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In today’s rapidly changing society, many of us no longer want to work for others. We want to use our talents, our creativity, and our passions to develop our own business or to work freelance. We no longer are willing to tolerate repetitive tasks, 40-hour work weeks or corporate bosses.
But it would be a mistake to think that this is breaking free of society, that we can remove ourselves from it, that we are somehow above it, or that we are trying to do something different. In truth we are only swapping forced conformity for a self-imposed one, and we mistake this individualism for freedom without acknowledging its paramount importance in the hierarchical value system of our society. We now turn the cog of culture at our own pace and rhythm, but we still don’t question where the machine is taking us.
It is only privilege that creates the illusion of separation. Unless we acknowledge this, we are stuck in a mire of arrogance and indifference. We too are complicit in a system of exploitation that is ruining our planet and destroying entire cultures. Even with our artisan candles and organic coffee. Even with our job as a yoga teacher or a freelance artist.
The more I sit with this, the more I am convinced that analyzing the value systems of our culture and the ways it has infiltrated our most intimate desires, beliefs and values is one of the most radical and deeply spiritual acts of our time. It is crucial for any real development, not because we can break free of culture, but because it is necessary if we are truly going to do our part to help change its direction. Continue reading
We were all crammed against the bar, elbows pressed to the counter and leaning forward to hear the audio as Donald Trump gave his victory speech. Clinton had just called him to concede his victory. A woman screamed at the screen, “She just gave UP?”
We were a room full of hippies and outcasts from all over the world who had traveled to this remote Northern California mountain town, with a population of only 300, to find seasonal work in the medical marijuana industry. Most of us were camping, and the bar was the only place we could watch the television. People openly rolled joints on the tables, and smoked it right outside on the front porch. A woman in her early twenties was attempting to light a red “Make America Great Again” hat on fire as her drunk friend told her that the hat was made out of rayon and would not burn. Continue reading
The Ground of Being does not require science for it’s proof. It does not require quantum physics. Once that state is tasted, it can never fully leave you, and no amount of evidence could convince you contrary to it’s existence. Once we see that we are the depth of eternal consciousness, then every thought, sensation, experience, and even the sense of self become mere clouds passing through the sky of Being. We still may become lost in the clouds, but we know in our hearts that the sky is there.
Once this has been awakened one will see God’s handiwork everywhere, including in science. There, at the quantum level, at the edge of the Universe, or at the beginning of time, it seems we see the first dance of formlessness into form, where the Great Mystery flirts with our rational mind, turning over our assumptions of reality and opening us up like a Zen koan.
But it would be a mistake to look for proof in this. There is no mathematical or scientific proof for God, and trying to place one where it does not exist leads to pseudoscience. This is the mistake of many of the New Age thinkers of today. They see the miracle of the One sprinkled throughout the many, and they wish to share this with others. Many are sincere in their efforts, but nonetheless they actually widen the gap between spirituality and science by pushing away those with little patience for shoddy logic.
But if instead of looking for proof, we look for poetry, then the dance of creation can delight us with each quark, black hole, and quantum superposition, thus awakening us to our True Nature. The universe, too, is just a cloud passing through the sky of Being, and awe and wonder are the steps towards that great Stillness within.
I’ve caught myself telling casual acquaintances that I once smoked crack. “It was offered to me, and so I said, ‘why not?'” I don’t know why I tell people that. I get some weird satisfaction from their horrified look of disbelief. I come across as pretty straight. My girlfriend can’t comprehend that the same person who won’t walk through a park where it says “keep off the grass,” once stripped naked on public access television while blackout drunk.
As much as I love shock value, I almost never tell people that I once willingly drank my own pee for its purported spiritual and health benefits…
It was the winter of 2009. I had recently returned to Seattle after my first experiment in renunciation, and it was about 6 months before I moved to Maui to serve Ram Dass. I knew that I needed to open my heart more, so I landed a job working as a residential counselor for at-risk youth at a non-profit group home. I had recently completed a 10-day silent Vipassanna meditation retreat and was adamantly sitting an hour every night and every morning. I had heard about monks in the Himalayas meditating naked in the snow and so I tried it on a few occasions in our back yard, never for more than 20 minutes at a time, but for some strange reason it made me feel like I was on the fast track to enlightenment. I was going to the nearby Hare Krishna Temple and making friends there. I was dumpster diving for food, eating vegan and practicing Reiki. I held a spoon-bending party at our home, and I did the 10-day master cleanse. I played with Tarot cards, saw psychics, and even organized a failed attempt at using a Quija Board.
I was your classic spiritual hipster, and like any other spiritual hipster, I would have become angry and defensive if you had tried to label me as such.
Always looking for the next “thing,” I was intrigued when one of my closest friends informed me that several of the monks at the Hare Krishna Temple were practicing “urine therapy.” They all raved about the effects, and that was enough for us to give it a try.