to our world! When you sign up, you’ll be given a list of suggested “Acts of Kindness” that you can perform in your own life (which will be tracked as part of “Team Shift”). You can also engage folks in your own community to create local service projects or dive into one of the organized initiatives.
Electric Body, Electric Health
By Shift faculty Eileen Day McKusick
Everything is electric. This seemingly simple observation has transformational repercussions on the way we think about and approach physical, mental, and emotional health. Electric Body, Electric Health is a manifesto for personal empowerment based on an electrical view of life. The author of Tuning the Human Biofield, Eileen Day McKusick is an expert in the emerging field of electric health and has taught thousands how to transform effortlessly through learning to “think electrically.” By illuminating the biological nature of our electrical bodies, McKusick empowers readers to clear the static, noise, and resistance from this system and experience greater energy, clarity, and order. To order your copy, click here.
I have always been on the lookout for simple yet effective ways to change lives. This book, and its concept of electric health, is a groundbreaking invitation to look at our bodies, our health, and the world around us as electric. What I love about this book is the easy-to-use tools and exercises that empower people to raise their voltage, which translates into more energy, focus, and authentic empowerment.
— Tony Robbins, New York Times bestselling author, coach, motivational speaker, and philanthropist
Wait: A Love Letter to Those in Despair
By Cuong Lu
Written as a love letter to those in pain, Wait encourages us to seek out a path to peace and freedom from suffering. Cuong Lu, a longtime disciple of Thich Nhat Hanh, personally witnessed a shooting while fleeing Vietnam in 1975. The memory of this trauma prompted him to dedicate his life to sharing the wisdom of deep listening, finding understanding, and in his words, "defusing the bombs in our hearts." We have waited long enough for the violence to stop. Now is the time to help turn the tide, interrupt the cycle of violence, and create a world where love and understanding thrive. Click here to order your copy.
Harmonic Humanity is an 11-year-old nonprofit serving the homeless with jobs on the streets. We provide music compilation CDs and 5x7 art-driven postcards for vendors to sell. Our latest album features Jason Mraz, Maroon 5, Michael Franti, and Sarah McLachlan. The CDs sell for $20 and the Be Love postcards sell for $5 on the streets. We have street vendors currently making $40 to $60 an hour on the streets of San Francisco.
We’re planning on scaling our model by going national with our program — traveling to 10 cities where homelessness is most severe and dropping off 5,000 Hero CDs & 2,000 Be Love postcards to each city. That comes to about $110,000 potential revenue in each city, and more than $1 million worth of jobs nationwide. Click here to watch our promotion video.
For several years, The Shift Network has hosted Indigenous leaders from around the world and invited them to share their sacred knowledge, rituals, and practices to guide us in a way of living that is sustainable, healthy, and just. We’re thus delighted that the Global Indigenous Wisdom Library makes this “virtual council” of leaders and their wisdom available for everyone, everywhere for free. The Global Indigenous Wisdom Library is a collection of audio and video interviews featuring Indigenous leaders from around the world sharing prayers, sacred songs, prophecies, spiritual teachings, and pathways to healing, as well as concrete examples for birthing a new era — one in which all members of the human family are treated with respect, understanding, compassion, and justice. This sacred wisdom is important medicine for us all.
The production of The Global Indigenous Wisdom Library is a gift from The Shift Network, designed to inspire, inform, and involve you by highlighting the voices and important messages of Indigenous leaders from around the world. We want to give a heartfelt thanks to Hereditary Chief Phil Lane Jr. (“Brother Phil”) for his partnership in helping create this Indigenous Wisdom collection. And we thank all the speakers who have contributed to this body of knowledge. To discover more, click here.
World Peace Library. Designed for the layperson and professional peacebuilder alike, the World Peace Library has over 425 audio and video interviews with some of the most remarkable, inspiring peacebuilders in the world available to you at NO COST. You’ll find hundreds of hours of inspirational, peacebuilding, compassion-spreading talks and trainings at your fingertips with this FREE global resource. There’s no way you can’t come away from the World Peace Library deeply inspired, transformed — and part of the solution. Click here to find out how to take peace to the next level — and help co-create a global culture of peace that leaves a legacy of good for our children, our children’s children and all of humanity and life on earth.
