Living the Wisdom of the Tao

One of my all-time favorite books is the Tao Te Ching. I've mentioned this book several times on the podcast and various other blogs. There are tons of translations available, but my favorite happens to come from the late Dr. Wayne Dyer. The book is called, Change Your Thoughts, Change Your Life.

In this book, he writes a short essay on each of the 81 verses found within the Tao Te Ching. He provides a modern translation of each verse to make it easier to understand in today's times, and offers some guidance on how to apply the teachings in everyday life. It's a fantastic book. It's always on my reading list as I immediately start it over once I finish it. I usually do one verse a night and simmer on it's teachings and how I can use those to better my life.

Below is a PBS Special that was dedicated to this topic, presented by Wayne Dyer himself. It's a wonderful presentation and overall good summary about the teachings of the Tao, and what can be found within. I highly recommend you watch it and check out the book yourself

So, what is the Tao Te Ching?

In ancient China, the keeper of the Imperial Library, Lao Tzu, was famous for his wisdom. Perceiving the growing corruption of the government, he left for the countryside. On his way, the guard at the city gates asked Lao Tzu to write out the essence of his understanding to benefit future generations. Lao Tzu wrote the Tao Te Ching, left, and was never heard of again.

The book is broken out into 81 "verses", with each discussing something different. Anything from the nature of reality, governments, love, truth, happiness, and so much more.

A part of a Taoist manuscript, ink on silk, 2th century BCE, Han Dynasty, unearthed from Mawangdui tomb 3rd, Chansha, Hunan Province, China.

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Let Go Already

It was late and the rain was falling in droves. I was alone and disoriented. I had pulled over to the side of the road because I was too hysterical to drive. Tears streamed down my face as the sound of her voice replayed over and over in my head.

“Divorce”.

Being married was all that I knew in my life. I met my ex-wife in high school and we started dating at 16 years old. We were in love. So, we were married after graduation. Over the next decade, we saw the birth of two beautiful girls, the death of a son we would never know, and the purchase of home to fill with hope. We had been peas and carrots for the majority of our lives. But now, I was suddenly sitting in my car, in the middle of the night, on the side of the road in the pouring rain, and all I could think was, why? Why did this happen to me? How could she do this to me?

For the next 12 months, I struggled to breathe. My life was a darkness that violated every aspect of my existence. The days faded into one another as an endless anxiety raged within me. The night brought with it a companion of lifeless shadow disguised as deepening pain. I was haunted by the memory of her eyes as the last words she spoke to me left her cold lips. My visitor came to me as a reminder that I once held everything, but now I am nothing, and she set my flesh a-flame. My mind grasped aimlessly at the last bit of my identity. I was no longer a husband and my family was destroyed. I was suddenly stripped of my duty as a full-time father and I lost all sense of confidence in anything that I thought was real. I was a man without. A wandering refugee searching for a home. I was utterly broken. In my sorrow, I was stripped bare, and before my soul’s nakedness, I was found lacking. I had nowhere to run. There was no place hide. I had no choice but to stand face to face and confront the monster that I created by my past transgressions.

I remember the moment it happened. It was on a Sunday. It was the beginning of letting it all go. I was alone and deep in meditation. I had taken up various forms of self-reflection and isolationism to help me understand who I really was. Because, for much of my adult life, I willingly built my sense of who I thought I was from other people’s perceptions of me. In my mind, I needed people to grant me permission to love myself, to shape my identity, and give me the value that was my self-worth. I sought after the approval of others like an addict seeking their next fix. Their opinions were all that mattered to me. I needed to be the center of their universe for the sake of my ego. My desperate need for people’s validation was a sickness and I had no way to find the cure until I was forced to confront reality.

I never took the time to listen as the melody of my soul sang my personal truth. I had no way to comprehend that the deep emptiness I felt in my heart could only be filled by the grace that accompanied the harmony of love in my divine nature. It is sacred simplicity manifested in the purest form of love that exists in us all. I looked to the profane for acceptance. All I could feel was the weight of my shame and the bitterness of my pain since that rainy night. I was the anchor and the ocean was swallowing me whole.  As I sat silently in sunlight, a sudden wave of clarity embraced me and at that moment my mind was free. I was liberated and my thoughts were unfettered. Like the dancing light that is born of the sun, I saw the truth. I remember reviewing the events that had brought me to this point in my mind. Except this time, it was different, I had seen this movie play out time after time in my head. I had become so accustom to my biased version of events that I repeatedly told myself, “it’s not your fault, what happened was all on her, she was to blame, she did this, and she was the reason why my life fell apart.”

