Conscious Life Conscious Death: A Book by Craig Scharton



Paul and Craig talk about Craig’s newest project: his book Conscious Life Conscious Death!

Transcript Transcribed by AI (not 100% accurate)

[00:00:00] This is the two guys talking Fresno podcast, the podcast with two guys talking about Fresno. Your hosts are Craig sharp, a lifelong Fresno who loves his community, even though it drives him bonkers and Paul gin, a transplant Freston, who’s lived in Fresno for more years than he has it. And he wouldn’t live anywhere else.
It’s time for two guys to talk Fresno. Here’s Craig and Paul on the two guys talking Fresno podcast.
Paul: Here we are long time. No, see Craig. I know,
Craig: but I’m wearing the same shirt today. One of those pictures, I only have two shirts. So I guess the odds are that I’d be wearing the same shirt
Paul: I do too. I’m wearing my Fresno Grizzlies
Like this is an old school, Fresno baseball. T-shirt from way back when, and it’s perfectly comfortable. Oh, it’s the perfect, [00:01:00] t-shirt perfectly
Craig: new crying. You cry when you first feel that first hole or see that the seams are starting to go.
Paul: Yeah, I’ve got a couple that I still have the hole in, but I’m still keeping them anyway because it just feels so nice to wear.
So, but then with two guys talking Fresno, I can act like this is theme oriented rather than comfort, so right. Have
Craig: you planned
Paul: it ahead? Yes, exactly. So we haven’t done a lot of podcasts lately, but here we are back and we’re going to jump back into it.
Craig: That’s good. Yeah, we both needed a little break last year was, uh, not only COVID but politics and all that stuff.
And I think we were just worn out.
Paul: Yeah, I think, I think we needed that debrief time. Everybody needed that. And then it kind of ran its course. And I, I think we got through the election and that guy wasn’t reelected and we all kind of yeah,
Craig: yeah. [00:02:00] Until January.
Paul: Yeah. It’s not to say there wasn’t craziness in the midst there, but, uh, and still is, but the good news is we’re going to get back to talking a little bit more about Fresno.
We had to talk COVID we had to talk politics and now we can talk forever.
Craig: Yeah, well, we had to some of our, uh, great, uh, listeners or Watchers, you know, commenting saying more Fresno stuff, more Fresno stuff. So that was a good reminder for us. And we do listen to your comments or read your comments and, and take that to heart.
And that’s what we started for. So you just brought us back to where we meant. Yeah.
Paul: And if people have ideas, post them on our Facebook page or send us an email through the website to guys fresno.com and let us know what you’d like for us to talk about, because we are getting back to being two guys talking about Fresno.
And today, Craig, I’m really excited because we’re going to talk [00:03:00] to a great Fresno author. He’s fairly new to the, uh, the, the title of author, but it’s been coming for quite a while, but he’s very well known by presidents,
Craig: right? Well, we will see you’re turning the tables on me.
Paul: I wrote my book. I got to be a guest on the show and today our very, very special guest is author Craig Sharpton.
Welcome to the show, Craig.
Craig: Thanks Paul. It’s a, it’s an interesting process. That’s for sure.
Paul: Go ahead.
Craig: Well, I always, you know, I, every time someone becomes an author, I always say there’s, you know, 98% of the people are working on a book and there’s a few that, that actually get it to be a product. And I always admired that people.
So, uh, but I’ve got to say, it’s, it’s a weird feeling. When you say you’re one of them, you see your baby in [00:04:00] print. It’s very strange. Isn’t it? It
Paul: sure is. And the book is called conscious life conscious death. It’s a, that’s an intriguing title for sure. Do you have it with you? Can you hold it up?
Craig: I said, so lighthearted comedy, a little,
Paul: little tome conscious life, conscious death.
Show us the cover. That looks cool. No,
Craig: I’ve got the highlighter in there. I didn’t want to drop, probably have a little bit of glare. Yeah.
Paul: Hold it up just a little bit higher. So it’s, that’s a ladder with two
Craig: pencils. Yeah. So it’s an, uh, an idea for a new religion. So principles represent the idea and, uh, the latter represents something I’ll read about in a little bit.
If you
Paul: ask me to, I will, and I want to get to the idea that this is about a new religion. Is this a then a heretical book that you’re putting out? What is conscious life conscious death about?
Craig: [00:05:00] Well, let’s see. I, uh, so it is an idea that, um, there’s a whole bunch of people that have their own religion. No, right
Paul: off the bat.
You’re going to forget your elevator pitch down a little bit better.
Craig: Well, you’re my first, this is the first interview.
It’s all a little squishy for me, but yeah, there’s people that have their own religion. And then there are people that don’t like religion at all. And so this is something in between. It is not a. Uh, DST religion. It’s not a, uh, it doesn’t have a goddess component to it. It is for people that would like to treat, uh, raising their own consciousness as if it were a religious person and make it a religious pursuit.
So it’s really about my consciousness is here. I would like it to be here. I’m going to work on that and it’d be really cool to work on it with other people as well. And we could encourage each other [00:06:00] and support each other. And I could post a book that I read and you can tell me about a conversation that you had or a speech that you went to.
And, uh, and we could continue to inform each other on ways through science or philosophy or even religions to, uh, to have a more conscious life.
Paul: So there’s a lot of people that write books about religion. I’ve got a bunch of them on my shelves around this room, but you’re, you have literally written.
Creating a new
Craig: religion. Yeah. Well, and that’s, that’s the, that’s the weird part. That’s the part that feels a little bit like jumping off of a cliff. Um, because I know that’s an unusual thing, but I also, I, religion is such an interesting thing. The way that it affects our lives is, you know, having been a religious person, it is always on your mind.
It is in your activities. You know, you, you know what you can eat and can’t eat based on your religion. [00:07:00] When you’re supposed to wake up who you can marry, how many kids you can have or not have, like all of these things, you know, how you give thanks for your food. It’s all tied up in your religion. So there’s really nothing else, like a religion that affects every part of your life.
And so if you want to raise your consciousness, Treating it as if it were any other religion, um, taking that into everything that you do, you know, we’ll hopefully give you the focus and the continued reminder, and then Centive to keep, keep working on your consciousness.
