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You are the Captain of Your Vessel

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As humans, we tend to learn best through metaphor. That’s why the most profound spiritual texts are gloriously allegorical.

To leverage this effect, I came up with an illuminating metaphor for the mind, body and spirit:

Life is a voyage and you are the captain of your vessel.

Life is the journey, the expedition, the adventure. It’s truly a tremendous experience.

“Reality” is the scene upon which your voyage takes place. It is the ocean, the weather, the wind…etc.

Your body is the ship, or vessel. Your mental and emotional states are the sails of the ship. And you (the ‘I am’ presence) are the captain of the ship.

Let me elaborate a bit…

Life is like a “choose your own adventure” game as well. You select your ship and set out on your own unique voyage.

Reality, the ocean, is the stage upon which life is set. Can we control the weather, the wind or the scenery? Perhaps. Maybe reality is participatory and co-created by all of us, like a highly advanced, completely customizable online multiplayer video game. But until we know that for sure, this quote provides potent advice…

“When you can’t change the direction of the wind — adjust your sails” – H. Jackson Brown

Sail towards your purpose. Sail towards your passions. Sail towards your essence. And realize that it’s not about the destination, but about the journey itself. The deep sense of fulfillment you’re looking for is found by fully embracing the bliss that lies within every moment of the experience.

Harmonizing all aspects of self will maximize your journey. Neglecting any element of yourself will inevitably result in a less-than-enjoyable voyage.

If you neglect your physical body, your vessel, you’ll become a shipwreck prematurely. A damaged ship will gradually sink, no matter how nice the weather or how competent the captain is. And before it sinks, it will move slowly and require constant maintenance, leaving little time for enjoyment.

If you neglect your sails, you’ll always be at the mercy of the weather. You will be a victim of circumstance. The winds will have their way with you. You will have trouble avoiding turbulent weather. No matter how adept your captain is or how strong your ship is, it won’t last long being battered by constant storms.

If you neglect your spiritual self, the captain, then you essentially become a vessel without a pilot. You will be aimless, with no awareness to experience the beauty of the journey. The absence of the captain makes the voyage meaningless.

To harmonize the totality of self, you don’t have to be perfect. You don’t need to be the perfect captain, or have the perfect boat or have the perfect sails. But you cannot neglect any of them if you wish to make the most of your voyage.

A harmonious self would consist of a fun-loving, skillful captain, sailing a strong vessel. The sails would be well-kept and adjusted to each unique circumstance. You will be able to enjoy the good weather, and when storms come, persevere and become stronger as a result.

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How to Maximize Your Voyage: 2 Actionable Items for Each Aspect of Self that You Can Implement Today

Regarding Your Body (The Ship):
1. Just Eat Real Food - The 80/20 of healthy eating is as simple as eating real food. If it has a commercial or a mascot, it’s probably not good for you. Like Jack LaLanne said, “If man made it, don’t eat it.”

2. Move - Move your body daily. Walk as much as possible, practice yoga, lift weights, hike a mountain…etc. Our bodies are built to move. So much dysfunction comes from too much sitting and stagnation. Even gentle movement (like walking or light stretching) allows for lymphatic circulation, blood circulation, chi circulation, effective digestion and normalized hormones; all of which are absolutely crucial for good health.

Regarding Your Mind/Emotional State (The Sails):
1. Don’t complain for a day - Complaining is utterly useless. It’s passive and negative. Either let things go, or take action to change them, and continue flowing through life with a sense of empowerment. Challenge yourself to not complain and your life will never be the same.

2. Be present - Be here now. The present moment is all that ever exists. Only refer to the past or future when they’re completely relevant to the now. Presence is where inner peace is found and creates space for awareness. From that awareness, you are in the position to change anything in your life.

“All negativity is caused by an accumulation of psychological time and denial of the present. Unease, anxiety, tension, stress, worry – all forms of fear – are caused by too much future, and
not enough presence. Guilt, regret, resentment, grievances, sadness, bitterness, and all forms
of nonforgiveness are caused by too much past, and not enough presence.” – Eckhart Tolle

Regarding Your Spirit (The Captain):
1. Meditate daily - If you’re new to meditation, set a timer for 2 minutes and do absolutely nothing. You can sit or lay down, whatever is more comfortable. Simply observe your thoughts while breathing deeply. Meditation, like presence, begets awareness. Meditation allows you to use the mind as a tool without getting overwhelmed by it. Make it a daily habit.

2. Show gratitude - Every day, write down at least three things that you’re grateful for. Show gratitude for everything in your life. This will not only make you happier, but also open the door to all forms of abundance. The feeling of gratitude is so fulfilling and it aligns your spirit with the other aspects of yourself, uniting the wholeness of your being in joyful harmony.

Remember, you are the captain of your vessel.

Enjoy the voyage.

– Stevie P

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When Winter Nods Its Head to Spring

Spring Winter

There’s a certain freshness in the air
When winter nods its head to spring
Walking outside
I can’t help but smile

Gleefully
Instinctively
I breathe in deeply
Inhaling grace
Exhaling anxiety

A celebration of rejuvenation
As everything sheds its past

The sun reintroduces itself
Gently casting warmth upon my cheek
The brisk breeze greets me
With the most jovial vigor

The hibernatory cycle winds to an end
Passing the baton
To the spirit of rebirth
To new beginnings
And to new adventures

 

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Distilling the Truth of Oneness: Symptoms of Separation

This is the third part of the “Distilling the Truth of Oneness” series. To read the other parts, click the following links below:
Distilling the Truth of Oneness: Events
Distilling the Truth of Oneness: Part 2

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Let’s look at what happens when we lose touch with oneness.

What are the symptoms of separation within society?

An underlying paradigm of separation begets competition instead of cooperation. Scarcity pervades all aspects of life, as opposed to abundance.

In this “separation paradigm, “you” fear “others” taking what is “yours.” The belief of separation naturally leads to competition and scarcity. You can see this with oil conglomerates actively suppressing free energy solutions. The literal sources of abundance are proactively being squashed in favor of scarcity (and the resulting profit and control). Think about that for a minute.

Envision life as an obstacle course. With a separation mentality, two people would get into a fist fight at the starting line, holding each other back. With a oneness mentality, they would cooperate to overcome the obstacles. Cooperation would also allow people to scale much higher walls than if they were holding one another back.

If society as a whole were to operate under the belief of oneness, cooperation would prevail. People would view others as aspects of themselves, or themselves living another life. This fundamental idea would obviously maximize our collective potential. The nature of our lives would be synergistic collaboration to further our evolution and overall well-being. More beneficial energy sources would be actively pursued, and this would lead to abundance instead of scarcity. We would be exploring the depths of outer (and inner) space, not stuck fighting each other over beliefs or resources.

You can see symptoms of separation in all of the major systems of society. It’s that insidiously divisive “us vs them” mentality that pervades government, politics, religion, business, competitive sports and every other traditional system you can think of.

Regarding politics in America for example, you have Republicans and Democrats. The red team vs the blue team. Many people blindly attach their identities to one of these sides. In truth, Republicans and Democrats largely share the same ideologies, but their differences on a few trivial issues are widely publicized, stirring up feelings of separation within people.

Aubrey Marcus suggests that these tactics “hack into the dark side of tribalism.” Which is to say that it exploits the intrinsic yearning for community by separating humanity into segregated factions. Then outside threats are manufactured, which are perceived as jeopardizing the tribe’s survival and rousing fear within people. These manipulative tactics allow humanity to be divided into “separate” tribes and more easily controlled as a whole.

Competitive Sports

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Competitive sports are an obvious manifestation of the paradigm of separation.

First of all, they epitomize the “me vs you” (or “us vs them”) mentality. The players on each team wear different color uniforms that act as visual separators. Red vs blue, black vs white, green vs yellow…etc.