Deception was the routine. But as I sat, I experienced utter humility, and here in this moment, was the beginning of the rest of my life. It was in the serenity of the moment that I sat there breathing slowly in and out. With each breath, I sunk further into meditation and it was there that the reality of what really transpired came to rest in the center of my mind. I relived every minute of the events that had brought me to that rainy night, but with a twist. I was forced to experience my own personal hell without my bias and justifications for the first time in my life. I alone, was left to confront the illusion that my warped pride had created.

Objectivity is the cruelest form of accountability for someone defined by self-deception. I had no choice but to watch. I saw my choices and actions from all points of view. My choices affected all those around me on a level I had not yet understood until this point. I was horrified by how blinded I was by my need to blame others for the sake of my pride. Somewhere in all of this, a deep appreciation developed as I awoke to the part I played in the demise of that relationship and to the fact that something had been missing all along. I accepted that I was the source of my suffering. and no one else. I was humbled before the gravity of truth. Seeing our individual role in situations for what they are and not as we want them to be is a lesson in higher truth.    

Know Your Rights: Online & Digital Privacy

Your computer, phone, and other digital devices hold vast amounts of personal information about you and your family. This sensitive data is worth protecting from prying eyes, including those of the government.

The Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution protects you from unreasonable government searches and seizures, and this protection extends to your computer and portable devices. But how does this work in the real world? What should you do if the police or other law enforcement officers show up at your door and want to search your computer?

The Electronic Frontier Foundation [EFF] has designed a guide to help you understand your rights if officers try to search the data stored on your computer or portable electronic device, or seize it for further examination somewhere else. Keep in mind that the Fourth Amendment is the minimum standard, and your specific state may have stronger protections.

Because anything you say can be used against you in a criminal or civil case, before speaking to any law enforcement official, you should consult with an attorney. Remember‚ generally the fact that you assert your rights cannot legally be used against you in court. You can always state: "I do not want to talk to you or answer any questions without my attorney present." If they continue to ask you questions after that point, you can say: "Please don’t ask me any further questions until my attorney is present." And if the police violate your rights and conduct an illegal search, often the evidence they obtain as a result of that search can’t be used against you.

 

This is what Google knows about you.

  • Maps Timeline – This is an interesting one. Shows all the locations it logged via your phone GPS on Google Maps.
  • Advertisements – Here is what Google thinks about what you like. You can remove topics which you don’t really care about, so at least you will get more personalized ads.
  • Permissions – This is not exactly what Google knows about you, but what information Google gives to services and applications.
  • Takeout – Download everything Google knows about you. All its products every little details.
  • Dashboard – Manage your accounts on Google services.
  • Privacy – All of your personal details. Also it is suggested to go through the Privacy Checkup, to set how Google should handle your private details.
  • My Activity – All of you previous search terms and results.

How To Investigate a Flying Saucer: A Guide from the CIA

How To Investigate a Flying Saucer

Southbound on a lone desert highway, police officer Lonnie Zamora was in pursuit of a speeding car outside the town of Socorro, New Mexico, when he was startled by a loud roar! Seconds later, he saw a large flame rise from the ground and pierce the sky above a remote patch of desert southwest of the highway. Fearing a nearby dynamite shack might have exploded, Zamora let the speeding car go, turned right, and drove down a bumpy gravel road that ran alongside the shack.

Zamora’s cruiser clunked along the rocky road until he came upon a steep hill. Rising from behind the hill was a smokeless fire that glowed in a funnel of blue and orange tinted flames. The hill obscured the origin of the flames, so Zamora attempted to drive up it. His cruiser’s tires slipped and swayed on the loose gravel, but after three attempts, Zamora finally made it to the top.

A shiny object, the size of a sedan, sparkled in the late afternoon sunshine about 150-200 yards from where Zamora was perched on the hilltop. At first glance, he thought it was a car overturned in an arroyo (dry creek bed), but when he drove closer, it appeared to be aluminum in color, not chrome, and oval-shaped like a football.

