Elizabeth Lesser joins Mirabai to discuss women and power, activism and innervism, Ram Dass and Mckenna, redefining heroes, and recognizing care economy women as first-first responders.
Elizabeth Lesser is a bestselling author and the co-founder of Omega Institute, the renowned conference and retreat center located in Rhinebeck, New York. A student of the Sufi master, Pir Vilayat Inayat Khan for many years, Elizabeth has written Cassandra Speaks: When Women Are the Storytellers, the Human Story Changes, Broken Open: How Difficult Times Can Help Us Grow, Marrow: Love, Loss, and What Matters Most, among many transformative titles around health and healing. Elizabeth is the cofounder of Omega’s Women’s Leadership Center and is one of Oprah’s SuperSoul 100. For more info please visit ElizabethLesser.org
Omega Connections: Women, Power, Peace
Welcoming bestselling author, Omega Institute co-founder, and longtime friend, Elizabeth Lesser, to the podcast; Mirabai invites her to reminisce about their storied connections surrounding Omega, Ram Dass, Pir Vilayat Khan, and being two women at the forefront of leadership positions in modern spirituality and psychology circles. Through the lens of her new book Cassandra Speaks: When Women Are the Storytellers, the Human Story Changes, Elizabeth shares the transformative empowerment in female storytelling.
“I realized then that somehow we had to get across the idea to women and men: There is another way to do power. Power is just wanting to express your authentic alive chi (energy) in the world. Power does not have to come at the expense of other people’s power.” – Elizabeth Lesser
The Omega Institute dharma connections run deep. Join Ram Dass on stage at Omega, on Ep. 168 of Here & Now
Redefining Heroes: Activism & Innervism (13:15)
Describing how Elizabeth’s work combines social awareness and action for change with our inner life and practices, Mirabai invites her to share her perspective on activism. Offering the term she created for this – Innervism – Elizabeth helps redefine what we know as ‘a hero,’ describing how inner work and spiritual practices help create effective activists and lasting social change from the inside out.
“My whole interest is detaching the words ‘power’ and ‘leadership’ from the words ‘warrior’ and ‘hero’ – this sense that to be powerful you have to follow the hero’s journey that involves violence, control, and risking your life. I’m interested in heroes who are soft at heart, who are caring, who want to change the world through love and community.” – Elizabeth Lesser
Find your balance of outer offering and inner work, in a conversation bridging activism and spirituality, on Ep. 42 of the Metta Hour
Ram Dass & the Mushroom Cloud, Terence McKenna & Worry (22:16)
Sharing a story of a Ram Dass retreat at Omega, Elizabeth highlights Ram Dass’ ability to alchemize and transmute even the most intense ‘nuclear’ fears into love, bliss, and interconnection through offering a flip in perspective. Aiming this alchemizing perspective flip toward the coronavirus pandemic, Elizabeth shares a Terence McKenna quote expressing how from our limited viewpoint, we don’t actually know enough to worry.
“Maybe covid is a shamanic force that has come to wake up the world. You don’t want to say that to someone who’s just lost their grandmother, but we don’t know. I remember Terence McKenna saying something like: Why would you worry? Worry is a form of hubris. You presume to know what’s going on here.” – Elizabeth Lesser
No need to worry. Hangout in the proverbial virtual garden with Terence’s brother, Dennis Mckenna, and Raghu, on Ep. 51 of Mindrolling
Women as First-First Responders (28:16)
Rightfully wondering, from a young age, why history class was all about battles and wars, she asks the question: If we can glorify statues of gruesome male warriors, why is a statue of a women giving birth (the literal portal into this dimension) considered too bloody? Offering perspective on the true power of the female-dominated care economy, Elizabeth focuses in on a new kind of first responder—teachers, nurses, aids—inviting women to stand tall in pride and strength for their work.
“Covid is showing that the care economy—hospital workers, home aids, teachers—these are the heroes. I’m so grateful for fireman and policeman, but I’m interested in a new kind of first responder, in calling elementary school teachers first-first responders. I would like women to stand tall, firm, and strong in our pride about what we do, so that it receives the muscle, clout, money, and priority it deserves.” – Elizabeth Lesser