In this week’s episode co-hosted by my friend and fellow podcaster Greg Kaminsky we will have an extraordinary conversation with Charles “Chuck” R. Dunning Jr., psychotherapist, mason and author of two highly relevant books on contemplation practice, ‘Contemplative Masonry’ which was published a few years ago and ‘The Contemplative Lodge’ which is now available and of course, his ideas presented in those two books will be our focus of interest in the show.
From his early childhood on Chuck was always interested in states of consciousness and concepts like infinity and eternity. Having been raised in a traditional Christian family with a freemason as a father the clear emphasis at home was on love and prayer as part of daily life. At age 9 Chuck had the experience of his first lucid dream and became more aware of other realities. From very early on he was exposed to information on the esoteric and mystical aspects of philosophy and religion and this very availability influenced him in his later college years.
One of his teachers who also taught meditation soon became his mentor and initiated Chuck into a formal practice of shifting consciousness. For a while Chuck mainly practiced Kundalini Yoga and went on to study psychology. As a result of that he discovered that he experienced the world through the lens of Christianity due to his background and had to choose whether to incorporate and work with it. Within Western Esotericism freemasonry seemed to be one possible way.
In our conversation, we talk about many aspects of Chuck’s personal path, for example how he became familiar with the specific method categorized as contemplation. Of course, we need to aim for a definition for several practices that are all interconnected and partly used interchangeably by also mainstream society.
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Chuck opens up on what he was exactly looking for within freemasonry and how his calling to make certain contemplative concepts available for masons developed itself. He will expand on the quality of contemplation and why all initiatic traditions require a shift of consciousness.
Of course, Chuck’s books will take up a part of our discussion as he’ll explain his first years of solitary work in this context and how ego work and group work can be done simultaneously given that certain prerequisites are met.
Due to the fact that there is a huge amount of lodges some of which do already include contemplative practice some of which are about to recognise its importance for the workings we’ll discuss the importance of Chuck’s writings for masonic education programs. The big question about freemasonry’s future as a result of today’s lodge work and attitude will be another highly relevant topic of this episode.
Music played in this episode
Evoking an ancient past that never was, the music of ARCANTA is primal, passionate, and profound…The stunning vocals of Thomas-Carlyle Ayres are the centerpiece; seldom does one come across a voice this powerful. A spiritual ambience is created through Latin, Sanskrit, and wordless incantations. The effect is often Medieval or Middle Eastern – it is always a moving experience. Backed by atmospheric keyboards, guitars, and percussion, the sound is timeless, uplifting, strange and beautiful.
Ayres is a haunted man, his mind constantly churning with melodies and sounds, tones and words. Arcanta is music as purgation, utilizing elements of world, religious and classical music to break through the pain and suffering of life, with glorious results. At once meditative, spiritual and liberating, the music has an urgency that cannot be denied.
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