STEVE TAYLOR: INTERVIEW WITH THE POET
Steve Taylor’s words, meditations and poetic reflections inspire and comfort and help you discover the joy and beauty of your innermost being. In this interview Steven talks about his inspirations, his best-selling books, the latest being ‘The Calm Center’and his successful collaboration with the legendary ‘Power of Now’author Eckhart Tolle. He has appeared in Mind, Body, Spirit magazine’s list of the 100 most spiritually influential living people for the last four years andhis books have been published in 20 different languages.
Steve Taylor is a bestselling spiritual author I have long admired –and often seen on TV giving insightful interviews to the likes of BBC Breakfast–and I have compulsively read his deeply meaningful books for many years, each one in my opinion getting better and better. Apart from the fact that his books are hugely inspirational another reason I have always been eager to read his books is that he is a British author! Since I started my project of interviewing some of the world’s most spiritually influential people I have been saddened to discover that almost all the people I want to talk to, or have talked to already, are from overseas. Here at last is something truly wonderful: an interview with a British man whose home grown spiritual teachings are currently influencing and lighting up the world.
Did you feel chosen for the work you do, and the spiritual role you now have, at an early age?
I can’t remember a time when I didn’t have a spiritual sensibility, even though I may not have been aware of it at the time. It took me many years and a lot of heartache to really understand and accept myself though. I thought the problem was mine and that there was something very wrong about me. I was an outsider. I didn’t fit in and I wasn’t the son I thought my parents wanted me to be, the pupil my teachers wanted me to be and so on. I started to see the light in my early twenties when I was instinctively drawn towards spiritual books and teachings. The first and perhaps greatest revelation was understanding that there was absolutely nothing wrong with me –that I was on my path, the right path for me and all my feelings and experiences along the way were for a purpose – to help me discover the true or authentic or real me. In my latest book, The Calm Center, there is a meditation called The Core which is about this journey to fulfilment that we all undertake in our own individual way.
Let me explain a bit more about the core: the core is the pure, true and authentic part of yourself that has not been influenced by environment or external influences around you. These influences often lead us away from our core, so we end up living un-authentically or in an unfulfilled way or try to be someone we are not. We may think we are happy or on the right path but if we have not made contact with our core –or essence, to use another word–there will always be feelings of anxiety, confusion or pain.
Thank you for sharing that as it makes perfect sense to me. You mentioned the term ‘outsider’there so I’m guessing you were an admirer of the late Colin Wilson and his ground breaking title, The Outsider?
That’s right. In fact, on my website I actually posted a feature in praise of Colin Wilson when I heard about his death. A lot of what Wilson wrote about in The Outsider resonated with me and my life – in particular when I was younger and felt so alienated. Wilson’s interest in transformative moments or peak experiences – when suddenly there is only silence, transcendence and total clarity – also spoke to me, as also did his view that we are constantly awakening, evolving and growing as human beings.
What inspired you to write your latest title The Calm Center? Do you have a method or trigger or process when it comes to writing a new book as you have written quite a few now?
I don’t think about that too much. Particularly with my poetic pieces, it’s very spontaneous. I guess something I could say is that most of my writing arises in a state of being fully in the present. It can feel like receiving or channelling information at times –my mind becomes quiet and empty and inspiration flows. Lines or phrases just appear in my mind or consciousness, and from those lines a piece is formed. That was certainly the case with The Calm Center. Much of my writing probably draws on my own experience –those moments in my life when I have become aware of two worlds, the world of noise and bustle I am operating in, and then a world of silence and peace that melts into it and transforms, transcends it.
As you probably will guess I am also a huge admirer of the work of Eckhart Tolle and his writing about being fully present in the now and the progression of consciousness. You have had a connection to Eckhart for many years now how did that come about? Are the two of you friends?
I connected with him back in 2006, soon after my book, The Fall, was published. I found to my delight that Eckhart’s A New Earth was published on exactly the same day and it felt like too much of a coincidence to ignore. I read A New Earth and was blown away by the similarities between the books. They both look back on the sufferings and terrors of human history and explain them in terms of ego. The books both show how the ego creates not just individual but also social and cultural pathologies, and how we can move beyond discord by transcending the ego. This brings harmony and peace, both individually and collectively.
I’ve remained in contact with Eckhart since then, and we’ve met a few times, usually when he’s in London. He’s a great guy! He wrote the foreword to and published The Calm Centerthrough his new imprint.I’m hugely grateful for his support.
It was good to hear you mention London there. Do you often feel that in the UK it is harder to promote a spiritual message, and we have become a fairly cynical nation? Does your teaching get a more welcome reception overseas?
I see your point. I am deeply grateful for all the support I get from my British readers, and for the publicity I get in the media here. But it’s true that the reception and receptivity to my ideas is often warmer overseas. I was in Brazil recently at a transpersonal psychology conference and it was incredible!The enthusiasm was incredible and very touching.
You mentioned transpersonal psychology there. You are also a senior psychology lecturer at Leeds Beckett University. You must be incredibly busy?
