Stream of Consciousness Blog

Look for the Blessings

By Joanna Adler, PsyD, CHT

In Isa Gucciardi’s upcoming book on Tara and the Sacred Feminine, she recounts a story told by the Tibetan Buddhist teacher Bokar Rinpoche about his flight from Chinese occupation in 1959. He was only 18 years old when he had to make the dangerous crossing of the Himalaya mountains with a group of 60 others. Early in the trip, the group asked for a divination from the Tibetan goddess Tara to help them plan their escape. They were told unequivocally they were not to take the easy route, but instead they were to travel over a steep mountain pass where if it snowed, the journey would be quite difficult.

They did indeed encounter a snowstorm, and were told by a group of nomads that they were being pursued closely by Chinese troops as they attempted the high pass. They lost many of their belongings down the mountainside as the pack animals struggled and lost their footing in the deep snow. The snow blinded them, and yet they had no choice but to push on. In the end, they made it safely over the pass and into Nepal.

Sacred Stream Radio Podcast: Episode 62: Jill Sweringen

On this episode, Laura Chandler is joined by alternative health care specialist Jill Sweringen to talk about how to stay healthy during the coronavirus outbreak and generally. Jill is the owner of Purple Iris Healing Center in San Francisco and has a doctorate in physical therapy, degrees in traditional Chinese medicine, and is a licensed acupuncturist. She has studied many alternative healing methods and uses a mixture of Western and Eastern medical approaches, including myofascial release, craniosacral therapy, microcurrent therapy, acupuncture, and Chinese herbal medicine to treat a variety of medical conditions. For more information about Jill, visit

The Importance of Staying Grounded

By Judah Pollack

There are stories of Polynesian Wayfinders laying down in the bottom of their boats feeling for a long wave, their backs like a needle to the compass of the ocean. I’ve heard of Inuits in the Arctic finding their way in the midst of a blinding blizzard because they know which direction the snowdrifts form. Similar stories come out of the desert where the San people can orient through a sandstorm because they know the directions of the dunes.

These are stories of people deeply connected to the earth. This state can be rare for modern, digital humans. We hurtle through our landscapes at extraordinary speed. Most of us do not know where on the horizon the sun will set tonight, nor where the moon will rise. Some of us cannot even see the horizon. We rely on GPS to guide us through the streets of our own cities.

We find ourselves cut off from the signs and symbols of the swirling whirl of the earth and cosmos — the very cycles that gave birth to our internal rhythms. When is the last time your bare feet touched the bare earth? In short, we modern humans suffer from a profound lack of grounding, or connection to the earth and its cycles.

Isa Gucciardi, Ph.D.: Reading Thangkas: Avaloketishavara and the Images of Compassion

Thankgas are paintings on fabric that often depict meditational deities or subjects. Popular throughout the Himalayas for centuries, they have provided a teaching and practice tool to help students deepen their understanding of a particular deity or subject. There are many images of Avaloketishavara or Chenrezig as they are known in Tibetan.

In this talk with the San Francisco Dharma Collective, Isa Gucciardi explores these images of compassion and the wisdom of the deities depicted therein.

Shamanic Journey Introduction with Isa Gucciardi, Ph.D.

In these challenging times, a strong connection to inner guidance is more important than ever. The Shamanic Journey is a method of accessing inner wisdom through a meditative state. The Shamanic Journey has provided a path for shamanic practitioners to establish relationships with the unseen powers of nature for millennia. We can adapt this method of going inward to gain insight about our current situation.

Listen: The Doorway Between the Worlds: Medium and Oracle Traditions in Shamanic and Buddhist Traditions

Shamanism is a form of spiritual practice based in earth-wisdom traditions whose practices rely heavily on the practitioner’s capacity to form oracle relationships with the unseen powers of nature. The Mahayana Buddhist tradition also contains oracle systems that have guided the course of the tradition and have even helped with the establishment of new schools of thought. In this talk presented by East West Bookshop, Isa describes the experience of the altered state of awareness that is common to both Shamanic and Buddhist oracle traditions.

Liberation through Song: The Activism of Miriam Makeba

By Isa Gucciardi, Ph.D.

Miriam Makeba is perhaps one of Africa’s most famous musicians. I became aware of her when I was about eight years old. I was growing up near Honolulu as Waikiki was becoming a destination. In the evenings, as the sun was setting, all the hotel bars along the beach had musical shows, many of them right on the beach. Invariably, the person who was supposed to be watching me started having cocktails at about 5 o’clock at one of these bars. This meant I was free to cruise the different hotels along the beach, watching the shows.

Most of the hotels featured hula dancers and Hawaiian music, but one hotel had a band that also played African and Caribbean music. They almost always played Harry Belafonte and Miram Makeba’s recorded music before the live show. I loved the songs they sang together, and I always made a beeline to the beach in front of that bar to hear them in the evenings.

As I got older, I learned more about how Harry Belafonte and Miriam Makeba worked for social justice. I learned that Miriam was famous for her resistance to the social system of apartheid in South Africa. It was through her music that I learned about apartheid, which segregated whites and blacks and kept blacks in poorer, often substandard living conditions. I was appalled to learn about apartheid, and as I followed Miriam’s life, I struggled to understand how it persisted the way it did.

Video: Isa Gucciardi: Tsongkhapa: A Buddha in the Land of Snows

We are lucky to be living in a time where we have so many erudite scholars to help guide the course of Buddhist thought. Principal among them are His Holiness, the Dalai Lama and his main English language interpreter and translator, Dr. Thupten Jinpa. Jinpa has recently written a book about perhaps one of the greatest scholars in Tibetan Buddhism, Je Tsongkhapa. Tsongkhapa lived in the late 1300s and inspired a renaissance in Tibetan Buddhist thought, founded the Great Prayer Festival and established the Gaden Shartse monastery.

In this talk with the San Francisco Dharma Collective, Isa Gucciardi explores Jinpa’s new book, Tsongkhapa: A Buddha in the Land of Snows, which so skillfully brings Tsongkhapa to life. The book offers a unique lens on Tsonkhapa’s relationship to Manjushri, the Buddha of wisdom, which is the focus of this talk and meditation.

The Three Little Kosher Chickens and the Big Bad Coronavirus

By Judah Pollack

Many of us are familiar with the children’s story The Three Little Pigs. It dawned on me that it is a wonderful parable for how we can handle this current crisis.

(Growing up Jewish I was never really comfortable identifying with the little piggies. So please indulge me as we tell the tale of the Three Little Kosher Chickens.)

Once upon a time there were three little kosher chickens. One lived in a house made of straw, one in a house made of sticks, and one in a house made of bricks. One day the Big Bad Coronavirus showed up and the three little chickens ran into the house made of straw.

Sacred Stream Radio Podcast: Episode 61: Matthew Fox and Robert Thurman: Cultivating Peace in Difficult Times: Part 3

On this episode, we reach back into the archives for part three of this historic talk between Buddhist scholar Robert Thurman and Christian theologian Rev. Matthew Fox. In this final installment, Bob and Matthew discuss the men and women who inspire them, including the Dalai Lama, Gandhi, Meister Eckhart, and Hildegard of Bingen. They offer insight into creating more compassion in our lives and hope for cultivating a more compassionate world. Isa Gucciardi moderates this talk that took place at the Sacred Stream Center in 2017.

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