Paul: So is, is it, uh, a religion with, with rules and is it, is it at, in multi with other religions?
Are you trying to take people out of their religion into something new?
Craig: Well, uh, not really. Um, you know, it really, uh, a lot of it, you know, is a little bit libertarian, I guess every person is [00:08:00] ultimately responsible, should they choose to, to increase their own consciousness. And, um, and there are as many ways to do that as there are people.
Um, you could certainly bring your thoughts about your existing religion into this. And in fact, most religions have kind of an esoteric, uh, wing to them. Uh, there are certainly esoteric Christian beliefs, CA you know, within Catholicism, within Judaism, uh, within Islam that are much more consciousness focused.
Um, this just as it, without the baggage of that, you don’t need to have that stuff. You can just simply say, I’m this level of consciousness. I would like to see how high I can get if I continue to work on my consciousness.
Paul: So is there, is there a deity in your religion? I think you mentioned that and R and R you it,
Craig: no, in fact, I am the flawed leader that [00:09:00] nobody should follow.
I am not making any claims to any special knowledge. Um, I’d say that the thing that I really bring to this as a person who has run nonprofits and businesses and, and worked in government and all these different things that I’ve done in my life is it’s really given me more of, I would say my. My participation in this is really understanding organizationally how it could work, um, rather than thinking about dogma or those kinds of things.
I really want to simplify it too much to say, if we’re not sure about something you go back to, I want to increase my level of consciousness. Number two is we want to increase our level of consciousness as a group. So how do we help each other out? And then the third part is also in the name. Also the catchy little title is thinking about how to have a conscious death.
Um, and those are the three main things. [00:10:00] Anything else is up for grams?
Paul: I think that’s important to define cause I’m sure. I mean, it’s a it’s it’s catching and people are going to want to hear when you say this is a new religion, but just, uh, it can throw people for a loop perhaps in good to define that you’re not creating a new deity.
You’re not creating a new Bible. You’re just talking about ways people can reach higher consciousness. Right. Maybe that’s something we’ll go ahead and say, and then let’s define consciousness after you respond to that. Yeah. Well,
Craig: I w I would say that, uh, it is possible to read most of the existing religions as, um, as avenues to increase your consciousness, but I would, I would submit, and I think I could come up with enough evidence that rather than focusing on consciousness, uh, they tend to get sidetracked in, you know, arguing over what a word means or passage, or as you know, is this a [00:11:00] shellfish or is that a shellfish?
What’s a clove. And have, you know, like, there’s, there’s a whole bunch of stuff.
Paul: Are gay people going to heaven or are they not doing crazy stuff?
Craig: Yeah, it does. Does the earth revolve around the sun or is it flag around. We can get, we can really get wrapped up in all of these side arguments, I would say, instead of keeping that focus and that focus is really what this is about.
If you don’t have the focus to do the work, to increase your consciousness, it’s far less likely that it will ever happen.
Paul: No, I’m pretty convinced when you read that story about this guy, Jesus, he didn’t actually come to create this exclusive religion. I think he was displaying what living life to the full looks like, which may play into what your higher level of consciousness looks like.
So let’s define consciousness. I think you had an excerpt from the book you wanted to [00:12:00] read to show us what consciousness is.
Craig: Well, and, and consciousness is really, uh, a big subject of science right now, too. And that’s really just about, you know, your awareness or, uh, you can even say, uh, If you go back to Maslow, you know, being self-actualized and bullying beyond yourself, be it going beyond where you are right now.
Um, making decisions based on something other than your own internal programming. I want this, I want that. Or external programming. You need to be like this. You need to be like that is starting to know who you are and start to make decisions based on that information kind of free of those, of those other pressures or constraints.
So, yeah. Cool. Yeah. You got
Paul: an excerpt to read on
Craig: that. I do. Cause you asked me to have an extra, so I did
Paul: one. Yes. We always want to hear an author reading his own, his or her own. [00:13:00]
Craig: Okay. That’s the first time I’ve done it. You know, I like it. Alright.
Paul: Consciously, other than the last time where we recorded or didn’t record this project, but that’s a whole nother Minnie won’t know, hearing this podcast that we did this podcast once before and somebody on the screen, I won’t say me forgot to hit the record button.
So here we are again.
Craig: Wow. We call that dress rehearsal. Yes,
Paul: we do. All right. Read your excerpt for us.
Craig: Consciousness is an ideal. I think of ideals as distant goals that we can strive toward without ever reaching them with each bit of progress that we make towards our ideals. They reveal new insights, understandings, and perspectives.
I imagine that increasing our level of consciousness is like climbing an infinite rope ladder. It takes work and energy and maybe even encouragement to climb. But as we climb with each new run that we [00:14:00] advance our perspective changes, we can see further as the horizon lengthens. So that is the latter reference in the, in the, uh, on the cover as well.
So, you know, you can just imagine that climbing up. It does take work. It does take focus and effort. Um, and that as I read philosophy or religion, it’s not a, it’s not a soft thing. You know, I can’t just take a vitamin or light an incense or, you know, put, wear certain clothing. That’s going to get me there.
It’s going to be something that I have to work on. Um, but as we do that, and I have worked on these things in my life and your perspectives do change. And I’m sure you’ve seen that too. As you, as you meditate on the golden rule about loving your neighbor as yourself, you know, when you read it as a kid, it’s this one.
And then you read it a little bit later and it’s a different thing and it just keeps [00:15:00] changing. And then you find yourself putting it into practice, you know, like you see a car broken down, you know, in the middle of nowhere at night. And you’re like, well, I don’t really want to stop. And then you think, well, what if that was me?
Or what if that was someone I love? And then you stop and then you help someone and your life expands each time you do that. Right? Regardless of what that is. As, as we begin to practice that, now we know we’re not doing it perfectly, right. I mean, I don’t know about you, but I know not yet. At least I still have a long way to go, but I do know that each time I make progress, I go up another rung in that ladder that I am, I’ve become a better person, which means I’m probably better to the people around me.
You know, I have more to contribute, man. Um, I could help someone else. Maybe who’s just beginning to think about it and share what I’ve learned or [00:16:00] experience. And we can take that, you know, that ideal is one, that’s obviously a huge one, but we can focus on that the rest of our lives. And there are other ideals that we can do as well.