Competitive sports also mimic war. They are a socially acceptable, theatrical representation of a battle. It creates a war-like mentality, and normalizes that mentality within the minds of the masses. This culture perverts our primal instincts towards “the dark side of tribalism.”

You know the phrase “healthy competition”? Is it really healthy? It perpetuates the separation-based, us vs them mentality that has allowed humanity to be divided and conquered for so long. But we’re so deep into this mentality that it’s hard to even fathom what sports (or life in general) would look like if we embraced cooperation in favor of competition.

Take a look at the prototypically competitive mindset. The exemplar of a competitive athlete is Michael Jordan, who can easily be considered a sociopath. There’s been countless stories floating around regarding his notorious egotism and utter disregard for others.

I’ve found myself less interested in team sports recently because of the very reasons I’ve outlined. I don’t want to perpetuate the us vs them mentality. I don’t want to play “mock war.” However, I do want to push my boundaries, maximize my physicality and support the healthy expression of my primal nature.

So I’m not saying we stop pushing ourselves or neglect our natural, primal tendencies. We just need to use more productive means to fulfill these needs. But how would we do that?

What would sports look like in a cooperation paradigm:

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We’re so deep in the separation mentality that it’s difficult to even fathom what sports would look like under the paradigm of cooperation, not competition.

Or maybe we could include competition, but in a friendlier, more respectful way. This would be based on treating opponents as an aspect of yourself, and pushing each other to the limits, resulting in mutual benefit. But the question is, can people truly push their limits in competition if they’re totally empathetic with their opposition?

The other manifestation of cooperative sports would be athletes versus external forces (if there is such a thing as “external”), or even their past selves.

A team sport based in cooperation would work like a team climbing a mountain. They would all help each other in order to achieve a common goal. There is no putting others down, no us vs them, just unity towards a challenging cause. This can be applied to the whole as well.

Maybe parallels would exist under a oneness paradigm, just with a different twist. Like bodybuilding, for example, would be more like an art exhibition than a contest.

Another thing to think about: Do you need to “win” something in order to stretch your limits? Did Michelangelo paint with the intent of winning?

Completely throwing sports out the door is not the answer. Our bodies are made to move, to sprint, climb, jump…etc. We certainly cannot overlook that.

To drive the continuous evolution of humanity, we must perpetually shatter limitations and keep improving without having to defeat others in the process.

T.E.A.M. = Together Everyone Achieves More

“United we stand, divided we fall.” That phrase rings true. Though not “united” in terms of a specific group against other groups that we label as different from us. United as in embracing the fundamental oneness of everything.

One love.

– Stevie P

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Distilling the Truth of Oneness: Part 2

This is the second part of my “Distilling the Truth of Oneness” series. To read part one, click here.

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(Reiterating the intro from Part 1, because it’s that important…)

Nothing is truly separate. Nothing exists in isolation.

All things, events and people are intimately interconnected. In essence, all is one and one is all. Oneness IS.

This concept of oneness is thrown around a lot, especially in “spiritual” communities. It sounds a bit idealistic, right? One of those “woo-woo” theories with no validity. But after approaching the concept of oneness from different perspectives, I’ve found it to be an all-pervading truth.

This is not about blindly repeating what some so-called “guru” said about oneness. I aim to break it down into digestible pieces for you to metabolize in your own unique way. This article gives you a road map to uncover truth for yourself, because oneness is just an abstract concept until you truly understand and experience it.

I always knew that everything was connected in some way, but in a superficial way, without intrinsically understanding it. Oneness made sense to me as an idea, but I never fully grasped the immense truth and profundity of it until recently. I merely understood the interconnection of everything in the same way that one views a place on a map. Sure, you can envision what it might look like, but you never really understand it until you see the actual place.

If you’re reading this, is there not a connection between “your” consciousness and “my” consciousness?

“A human being is a part of the whole called by us universe, a part limited in time and space. He experiences himself, his thoughts and feeling as something separated from the rest, a kind of optical delusion of his consciousness. This delusion is a kind of prison for us, restricting us to our personal desires and to affection for a few persons nearest to us. Our task must be to free ourselves from this prison by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty.” – Albert Einstein

General relativity posits that space and time are inseparable, often referred to as “space-time.” So if there are no separate events (I discussed this in detail in Part 1), can there be separate objects?

The universe we live in can be imagined as a soup of space-time. To help conceptualize this, think about noodles in a soup. The noodles are not separate from the soup, but a part of it. However, in today’s society, we tend to look at the individual objects within the soup, while ignoring the broth, and conclude that all of the objects are separate. When really, everything is part of the soup. And that’s just one way to look at the oneness of everything.

Where does the boundary of “you” end anyway?

The heart’s magnetic field, for example, can be detected several feet away from the body. Isn’t this part of us?

Is a lion’s roar separate from the lion? And where does the roar end? Where you can’t hear it? Where you can’t measure it with our current instruments? Does it ever end? Or does it just blend into everything else at an infinitely gradual rate?

Once you start going beyond visible light, boundaries start blurring. And that’s only the sense of sight. Boundaries become even more unclear with other senses (except maybe touch). Think about what it would be like to perceive reality on the underlying energetic level (before the information gets interpreted by our brains). Everything would be a swirling amalgamation of vibrations.

Now you’re probably saying, “But there are solid boundaries, I can hit someone, right?” Yes and no. Physical matter is just energy slowed to a dense state. And that impact is just two dense forces interacting. Even in video games, where objects obviously are not solid, they appear solid. You can’t walk through walls in video games because that’s what is encoded into the laws of that reality.

In terms of the building blocks of our reality, atoms are more than 99.9999999% empty space. That means that everything almost fully consists of this empty space. And it turns out that “empty space” is actually quite the opposite of empty, and highly dense (back to the soup/broth analogy).

“All differences in this world are of degree, and not of kind, because oneness is the secret of everything.” – Swami Vivekananda

Sense of Self

Infants are born with no sense of personal identity. Personal identity manifests as a result of experience in the world and societal conditioning. A child might find themselves displaying a certain quality, like being “fast” or “American” or “poor”, and the ego clings to this and makes it a part of the child’s identity. But the fact is that these are just attributes, not the essence of what we really are.

“The most common ego identifications have to do with possessions, the work you do, social status and recognition, knowledge and education, physical appearance, special abilities, relationships, personal and family history, belief systems, and often political, nationalistic, racial, religious, and other collective identifications. None of these is you.” – Eckhart Tolle

Now you might be like, “I’m an individual. I have my own consciousness different from other people.” This is true, in the same way that a wave is “different” from the ocean. It is a unique manifestation at the surface, yet in essence it is part of the whole. The same is true for you and I. Go into a deep state of meditation and you begin to merge into the stillness of infinite possibility. Boundaries and sense of self disappear. This is our fundamental essence.

If you take a cup of water out of the ocean, isn’t it still the ocean? Our perception, our ego, is the cup, the container which separates us from the whole.

That is not to say that ego, or personal identity can’t be useful. It’s absolutely necessary for survival as well as uniqueness. But the problem arises when it becomes your entire sense of self.

Just as fish are part of the ocean, the Universe (“space”) is the ocean we live in. We are not separate from the whole, but unique parts of it.

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Exploring Oneness From Multiple Angles

“We are all different expressions of one reality, different songs of one singer, different dances of one dancer, different paintings–but the painter is one.” – Osho

The Logical Perspective:

“Within the stillness and silence is All Possibility. All Potential, waiting to be made manifest. Hear the silence and you are hearing All Possibility. Then stare talking, taking an action or making a noise and you have pulled one possibility out of All Possibility. When you stop, your manifested possibility returns to the stillness and silence of All Possibility – Infinite Love, Infinite Harmony, Infinite Balance, Infinite Intelligence, Infinite Everything. This core of existence that I call All Possibility is within all of us – it is us and we are it.” – David Icke

Everything is an expression of infinite possibility.