Book by Stephen Dinan: Sacred America, Sacred World. Infused with visionary power, Sacred America, Sacred World is a manifesto for our country’s evolution that is both political and deeply spiritual. It offers profound hope that America can grow beyond our current challenges and manifest our noblest destiny, which the book shows is rooted in sacred principles that transcend left or right political views. To order your copy, click here.
If you would like to submit something to The Catalyst, please see the submission guidelines: click here.
The Divine Shakti Foundation is dedicated to providing for the holistic well-being of women and their children, orphaned or abandoned children, and all of Mother Earth.
We welcome all like-minded people who are interested in these divine goals to join us in our work as we identify needs, design and implement programs addressing those needs, and raise awareness through education and outreach. Click here to find out how you can volunteer. Click here for more information.
Awaken to the Dreamlike Nature of Reality — A free video event with spiritual emergence pioneer, teacher, and author Paul Levy. Discover how to tap into your creative agency and experience a life-altering shift in perceiving reality as a dream that can be co-created consciously and creatively... for a more mindful, joyous, and fulfilling life. Wednesday, February 3, at 5:30pm Pacific
Awaken Prosperity Consciousness to Activate Your Most Desired Life — A free video event with bestselling author, spiritual teacher & founder of Agape International Spiritual Center. Put aside your fears and realize you have exactly what you need in order to feel joy and to thrive in the life you’ve been given. Saturday, February 6, at 10:00am Pacific
Cultivate Inner Safety, Resiliency & Wellbeing With BioDynamic Breathwork — A free video event with Giten Tonkov, the founder of the BioDynamic Breathwork & Trauma Release System®. Move beyond overwhelm and fight-or-flight responses to trauma with BioDynamic Breathwork — and tap into your inner and outer resources to find safety, wellbeing, and peace. Wednesday, February 10, at 5:30pm Pacific
Explore Your Soul’s Journey — A free video event with pioneering UK author, educator, mystic, energy worker, and director of Spiritual Companions Trust. Understand your soul’s immense journey — in its earthbound and cosmic dimensions — and experience a guided meditation to visualize and feel into the “soft explosion of light” that occurs at birth, death, and spiritual initiation. Saturday, February 13, at 10:00am Pacific
Shamanic Journeys Into Nature — With shamanism teacher Sandra Ingerman. Embark on guided journeys to find your place of belonging, tap into the wisdom of all life forms, and learn the language of nature to help in the healing of the natural world — and yourself. New 7-Week Live Video Training Starts Tuesday, February 2
Cultivate a Tai Chi Mind & Life — With world-renowned health educator, China scholar & Qigong & Tai Chi grandmaster Ken Cohen. Study the ancient Chinese tradition of Tai Chi (‘medicine in motion’) with a renowned Grandmaster — and build a graceful, flowing practice that brings peace and wellbeing to your daily life. New 7-Week Live Video Training Starts Wednesday, February 3
Empowered Aging Using Ayurvedic Wisdom & Modern Science — With Dr. John Douillard, DC, CAP, the creator of LifeSpa and a globally recognized leader in the fields of natural health, Ayurveda, and sports medicine. Use Ayurvedic psychology, yogic breathwork, dosha balancing, and circadian medicine — all backed by science — to refine subtle awareness and take transformational action to free yourself from physical, mental, and emotional blocks that hinder your wellbeing... and shorten your life. New 7-Week Live Video Training Starts Tuesday, February 9
Create Healing Rituals to Release Trauma & Invoke Joy, Empowerment & the Sacred — With ritualist and singer Suzanne Sterling, the founder of Voice of Change and the co-founder of Off the Mat, Into the World. Immerse yourself in the power of rituals and learn how to heighten the potency of your own — to help yourself and others move from grief, isolation, and disempowerment to personal agency, reconnection, sacred activism, and the constant presence of the Divine. New 7-Week Live Video Training Starts Tuesday, February 9
The Anatomy of Your Cosmic Flow — With health intuitive, functional nutrition therapist, and yoga therapist Masami Covey. Delve into the anatomy of Cosmic Flow through the 7 B’s — Breath, Brain, Bile, Boundaries, Bones, Blood & Bliss — to become resilient and thrive during the monumental shifts taking place on our planet. New 7-Week Live Video Training Starts Thursday, February 18