You know, we can talk about how do I live on this planet in a healthy way that can be a big deal. Um, or how can I, you know, one that I know I struggle with is how can I, um, live a healthy life, right? How can I physically healthy? You mean? Yeah, mentally healthy, physically healthy, spiritually health, all of these things, as we work on them, we can get better at them just as if we were learning a new language or a musical instrument or whatever it is with practice.
We get better. You know, and then hopefully you get, you know, some amount of practice and then all of a sudden things really start to begin to make sense. And, and, uh, the ideas kind of coalesce in you. Hmm.
Paul: It hasn’t that sort [00:17:00] of the goal of life, you know, if I’m know I’ve learned from the mistakes my parents made and try not to make the same mistakes to transfer them onto my kids or, or for, you know, some who’ve been divorced.
Can I learn to do this better or have relationships in a better way? I mean, isn’t that the goal of life, and even then generationally, can we hand something better to the next generation then than what we were given? I know that’s not necessarily being displayed in the current generation perhaps, but isn’t that the goal of life?
Craig: Well, and that’s that’s yeah, it is. And I think part of why we don’t get there, you know, I’m not sure. I don’t want to bad mouth existing religions, but I will say that, you know, we know that they get off base, you know, it’s, they can miss the point of why they exist. And I think that’s what happens. And when that happens, you know, like any other entity, you know, and [00:18:00] this is something we, we always have to be careful of is they start becoming self-protective and then they want their growth.
And they, you know, it takes on a life of their own, you know, we see that with government or business or religion. And so this is kind of stripping it all away and say, let’s not have all those sorts of stories that we need to fight about whether there was a burning Bush or whether it was actually lightning or what, you know, like a fireflies, like who cares.
Right. That’s keep going back to the point. And I would argue that the point of all of it is to become more conscious beings. And then, um, You know, try to live in this world together better, uh, you know, with others. And also, you know, the proof is in the pudding on how we treat our plan, you know, which, yeah.
I don’t know how you believe in the garden of Eden and then, you know, think it’s okay. That wildfires burning all around you [00:19:00] and your children breathing smoke. I mean, I don’t see how existing government or religion or business are going to change things fast enough on their own. We can’t wait for them to change.
And so that would be part of my reasoning is we need to just start over focus on the main thing and hopefully end up with a different result. Yeah. And if
Paul: we just make humanity a little bit better in each generation, move it forward a little bit, then, then we’ve really done something. And so that’s, that’s a that’s great stuff.
By the way, you said the goal, the golden rule is actually do unto others as you would have them do unto you. You’re right. You’re right. And what you quoted was Jesus making the 10 commandments into two commandments. Love your neighbor. Love God and love your neighbor as yourself.
Craig: Yeah. Thank you. That is, that is true.
I agree with you. Yes. Distinction, Paul.
Paul: Yeah. Yes. That was great [00:20:00] consciousness, but I think you’re right. I think religion in its exclusiveness and really what we see now is religion in the west. That’s exclusive around nationality as not just religious beliefs, but nationality and race, or at least cultural norms as well.
Um, it’s it is going to push against us becoming better as the human race.
Craig: Yeah, well, and that’s it as it pushes away. And we’ve seen this before. I mean, one of the greatest, you know, the greatest, uh, example I’ve seen in history is, you know, you start with, you know, love your neighbor as yourself and, you know, few hundred years later, you’re burning people at the stake, you know, like how do you get that from that core message over to this aberrant behavior?
And, and I think that’s what happens. And I think that’s, what’s happening now with a lot of that, you know, whether, whether it’s jihadism or whether it’s, you know, white [00:21:00] evangelical fundamentalism or the Catholic church, you know, and, and, uh, issues with, uh, child abuse. I mean, you know, you just have all of these abberant behaviors that come out and I’m, I guess I’m saying let’s just start over.
Let’s start out with something very basic. Um, don’t follow anyone. Don’t follow me. Like, can we agree on some basic principles? And then let’s just focus on that. And then through absolute a hundred percent transparency, um, some mechanisms I’ve tried to put into place that could keep us from getting off track, um, at least as far, or staying off track, um, you know, that maybe we can keep, I referenced this.
I remember a lady that, uh, an elderly lady that I know she had this, uh, magnet on her refrigerators that said, uh, remember to keep the main thing, the [00:22:00] main thing. And it’s just one of those little, little sayings, but if you take that, literally, it’s really a very powerful saying and, and that’s, that’s, that’s really, I think what I’m trying to do with this to say let’s strip all the nonsense.
We’re never going to figure out most of these things we’re arguing over. Anyway, many of them happened 4,000 years ago. So, you know, it’s just my opinion versus you have your opinion ultimately, and we’re arguing over something that’s been edited and rewritten, you know, by who knows how many people. So let’s just skip all of that and go back to the main points.
And, um, and I, I would argue again that, uh, consciousness is one of those, one of those main points.
Paul: Yeah. And I, and I honestly believe, um, and you and I have been walking this journey with me a little bit of my belief system being changed in all of this. And I, I think what you’re [00:23:00] talking about really is the story of, of Jesus that Jesus saying.
Let it be on earth as it is in heaven in the Lord’s prayer was saying, let us bring this idea of goodness down and see it exist on earth. And it, and none of it was about getting people to say a sinner’s prayer and join a particular church and declare everybody else is being dying in the flood. Yeah.
Craig: Outsiders equal. Yeah.
Paul: It was about self sacrificial living for everybody. And that’s what Jesus demonstrated. So I, I don’t think this, what you’re saying is, is truly at antithesis with the story of Jesus at all. It may be a little bit, uh, would be difficult for some Christians that I know today, but not the original guy that they sort of point to for
Craig: all of this.
Well, and I, after this, I won’t say the idea occurred to me, but it started crystallized in me about conscious life consciously. [00:24:00] I re-read the gospels something I’ve read several times or a few times I should say. And, and it just screamed at me. I was like, this is, this is the point. Like, you know, it’s, uh, it really is, could be that, you know, one of the great conscious life conscious, just stories in history about, you know, I, I, Jesus had the ability to not do what he did.