Think about it logically… A musical note is an expression of infinite possibility. A German Shepherd is an expression of infinite possibility. You are an expression of infinite possibility. I am an expression of infinite possibility. Does everything not share the same essence?

The truth of oneness is deceptively simple from this perspective.

Just as every word is a unique expression of the same alphabet, we are all unique expressions of infinity.

The Physical Perspective:

We’re all made of stardust. Even the most rigid materialists will agree that our bodies are comprised of the same atoms that have been recycled through the expansion of our universe.

There’s no getting around the fact that we share the fundamental building blocks of physical reality with the rest of the Universe.

Another interesting insight is that the nutrients we ingest become the raw materials for our cells. We literally are what we eat, which further blurs the concept of man-made boundaries.

And then there’s the micro-biome. A significant percentage of cells in our body aren’t even human cells, but bacterial cells. You are literally your own ecosystem. Just as bacteria is a part of your ecosystem, you’re part of the larger ecosystem of Planet Earth. And the Earth is part of the solar system. And the solar system is part of the Milky Way Galaxy. Would you say that Earth is “separate” from the solar system? Of course not. We’ve just deluded ourselves into thinking we’re somehow separate from everything, and this has led to so much dysfunction. This separation myth allows the ego to run the show and steadily beats the basic human emotion of empathy out of us.

Quantum Physics and Cutting-Edge Science:

Quantum entanglement is a mind-boggling phenomenon which demonstrates oneness. Basically two particles can be separated, one of them is spun or moved, and it instantaneously influences the other particle (beyond the means of any communication we’re aware of). Einstein famously referred to quantum entanglement as “spooky action at a distance.” It shows that there’s some intrinsic connection and communication between particles that we can’t quite explain yet in scientific terms.

Another quantum phenomenon that hints at oneness is the double-slit experiment, which demonstrates that the observed and the observer are not separate. This video eloquently explains the double-slit experiment:

“Quantum theory thus reveals a basic oneness of the universe. It shows that we cannot decompose the world into independently existing smallest units. As we penetrate into matter, nature does not show us any isolated “building blocks,” but rather appears as a complicated web of relations between the various parts of the whole. These relations always include the observer in an essential way. The human observer constitute the final link in the chain of observational processes, and the properties of any atomic object can be understood only in terms of the object’s interaction with the observer.” – Fritjof Capra

More Into the Mind-blowing World of Quantum Physics:

Are we living in a simulation or a hologram?

The question of whether or not our reality is some sort of simulation has been a hot topic recently. And, relating to oneness, a hologram is the projection of a single source. Marinate on that for a minute.

These articles explore that possibility:
Simulations back up theory that Universe is a hologram
Physicists May Have Evidence Universe Is A Computer Simulation

Physicist James Gates has found equations akin to computer code that make up our reality:

Philosophical Musings:

We’re not the name on our birth certificate. That’s just a combination of letters. We’re not a series of experiences either. The most accurate answer to the question of “Who am I?” is simply “I am.”

Alan Watts once said, “Being central to experience is the nearest thing I can conceive as a meaning for the word I.” So I am central to my experience and you are central to your experience. The word “I” is this theme of centrality of experience. So you can say that we’re all unique expressions of the same “I.”

My personal experiences of oneness:

Meditation - When I get into states of no-thought during meditation, I merge into infinite possibility. Boundaries dissolve. There is no sense of self, just the paradoxical feeling of everything and nothing simultaneously. It’s like being the whole ocean again, instead of just the wave.

Reiki - When I practice Reiki, I often feel my hands melting into “external reality.” Recently, I’ve been experimenting a lot with distance Reiki, and it’s surprising efficacy has really shaken up any ideas I had about the rigidity of space and time (as well as any sense of definitive boundaries between everything).

Music - We’ve all felt the profound effects of music, whether at a concert or just listening to music from a computer. Music has the tendency to penetrate through every layer of being. You don’t just feel music hitting your skin, you feel it reverberating through the depths of your being. This is why it’s such a powerful tool.

Merging into landscapes - I’ve had many experiences in beautiful locations where I felt so deeply and wholly connected to everything. It really was like I had blended with the landscape. One particular moment stands out is when I was hiking in Acadia National Park a few months ago. I specifically remembered being so awe-struck by the landscape that the boundaries melted. In that moment I deeply felt that it was all a part of me and I was all a part of it. Right after, I wrote “I just want to reach out and hug the landscape.” Then I proceeded to take this selfie…

Acadia Selfie

Family portrait

“If I go into the place in myself that is love and you go into the place in yourself that is love, we are together in love.” – Ram Dass

Separation is illusion. Separation is ignorance, a disconnect from all that is. Ignorance begets fear, and fear is the basis of every emotion we consider negative.

We’re all unique expressions of infinite possibility. We’re all waves in the ocean of infinity.

It’s hard to hate someone when you see them as an aspect of yourself.

You are part of everything, yet a unique swell of transitory brilliance. Feel the connection and bask in the exquisiteness of your ever-flowing existence.

We’ve come a long way from poor little me.

One love.

– Stevie P

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Distilling the Truth of Oneness: Events

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Nothing is truly separate. Nothing exists in isolation.

All things, events and people are intimately interconnected. In essence, all is one and one is all. Oneness IS.

This concept of oneness is thrown around a lot, especially in “spiritual” communities. It sounds a bit idealistic, right? One of those “woo-woo” theories with no validity. But after approaching the concept of oneness from different perspectives, I’ve found it to be an all-pervading truth.

This is not about blindly repeating what some so-called “guru” said about oneness. I aim to break it down into digestible pieces for you to metabolize in your own unique way. This article gives you a road map to uncover truth for yourself, because oneness is just an abstract concept until you truly understand and experience it.

I always knew that everything was connected in some way, but in a superficial way, without intrinsically understanding it. Oneness made sense to me as an idea, but I never fully grasped the immense truth and profundity of it until recently. I merely understood the interconnection of everything in the same way that one views a place on a map. Sure, you can envision what it might look like, but you never really understand it until you see the actual place.

“If you wish to make an apple pie from scratch, you must first invent the universe.” – Carl Sagan

In one of Alan Watts’ mind-blowing lectures, he discusses that there really is no such thing as cause and effect existing as separate events. Watts suggests that everything is in fact one event and that there are no clear boundaries between events.

Think about it… When did your life start? Did it begin when you came out of the womb? No. As a fetus? Nope. When the sperm met the egg? As a sperm cell? As an egg? As your father or mother? As your grandparents? There really is no definitive boundary. And the man-made boundaries we create are merely arbitrary lines drawn to please our ego.

The butterfly effect illustrates the interconnectedness of events as well:

“The butterfly effect is the sensitive dependence on initial conditions in which a small change in one state of a deterministic nonlinear system can result in large differences in a later state. The name of the effect, coined by Edward Lorenz, is derived from the metaphorical example of the details of a hurricane (exact time of formation, exact path taken) being influenced by minor perturbations such as the flapping of the wings of a distant butterfly several weeks earlier.” (Wikipedia)

 

This is why we use the phrase “chain of events.” Everything is intimately linked. There is no link of the chain which stands alone. It is all connected to the chain of existence. (And, as a side note regarding chains, the concept of time often shackles us.) So I would think of it more as a web. Everyone and everything is a strand. All connected, radiating out in a harmonious pattern, spun by the most beneficent force, not a spider with 8 legs, but a force embodied by the sideways 8; the essence of infinity.

