The following transcript addresses issues of Buddhism, Christianity & Islam and their political context. The first and second sections deal with Buddhism & Christianity while the third section addresses the foundations of Islam.
THE JIMMY SENGENBERGER SHOW
NEWS/TALK 710 KNUS
DR. MARVIN TREIGER & FATHER ANDRE MAHANNA
JIMMY SENGENBERGER: Well, tonight we’re going to have what I think will be a fascinating and engaging conversation you will not want to miss, between Father Andre Mahanna, who is a Catholic Priest at St. Rafka Maronite Church in Lakewood – you hear him often here often on 710 KNUS Talk Radio talking with my colleague Peter Boyles – and then also a friend of this program, Dr. Marv Treiger, a retired psychotherapist and a Buddhist teacher coming from a different perspective, somebody also formerly of the Hard-Left. And we’re going to have a no-holds-barred conversation about Radical Islamism, Secularism, the President’s faith, wherever this conversation takes us we’re going to go there and we’re going to welcome you into the conversation at (303) 696-1971. And I want to start this evening by welcoming to the show, once again, Dr. Marv Treiger. Again, he’s a retired psychotherapist, a Buddhist teacher – in fact, he’s been a teacher since ’95 and is going to be leading another retreat in California coming up in June, in the middle of that month. And, you know, he’s also a former Hard-Left radical. Marv Treiger, welcome back to the program, it’s good to have you here. What’s going on, my friend?
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SENGENBERGER: Marv! There we go, I can hear you, buddy.
MARVIN TREIGER: Oh hello there.
SENGENBERGER: There we go. That’s the, well, what goes on here sometimes behind the scenes at the radio. It’s good to talk with you, my friend.
TREIGER: Well, you know, when it comes to spiritual matters, sometimes silence is the best approach.
SENGENBERGER: Yes, except talk radio doesn’t exactly fit itself with science —or silence, I mean. With science it fits, science fits. But with silence it’s a little difficult, so I had to at least say a few words but it’s a pleasure to have you on. Once again, Dr. Marv Treiger is a Buddhist Teacher, retired psychotherapist, and a, oh how shall we say it, recovered leftist.
Marv, I really want to get your perspective first of all, on your background. Remind people, we only have three and a half minutes here but I want to talk about just your political background in terms of that Radical Leftism that you once had in your every fiber of your being, you’ve had quite a transition. We’ll talk about Buddhism and the faith aspects and so forth in a bit, but for the moment talk to us about your political history.
TREIGER: Well, as a young man I became active in the movements of the 60’s and I became the Youth Chairman of the Communist Party of Southern California. And then in 1967, on the 50th anniversary of the Bolshevik Revolution I and other comrades left the Party and moved, actually, toward a more radical position, we thought of the party at that time, in your wonderful phrase, as CINO’s, Communist In Name Only. And from there I got involved with the SDS Movement —
SENGENBERGER: Students for a Democratic Society, Far-Left Organization.
TREIGER: That’s right, which connected me up with a number of the radicals at that time. And then finally also becoming involved with Maoism, and I was pretty leftwing. We considered electoral politics as a useless thing because we would have to eventually strike a blow to the State, at the State itself, carry out a revolution, and that elections were just choosing which group of masters was going to rule over you.
So that was a long history, I was in many of the major events of those days, the People’s Park in Berkeley, I was in charge of the security for The March of 20,000 against the National Guard troops that were occupying Berkeley at that time, many, many, many things, we could go on a lot about that.
SENGENBERGER: Yeah, you – for our listeners, to put in context – this was a guy who, before their terrorist days, was essentially palling around with Bill Ayers and Bernadine Dohrn.
TREIGER: Well, I knew Bill Ayers because we were both up for the same office in a new organization that was being formed, but I and my faction got squeezed out, and it’s a good thing too because that group eventually morphed into Weathermen and moved in a terrorist direction. So that was one of the great blessings of my life, was to have had that path closed off to me. But I finally came to see what a complete dead end it was, the whole thing and left the movement and actually became apolitical, except that I realized later that once you’ve been political in your thinking in those ways you have kind of a little groove etched in your brain —
SENGENBERGER: [chuckle] Yes.