Right. Right. Even in the Christian texts, it’s like, you haven’t, he had ways out of it, but you thought about it bottle, like up to the end, he kept going like this really
Paul: there’s gotta be another way. What are we
Craig: thinking? What, who came up with this plan? But, but he did it eyes open, you know, carrying that cry.
Getting abused. Like he did it like that is the conscious part. Right. [00:25:00] And, um, Socrates, very similar kind of a thing, you know, very wrongfully accused. Um, actually the people that didn’t like him didn’t like him because he was doing really good things and they just found a way to blame him. And, um, you know, he had the hemlock to drink and his friend said, look, we can get you out of here.
In fact, the people who were condemning him were hoping that he would just, you know, go, go live on an island somewhere and quit bothering them. And he said, no, I’m not going to be able to make the change if I sneak off in the middle of the night, you know? And, and he went into it eyes wide open. And, you know, I, I just see that throughout art, throughout history, throughout philosophy, um, we see that kind of thing where.
You know, your, your, your life has completely, I mean, you could, you could look at the, uh, at the star wars movies. Right. You know, I mean, obiwan is a classic [00:26:00] mythological figure and, you know, he, he quits fighting and lets himself, you know, be killed. Right. And that is a classic, uh, you know, Joseph Campbell was involved with those, a great mythologist to make sure that those first two movies really followed the classical mythological lines.
And, and that’s part of those stories exist everywhere in the world, you know? And then it is a consistent thing.
Paul: It’s interesting. I do keep comparing this back to sort of the GAO Christian Bible, uh, because I was having a discussion with someone this week about. You know, the why’s of why, why would an omnipotent omniscient God allow a child to be repeatedly molested, you know, kind of a thing and, you know, and, and have the answer.
Well, you know, who, you know, God’s ways are higher than our ways, you know, that kind of answer. And did you see, you know, job, 38 is all about God telling Joe, who are you to [00:27:00] like question me because I, and so I went back and read, I like you, I went back and read the story and read the book of job. And the, the conclusion of the book of job is job saying, I’m going to ask questions and you’re going to answer them.
You know, him talking to God or talking to heaven, I’m going to ask questions. You’re going to answer them. And I’m going to go from being a person whose ears had heard about you to somebody who’s eyes has now who eyes have now seen you. And I thought that was such a fascinating thing that, that he was saying through the, through the suffering and maybe, you know, being present or conscious as you’re talking about through the suffering, asking the questions of why is this happening to me, wrestling with those subjects.
He comes out at the end saying my eyes. Now I’ve seen, I know something I didn’t know before and life is better because of it. And, uh, so anyway, I guess that, is that a sense of what you’re trying to tell us through this? [00:28:00] Yeah.
Craig: Well, and that’s, I would say it’s, it’s it shines through I, once you see it, you’ll see it start popping up all over the place.
Um, you know, some, some very, you know, I, I. I look at movies, stories, whatever, and it pops up, especially in really good ones. Um, like dead man walking is an interesting one that, uh, Susan Surandon, uh, was in that movie as the nun. And, uh, Sean Penn was a, you know, troubled prisoner. And, you know, at the end, you know, the true shall set you free, which is another ideal that you can strive toward your whole life knowing you’ll never get it perfectly, but you can keep moving toward that ideal.
And, you know, and there’s that scene at the end where he’s getting executed and they haven’t laid out. And it basically is like a cross. And, and that, that [00:29:00] conscious awareness that he finally went into at the end, you know, changed everything. I mean, it just, it changed his, his death, but it changed everyone around him.
And, you know, it was. It’s a, it’s a quite a consistent theme. Um, so yeah, so I wouldn’t say that, you know, I think for a Buddhist, I mean, you know, they don’t get quite as wrapped into, you know, us versus them as much, uh, by a long shot. But I think for some of the other maybe Abrahamic religions, uh, it’ll be challenging for some, um, but you know, we have friends that have read early manuscripts of this, helping me out you and a few of a few others.
And none of them was really horrified by the blast for me, or, you know, the radical nature of it, because that’s really not what it’s about. In fact, um, a couple of them have said, you know, as I move into what a church could be, they’ve said, [00:30:00] yeah, this is what we’ve always thought a church should be is, uh, operating differently than, than we’ve we’ve had them operate in traditions.
That’s
Paul: good. Well, we want to tell people how to get the book in just a second. Let’s let’s take a quick break. We always do a segment on the show called know your guests. So when we come back after this little break, we’ll ask Craig the Telus to answer the big questions about who he is. And, uh, and then we’ll ask how he came about writing this book.
As two guys talking, Fresno continues,
Craig: got a thought. Send us a comment on the two guys talking Fresno, Facebook page or on our website too guys. fresno.com. We’ll answer back. We promise now back to the issues. Two guys talk in Fresno, Craig and
Paul: Paul. All right. Two guys talking Fresno, Craig and Paul and Craig Sharpton.
We want to know our guests, tell us who you are, where you came from and what high school you went to and, and [00:31:00] help us to know our guests here.
Craig: All right. Well, yeah, I was born in Fresno at the old Glen Agnes hospital over on fruit. And, uh, I have lived here all but three and a half years of my life. Um, in the late nineties, I was up in the bay area in Pleasanton, but, um, but somehow my life and Fresno’s life got intertwined when I was young.
And, uh, I emotionally got interested in, in how we could, uh, fix the neighborhoods in our downtown, um, that ended up in some very bad shape, but I also was a kid that was always very fascinated by religion. Um, I, uh, I went to church, you know, sometimes, uh, my dad would wake up and drive me to church and drop me off and come pick me up.
Um, we weren’t an anti-religious house, but we weren’t really dogmatically religious [00:32:00] house by a long shot. Um, and I, I loved it, you know, I loved going to Sunday school and vacation Bible school and learning and, and, uh, I just couldn’t soak it up enough. I started reading the Bible. I read the whole Bible chapter by chapter, um, at a fairly young age.
I always say I skipped the begats, you know, once even, I don’t even remember which book that is now, but, you know, when it gets into like two pages of who began at home, um, I lost, I glossed over that part. Um, good for you. Yeah, but, uh, but, and I was also up and I had several friends in, uh, high school and junior high school that were Mormon and I would go to church with them.