Zamora drove toward the object, along the hill’s crest, for about 50 feet and then stopped the car. He radioed back to the sheriff’s office that he would be busy checking on a wreck “down in the arroyo,” and then he descended on foot down the hill toward the object.

Roooaaarrr! Zamora was startled again by a very loud rumble, not exactly like a blast but also not steady like a jet engine. It started at a low frequency, with the pitch slowly rising. The flame appeared to be coming from the underside of the object, glowing light blue on top and orange at the bottom. Zamora panicked, afraid the object was about to blow.

He ran to take cover but turned back to look at the object as he fled. He noticed a red symbol on the side, shaped like a point that was about 2 inches high and 2 inches wide. The object was smooth, a shiny white aluminum, with no visible windows or doors. There appeared to be two metal legs, slanted outward, supporting it.

Zamora sprinted to his car, hit his leg on the fender, and crashed to the ground. He got up, ran another 25 feet or so, and when he looked back again, he saw the object begin to rise.

It rose to the level of the car, then higher, about 20 to 25 feet in the air.

Zamora ran another 50 feet from his car, just over the edge of the hill, and ducked. Kneeling as close to the ground as he could, he covered his face with his arms for protection. Suddenly, the roar stopped. In the uneasy silence, Zamora lifted his head and looked.

The object sped away from him, toward the southwest, appearing to go in a straight line at about 10-15 feet off the ground. It cleared the eight foot tall dynamite shack by about three feet and then continued in a southwesterly direction, until it went over the high desert mountains and disappeared...

Hector Quintanilla, the last chief officer of the US Air Force’s famous UFO investigation program, Project BLUE BOOK, was in charge of the Zamora case. His team was convinced that Zamora was telling the truth, and despite an extremely thorough investigation, they were unable to locate the object or its origins. In an article for Studies in Intelligence called, “The Investigation of UFO’s,” Quintanilla says that the Zamora sighting is “the best-documented case on record.” It remains unsolved.

Project BLUE BOOK was based at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base near Dayton, Ohio. Between 1947 and 1969, the Air Force recorded 12,618 sightings of strange phenomena — 701 of which remain "unidentified" like the Zamora case. Although the CIA was not directly affiliated with Project BLUE BOOK, the Agency did play a large role in investigating UFOs in the late 1940s and early 1950s, which led to the creation of several studies, panels, and programs. Former CIA Chief Historian, Gerald K. Haines, wrote an in-depth article looking at the Agency’s role in studying the UFO phenomenon for Studies in Intelligence. In his article, “CIA’s Role in the Study of UFOs, 1947-90,” Haines says that “while the Agency’s concern over UFOs was substantial until the early 1950s, CIA has since paid only limited and peripheral attention to the phenomena.”

With over 20 years of investigations, from the late 1940s until Project BLUE BOOK’s termination in 1969, the CIA and USAF have learned a thing or two about how to investigate a UFO sighting. While most government officials and scientists now dismiss flying saucer reports as a quaint relic of the 1950s and 1960s, there’s still a lot that can be learned from the history and methodology of “flying saucer intelligence.”

 

10 Tips When Investigating a Flying Saucer:

1. Establish a Group To Investigate and Evaluate Sightings

Before December 1947, there was no specific organization tasked with the responsibility for investigating and evaluating UFO sightings. There were no standards on how to evaluate reports coming in, nor were there any measurable data points or results from controlled experiment for comparison against reported sightings.

To end the confusion, head of the Air Force Technical Service Command, General Nathan Twining, established Project SIGN (initially named Project SAUCER) in 1948 to collect, collate, evaluate, and distribute within the government all information relating to such sightings, on the premise that UFOs might be real (although not necessarily extraterrestrial) and of national security concern. Project SIGN eventually gave way to Project GRUDGE, which finally turned into Project BLUE BOOK in 1952.

 

2. Determine the Objectives of Your Investigation

The CIA’s concern over UFOs was substantial until the early 1950s because of the potential threat to national security from these unidentified flying objects. Most officials did not believe the sightings were extraterrestrial in origin; they were instead concerned the UFOs might be new Soviet weapons.

