Sharon Salzberg – Metta Hour – Ep. 176 – Neal Allen & Anne Lamott

For episode 176 of the Metta Hour, Sharon is joined by Neal Allen and Anne Lamott.

For episode 176 of the Metta Hour, Sharon is joined by Neal Allen and Anne Lamott.

Neal Allen is a coach and writer who studies and practices traditional and contemporary spiritual paths. He is the author of the 2021 release Shapes of Truth: Discover God Inside You. Anne Lamott is the New York Times best-selling author of 19 books, including collections of essays, novels, and long-form non-fiction, including the classic writing manual Bird by Bird and childrearing memoir Operating Instructions.

In this conversation, Neal shares his impetus for writing Shapes of Truth and how the book played a role in his first date with his now-wife, Annie Lamott. The three converse about the different ways they define the term and the experience of God or the divine, and how that interfaces with daily life. The episode ends with Neal leading a short guided reflection to bring the conversation to a close.

Shapes of Truth

Neal shares the inspiration behind his recently released book, Shapes of Truth: Discover God Inside You, which explores the thirty-five embodied concepts of God within us all. Looking at the work of Hameed Ali (aka A. H. Almaas), Neal explains these thirty-five physical manifestations and their role on our path towards self-realization.

“For me, there’s no work in visualizing a Nirvana or imagining what could be. If I remove my defensive filters successfully, a kind of a blessed world invades me and I don’t have to look for the blessed world. I just have to look for where my defenses are getting in the way of the blessed world. And then (Hameed Ali) provides very practical tools for… I think, probably the most efficient set of tools that I’ve ever seen for removing those obstacles of the ego. One by one by one, he kind of separates them out into these thirty-five different rooms. And you go room by room, by room, by room working through your obstacles.” – Neal Allen

Thirty-FIve Forms (19:45)

Of the thirty-five forms that Neal focuses on in the book, there are five initial qualities that are considered more fundamental; joy, strength, will, compassion, and power. Neal unpacks these five qualities, examining how these qualities of self-realization are interrelated.

“This is where you start. You start with discovering, ‘What gets in the way of my curiosity? What limits do I put on my curiosity? What gets in the way of my strength? What limits my sense of my ability to discriminate the world and be allowed to with my own mind and heart? What gets in the way of my steadfastness?’ Everybody thinks they procrastinate and everybody thinks they’re a procrastinator. Are you really a procrastinator? Or are you actually doing far too many things and you get almost everything done? So are you really not steadfast? Or do you just stop yourself over and over telling yourself that you’re not steadfast and you need more will and you have to find it? Or do you actually have it inside you? “ – Neal Allen

A Few Words About God (30:20)

Sharon speaks with Anne and Neal about their perspectives on God and what terms like ‘Divine’ mean to them. Anne and Neal share the ways that their relationships with God have developed and how that relationship informs their lives.

“But if I had to describe how I experienced God and how I see him and her and it, the great it, everywhere, I would say it’s the love energy that surrounds us that creates, that indwells us, that is us, that is the only thing there is in the sort of Einstein sense that there’s only this one thing, and it’s all going at different speeds. So that I’m going at a pretty fast speed, and a meteor’s going even faster, and the table’s going very, very slowly, but there’s only the one thing which is energy. And so, God for me is the love energy that I can breathe, that in the Christian tradition, the third part of the Trinity is the Holy Spirit, which is Spiritus, which is breath.” –Anne Lamott

Guided Meditation (58:50)

Neal closes the conversation by leading a five-minute body scan meditation.

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Photo via Anne Lamotte