Um, my neighbor, Mrs. Vaughn behind us would take me to people’s church with. Um, I went to the Catholic church a few times with my friends across the street and, uh, a girlfriend in high school, [00:33:00] uh, early on, was Catholic. And I went to mass with her and, and then ended up dating, uh, uh, Shawna Kirkwood, who we had on an earlier show.
And, uh, her dad, wasn’t a Pisco, both priests. So, you know, I, I kept going all the, you know, even until I was in college, I would go to church by myself and, and, uh, I would go, especially, we had this one great guy, Dean Roth at St. James, the late great Dean Roth. And he would, you know, he had just this wall of books of psychology and the theology and, you know, every poet and, you know, and he would incorporate all of that into his sermons.
And, um, you know, he, he and I could just sit and talk in his study for hours, you know, so that was very interesting. Um, You have to kind of have that component of my life. And I’m glad I did because it, it, you know, a lot of what I’d say I learned later, you know, and then I [00:34:00] became an atheist and then I, now I say I’m an agnostic because I don’t think anyone really knows.
So that’s much more interesting for me to try to try to wonder and learn then say I know stuff.
Paul: Yeah. I think it takes great faith to be an
Craig: atheist. Yeah. Yeah. It’s, it’s just a little, it’s kind of a little annoying, but, uh, but I do have a lot of atheist friends as well. In fact, one of my really fun nights when I had peeves public house down on the Fulton mall was I had a group of my LOL neighbors were meeting in one corner, uh, all Christians and then the, the.
Atheists. I can’t remember what they call themselves, but they’re an atheist agnostics group. They would meet there too. And it turned out they were there on the same night and I introduced them to each other and they just talked for hours. It was fantastic. That’s what I learned. But I went out, I went to Bullard high school.
Yes, I [00:35:00] did in 1980. And, um, I will be 60. And, uh, we’re recording this on August 9th and I’ll be 60 on August 11th. And, uh, you just went to my birthday. We just
Paul: celebrated you your 60th birthday. And now were you on the swim team at Bullard? Did I see swim team pictures in your little montage there at your party?
Craig: Yeah, the, the, the pictures of the Speedo. Yeah. I started swimming when I was five at Figerdon swim and racquet club and my parents dropped me off. The coach yelled at me to start swimming and I swam. And, uh, I, I jokingly say I became a backstroker because I got tired of looking at the black line as is, from my fun down.
At least I could look up the sky and see clouds, um, and then played water polo, which, you know, after you’ve been swimming [00:36:00] for six or seven years, when someone throws a ball in the pool and you get to play a game. Oh my God. Yeah. Much better. So, but it gets ugly under the water there. Doesn’t it? Well, it does.
Yes. In fact, our coach would actually, they would teach us how to cheat, uh, uh, which was part of the game. Like how to pretend like you got fouled and you know, all that, our foul without getting caught.
Paul: It’s not like cheating, cheating. It’s it’s everybody knows it’s if you can get away with it.
Craig: It’s okay.
Yeah. We had this one guy in and you’d be sitting there like this waiting for the, for the ball. And he was behind you. You know, trying to, you know, get, keep you from getting the ball. And he was so strong with one leg. It could pull you under the water without having his hands going, but just one leg he’d pull you under.
You’d be drowning. And he’s just sitting there with his hands in the air. No file here.
Paul: That’s great. Well, you kind of alluded to it, but how did, how did all of [00:37:00] this lead to you writing this book? Where did this inspiration come from and deciding I’m going to sit down and write a book about this all.
Craig: Well, I have in the mid nineties, I had, you know, a really, uh, uh, what would you say?
Like, uh, I had a whole bunch of things all crashing in my life at the same time. Um, so I, I, you could call it a midlife crisis or, or, um, you know, just know life reset, life reset. Yeah. That’s a good way to send just a whole bunch of stuff happening bad and good. Uh, and I just ended up at a place where I suddenly was really hungry for learning about the things that used to matter with me.
I mean, one of them was my, my thyroid cancer came back and, you know, I had, you know, a bunch of lymph nodes taken out and all that. So I, um, I jokingly came out after I got the [00:38:00] diagnosis and looked at the sky and said, I prayed for growth, not a growth, but I knew I was the joke to myself was I knew that there were one in the same.
So I, um, you know, I, I started going back to reading, um, and I was just reading stacks of books again, philosophy from Plato to Carl Young, to Joseph Campbell, to the Bible, to, um, Buddhism, to gosh, psychology, a lot of psychology. And just really looking at where they overlapped, you know, rather than look at the differences which you can do.
You can also look at what is, what are the common themes, holding these, all these things together. And consciousness seemed to be the thing. And I was reading about, you know, how to be more conscious from a variety of writers over history and in one of them, uh, [00:39:00] he’s asked, uh, why do you want to live a more conscious life?
And, uh, he answered to have a more conscious death. And I thought that ties all of this together, back to the gospels, back to play, uh, Socrates back to Joseph Campbell, talking about the American Indians work cry, which was today is a great day to die and having just had cancer again, it was, it was, and I was going to.
Training to become a hospice volunteer and all of that. And just, I was facing my own mortality. And as I’ve done that in my life, my life always gets better. I say that the day after you have cancer, you know, the colors get brighter. Once you, once you realize that you’re a mortal and that you have a given amount of time here and, um, you know, it’s scary to people and it seems more of a descend people [00:40:00] terrifies, you know, many, um, but you know, once you face it and if you do face it squarely, then, um, it loses power over you.
And it also makes you appreciate, well, made me appreciate things more. Um, I became more grateful and more loving. Um, I took risks that I wouldn’t have taken. I mean, I would have never run for city council. I would have never opened a restaurant. Um, but my goal became, I’m more afraid of wasting my life than, um, you know, then having people laugh at me or ridicule me or failing at something, um, that all changed.
Um, and so is
Paul: that what conscious death means? You have a book called conscious life, conscious death. That’s a, that’s a religion and it can make you think of, uh, you know, the crack suicide squads in life of Brian, where they all run up and commit suicide
Craig: and it’s [00:41:00] over
Paul: the movement has ended right there.
But so conscious death is about knowing you fulfilled your purpose sort of, or have filled the time. Well,
Craig: yeah. And the Stoics do this quite a bit, which is, you know, Like facing your mortality and, you know, and remembering that every day might be your last day, you know, before you go to bed, say, I don’t know if I’m going to wake up and when you wake up, you go, well, I woke up again, here’s another great day.
