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Stillpoints: A Podcast with Scott Johnson

Feb 23, 2020

#012: Dr Matthew Clark

Scott talks to Dr Matthew Clark, a long term yoga practitioner, philosophy teacher and academic.

Since 2004, Dr. Matthew Clark has been a Research Associate at SOAS, University of London. He is one of the administrators of the SOAS Centre of Yoga Studies in London and is one of the editors of the Journal of Yoga Studies.

His publications include:

  • The Daśanāmī-Saṃnyāsīs: The Integration of Ascetic Lineages into an Order (2006), which is a study of a sect of sādhus;
  • The Tawny One: Soma, Haoma and Ayahuasca (2017), which is an exploration of the use of psychedelic plant concoctions in ancient Asia and Greece;
  • The Origins and Practices of Yoga: A Weeny Introduction (revised edition) (2018).

You can find more about Matthew’s work here.


A Naturally Sceptical Mind - Dr Matthew Clark

Scott and Matthew have know each other for over 15 years. Scott first met Mathew 15 or so years ago where Scott hosted Matthew for a workshop on Sadhus. Scott saw in Matthew a deep knowledge yet a deeply open outlook.

Scott and Matthew spoke in November 2019 was Matthew's home in Brighton. They have a wide ranging conversation on Matthew's life as yoga practitioner, researcher and academic.

Matthew shares openly has way in to yoga and contemplative practice in the early 1970s through hallucinogens, how his inquisitiveness led him to India to study with many gurus and was sceptical of all of them, how he moved into academia to research yoga history and philosophy and now how his life's work has turned into the study of Soma, a deity and ritual drink that dates back to the Rig Veda.

In this conversation Matthew talks openly about hallucinogenics and plant medicine. While always taking incredible care when taking decisions ingesting anything that changes the way you see the world, Matthew explains in detail the context these drinks and potions were taken in relation to the ancient vedic tradition of ritual.

'Matthew is such a rich source of personal experience and academic knowledge. He has truly studied himself to understand how mystical experiences and yoga are related. This vast conversation brings a deeply historical lens to the ancient practices of yoga and how we can perhaps relate to them now. 

Scott Johnson - January 2020

If you like this podcast then also listen to Scott’s conversation with Danny Paradise, who like Matthew is interested in yoga as a mystical experience.