Episode 01: Rebecca Novick
From the Stonehenge Free Festival to a life in Rural France, via California, Jerry Garcia, Ram Dass, Robert Anton Wilson and Terrance McKenna.
Published author of Fundamentals of Tibetan Buddhism and co-author of books Mavericks of the Mind and Voices From the Edge, Rebecca Novick has interviewed change agents such as Terence McKenna, Timothy Leary, Jaron Lanier and Riane Eisler. After being vegetarian since the age of 18, she began eating meat again at 54, discovering that it was as good if not more effective than anti-depressants in addressing her occasionally intractable periods of depression. She now teaches yoga and lives happily with her cat and some friends in a big townhouse in the heart of town.
Rebecca moved from England, where she grew up, to California in her early 20s. California suited her temperament well. She experimented with living in the wild countryside South of San Francisco for a year with no electricity or inside plumbing and only a wood burner for heating, a period during which she published her first interview book, Mavericks of the Mind, with her best friend at the time, David Jay Brown. The book included interviews with change agents such as Terence McKenna, Timothy Leary and Riane Eisler. A sequel, Voices From the Edge, that included interviews with Ram Dass and Jerry Garcia, was published a few years later. She met her husband, moved to Los Angeles, and spent the next 15 years rescuing animals and looking after a 30-acre ranch. They later set up a video production company, making promotional films for nonprofit organisations.
After a trip to the Tibetan community in North India, and a couple of years making a documentary. Strange Spirit: One Country’s Occupation about the Chinese invasion of Tibet, she and her husband decided to move permanently to North India. By the time she moved to India, Rebecca had been practicing Tibetan Buddhism for about 15 years with her teacher, Geshe Tsultim Gyeltsen, and she had published a book on the subject, Fundamentals of Tibetan Buddhism, by Random House. In India, she made the most of the opportunities to attend Buddhist teachings while working on human rights issues. She volunteered for various NGO projects, founded the Tibet Page on the Huffington Post, which now has dozens of contributors, where she wrote articles on Tibet/China issues and produced a monthly radio program, The Tibet Connection, which aired on the Pacifica Network in the US for several years. She also has a masters in Buddhist studies from the University of Wales.
In 2009, her world changed dramatically, when a series of life events caused a nervous breakdown and forced her to undergo a complete overhaul of her belief systems. She began to explore India more, embarking on pilgrimages to holy sites, and questioning her identity as a ‘Buddhist’ even though she was by that time working for an international organisation that organized Buddhist conferences. She studied with Advaita Vedanta teachers and yoga teachers in Rishikesh, opening up a new avenue for inner exploration and pointing the way to a peace she had never experienced before.
Over the next few years she battled with periods of deep depression contrasted by periods of neutrality and sometimes even bliss. In 2016, she moved to a small medieval town in Western France. A lacto-ovo vegetarian since the age of 18, she began to eat meat again 36 years later at the age of 54, discovering that it was as good if not more effective than anti-depressants in addressing her occasionally intractable periods of depression. She now teaches yoga and lives happily with her cat and some friends in a big townhouse in the heart of town.