The Project BLUE BOOK team, according to Quintanilla, defined three main objectives for their investigations:

  • To determine if UFO phenomena present a threat to the security of the US;
  • To determine if UFO phenomena exhibit any technological advances which could be channeled into US research and development; and
  • To explain or identify the stimuli which caused the observer to report a UFO.

Although BLUE BOOK, like previous investigative projects on the topic, did not rule out the possibility of extraterrestrial phenomena, their research and investigations focused primarily on national security implications, especially possible Soviet technological advancements.

3. Consult With Experts

Throughout the 1950s and 1960s, various projects, panels, and other studies were led or sponsored by the US government to research the UFO phenomenon. This includes the CIA-sponsored 1953 Scientific Advisory Panel on Unidentified Flying Objects, also known as the “Robertson Panel.” It was named after the noted physicist H.P. Robertson from the California Institute of Technology, who helped put together the distinguished panel of nonmilitary scientists to study the UFO issue.

Project BLUE BOOK also frequently consulted with outside experts, including: astrophysicists, Federal Aviation officials, pilots, the US Weather Bureau, local weather stations, academics, the National Center for Atmospheric Research, NASA, Kodak (for photo analysis), and various laboratories (for physical specimens). Even the famous astronomer Carl Sagan took part in a panel to review Project BLUE BOOK’s findings in the mid-1960s. The report from that panel concluded that “no UFO case which represented technological or scientific advances outside of a terrestrial framework” had been found, but the committee did recommend that UFOs be studied intensively to settle the issue once and for all.

4. Create a Reporting System To Organize Incoming Cases

The US Air Force’s Air Technical Intelligence Center (ATIC) developed questionnaires to be used when taking reports of possible UFO sightings, which were used throughout the duration of Project BLUE BOOK. The forms were used to provide the investigators enough information to determine what the unknown phenomenon most likely was. The duration of the sighting, the date, time, location, or position in the sky, weather conditions, and the manner of appearance or disappearance are essential clues for investigators evaluating reported UFO sightings.

Project BLUE BOOK categorized sightings according to what the team suspected they were attributable to: Astronomical (including bright stars, planets, comets, fireballs, meteors, and auroral streamers); Aircraft (propeller aircraft, jet aircraft, refueling missions, photo aircraft, advertising aircraft, helicopters); BalloonsSatellitesOther (including missiles, reflections, mirages, searchlights, birds, kites, spurious radar indications, hoaxes, fireworks, and flares); Insufficient Data; and finally, Unidentified.

According to Quintanilla, “a sighting is considered unidentified when a report apparently contains all the data necessary to suggest a valid hypothesis, but its description cannot be correlated with any known object or phenomenon.”

 

5. Eliminate False Positives

Eliminate each of the known and probable causes of UFO sightings, leaving a small portion of “unexplained” cases to focus on. By ruling out common explanations, investigators can focus on the truly mysterious cases.

Some common explanations for UFO sightings discovered by early investigations included: misidentified aircrafts (the U-2, A-12, and SR-71 flights accounted for more than half of all UFO reports from the late 1950s and most of the 1960s); celestial events; mass hysteria and hallucination; “war hysteria;” “midsummer madness;” hoaxes; publicity stunts; and the misinterpretation of known objects.

Even history can shed some light. An interesting citation found by the 1953 Robertson Panel noted that some sightings had been attributed to an older phenomenon – “Foo Fighters” – that pre-dated the modern concept of UFOs: “These were unexplained phenomena sighted by aircraft pilots during World War II in both European and Far East theaters of operation wherein ‘balls of light’ would fly near or with the aircraft and maneuver rapidly. They were believed to be electrostatic (similar to St. Elmo’s fire) or electromagnetic phenomena… but their exact cause or nature was never defined. If the term ‘flying saucers’ had been popular in 1943-1945, these objects would have been so labeled.”

 

6. Develop Methodology To Identify Common Aircraft and Other Aerial Phenomena Often Mistaken for UFOs

Because of the significant likelihood a common (or secret military) aircraft could be mistaken for a UFO, it’s important to know the characteristics of different types of aircraft and aerial phenomenon to evaluate against each sighting. To help investigators go through the troves of reports coming in, Project BLUE BOOK developed a methodology to determine if the UFO sighting could likely be attributable to a known aircraft or aerial phenomenon. They wrote up detailed descriptions characterizing each type of aircraft or astronomical phenomenon, including how it might be mistaken for a UFO, to help investigators evaluate the incoming reports.