TREIGER: And so, like, categories of thought —
SENGENBERGER: Yes. I’ve got to stop you there because we’ve got to go to break. Marv Treiger, one of our guests here on the program. Father Andre Mahanna now in studio. Marv, we will talk about your conversion to Conservatism, coming up on the program and we’ll bring in Father Andre. It’s “The Jimmy Sengenberger Show” NewsTalk 710 KNUS.
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[Beginning of Second]
SENGENBERGER: Dr. Marv Treiger… we’ll get to his, what Id’ like to call a “Conversion to Conservatism” in a little bit on the program because, guess what, there is this notion, I’m sure that you would agree, Marv, about kind of a misconception that you cannot be a Conservative and a Buddhist, we will talk about that very question in a bit. But here in studio we’ve got Father Andre Mahanna of St. Rafka Maronite Church in Lakewood, and you heard him, of course, many times on “The Peter Boyles Show” and this is the second time we’ve been on the air together. Father Andre, welcome back, 710 KNUS, and the first time here to “The Jimmy Sengenberger Show.”
ANDRE MAHANNA: Jimmy, thank you so much. Marv, I welcome you and I greet you in the Lord, as we say, and in peace.
TREIGER: Thank you so much. And it’s the absolute honor to be on the show with you, sir. I’m so looking forward to our conversation, so many things I’m interested in and I hope to listen and learn and maybe contribute a little something.
MAHANNA: You are such a humble soul and I know with your background that you’ve going to contribute to my limited world of you as well, but I know you’re a seeker of the truth and I was fascinated by your conversion – not that you’re on an opposing side – only but how you were able to make that beautiful itinerary in your life as a pilgrim towards the truth.
TREIGER: Thank you.
SENGENBERGER: So Father Andre, let’s talk about your background just a little bit. You are from Lebanon.
SENGENBERGER: You talked to us a little bit about that. What brought you here to the States.
MAHANNA: Well, I am from Lebanon, of course. I was born during the Lebanon War, and things had, things I don’t remember in my life, is that the day of my birth or the week of my birth I was taken by a Palestinian guerrilla from my Mom’s hands and I had a machine gun to my head and they were going to use me as ransom in order to find my father, who used to work for the Customs in the Lebanese seaport in Tripoli, North Lebanon. But definitely the only memory I have of my uncle is the cries and the tears of my Mom, because he was her only brother, who saved me, who ended up being slaughtered, and of course that moved us to a safe area, Christian heavily-populated area in Byblos, which is the oldest continuously-populated city in the world, with non-stop civilization for 8000 years. And this is the city where I learned most of my biblical love, to the Word of God and to the Judeo-Christian, I would say, Bible, because this is a city where historically the alphabet came from. It’s called Byblos, which means the city of the Bible, and it has the Tomb of Hiram, who was the King who shipped the Cedar branches to Solomon the King to build the Temple of Jerusalem.
So I was raised in this type of environment, as we say, a lot of monasteries, a lot of mysticism around us, and one of the most important factor will be probably the war and the school, so we lived between war and school. When I was listening to Marv and his engagement and all the groups who ended up being terrorists or moved towards terrorism, I was going to go back home, I was in a similar situation. It’s not that I was in a group but we’ve known lots of these groups, basically, who start, unfortunately, trying to defend the justice but then they deviate somehow. So of course we were exposed every day to a specific type of sight like that in our lives. And I was dedicated to a monastic tradition, speak many languages, Aramaic, Hebrew, Greek and Latin and Arabic, Syriac, English, French, Spanish, German, Italian, I don’t know what to do, but the list goes on. Not that this is something I’m proud of, but this was actually what I prayed for, Marv, when I was a child. I said, God, allow me to speak the languages of many nations in the world in order to send a message across that we need to give hope and we need to be the instruments of peace in the world, yet to preach the truth. And I was raised in the monastery, actually, throughout this entire time between France, Lebanon, Germany, Rome, the United States, and now I am in the US, American citizen, very proud very happy being in this beautiful home that I call my own, and try to contribute to save refugees and Christians, slaughtered people, trying to save children from bad camps under ISIS, and feed people in Lebanon, raise awareness about the situation in the Middle East and Africa, and definitely contribute not only to foreign work but contribute to the realization that every American needs to do today as we celebrate for us, at least hundred-year anniversary to Our Lady of Fatima’s visions in Portugal. I just want people to appreciate America and to pray for the safety and love and greatness and the service of America and its conversion, because I know in many aspects we need to convert as well.