Infinity

 

I recently came across this great story from That Buddha Guy that succinctly summarizes just how interrelated everything is:

Holding up a sheet of paper he asked, “Do you see a cloud in this paper?” No one responded. Again he asked, “Do you see a cloud in this paper?” “You must see a cloud in this paper,” he continued, “because without a cloud there is no rain. Without rain there is no tree. Without a tree there is no paper.” He then asked, “Do you see a steel mill?” “You must see a steel mill because without the mill there is no steel. Without steel there is no axe or saw to cut the tree. No tree cut down, no paper.” The audience was beginning to understand his point. Chuckling he asked, “Do you see Wheaties?” “Loggers work hard and need a good breakfast. No loggers, no cut trees, no paper.” What was the point he made? First, nothing exists independent of outside conditions. Second, no single component is more important than another. These two points, along with the idea of impermanence, are the basis of Buddhism.

 

Everything is intimately connected. Don’t underestimate the power of your actions or the impact of your life. We’re all unique strands within the beautiful tapestry of infinity.

One love.

– Stevie P!

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Lupe Fiasco’s Tetsuo & Youth is the Journey of a Lifetime (Literally)

First of all, I want to thank Lupe Fiasco for creating a masterpiece, as well as Genius for annotating these extremely intricate and deep lyrics.

I don’t write about music too often here, but this album completely blew me away…

“Tetsuo & Youth” is a holistic depiction of life and death, seamlessly weaving themes of spirituality, religion, reincarnation, struggle, freedom and, as the title implies, youth. All of this is subtly and contextually coated with the concept of life being akin to a video game. Lupe’s lyricism is as skillful as I’ve ever heard. Every line is loaded with complex rhyme schemes, alliteration, double entendres, hidden meanings, clever punchlines and eccentric references. The lyrics are masterfully crafted, leaving the listener deciphering deeper meaning with each listen. The exquisitely adept rapping is silhouetted by beautiful soundscapes, which artfully match the ever-evolving emotional tone of the album.

The musical experience of “Tetsuo & Youth” is transformative, as it speaks to everyone in unique ways and sheds perspective on your own experience of this journey we call life.

The Cover:
The cover artwork for the album is an original painting by Lupe entitled “Man Eating Tiger” (Is it a man eating a tiger? Or a man-eating-tiger?) Like the album itself, it’s a constantly shifting depiction of life and death, with multiple meanings and layers. Here’s what Lupe himself has to say about it:
“For me as the guy who painted it. I see a tiger descending into the body of a man, being consumed. You see the inside of man. But I also see a tiger in the process of ripping a man to pieces. A very chaotic scene of violence. The meaning of this painting is constantly shifting and changing. I see death and life and a constant pursuit of these two goals.”

The Title: Tetsuo & Youth

Some more hints from Lupe:

“For me, Tetsuo sounds cool. You can hate him for what he’s done, but it’s not just him being an asshole. How that relates to me as a person — you can take that however you want, but it was more like, let me get to the emotion of that misguided anger and make this sound like a song.”

“I wanted to just write about youth and children and their experiences cause I feel like I’m a child. I miss my youth, I wish I had a different path when I was younger […] If people want to know what the ‘Youth’ meant in the title, it’s in the interludes — those kids and the absence of kids; youth and the absence of youth.”

Seasons

There are four interlude tracks on the album, for each of the four seasons. Lupe refers to them as “sonic palette cleanses.” These interludes are brief pieces of classical music accommodated by the sound of children (or lack thereof, in the case of “Winter”). Each season has a unique feel, both in terms of the music and the background sound of youth.

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Story Time

The album is a story, but it’s also a story in reverse. It’s revelatory to listen to it from front-to-back, then back-to-front, as I’ll soon explain.

The album’s story isn’t so much an individual story, but more like a skillfully knitted story of the seasons of life. It’s like a tapestry of existence, a “mural”, if you will (see what I did there?).

Listening to the album in the forward direction, Tetsuo & Youth opens with the “Summer” intro. Then immediately kicks into high gear with “Mural”, a truly momentous, lyrical journey. It’s like a soul hyped up to incarnate into the world. Lupe maintains a certain youthful exuberance in “Blur My Hands” and “Dots & Lines.” But “Dots & Lines” could also represent him losing his freedom (the dots and lines of contracts), because it is followed by the “Fall” interlude. “Fall” seems to symbolize a fall from grace, which carries from “Prisoner 1 & 2″ all the way through to “Madonna.” “Winter” is akin to the ‘dark night of the soul’ and the album tosses the listener into the dangerously chaotic environments of “Chopper” and “Deliver.” “Madonna” is interwoven with hope and hopelessness; birth and death. “Adoration of the Magi” incorporates almost every theme of the album. Is it about birth? Is it about death? It’s definitely a short journey into the totality of the human experience, dipped in religious references while simultaneously transcending the downfalls of organized religion. The last full song is “They.Resurrect.Over.New” which is about reincarnation from the perspective of playing a video game. It leaves the listener questioning whether it’s really the end, or a new beginning. The album closes (or opens?) with “Spring” which is basically the aural interpretation of pure, youthful joy.

While the forward-moving story plays out like a fall from grace, with the opportunity reincarnate and try again, listening to it in reverse is that new attempt within the video game of life.

Lupe hints at this multiple times throughout the album…

In “Blur My Hands” he says…

“So you starting at the end, that’s the part where you begin
I skip the bullshit so we can start it where we win
Yeah, spoiler alert
I can hear you all saying “boy you’re a jerk”
But it’s cool though, know we gotta rule yo
Get in, then we win and do it all again, ho”

And in “Body of Work” he hints at it again…

“Realize my begin when I find where my end is.”

There are no coincidences when it comes to Lupe Fiasco. He’s absolutely meticulous with his compositions and packs them with as much meaning as he can muster.

The Journey Back Home

If you listen to the album in reverse, it is positively mind-blowing. It’s essentially incarnating into the video game of life and achieving ultimate victory. The journey back home starts with “Spring” and insinuates reincarnation with the “proceed to the next level” theme of “They.Resurrect.Over.New.” Next, the narrative moves on to “Adoration of the Magi” which heavily plays upon the themes of birth and infancy. Then it proceeds through the journey of life before climaxing with “Mural.” “Mural” is like the culmination of everything, the final boss of the video game. That’s why Lupe ends “Mural” by emphatically stating “defeat samsara, achieve nirvana and brilliance.”

A Brief Song-by-Song Breakdown When Listening to the Album in Reverse Order (AKA The Journey Back Home):

“Spring” – This outro, or intro in this case, is utterly joyful. When used as the intro, it gives a heavenly vibe (or however you want to describe a utopian reality existing beyond this one). So it’s like hanging out in a blissful wonderland before you jump into the challenging video game of life.

“They.Resurrect.Over.New” – Heavily plays on video game themes and reincarnation. It’s also a turbulent swirl of altered states of consciousness and mythology amidst the unfathomable depth of the universe (or multi-verse). The song almost gives you the feeling of what it what be like to enter this reality; a chaotic blend of confusion and excited confidence. And the fact that Ab-Soul has the final verse adds to the mystery. Are him and Lupe blending identities? Is it hinting at multiple people reincarnating in groups? It adds an even greater enigmatic quality to the album.

“Adoration of the Magi” – The term “adoration of the magi” traditionally refers to the nativity of Jesus in art, surrounded by the 3 magi. This song is conceptual brilliance, blending religion (while constructively criticizing it as well), youth, loss of innocence, video games and reincarnation intermixed with the reality of the world today. (See my breakdown of some of the lyrics below. It’s mind-blowing.)

The middle of the album incorporates the bittersweetness of worldly struggle. The listener incarnates into a whirlwind of harsh environments, which is the equivalent of playing the video game on expert level.

“Madonna [And Other Mothers in the Hood]” – It’s a swirl of life, death, birth and struggle with a calling for the divine feminine. Because it blends multiple themes (like so many songs on Tetsuo & Youth), it could be the end of one story, yet the start of another.