What am I going to accomplish? How am I going to grow? How am I going to affect the people in the world around me? And so it’s not morbid. I mean, our society is just so desk, death averse, you know, we all know this. We all say, uh, you know, people hooked up in tubes and all that stuff. And they say, I wouldn’t do that to my dog.
Every one of us has had that conversation. Right. I, I, that I know of. Um, but we’re just so afraid of dying. Um, and it actually starts to eat [00:42:00] away at your life. So this is a way, you know, to say, no, I’m going to face it. I’m going to know. One do it, like if I die, am I going to leave a whole bunch of mess for a bunch of people, I’m going to get stuff cleaned up.
So I’m not laying on my death bed or in a car at the bottom of a ravine going, God, I should have done this, you know, remove all of those. I should have done this things. You know, I should have told my sister, I loved her. Or, you know, those kind of like start living your life in a way that when you do eventually croak, which we’re all going to, I like that.
I like that word. Um, right. Very precise. But when we do, we want to leave it in a way that we can look, look back and go like, yeah. You know, I, I, I, I think I did pretty well all in all, you know, I, you know, I, uh, I tried to do, but you know, tried to leave it better than I found it. And yet I met, I messed up, but I [00:43:00] mostly made amends.
And, but on balance I did a pretty good job and I can feel, I didn’t. There aren’t things that I regret not saying or doing. Um, I didn’t just Bumble through unconsciously, just making messes and, and, uh, you know, destroying the planet and throwing a bunch of trash out for my neighbors to have to deal with.
And I didn’t rip people off those kinds of things, like, think about all of the, like the 12 step programs. Even I learned a lot from, from those during this time period as well. You know, how do you make amends? How do you keep your own side of your street clean? How do you give yourself grace? One of the greatest things I ever heard them use, wasn’t the one day at a time it was progress, not perfection.
And that is just such a beautiful thought. So it kind of is incorporated into all of this, taking all these things I’ve learned and try to coming up, try to come [00:44:00] up with a very simple outline. Um, that I know would help me in and I think might be helpful to others. Is
Paul: there any aspect of post death life in that?
Craig: You know, they’re, I would say, uh, mostly not, uh, because it’s unknown, it would be one of those things that we could sit and talk about forever, but you know, whether you think there’s heaven and someone else think that there’s Nirvana or, or rebirth, or like, we really don’t know. So let’s, let’s say we don’t know, but let’s live our life that maybe if there is something that will, you know, be able to go into that, whatever that next thing is, you know, more successfully like that that’s the Batten book of the dead is really this, uh, like two week prayer that, you know, your loved ones gathered around you 24 hours a day, you know, as you’re dying [00:45:00] and after you die, And it’s all about steering you away from the monsters and toward the good guys, you know, so you, you end up going where you, you, you know, where you’re better off, you know, they’re there to help you.
And, and that’s another thing that shows up and in multiple, especially the old religions or, or more of the native peoples religions, um, that there is that guidance. Um, so again, I would say that’s, that’s part of the agnostic part is we don’t really know, but we do know that if we lived a more conscious life, then we’re likely to have a more conscious death.
And if we have a more conscious death, we can look back and say, good job. You know, you did pretty well all in all.
Paul: And if I’m doing something good and you’re talking about how this theme shows up all over the place, and I could talk about places in the Bible, but even in the story of Les Miz, this, this idea of laying down your life, [00:46:00] No, it starts with the priests, you know, not only giving the silver, but then the candle sticks as well, that that has this ripple effect that changes all these people’s lives.
But so many characters in that story are okay to go to their death because they’ll sh they’re doing that out of selfless love for somebody else. And then there, you know, there’s the big line at the end of, you know, to love another person has to see the face of God. So I, I love that concept. And even if whatever happens in eternity and I, I think there’s something of our goodness, that’s going to go on into eternity somehow in some version.
But to say, when I’m living selflessly and walking consciously into serving, and even if that leads to death, I’m going to die. Knowing that I did everything I could to make the world a better place. And then it does become less scary.
Craig: Well, and, and, you know, If you have faced your mortality, then you’re not [00:47:00] so fearful that you, you know, you know, someone’s being hurt.
You’re you’re, you’re, you’re I feel much better about going over and going, Hey, leave that person alone. Get out outta here. I’m calling the, you know, taking that, that action that a fearful, you know, I’m going to hang onto my life. Even if that person’s getting beaten or raped or whatever, I’m going to look the other way.
Now you’re getting into a point where you you’re not. So, uh, you’re not white knuckle hanging onto it as much. Um, and that you’re more willing to go out and, and do good. Right? Right. Or you realize you need a career change and you’re just like, I can’t do it. You know, it’s, my mom wanted me to be this and society rewards me for being this certain way.
I can’t break away and live my own true life. Be my own true self. And you’re like, no, you’re, you’re really not holding onto something. What you’re doing is you’re being fearful. You’ve talked [00:48:00] about this in your coaching. Like let go of that stuff and, and be free and life just gets better. Right. And you know, that’s really part of the idea with this is, is having a culture within a culture because we can’t change our bigger culture, but we can create a culture of people that are supportive of those ideals and are willing to learn from each other and share with each other.
And you know,
Paul: so when somebody reads your book, What, what do you hope they do? And, and what are you going to sort of organize around what you hope people do after reading the book?
Craig: Well, I’m not sure how that’s going to work one, cause I don’t know what the response is going to be. So, you know, I try to imagine a variety of scenarios and, and I do hope that it, um, some people read it and go, yeah, this is, I’ve been looking for something like this.
Um, you know, the early adopter kind of [00:49:00] mentality or maybe the person even is, you know, frustrated with trying to do things on their own and haven’t been able to achieve the results that they want. So they’d like to be around a group of people that is like-minded. So a lot of it has to do with the idea of what a church could be.
Um, and that, that could be a place where, uh, you know, you could go, you could live for. A few weeks or a month or something like that, you could meditate. You could like really take stock of your life. Here’s where I am. Here’s where I want to be. What are the steps I need to take to improve various facets of my life and being a community of people that are all supporting each other toward those goals.