SENGENBERGER: What year did you move to the United States?
MAHANNA: Um… ’99?
SENGENBERGER: So we’re going to take a break here on the program. Just wanted to get a little bit of background, and we’ll learn more about both of these gentlemen, their backgrounds, where they’re coming from and perspectives as well as we continue on the program. When we return, I want to talk about kind of where Marv came form in terms of his background and as a Buddhist teacher and what he’s doing there, and also the pathway that led him more towards Conservatism. But I want to highlight more his views and kind of start talking about Islam and the perspective of what’s going on with the Radical Islamic Terrorists that we are fighting against so fervently today, as we continue on “The Jimmy Sengenberger Show.”
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[Beginning of Third]
SENGENBERGER: We’re spending three hours with men of different faith backgrounds, different life backgrounds, and very, in many ways, different perspectives that I think is opening up for a wonderful opportunity for dialogue and conversation. We’ve got here in studio Father Andre Mahanna, of course, of St. Rafka Maronite Church in Lakewood… and on the line we’re joined from California by Dr. Marv Treiger… And there are a couple of things I want to talk about with you, Marv, as kind of teeing up some of our conversation. And one of these questions that I think we ought to start off with is, when you are out there on retreat, sometimes you go on solitary retreat, you have sort of your own experience where, as you put it, your mind can become pristine, and that happened in 2001. When you were on solitary retreat for – correct me if I’m wrong – but, I think six months and this was about the time that 9/11 happened —
TREIGER: I was in retreat that year for seven months, and the final three months were in solitary retreat.
SENGENBERGER: And so when you were in solitary retreat as a Buddhist, what does that do in terms of your mindset and where your mind is at? Let’s tee off the conversation with that point.
TREIGER: Well, it opens your heart and it clarifies your mind, and so you develop, you might say an instrument that is flexible, available, receptive, intuition is liable to happen. Insights, which I call blinding flashes of the obvious, are likely to come in. And when they come in under those circumstances, there’s a way in which they become engraved in your heart and mind. You don’t forget them. Often we have insights just during the day that are quite valid but so many things are going on, we’re so busy, that they fall away and they move away. So that’s what goes on in retreat, and dark retreat, which I’ve done in the last couple, a few years, a little bit more, which is in a field-darkened cabin, there’s no light whatsoever for weeks at a time, simply takes more distractions off of the page and puts you, you might say, up against whoever you are.
SENGENBERGER: Very interesting. Now, in 2001, around this retreat, four months with others and three months on your own and you tell your wife something very interesting.
TREIGER: Oh she asked me whether or not – because I’d always been interested in politics and thought of it because I’d been involved in it as a young man – and she said, do you want to know anything about what’s going on in the world? And I said, no honey, unless it’s on the level of Pearl Harbor. And, you know, that was my mistake, so unfortunately that is what happened with 9-1-1 and 9/11, and so word was gotten to me in this cabin that I was in, solitary cabin, that this event had taken place. And it was amazing, within just a few hours I kind of, like, I saw the future. Now, it wasn’t that I saw the future because of, maybe, some prophetic vision – I won’t say that isn’t part of it – but I knew things about the Left and I knew things about the rise of Islamic Terror and I immediately saw that there was going to be a long-term alliance, a de facto alliance – occasionally, by the way, an actual alliance – between those two forces, Radical Leftism and Radical Islam. And they both had a common enemy and that was enemy was America, and on that basis they would submerge their differences, find ways of bolstering the other, particularly the radical leftists would bolster the Islamists, who tend to be even more intolerant, and focus their, train their attack on America itself. And so that was a huge insight and made me, when I came out of retreat, want to kind of reexamine Americanism and I set about to do that in a very systematic way.