“Deliver” – This song throws the listener into the grim reality of the ghetto. Lupe draws upon motifs of food and religion to paint a captivating, yet bleak, picture. And both motifs are incorporated in the chorus. “Pizza man don’t come here no more… deliver.” (Drawing upon the common Christian phrase “deliver us from evil.”)

“Chopper” – Chopper is the only song on the album with multiple guest verses. It feels like an act in a play where different characters step to the front of the stage to recite their soliloquy. “Chopper” is the testimony of toughened souls ‘playing the video game on expert level’. To give it even more of a thematic, character-driven vibe, the song starts with a voice saying “Ladies and gentleman, Lupe Fiasco.” Chopper is slang for both a gun and a helicopter, so it’s like going into a war zone. And it definitely feels like one.

“Winter” – The most foreboding of the interludes. The sad classical tune with the absence of any sounds of youth makes it a bit creepy.

“No Scratches” – A slow, emotional song about relationships that plays upon the metaphor of a car crash. It advises to walk away with no scratches from a dysfunctional relationship “before we hit a wall.”

“Little Death” – This song is a plethora of parallel themes seamlessly laid atop one another. Sex (La petite mort), killing animals, ego death, the death of childlike innocence, the justice system, the Universe’s cycles and the death of creativity within people.

One line that stands out to me is “And more mercifully murdered Pisces” which incorporates both the topic of killing animals and universal cycles. In terms of astrology, the age of Pisces is coming to an end and we’re entering the age of Aquarius (hence “murdered Pisces”). This is also something that Lupe references multiple times throughout the album.

“Body of Work” – Subtly about hip-hop, with so many great lines, references and rhyme schemes. Some of Lupe’s best technical rapping of the album is on this track.

“Prisoner 1 & 2″ – This song is a mini-epic, divided into two parts. Prisoner 1 is from the prisoners’ point of view. The bowling metaphor at the end of the first verse is just superb, and he does it while simultaneously painting a captivating image of prison life. Prisoner 2 is from the guards’ perspective, who are just as much prisoners as the prisoners themselves. Both are colorful descriptions of this ominous reality. In narrating from the sides of both prisoners and prison guards, Lupe emphasizes a crucial point… Even though people appear dualistic on the surface, we all have a connection point. And everyone shares a lot in common on a deep level.

Also, the acronyms of the chorus are fantastic:
+ “LOVE is Looking Over Various Errors”
“HATE is Habitually Accelerating Terror, Everywhere, but the mural.” (with the mural reference, he’s referring back to the song “Mural.” I think he may also be alluding that hate can’t touch the collective that we’re all a part of. It can’t reach our true essence.)

And LOVE being Looking Over Various Errors is a call for a new way to deal with morality, because it’s obvious that privatized prisons (with a ridiculously disproportionate number of minorities confined within their walls) aren’t working out for us. It reminds me of this story that’s been floating around social media about a particular African tribe: (here’s where I saw it)

When someone does something hurtful and wrong, they take the person to the center of town, and the entire tribe comes and surrounds him. For two days they’ll tell the man every good thing he has ever done. The tribe believes that every human being comes into the world as GOOD, each of us desiring safety, love, peace, happiness. But sometimes in the pursuit of those things people make mistakes. The community sees misdeeds as a cry for help. They band together for the sake of their fellow man to hold him up, to reconnect him with his true Nature, to remind him who he really is, until he fully remembers the truth from which he’d temporarily been disconnected: “I AM GOOD”

“Fall” – When moving through the album in reverse, “Fall” is a time of change. It could be looked at as death of the ego-self and the clearing of all negativity.

“Dots & Lines” is a song of freedom and spiritual growth. ‘Beautiful’ sums up this composition, complete with references to sacred geometry and the intrinsic conncectedness of everything. Lupe also discusses how the natural cycles of the universe override anything man-made that isn’t in harmony with those inherent principles. Sacred geometry is mentioned in the chorus and these concepts are also discussed in lines such as:

“The applause and patience of the laws in nature
Override lies and the laws of nations”

“Sun positions overcome traditions”

“Where the golden means, so the overseer gets overseen”

The golden mean is the golden ratio, also known as the Fibonacci Sequence (or Fibonacci Spiral), which is observed in both the macrocosms and the microcosms of the universe (as above, so below). These geometric principles “oversee” man-made reality. So if an “overseer” creates a system not in harmony with these principles, it will create dysfunction and inevitably crumble. One example of this is the concept of time. Everything moves in a spiral pattern (the Fibonacci spiral) and in cycles, yet we measure time in a linear fashion. That’s why our (man-made) concept of time causes so much anxiety for most people. (Read more about the concept of time in this post.)

“Blur My Hands” is almost like a victory song. It’s about transmuting hate into love, and pokes fun at road rage. What’s the best response to someone giving you the finger? “Yeah that’s cool, cause I think you’re number one too.” Brilliant.

The title, along with hinting at the censorship of the middle finger, could be referencing blurring the hands of a clock; signifying the transcendence of time and becoming eternal. Lupe’s opening line is “take TIME to learn me…”

“Mural” is the climax, the culmination, the final boss. It’s a lyrical epic, through the magical mystery of infinite possibility.

Concluding the song with “defeat samsara, achieve nirvana and brilliance” is the ultimate happy ending. And then it fades into the interlude of “Summer” to allow the listener to soak in that state of nirvana.

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Breakdowns of some of the most profound lines:

They.Resurrect.Over.New

Meditate until there’s no mind
Decorate me with shine till I go blind
BDSM dominated it with no bind
Safe word is don’t stop, both or don’t go no times

These lines are far deeper than just meditation, wearing jewelry and bondage/discipline/sadomasochism. And there’s a reason why the “safe words” for the self-imposed bondage are so confusing…

Two scenarios are depicted here. One being someone leaving this world, and another entering this world.

Picture an ancient Egyptian pharaoh, or high priest preparing for death. Meditating until they merge with all of existence, their bodies adorned with jewelry for the afterlife and they might even still be alive during their death preparations. So they may have entered a tomb while still alive, with no way out.

The other image that these lines create are that of a soul incarnating into the world. Being in the peaceful stillness of deep meditation, then coming out into the bright lights of the world as an infant emerging from the darkness of the womb. And spiritual beings choosing to come to this world of suffering and extreme limitation are subjecting themselves to a spiritual form of BDSM. But growth only happens when we overcome obstacles. So by subjecting itself to limitation, a spiritual being can continue to grow. And the video game (being in a human body) inherently comes with amnesia, so that’s why the “safe words” are purposefully confusing. Because the human experience wouldn’t be fulfilling if we already knew everything. It’s meaningful because we’re constantly learning and growing.

Adoration of the Magi

Quiet is kept like Rosicrucians meet Cosa Nostras on Oprah’s sofa
With both controllers
Watchin’ Gazans and Ashkenazzis ride roller coasters
Say yeah
Yeah, lots of options, now up is down, two player
Now A is jump and B is punch
You seein’ somethin’ that weren’t there
To find friendliness in a nemesis, it’s a old test
3 buttons, see somethin’
That’s emphasis on genesis

Quiet is kept like Rosicrucians meet Cosa Nostras on Oprah’s sofa = Secret societies hiding in plain sight.

With both controllers = Secret societies (mentioned in the line above), operating from behind the scenes act as the “controllers” to manipulate conflicts (see the next line). This is also the opening to a video game reference, comparing life to a video game.

Watchin’ Gazans and Ashkenazzis ride roller coasters = Those “controllers” manipulated the Israel-Palestine conflict from behind the scenes. Riding roller coasters might be referring to the classic Bill Hicks stand-up about how life is just a ride.

now up is down = Inversion pervades our society. Also keeps with the video game reference.

“Just look at us. Everything is backwards, everything is upside down. Doctors destroy health, lawyers destroy justice, psychiatrists destroy minds, scientists destroy truth, major media destroys information, religions destroy spirituality and governments destroy freedom.” – Michael Ellner

two player = A reference to the concept of duality. And still keeping the video game theme.