So, um, health is a big part of it. Um, conscious communication, um, meditation, um, just basic things that we know are healthy for us that we don’t always do. [00:50:00] Again, it’s something that we struggled to do individually. Um, but as a culture, we know that there always, whether it’s your phone or your TV or your job, or whatever, always pulling at you, you never quite get around to working on your consciousness.
This would be a group of people that prioritize conscious.
Paul: And your hope you’re hoping to build into a community and possibly even a place for community.
Craig: Yeah. Church basically is more like a community center where people can gather for meals. They always know they can get a healthy meal there. Um, they know that the food is going to be grown health in a healthy way.
That’s a place where you could, uh, learn job skills or education. Um, you can exercise, you can learn how to do like Quito or yoga or something to, you know, gymnastics, whatever it is. And, and it becomes something that [00:51:00] is constantly there to allow you to be in a group of people who are, are supporting your efforts to, to grow.
Um, and, and you know, to me, that’s the church’s epicenter of that. It’s not Sunday and Wednesday night. Seven days a week, all the time you might run by and have breakfast and grab a box lunch to take, to work with you, and then come back later with your family and then you all might sit. And one of you read an interesting book and does a presentation about some psychological research or someone else might talk about something they’ve learned about how to do breathing exercises or any number of things.
Someone might want to become a computer programmer or a writer or massage therapist or whatever, and they can learn about those things. So, you know, uh, much of our society is very individualistic and it’s on you to succeed or fail. And this doesn’t [00:52:00] remove that still, ultimately it’s up to you to do these things, but within a society, within a subculture of people who are there to be supportive of each other,
Paul: It gets a little bit easier.
So I have your web address. What, what do you, where can people get the book and, uh, and is this where they find out more?
Craig: Yeah, they can get the book here. Um, you know, I did it as self published. Um, it’s only, I think it’s 96 pages. I tried, I spent more time editing it than I did. Right. I mean, this has been a project I’ve been working on for 30 years, 20 years, uh, 25 years maybe.
Um, and I really tried to make it as simple and straightforward and clear as I can. I repeat myself several times because I want to keep it focused on the goals. Um, but they can go to this website, uh, get the book. Um, if I have events, I’ll be posting them there. [00:53:00] Um, uh, we’ll post this podcast on that website.
Um, and anything, you know, we’ll, we’ll eventually have profiles and, and things like that. We’ll have group chats and things like that will be happening as we get more into it. But part of, part of this is I’m not going to be able to do all of it. You know, I have some skills and I have some things I’m really bad at, and I’m hoping that we can attract some people with different skills and backgrounds that can, um, help us flesh flesh out into a way that helpful to a lot of people.
Paul: All right. See ya. Well, we’re talking like video. This may be some people may be listening. And so C L C D conscious life conscious death CLC D community.org.
Craig: Yep. That’s it. You can get me@craigatclcdcommunity.org. Um, so I’m not getting these at my work email. I’m getting them at my, [00:54:00] my, uh, my new religion.
Paul: All right. It’s a new religion, conscious life. Conscious death is the book by our own Craig chart. And then, so congrats, Craig, this is exciting. You’ve hit your 60th birthday. You publish a book now. And so those are, those are big life coagulation moments. And so congratulations on coagulating. Yeah,
Craig: so, and, and so, uh, so what was your reaction when you saw the title?
Like, cause I didn’t give you any forewarning. What was your reaction when you read that?
Paul: Good. Good question. Um, yes. Conscious life conscious death. Your, your first thought is, well, you’re not going to sell many of these because no, one’s going to be like, oh, I said, if I’ve got this book about how to die consciously.
Um, and so it’s definitely a title that, that, uh, I may have even said, like, you might reconsider the title. Um,[00:55:00]
but as I, as I read it and, and just, you know, the concept of like, oh, here’s a new religion, great. Uh, you know, we’ve got a new Joseph Smith, uh, bringing a new prophetic word to the world. Um, but then as you start to read it, you start to see how, um, the, the mysticism of religions. Is taken out and it’s more about life, purpose and passage and how to walk out life.
Well, and just being on the journey of, of faith and religious consciousness that I’m on, it was like, yeah, this is exactly what I’m trying to learn to do. Because one of the things that I found, you know, I think probably is Carl, was it Carl Marx or John Lennon? One of those, uh, not John Lennon, uh, Lennon from Leningrad, um, who said religion is the opiate of the masses.
And, you know, Christians hate that saying, but one thing I recognize about [00:56:00] my Christianity is it did cause me to live in, in a similar sense of denial that this idea of, well, God’s just gonna make everything work out. And if you just prayed, it will be okay. And, and my moment of life coming kind of crashing in on me.
We’re starting to recognize. Now there are actually really painful things that have hurt me in life that I need to be present to and, and conscious to and about. And so this has been the journey of my life as is physical wellbeing, mental wellbeing, and spiritual wellbeing, trying to figure out how to do all of those well and have wellbeing and all of those areas and thus the coaching and everything.
And I, I thought you were presenting a way that people could do this, that it, that they could not just read books and say good idea, and then never do them again and be proud. They have the book on the shelf as all of us do. That’d be able to say, Hey, this may be a practical way. I can, I can walk this out in community and get it done.
So I find it very, very fascinating [00:57:00] and very much in line with where I am in life in the world right now.
Craig: Well, thanks. Thanks for that. Paul taking the time to read it and discuss it with me afterwards, you and a few of our, our fellow. Tavern theology folks and a few others, I think maybe five or six people have read it.
So
Paul: yeah, proud too. When somebody shows you their manuscript, I know this is you’re literally, it’s your baby. It’s something you’ve created that you’re like, like me and you don’t just show it to anybody. You, you have to have a great trust in who you’re showing a manuscript to. So, so I was honored by that, but I think you’ve got something and I hope people will read it and consider, this is a, a way to live that isn’t in conflict with, with anybody’s religion.
Other than if your religion causes you to be unhealthy or divisive or hateful towards others, but, uh, can, can really [00:58:00] walk in parallel with people’s religious beliefs, uh, toward a healthier way to walk.
Craig: Well, that’s, that’s great. Cause that, that was the goal that it didn’t feel that way. So beautiful that came through and it is a pretty simple read, I think it’s, I think you can crack it out and two or three hours at the most.