7. Examine Witness Documentation

Any photographs, videos, or audio recordings can be immensely helpful in evaluating a reported UFO sighting.

A famous case examined by the Robertson Panel was the “Tremonton, Utah Sighting” of 1952, where a couple and two children traveling cross-country on State Highway 30 outside of Tremonton saw what appeared to be 10-12 bright shining objects moving westward in the sky in a rough formation. The husband was able to capture some of the objects on film.

The case was considered significant because of the “excellent documentary evidence in the form of Kodachrome motion picture films (about 1600 frames).” The Panel examined the film, case history, ATIC’s interpretation, and received a briefing from representatives of the USN Photo Interpretation Laboratory on their analysis of the film. The laboratory believed the objects were not birds, balloons, aircraft, or reflections, and therefore had to be “self-luminous.” The panel disagreed with the assessment that the objects were self-luminous, believing that if a controlled experiment was conducted, a terrestrial explanation for the sighting would be confirmed.

 

8. Conduct Controlled Experiments

As suggested by the Robertson Panel for investigating the Tremonton, Utah sighting (mentioned in tip #7), controlled experiments might be required to try and replicate the unknown phenomena. In the Tremonton case, the Panel suggested an experiment where scientists would photograph “pillow balloons” at different distances under similar weather conditions at the site. They believed such an experiment could help dispel the “self-luminous” theory about the objects in the film. Unfortunately, in this case, the cost of conducting such an experiment made the idea unfeasible.

9. Gather and Test Physical and Forensic Evidence

In the Zamora case (from the introduction), Quintanilla contends that during the course of the investigation and immediately thereafter, “everything that was humanly possible to verify was checked.” This included bringing in Geiger counters from Kirtland Air Force Base to test for radiation in the landing area and sending soil samples to the Air Force Materials Laboratory. “The soil analysis disclosed no foreign material. Radiation was normal for the ‘tracks’ and surrounding area. Laboratory analysis of the burned brush showed no chemicals that could have been propellant residue,” according to Quintanilla. “The findings were all together negative.” No known explanation could be found for the mysterious event.

 

10. Discourage False Reporting

The Robertson Panel found that the Air Force had “instituted a fine channel for receiving reports of nearly anything anyone sees in the sky and fails to understand.” This is a classic example of needing to separate the “signal from the noise.” If you have too many false or junk reports, it becomes increasingly difficult to find the few good ones worthy of investigation or attention.

The CIA in the early 1950s was concerned that because of the tense Cold War situation and increased Soviet capabilities, the Soviets could use UFO reports to ignite mass panic and hysteria. Even worse, the Soviets could use UFO sightings to overload the US air warning system so that it could not distinguish real targets from supposed UFOs.

In order to lessen the amount of false-positive reports, the Robertson Panel suggested educating the military, researchers, and even the public on how to identify objects or phenomena commonly mistaken for UFOs. For example, they recommended training enlisted, command, and research personnel on how to properly recognize unusually illuminated objects (like balloons or aircraft reflections), as well as natural phenomena (such as meteors, fireballs, mirages, or noctilucent “night” clouds). By knowing how to correctly recognize objects that were commonly mistaken for UFOs, investigators could quickly eliminate false reports and focus on identifying those sightings which remained unexplained.

https://www.cia.gov/news-information/featured-story-archive/2016-featured-story-archive/how-to-investigate-a-flying-saucer.html

The Black Vault

The Black Vault

The Black Vault is the largest privately run online repository of declassified government documents anywhere in the world. With more than 1.4 MILLION pages of documents to read, on nearly every government secret imaginable. And, the collection is still growing. 

The Illusion of Spirituality

The day I see all of nature get down and worship some deity, I will too. When I see nature perform rituals and ceremonies and place extreme emphasis on symbolism, stones, beads, robes, or possessions, I will too.

Well, maybe...