Now A is jump and B is punch = Along with saying “two player”, talking about playing the Sega Genesis video game Double Dragon (Is this a reptilian reference too?)

You seein’ somethin’ that weren’t there = A world of illusion

To find friendliness in a nemesis, it’s a old test = People allow themselves to be divided because of the old testament, when we should all unite as one. “Old test” could also be referring to life as a test, like Killah Priest in the song B.I.B.L.E.

3 buttons, see somethin’ = Gain a higher perspective using your third eye and transcend the meaningless conflict. And this of course continues the video game theme.

That’s emphasis on genesis = Nicely wraps up both the religious and video game references. And acts as a call for a new beginning.

The chorus of “Adoration of the Magi” is ingenious as well:
Why you ready to die? You just a baby
Why them tears up under your eyes? You just a baby
Keep your head up in the sky, you just a baby
Quit chasing money, never mind, you just a baby
Why you wanna be born again? You just a baby
Why you playing in the streets? You just a baby

The hook incorporates the continuous themes of youth, innocence, life, death, birth and reincarnation. And I’ll let these images explain how clever the wordplay is…

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Courtesy of Rap Genius

Body of Work

God is great, but it’s snakes on my soul plane

There are four references here, along with alluding to snakes in the music industry (because the song is about hip-hop).
1. Biblical reference
Referencing two movies:
2. Snakes on a Plane
3. Soul Plane
4. Referring to the theory of reptilian entities inhabiting the astral (soul) plane.

Yeah… Lupe dives deep.

Dots & Lines

And your reflection is your connection to more collections of more directions and paths
If your reflection is a mask, then you’re reflective of mass
To see yourself just look at me then split your reflection in half

With the first line, Lupe is saying to look within (your reflection), as that is “your connection to more collections of more directions and paths.” Self-mastery is the gateway to enlightenment.

In the second line, he’s saying that if you’re not authentic, or you’re entire identity is your ego (mask), then you’re merely reflecting what everyone else is doing; groupthink, sheep/herd mentality and succumbing to peer pressure when we’re all really unique individuals. Also, mass not only refers to the majority, but to organized religion as well (whose followers tend to blindly follow everything).

To see yourself just look at me then split your reflection in half – This is hinting at us all being aspects of each other and intimately connected. He refers to himself as “your reflection” which is quite interesting. Some quantum physics experiments point towards reality being a projection of our consciousness; so imagine a massive, ultra-realistic version of those online, multi-player video games. That may be life. So in that sense “you” are a reflection of “me” and “I” am a reflection of “you.” And if you really get down to it, we’re all unique parts of the same “mural.” And speaking of which…

Mural

Are we apps or are we bodies filled with apparitions?
Operating applications, stuck inside an Apple prison

Questioning if we’re just biological technology, or technology being operated by some higher consciousness. Apps are usually used to describe applications within Apple products, like computers or iPhones. He’s also asking if we’re bodies being piloted by something non-physical, like a ghost in the machine. And then, Apple prison refers back to the company Apple as well as the story of Adam and Eve, who was tempted by the snake to eat the apple. So Lupe is questioning if that story (or whatever that story is actually talking about, because it’s allegorical) caused humanity to be trapped in a prison, or matrix (hint, hint).

Rewrite history, liberty needs a better bell
Maybe harder irons and carbon fibers that never fail
Smarter science mixed with a odd alliance of fairy tale

Obviously referring to the liberty bell and how history is written by the winners of wars, with hidden agendas. We need a new beginning, a better way of doing things. “Harder irons” = stronger bonds. And carbon fibers are long, thin strands that collectively form an immensely strong material. We, as individuals, need to be like these carbon fibers, to form a strong collective. This intertwinement of fibers also hints at something akin to… (guess what?) a mural.

Smarter science mixed with a odd alliance of fairy tale – In saying “smarter science” Lupe is advocating applying science to areas that benefit us. Instead of building weapons and technological militarization, we should be using science to explore the world around us and improve ourselves. “Odd alliance of fairy tale” mentions “Fairy Tale” which is an anime series with wizards, dragon slayers…etc. So Lupe is saying the world would be a better place if we used smart science, blended with some healthy mysticism.

Simple as a Buddhist monk in a temple standing in some heel groove with the abbot, practicing stillness
Real still til he realizes his realness
Defeat samsara achieve nirvana and brilliance

That first line creates a clear image of a Buddhist monk in a temple. A heel groove is an indentation made by standing in the same place (usually on a wooden floor) for a prolonged period of time. But it could also be a homonym for “heal groove” implying that the music of silence is healing.

Real still til he realizes his realness – Our realness (who we really are) can be found in the stillness of meditation.

Defeat samsara achieve nirvana and brilliance – Samsara is the continuous cycle of reincarnation, and achieving nirvana breaks that cycle, reuniting us with our true essence.

Is there a better way to end a song!?

Bringing It All Together

The messages that Lupe is conveying with Tetsuo & Youth, in my opinion, are that life is like a video game. Beginnings and ends are blurred together within the mysterious mural of existence. Everyone will struggle, and struggle is inevitable. But it’s up to you to overcome the obstacles in your path and transmute fear into love. It’s up to you to absorb the useful spiritual concepts, while transcending the aspects of religious control. Ultimately, it’s up to you to find inner peace in the stillness of who you really are; to “defeat samsara, achieve nirvana and brilliance.”

One love.

– Stevie P!

PS – I also made a video about 5 life lessons learned from Tetsuo & Youth. Check it out…

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Soul Mates

Stevie P’s note: This is a post by Dean Hurtt, and originally appeared on his website at  www.deanhurtt.com. Dean explained the enigmatic concept of soul mates in such a succinct and straightforward tone, so I had to share it. Also, the analogy of us being leaves to a tree was an “Aha!” moment for me. Enjoy!

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I often hear these terms thrown around rather haphazardly, and I wanted to clarify what my understanding of “soul groups,” “soul mates,” and “soul twins” are.

Perhaps by just hearing these terms you already have an intuitive understanding of what they mean. It is actually quite logical, and there is a hierarchy in the terms.

An analogy might be useful to start with, so that you can more easily picture how this whole process operates. Imagine a tree with leaves and branches—this is how your soul operates.

At the beginning, there was no differentiation between any of us; we were One, with a capital ‘O.’ Then we started to split from God, Source, or whatever you want to call it. From there we kept dividing like branches on a tree, until we finally became our present Self, which for this metaphor is going to be a leaf.

Now, back to the original terms I introduced at the beginning of this blog; let us start with soul twins, also known as “twin flames.” This is term that many people aren’t aware of, and is usually confused with soul mates.

There is only one soul twin for each of us, whereas there are multiple soul mates. The soul group is the largest of the three, and if you have known anyone in your life for longer than 15 minutes or so, and felt a connection to, they are more than likely in your soul group.

Soul mates are closer, and these are usually your friends, family, and coworkers. Finally, there is the soul twin, which people are usually the most concerned about finding.

I would like to reiterate that all of this is my current understanding of these terms, and I am not claiming this is the final definition for any of these terms. If you have a different understanding, please let me know by commenting below!

There are a few other things I would like to bring up while I’m on the topic of soul mates and such. Your soul twin is not going to make your life complete. I can’t possibly stress this enough. If you are searching for something outside yourself, you won’t find it until you realize you are already complete as you are, and don’t need anyone to fulfill your life.

In fact, you likely won’t be able to find your soul twin until you find happiness within. It is a paradox, that what you are looking for won’t appear until you realize you’ve had it the entire time.

This isn’t always the case, however, because it is possible to find your soul twin while you are still in internal conflict. When this happens, they will likely become one of your worst enemies, because they are reflecting back all the qualities you refuse to accept in yourself.