So that’s what that experience was. But I wanted to say something to Father Andre about your comments, Father, about your youthful prayer, that you had learned many languages so that you would be better-able to communicate with many suffering beings speaking these different languages. And to me, that is the equivalent of, what we call in Buddhism, the ideal of the Bodhisattva. Bodhi is “awakened” and sattva is “being”, so it’s a vow of the awakened being who has made a vow that they will sacrifice even their own awakening for the benefit of others and that “nobody goes until everybody goes”. And that to me also resonated with your idea that I heard from you, I was reading your material, that when there is suffering – there is no such thing, really, as personal suffering, it’s collective suffering. And this form of Buddhism, in which the bodhisattva ideal was prominent, comes about in Buddhism at the same time as Jesus walked on the earth, between 100 BC and 100 AD. And it was almost as if there was a “wave of spirit” moving through the world influencing the different religions, in the case of the Middle East, Judaism, and in the case of India, Buddhism, and the Mithras religion in Persia, and this wave was a wave of serving others as the primary way towards one’s own salvation.
SENGENBERGER: Father Andre, do you have any response to what Marv so eloquently said?
MAHANNA: Well, not a response but to compliment one another, basically, what he said. I love when people speak based on history and based on the Book of Revelations, of awakenings. Definitely in history there are stages in which there was, in the lives of human beings, a spiritual awakening happening. We called this in a church, what we call the Natural Theology, where as human beings, whether using philosophy, using pain, using the experiment of life, they come to a realization of the maximum good or the transcendental good, or God in Person, as we call Him in our Christianity, basically.
And then of course through the movement of awakening, philosophers, mystics, prophets just like in Buddhism and Judeo-Christian tradition, definitely the centuries between the sixth, the third and the century of our Lord Jesus Christ, so sixth century before Jesus Christ and roots of Buddhism, basically, all the way through Jesus’ time, even in the Gospel it tells us that some Greeks were looking for Jesus. So basically – and when we say Greek, it could be the Greek or it could be people who are not Jewish, basically, so it could be people of Eastern Philosophies, even the life the Magi, the three kings who come form the East that Marv almost highlighted what was happening in Persia spiritually, that spiritual awakening that he called “the wave of the spirit” basically, doing something in the world. In Christianity, what I would add to what he’s saying, it has to make sense in order to find in all of us the common God, because those waves, they have one source. And this is what I would say humanity could make sense much better, when he related to the individual pain and put it in the function of collective pain. We have to make sense relating to ourselves in the form of being one. It doesn’t mean we’re going to melt, it doesn’t mean we’re going to lose our personalities as individual freedoms and liberties but something has to make sense to the extent of full peace. And in order to live in full peace it’s like a union between husband and wife who are living in so much perfect, beautiful life without fighting, let’s say, just like we in Christianity, we say the union between the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, or the mantras who many not conflict in Buddhism or in Yoga, something has to find to make sense that short. We say today in America, Americanism that Marv – and this is what I want to lead with my comments back to what he was talking about – we need to find where is the Spirit today in America. And I urge every American person who’s listening to us, any person who’s receiving the wave of 710 AM, to really today take a moment and think deeper and say, where is the Spirit? Because while it seems happening in the world, the Far-Left and the Far-, I would say, Islamism – not Islam – and I want to urge every public personality to start using this word until we find Islam, because Islam is lost. And I’m not being accusatory, I have a lot of Muslim friends, but I’m trying to defend them, actually, by saying Islam is lost. It’s better for Islam to be lost at the expanse of Islamism than to say that there could be some type of violence inside Islam that they do not want to live with Christians or with the Jews or with Buddhists or with Hindus or with any other person of good will, basically. So Islamism is a term that tells us what is that confusion that makes the most secular people and the most fanatic religious people want to come together in one camp to change America. That’s why the starting point, rediscover American Spirit, based on our relationship with God and our finding of our own personal souls, as human beings who have the highest level of our being as a spirit, as a soul that we have.
SENGENBERGER: Marv, I think there’s so much reverberation of what you’re saying before, what you were saying before and what Father Andre was just noting, particularly that the comment in regards to the alignment of Islamism with the secular being, if you will or secular individuals.
TREIGER: Yeah. So was there a question there, or —
SENGENBERGER: Oh, I’m giving you an open forum in the last couple of minutes of this segment.