But, nature doesn't do any of that. To claim you are spiritual, it seems, only means that you are just a sucker into some new form of mental criteria, systems, and culture. You treasure things such as beads, stones, crystals, statues, symbols, books, and clothing, and somehow the use or participation in various processes or methods makes you a "spiritual being" more aligned with Source, God, or whatever you’d prefer to call your idea of Deity, than you would be if you weren't doing those things.

Is this what we believe?

The belief that your beads, crystals, yoga mat, candles, posters, and excessive use of meme's online make you more spiritual is all in your mind. And it's a lie.

Spirituality is based on, and funded by, a faulty mindset and belief system that creates, enables, and supports a suffering based way of thinking. It starts from the basis that you believe you are flawed from the beginning and need to be fixed, or 'awakened', in order to be happy, fulfilled and at peace. Often times, people are led down a path of consumerism with the idea and intentions that these items will assist in the creation and preservation of the desired result, which of course, is the holy grail of sale's gimmicks: enlightenment.

So, you spend money on a statue, and maybe later down the road you end up buying more - because the statue wasn't enough, and wasn't giving you the result you wanted (instant enlightenment and salvation from your problems). Now you have beads, robes, bells, statues, and all other kinds of stuff that's supposed to aide in your journey towards inner peace. You and your friends compare the things you have and through jealousy, continue to acquire more spiritual stuff. You even sign every message and email with "Namaste" and use the prayer emoji obsessively.  You're so close to enlightenment you can hear people calling you a Buddha now. 

But yet, you're still unhappy.

Why is that?

You're doing what you're supposed to be doing to be spiritual, right? You have the statues, you have the yoga mat, you go to the hot yoga class twice a week, you have the fancy yoga clothes, and you stare at your affirmation board every time you leave your apartment. You charge your crystals while you meditate and burn sage and candles in a ceremonial way. You even drink tea from an old looking tea cup that you imagined the Buddha would drink from!

At first you felt on top of the world and as though you finally found what you've been looking for your entire life. But slowly that loneliness and sadness creeps back in. But.... why!? You're spiritual now! You have all the 'stuff' and your Instagram numbers are higher than ever! You're a spiritual meme king/queen! You're on the side of "truth" now!

So, why are you still so unhappy?

Why do you feel even worse now?

Not only do you have those same feelings again that you've been trying to ignore and cover up for so long, but you're more broke now. Maybe beating on that $1,400 singing bowl will help make you feel better and more spiritual again?

Spirituality, you thought, was your ticket towards inner freedom, peace, safety, and the achievement of reaching a new level of consciousness - or basically, a 'one-up' on the universe. You thought you found a way to beat the system and get what you wanted for yourself. 

Then suffering about suffering starts to happen. 

At the moment when it all comes crashing down is when your real practice begins. 

“Zen does not confuse spirituality with thinking about God while one is peeling potatoes. Zen spirituality is just to peel the potatoes.” 
― Alan W. Watts

 

With all your focus on becoming 'spiritual', what does that mean, actually? What is 'spiritual'? What's the difference between 'spiritual' and 'non-spiritual'? Is there anything that is non-spiritual?

Is a person that doesn't have anything to do with ceremonies or rituals non-spiritual? Are they not part of the divine or still within the realm of the divine? Are the people that start a meditation practice, use beads for mantras, or stones and crystals for healing or 'centering' the only ones that are part of Source or part of a direct connection? Or even then, is it about them being more aware of a connection? Does awareness of a connection make the connection any more valid or real?

There once was a time when I thought all of those statues and jewelry and symbols were highly important, and, were the only way to become more aware of the connection to source, god, deity, or whatever you want to call it. I used the cliche response that anyone would give, that they are just a tool to help remind me to be aware, present, and conscious, but yet in truth I was more focused on the acquisition and prideful display of these items than the actual work.

Overall, I traded in my old system of belief for a new one and got suckered into the idea that this new way was better than the old one. And not only did I believe it was better, I believed it was far better. I prided myself on my story of "awakening" and my new life and approach to life, reality and God. I thought I had figured things out and had arrived at some secret that was there all along, right below all of our noses. But, when I think about it, that's the exact same thing the other people think within their religious and cultural groups. They feel that they have the simple answers, the right way and the right path. They feel they know what's best.