Another possibility is that your soul twin isn’t even incarnated with you on the Earth right now. You generally don’t find your soul twin actually, because all of us enjoy incarnating with different people, creating new and exciting lives that make our souls rich with experience.

Wouldn’t it become boring around the hundredth lifetime if we always kept coming back with the exact same people? Everyone is different in this regard, because some people like consistency, but others like variety.

A good test for you to tell if you generally have the same people in your lifetimes is if you enjoy watching the same movie, or reading the same book, over-and-over again. If you enjoy new things more often than not, then it’s likely your soul likes to change things up as well.

Nevertheless, even if your soul twin is here with you on Earth, it doesn’t mean they will be your romantic partner. Your soul twin can be a family member, or just a dear friend.

They may stick around for the rest of your life once you’ve found them, or they may only be in your life for a day. There are no hard-and-fast rules for these things, because we are essentially making it up as we go along in life.

Hopefully this brief overview cleared up some of the common misconceptions about soul mates.

I am interested to hear your take on these things though, so please feel free to comment…

You can find the original post HERE 

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Poetry: Surprise! It’s Life

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Unpredictability
Perpetual flux
An endless series
Of unforeseen mystery

Just when you think
You have it all figured out
Surprise
Curveball
Keep that ego in check

We can try to create buffers
Chasing the mirage of perfection
Faking invincibility
Feigning protection

But all in all
We are utterly unguarded
Wholly exposed
Altogether vulnerable
To the whimsical whims of the universe

Yet paradox prevails
For it is in surrender
Not resistance
Where we find our strength
Our infinite power

Take that leap of faith
Dive into the river of life
And see where it takes you

Every experience
Is surprisingly perfect
For your personal growth
And ethereal purpose

 

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Are You Truly Free?

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Are you truly free?

Really think about it. Contemplate what your idea of complete freedom is.

To give yourself a better idea, ask yourself the following three questions…

Would I be living the way I’m living if money were no object?
Would I be living the way I’m living if I was uninfluenced by the opinions of others?
Would I be living the way I’m living if I had no fears?

Chances are, if you’re playing the role of a human on planet Earth, you answered “no” to all three.

So this means that in almost every sense, we’re actually quite far from true freedom. Considering that you’re reading this, you’re probably not in physical slavery, so that’s a good start. But what about your mind? What about your behaviors? What about your beliefs? What about your lifestyle? Are they really your own? For the vast majority of people, (yes, even “privileged” “first-worlders”) all of those aspects of their life and sense of self are in bondage. And most don’t even realize it.

“None are more hopelessly enslaved than those who falsely believe they are free.” – Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

The more cruel and extreme the slavery, the shorter lived it tends to be. Physical slavery has a finite lifespan because people are all-too-aware of their oppression. If people are blatantly repressed, their uprisal is inevitable. The human will is driven by a deep-seated yearning for liberation. If that willpower hasn’t been buried by deception, trauma and conditioning, there is absolutely nothing that can stand in its way. The many heroes who courageously rose up against (physical) slavery in America are a testament to this.

Mental slavery, however, is more subtle; more insidious. Why? Because in this predicament, people are conditioned to love their servitude, without even grasping the subliminal subterfuge of their subjugation.

“A really efficient totalitarian state would be one in which the all-powerful executive of political bosses and their army of managers control a population of slaves who do not have to be coerced, because they love their servitude.” – Aldous Huxley

Psychological slavery can go on indefinitely, until it’s exposed. And that makes it uniquely dangerous.

“Like everyone else you were born into bondage. Into a prison that you cannot taste or see or touch. A prison for your mind.” – Morpheus (The Matrix)

We’re like dogs with shock collars. Distinctly better off than dogs in cages. But there is an invisible fence which contains us, shocking us into submission when we reach a certain perimeter. Our invisible fence consists of fear, comfort zones, money, time, the opinions of others, limiting belief systems…etc. In terms of the physical and mental aspects of life, we’re more like free-range than truly free.

The average “first-world” nation can be likened to a 300-pound man in a room filled with 500-pound people. Sure, he’s better off than the rest, but he’s still far from being healthy. But because his only reference points are those more obese than he is, he may hold the delusional belief that he’s an exemplar of fitness.

It’s both naïve and short-sighted to think that we’re truly free under this current paradigm. What is your ideal world? Does it look anything like the one you’re living in? This is not to say that we should hide in the asylum of ungrateful entitlement. We need to be grateful for the freedoms we do enjoy, but never complacent in our quest for true liberation.

Just as Harriet Tubman did, we must use our freedoms to help others achieve theirs, moving the collective towards total, mind/body/spirit, emancipation.

The Freedom Paradox

Here’s the good news…

On a deep, intrinsic level, we are always free, no matter the circumstance. Even when someone is physically shackled, at their very core they are still free.

As humans, if we do not find liberation physically, we find it mentally. If we do not find liberation mentally, we find it spiritually. This inherent freedom cannot be taken away.

“When I discover who I am, I’ll be free.” – Ralph Ellison

We are all unique expressions of infinite possibility. Our inner-most nature is beyond any confines. And absolutely nothing can take that away from us, even if we are physically or mentally enslaved. People such as Victor E. Frankl, who survived the Holocaust, are shining examples of this…

“Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms — to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.” – Victor E. Frankl

“Between stimulus and response, there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom.” – Victor E. Frankl

True freedom is beyond the ego. Beyond fear, beyond judgment and beyond the opinions of others. It is what we are left with when we reacquaint with our deepest essence.

“Look well into thyself; there is a source of strength which will always spring up if thou wilt always look.” – Marcus Aurelius

Though there are control systems intent on programming us to exhibit predictable, robotic responses… Though many get manipulated by the divide and conquer agenda….. Though injustice still rears its ugly head… Though the world may seem completely insane at times… Remember, you have the choice in every situation. And nothing can take that away from you.

As Ralph Smart says, We came here to be free.”

One love.

– Stevie P!

PS – Solution celebration… 

Here are 8 solutions to the subtly insidious “modern slavery” you may, unknowingly or knowingly, find yourself in:

1. Think for yourself - Free your mind. Explore any and every idea. The world is an idea playground. What is holding you back from exploring the realms of infinite ideas? You have a world of information at your fingertips, don’t take it for granted. We live in the information age. Ignorance is a choice.

2. Work for yourself - Though it’s an uphill battle in this society, we all have the opportunity to work for ourselves. This will provide you with immensely more physical freedom than if you have to trade your time for money with an employer.

3. Awareness - Be aware that you’re not your thoughts, but the consciousness observing the thoughts. Be aware of when you exhibit predictable, programmed responses. Be aware of your emotions, thoughts, habits…etc. Awareness is the key which opens the door to freedom.

4. Don’t identify with a label - Putting yourself in a box is the antithesis of freedom. Osho summed it up eloquently… “Never belong to a crowd; Never belong to a nation; Never belong to a religion; Never belong to a race. Belong to the whole existence. Why limit yourself to small things? When the whole is available.”

5. Be your authentic self

6. Let go of fear - Fear, and everything dependent upon it, is bondage. This includes ego, comfort zones, worry, anxiety, regret, shame, guilt, hate, anger, jealousy, insecurity, disempowerment, victimhood…etc. Those all either create, or lead to, some form of enslavement. As John Lennon said, “Love is free, free is love.” Choose love.

7. Pursue your life’s purpose

8. Take responsibility for your own well-being - Response-ability… The ability to respond. Empower yourself. Take responsibility for your life, your health, and whatever else you deem important.

 

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Do You Even Leisure, Bro?

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Take a step back and ask yourself…

Do I enjoy any true leisure?

Or is my life an endless string of time-stressed busyness?

In the phenomenal book “The Tao of Abundance“, Laurence G. Boldt defines leisure as “activity free of time remembrance.” Essentially, leisure is any experience in which you’re wholeheartedly “lost in the moment.”