TREIGER: Yeah, yeah, yeah. Well, see the thing about it is, for example, you had asked me about Buddhism and Conservatism and are they compatible. And what is it -~~ because it was Buddhism that completely undermined my Radical Leftism, but it did so sort of like by eroding the sand under the foundations of the house, it did it quietly and slowly. And then the big event that cracked open the thing was the outer event of 9/11. So what was that? And to use a phrase that has, often appears in Catholic theology, doctrine is it has to do with the First Things. We have to put the First Things first. And what are the First Things? They are the things that are enduring, they are the things that are not born and do not die, that they’re unceasing, they’re ultimate. And those things are what Buddhism rests its entire foundation upon. It looks at all this world as impermanent, as unsatisfactory, as insubstantial, but it does see that there can only be such an impermanent world because there are things that are permanent, there are the First Things. And America was a Republic, a political Republic founded upon the idea of those First Things.
So therefore it was directly linked to the spiritual plane and that made it absolutely unique, and that is one of the most important things for Conservatives to understand about Conservatism, that’s what we’re trying to conserve, but it’s not just conserve this doctrine or this piece of the Constitution or this piece of the tradition. It’s conserving our ongoing relationship with that which is fundamental. And that’s what the radicals, with their complete investment in history and in progress and in change, are always trying to, and do, move away from.
SENGENBERGER: We’re going to continue this conversation. It’s going to get fascinating if it isn’t already.
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[Beginning of Fourth]
SENGENBERGER: Right now we are at a crossroads in terms of the future of our country, where are this nation and our faiths are headed. And Islam is at a crossroads as well. And we have here in studio, meeting at our own crossroads here on “The Jimmy Sengenberger Show”, Father Andre Mahanna, who is also the President of the Apostolic Union of Clergy and Laity, and Dr. Marv Treiger… And you know, Father, we’ve only got the phone line. And you know, Father, we’ve only got a few minutes in this segment, but in these moments I would love your comment on what Marv was talking about before, he was discussing the Enduring Things and the ongoing relationship with that which is fundamental, which is very much the nature of being in tune with the Constitution, with so many fundamental aspects of our country but also in Christianity there are certain fundamentals to the faith in so many different ways. And this is a broad question, of course, there’re going to be plenty of broad questions tonight, I’m sure, but wondering what your thought is about the Enduring Things and the First Things that Marv was talking about.
MAHANNA: Well, in the first response I would say I learned from him as if he almost was telling me, do not be deceived in who you are now as a nation, because who you are is not what you own, you’re not the owner of who you are, you are here in the passing world, there is nothing we own, so this puts us in a different type of a platform of thinking altogether. And I think it really, the thinking as stewards, as servants, as on a mission, as travelers, and most likely is we also believe He puts us in the dualism almost between truth and lying. When He tells us we have to agree on the Enduring Things, actually the Catholic Church has developed a beautiful dialogue from 2003 to 2009 with Buddhism over truth, over grace, over transformation, the things that we are here to transform, to change. And it is our duty, I believe, to transform a people from being passing beings to understanding how they can become eternal beings, beings in eternity of what endures, what stays with us. And of course these, we’ll call them the Acts Towards Peace, the Acts of Pure Love, the Acts Towards Living in Grace or in Hope or in the continuous transformation to completely and always seek a better quality and a better way of being, whether here on earth or up in Heaven.
So this is a context that I feel he’s opening for me to be able to reach to the ears of those who are listening to us, we do not want to feel we are sitting in a Theology class but it is important what you said and what Marv was teaching in this regard, that unless now Americans stop and make the experience of Buddha, which a realization of the passing world, through pain and suffering, and what remedy we can offer and experience of Jesus, an act of sacrifice, an act of catharsis where he would leave everything he is and he will go out in the image of a slave and to become a redeemer, to become a savior, or an image of a hero inside a nation or a person who loves so much others to the point that he’s willing to lay down his life for the sake of others, to seek the truth, to find it and to follow it is important. Every American has in somehow now to make the experience of St. Augustine. This is what I think we need to discuss.
SENGENBERGER: And we shall on the other side of our news break, and also really get into a little bit ~~ Father Andre made the point that Islam is lost and what we’re seeing now is Islamism. Very curious, want to pare that back a little bit and get Marv’s take, especially on the connection between the Hard Left and the Islamists. We’ll be back with that and more as we continue on “The Jimmy Sengenberger Show.”
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