Paul: Yeah, I think it went pretty quickly. All right. Anything else we need to know about conscious life conscious death, Craig?
Craig: Um, I would say that the last piece that we didn’t touch on was really that, um, part of my, uh, interest in, um, communities and the health of communities, I think that’s something that’s kind of differentiated.
Um, like the people that are doing psychological work or philosophical work or religious work, um, we’ve interviewed some people. I think that, you know, Joe, uh, Joe White, for example. So a lot of the work for [00:59:00] me would be that this would be a religion. Doesn’t run to where the rich people are, but really locates itself and neighborhoods and communities that have been kind of passed by.
And that, uh, that an active part of this would be to help people in those communities and to actually physically make those communities better places. Um, so that’s something that I haven’t seen, um, really as a part of a lot of other of these, uh, consciousness efforts. And I think just with my background, that’s kind of a unique spin on it that I think, uh, really, it, it, it, it plays together really well with the other ideas.
So, um, I know that there are some very popular, kind of new agey churches up in the bay area in LA that I’ve seen. And, uh, that’s good. And the people are very happy that go there and that’s all great. But, um, I do really think we have to get in. [01:00:00] Places that maybe not everyone is comfortable going. Um, and that’s, that’s part of, of, of the path forward that I would imagine.
I mean, ultimately if you’re going to make a difference, you’re going to do it in the places that need it the most. That’s good. Like Fresno, California.
Paul: Yeah. Shit needs it a lot. And that is sort of our household deal that, uh, th the Christian Bible says, pray for the welfare of your city for, in its welfare, you will find your welfare or you’ll find your wellbeing or your Shalom.
And so I’m with you. I think making sure that that idea of the least of these is if there is a suffering part of my community, I’m not as well off and not as much into wellbeing as I could be. Just moving away from the problems. Doesn’t fix the.
Craig: Yep. Well, and that’s, it’s an easy trap of use. As you have seen to move where the rich people are.
Cause then you can [01:01:00] build a bigger building and pay better salaries and you know, all the other stuff. Um, yeah. Uh, so I want to be a place where really, um, everyone is getting served from the wealthy to the homeless and everyone in between.
Paul: All right. CLC D community.org. That’s the place Craig shorten is the author conscious life.
Conscious death is the
Craig: book. Hey, one more quick thing. Yeah. Hey, uh, Alycia
Johnston.
Paul: Oh, that’s right. Let’s see. Nah, there she is. Ah, well done, Craig. I
forgot. Yeah. Now we wanted to introduce Alycia. She’s our new producer.
Alycia: Hello All
Paul: She’s one of the things that kept us from doing the podcast for awhile was. The editing and uploading and the show notes and all those things that Paula and I just did for a while and gotten to the point where we just couldn’t bring ourselves to do it [01:02:00] anymore. So we reached out to our good friend, professor, Betsy Hayes at Fresno state, and she, she sent a superstar away there.
Alycia: Hopefully it all works out well.
You didn’t know you were a superstar, Alycia?
Alycia: No, I thought I was a normal one
Craig: . Now you’re, you’re the one allowing us to do this and keep it moving forward. So we’re very grateful that you’re part of the team.
Alycia: Well, I’m glad to be here looking forward to many, many
shows with you guys.
Paul: Absolutely. And so Craig, our plan is to do one of these a month now.
Yeah, I think one or two, depending we maybe we’ll record a couple back to back when, when we have a few guests and um, Alycia can help us make sure that we stay on track. Stay
on and hit record. Yeah.
So we’ll do that from now on. Well, awesome. It’s good to be back, Craig. Good to be back chatting with you. YouTube hall.
Craig: It feels
Paul: [01:03:00] great. And happy birthday. Once again. 60 has no time.
Craig: Yeah. It’s a milestone that that’s one of those you can’t really deny. I remember being a kid and my grandparents were like 60 and I was like, oh my God, their age, they could just drop it any second.
But uh, you know, uh, it doesn’t feel that way at all. In fact, I’ll celebrate my birthday by going for a hike.
Paul: And, and we celebrated with a sing along with puff the magic dragon, which was your, your song you sang with Cole right on the way.
Craig: Yeah, well, yeah. I used to sing it to my dog named Patrick. And part of my mission in life is to tell people it is not a drug song as was portrayed and meet the Fockers.
It is a song about how children lose their imagination as they get older. And, uh, and it’s a really beautiful song. And just like so many of these things that lasts [01:04:00] forever, there’s a really great message in there. And that’s why these things last. Um, so it was interesting to watch people because, you know, it’s just like, oh, it’s just a kid song and they were reading it and people were crying.
Like when you realize the depth of, of the message of that song. Um, and that’s really all around us. There’s so many great, great things like that. I can’t give it a single, let it be. And, or, you know, all you need is love and just saying, you know, just going along and then you stop and think about the words and it’s really.
You know, the message is right there for us. If we choose to
Paul: accept. So puff the magic dragon is not about smoking marijuana.
Craig: That’s just what I saw that in that movie, I’m like, oh my God, this is such a setback for the meaning of this song, but that Robert DeNiro, I love Robert DeNiro, but his character in that movie, [01:05:00] uh, did not do us any favors regarding that song. And it
Paul: is a tragically sad song at the end.
Craig: It is, but it’s, it happens to all of us, right?
You have that childhood, you know, fantasy, you know, imagination and, uh, you know, where you could play with your little toys for hours, you know, you had all these stories going and then, you know, one day you’re thinking about punching the time card at work. You know, whether you like the boss or not, and how you’re going to hit your goals and all that stuff gets pushed to the back.
And that’s what I like about that song is it’s saying, you know, maybe we can, you can consciously hold onto those things, like the artist and the, or the songwriter and stay in that world of imagination.
Paul: Very cool. All right. Good stuff. Happy birthday, Craig. And we’re glad to be back on two guys talking Fresno.
Well we’ll see everybody again in a couple of weeks or a month, whatever
Craig: it takes. All right. And [01:06:00] um, this will be, if you’re watching this, it means that the book has actually been published, so it’ll be available.
Paul: All right. See, I’ll see D community.org and two guys, fresno.com to get the podcast. All right.
For Alycia, Craig and Paul. We’ll see everybody next time on two guys talking Fresno.
Craig: Thank you both.