We’ve all experienced this state… Hiking a mountain with no concept of “clock time” or a schedule. Long-term travel with no specific agenda, just going with the flow. Diving into creative work and completely losing track of time. At a party, celebrating with kindred spirits, with no concern of past or future. A session of lovemaking when you’re so utterly immersed in the ecstasy of the eternal now.

We instinctively long for these exhilarating reminders of our timeless essence. We chase them, sometimes through unhealthy means, because we don’t “leisure” as frequently as we need to for a deeply fulfilling and enjoyable life.

When was the last time you stopped to fully appreciate the moment? Re-start that practice now. Constantly remind yourself to “be here now.” Bask in the glory of the moment and notice how deeply fulfilling it is.

“The present moment is filled with joy and happiness. If you are attentive, you will see it.” – Thich Nhat Hanh

When was the last time you did absolutely nothing? And I mean nothing. Not watching TV. Not playing video games. Not snapchatting selfies to Selma the secretary. Seriously, when was the last time you allowed yourself to just BE? Simply “being” is a smirk-inducing oneness with the moment; a merging into the sea of infinite bliss.

“Every moment is the best, that’s enlightenment.” – Eckhart Tolle

We live in a culture that is so frantically busy that we forget to allow ourselves to simply be. No input. No over-stimulation. Just marinating in the peaceful stillness of the moment. We often fail to remember how critical that is for intrinsic fulfillment.

The “time-crunch” we’ve conceded to doesn’t give us enough room to breathe. Because we don’t allow ourselves to ever fully rest (or experience leisure), it severely inhibits our ability to fire on all cylinders. That’s why most people trudge through life in this gray-zone of half-activity, never at ease, yet never at full throttle either. Everything is a balance of the yin and yang. On and off. Activity and rest. Balls to the wall, and balls to the… floor?

The grinding state of constant, compulsive half-action is insidious. It wears you down, while steadily lowering your maximum capacity. It’s burning the candle at both ends.

Let’s take sprinting (which is completely based upon generating maximum speed) as an example. Do sprinters sprint 24/7? Of course not. They have carefully calculated training programs, with rest being equally as important as the actual training. Sprinters also spend the overwhelming majority of their time resting. Even their training sessions, which include short bursts of high intensity sprinting, are intermixed with much longer periods of rest. If an athlete attempted to sprint unceasingly, they would quickly tire, and within minutes be relegated to crawling around the track. But this is how many people try to move through life. In a desperate attempt to keep pushing, they end up at an incessant, exhausting crawl; with no time to rest (so they think), no energy left to move at full speed and no clarity to even question why they’re doing it in the first place.

Most masters in anything are masters in both their craft and leisure. They operate like an on/off switch, with each paradigm sharpened by focused present moment awareness. Look at the greatest martial artists. They are unbelievably calm and peaceful, but once it’s time for action, they are lightning fast and immensely powerful. Without intense rest, there can be no intense action. Without intense action, there can be no intense rest.

Loss of presence disturbs both the restful state and the active state. In the case of the martial artist, thinking about the past or future will inhibit the peace of mind associated with rest. On the other hand, thinking about the past or future while in a match will quickly leave you incapacitated by your opponent. This is the embodiment of leisure through both profound rest and profound activity. When leisure permeates the entire spectrum of your being, you live vibrantly, instead of merely existing.

Tim Ferriss, who is just slightly more productive than the average person (I hope you caught the sarcasm), is semi-famous for alternating between intense activity and intense rest. When he writes, for example, he dives into it with intensive focus for a short block of time, followed by a break. This applies to life’s larger cycles as well. Tim said that he recently took 30 days off from any kind of work. A month of pure leisure and just being. He said it was a deeply revitalizing self-reset, and he came back to his work more focused than ever. Ok, you don’t necessarily have to take 30 days off from everything, but you can apply the same principles to your own unique situation. And speaking of those types of escapades…

Let’s talk about “real leisure.”

Honestly, do you get any real leisure? Moments when you’re so absorbed in the magnificence of the moment that nothing else exists?

As a society, we’re so leisure-starved that even our “time off” lacks leisure. Most people’s vacations are laughably short and desperately rushed, consisting of scrambling to catch flights, rigid schedules, hour-by-hour plans and the impending dread of having to go back to work.

However, one moment in which you truly allow yourself to just be makes it all worth it. This image, which epitomizes the word leisure, comes to mind… Sitting on a beach, soaking in the sunset and listening to the delicate crash of waves on the shore. That is all that exists, nothing else. A single moment experienced as a serendipitous eternity.

And don’t think you have to be on a beach to experience true leisure. That’s just a situation which is highly conducive to the experience of leisure. But literally anything that gets you lost in the moment is leisure. Leisurely experiences can, and do, vary wildly from person-to-person. For some people, solving mathematical equations might be leisure. For others, walking in the woods. For me, writing this right now is leisure. It could be anything. The experience of real leisure just feels right, as if you’ve delightfully surrendered within the warm embrace of your divine essence.

Cherish the now. Leisure is as simple as realizing that this moment is all that exists. Constantly remind yourself to “be here now.” The past and future are only projections of your mind. Fully immerse yourself in the euphoric ocean of eternal now and experience the ecstasy of everlasting rejuvenation.

Here are three sure-fire ways to experience true leisure and get lost in the moment:

1. Awareness

“Realize deeply that the present moment is all you have. Make the NOW the primary focus of your life.” – Eckhart Tolle

Simply being aware that now is all that exists is transformative in and of itself. You will begin to catch yourself thinking about the past or future, inhibiting your experience of the present (all that really exists). With present moment awareness, sunsets suck you into divine bliss, landscapes lull you into luscious lucidity and parties become the climax of your very own movie. Awareness allows you to realize that there is nothing but now, and it is meant to be cherished.

“Time isn’t precious at all, because it is an illusion. What you perceive as precious is not time but the one point that is out of time: the Now. That is precious indeed. The more you are focused on time—past and future—the more you miss the Now, the most precious thing there is.”- Eckhart Tolle

2. Passion

Dive into your passions and experience time melt away. There is a magical quality to being immersed in your passion, whatever it may be. Time and space dissolve, and you’re left in a state of simply being, with the Universe expressing itself through you.

If you don’t know what your passions are… What gives you those kind of feelings described above? What causes you to become lost in the moment?

“Passion is energy. Feel the power that comes from focusing on what excites you.” – Oprah Winfrey

3. Play

“To play in a childlike way is to let go of self-consciousness, to drop the armor of ego defenses, to give up pretenses and be what we are, plain and simple.” – Laurence G. Boldt

Playing is a primary part of our primal nature. It begets vibrant happiness and helps us cope with the harsh reality so many of us face in day-to-day life.

Play is also essential if you wish to be an optimal being. Not only an expression of love and joy, play cultivates creativity as well. It’s absolutely vital for the development of one’s mental, emotional and physical capacities.

“Play seems to be an essential feature in productive thought.” – Albert Einstein

Yet sadly, play is an activity that we strongly reject as “respectable adults.”

“Especially while at work, we tend to take a serious, nose-to-the-grindstone attitude. We have gotten the notion that to be a “grown-up” is to act stiff and “dignified.” We fear that others will not take us seriously if we allow them to see us acting silly or in a playful manner.” – Laurence G. Boldt

Unchain yourself from the shackles of what others think. Choose love over fear, and express yourself. Life is too short to suppress your unique brilliance.

Play a game. Play a sport. Run, climb, jump. Dance. Tease someone in a loving way. Laugh. Joke around. Be ridiculous.

Leap into the liberating liveliness of leisure.

You don’t need a vacation to experience leisure, nor does everything in your life need to be perfect. All you need to do is “be here now.”

Get lost in the moment.

So I’ll leave you with a question… Do you even leisure, bro?