I’m doing what I was meant to do so it doesn’t feel like work or being busy. It is just me –my life. I feel that my work is an important contribution to the shift in consciousness that is happening on our planet at present. I’ve always felt that that’s my purpose in life: to do everything to further the evolution of the human race, and help us move out of this dangerous era of discord into a new phase, in which we can live in harmony with ourselves, with other people and with the whole of the rest of nature. I’m very grateful that my work has had a positive response.
I also noticed you have an online course. How is that going?
Verywell, thank you. There’s a great response from my students. The course includes elements from my earlier book, Back to Sanity, and is designed to show people the essential areas of spiritual awakening and to guide them through the process of transformation. It will help cultivate the fleeting moments of harmony that we all experience from time to time, so that they become our permanent state. It includes many of my spiritual reflections and meditations with exercises and discussions based on them.
You talk a lot about peace and stillness. Do you think harmony should be our perfect state? How do we deal with negative emotions?
Harmonyis our most natural state. When our minds are quiet and our lives are fairly free of stress and busy-ness, we return to this natural state – a natural well-being begins to fill us, a sense of ease and wholeness. That is the essence of our being. But there’s a paradox in that struggle and turmoil in our lives can lead to spiritual growth and awakening. I write about this in my book Out of the Darkness. In my research, most cases of sudden spiritual awakening are triggered by periods of intense turmoil and stress. It’s as if the stress and turmoil cause the normal ego to collapse, like a building in an earthquake. And for some people, when the ego collapses, a new higher-functioning self emerges to replace it.
What is your opinion of psychic powers and afterlife experiences?
I tend to believe in them. I know this area is surrounded by a lot of confusion but I think there’s much more to reality than we are aware of, or can understand. There is some convincing evidence for psychic phenomena, like telepathy and pre-cognition, and also for life after death. The universe is full of forces and phenomena which we can sometimes detect, but can’t understand or explain. To think otherwise is to suggest that human awareness is already complete and absolute, so that we’re completely aware of all reality. That’s illogical – every animal has a limited awareness of reality, and that applies to us too.
Is religion still relevant today?
For many people it serves a function and gives them a sense of identity and belonging but my vision is of a world where there is no longer any need for religion. This would be because people have transcended separateness and the need for belonging and psychological support. They won’t need consolation anymore because they will be free of psychological discord and suffering.
I like to give everyone I interview a name or title. What would you like yours to be?
How about ‘the poet’? I’m not sure if I write poems, strictly speaking – it’s probably more accurate to refer to the, as poetic spiritual reflections or meditations. But that side of my writing is becoming more and more important to me.
My poems or reflections arise from a place of peace and silence. I think society places far too high a value on reason and logic – in fact, most works of art and great innovations come from a place of stillness. A thinking or a crowded mind can block the process of creativity. If, however, your mind is still and there is an absence of thought. there is an open space for inspiration to come through. I believe creativity comes from outside ourselves, from a transcendent place where there are insights and revelations we can tap into but only if we are in a state of presence. Also what comes through to us in this state does not belong to us –it is universal and transcendent. So, I could say, that The Calm Center was created in and is a manifestation of a state of presence – and reading it will, I hope, help you connect with that transcendent state.
Right now writing in this way very much feels like my calling so I’m continuing to write poetry, meditations and reflections. Typically the inspirations will come unawares and unannounced and I have to stop what I am doing and write them down immediately. This doesn’t mean, however, that I’ve stopped writing prose. I’m currently working on a sequel to The Fall called The Leap: The Psychology of Spiritual Awakening. I have other book ideas in the pipeline too.
What would you like your message to the world be?
My message to the world is one of freedom and inspiration. I want to remind everyone how amazing and awesome the world we live in is and what a miracle it is to be alive. I want to remind them that this word is far more beautiful, magical and meaningful that it seems and they themselves are also far more beautiful, magical and meaningful than they realise. I know that this life is an incredible and significant journey and if my words, meditations, reflections and poems encourage others to experience it as such and gives them a little guidance and self-belief and sense of liberation along the way I will be beyond delighted……..
As the interview draws to a close I thank Steve for his time and truly feel inspired. There is something not of this world about this man and if living in a deeper, more meaningful way matters to you (and I know it does matter otherwise you would not be reading this interview☺) I highly recommend his books, perhaps beginning with The Calm Center, as well as his website www.stevenmtaylor.com, Facebook page and his online course. I checked the online course out and it costs just £40 for five weeks and the fantastic, perhaps life changing, opportunity to engage with the deeply spiritual best-selling British author, psychologist and poet, Steve Taylor.
And to conclude in my usual way here is a quote, or two, as a thank you and a tribute to Steve and his remarkable vision:
‘I decided that it was not wisdom that enabled poets to write their poetry, but a kind of instinct or inspiration, such as you find in seers and prophets who deliver all their sublime messages without knowing in the least what they mean.’Socrates
‘If my poetry aims to achieve anything, it’s to deliver people from the limited ways in which they see and feel.’Jim Morrison
‘The most beautiful thing we can experience is the mysterious. It is the source of all true art and science. He to whom emotion is a stranger, who can no longer pause to wonder and stand wrapped in awe, is as good as dead –his eyes are closed.’Albert Einstein.