I soon realized the truth: I hadn't come across anything new or better. It was the same thing that I was desperate to run away from and abandon, just with a different mask, soaked with a different style of mannerism, behavior, and patterns of thought. And of course, new merchandise to buy and showcase around as a personal belief-system announcement system.

It was just a different game. A sheep in a different wolves clothing, or whatever the stupid sayings are. 

Oh, boy, did I have a lot to learn.

Now, I can look back and see it all so very clearly, and I guess I'm proud and happy about that, too. Humbled, maybe. I can smile at my progression and see my silly behavior in the past, but overall see how it led me to be where I am step by step. Moment by moment.

None of my beads, robes, cushions, candles, crystals, singing bowls, posters, statues, or jewelry made that happen. If anything, they kept getting in the way and making things take longer. It wasn't until I finally set everything aside and began to face everything straight on did things finally start to happen. None of those material things could have done that in any way. It was me, facing truth straight on, and allowing myself to accept things as they were and as they are. 

I have no interest anymore in decorating my house with statues of deities, figures, or anything of the like. I have no interest in stones, or robes, or getting new types of candles or certain types of this-or-that spiritual thingy. I wear beads on my wrists but only as a way to carry a meditation tool with me that I use everyday. I am fully aware that they are completely unnecessary. It's all unnecessary, really. Does that make it wrong? No. Of course not. Nothing about it all is wrong except for the thoughts about it's existence of being right or wrong. And guess what? You're not wrong if you are still into the statues and crystals and candles and affirmation charts, etc. 

When it comes down to it, if all of those things help make you think you are being a better person and living a better life and being closer to God, then fine, go for it. Decorate your house with Buddha statues or plaques of Jesus nailed to the cross - whatever floats your boat. Get tattoos of the Om symbol, wear beads and jewelry meant to embrace the spiritual symbols and realms, and be proud.

Just remember that it's all in your mind and your ideas have become your true God.

Being dependent on a feeling for being 'spiritual' based on your possessions, rituals and mannerisms leaves you void of the overall truth that you are, intrinsically, spiritual. In fact, the idea of spiritualism doesn't exist really, because there is nothing else besides it.

All there is, is that which is. Everything else is your thoughts about it.

In that sense, you are not only just a spiritual being, you ARE the entire meaning and definition of spirit, spiritual, and spiritualism. All of nature is. All of life is. Everything. We all are. There is nothing that is not.

Your mind is the only thing that makes you think you're not 'spiritual' and somehow distant from 'God' or your true self. And then, conveniently, the solution for this mindset is available to you in various forms - all for a price, of course. This creates a feeling for you that the issues and problems of the past, or your identity, are not your fault or responsibility, because you were 'lost' before, or something of the sort. But now that you've purchased some statues, candles, a new yoga mat, some posters, tons of books, and maybe even a spiritual tattoo, now you're ready to take responsibility and finally begin to shape your life. 

Playing the game of solving the problems of the mind, using the mind, for the mind, is exhausting. 

Go on and do what you feel you must do to feel spiritual and connected. But just remember that it's you that is setting it all up as a lie in the first place. You must have the belief that you are not that already, and somehow obtain it through your beads, crystals, sayings, books, or rituals in order to convince yourself of what was yours and there already.

The Buddha apparently once said something like, "I'm just the finger pointing to the moon. Don't confuse me for the moon." 

Let go of your obsession with 'things' that are meant to be 'spiritual' and instead, get to the real point of what those things are meant to bring your awareness towards. Don't get caught up with the Buddha when he clearly said over and over to not look at him, but focus on what he was teaching and where he was guiding you. Look at truth directly. Take a deep look into who you think you are and go from there. Don't spend hundreds of dollars on crystals and statues and robes and special mats and pretty bells and all other sorts of stuff that's for sale in order to make you think you are being spiritual and 'connected' while you avoid jumping head first into truth itself.

Your spirituality is just another trap - another illusion. It's something to keep you avoiding and delaying truth. 

Get out of your mind and back into your heart and then sit on your cushion until you figure out who it is that's complaining about your life so much and seeking spirituality in the first place.

Again, no expense required.

You don't even have to buy any Zen Punk gear. I promise!

Everything we do is about how we think it will make us feel. Everything is about seeking a specific feeling that we want to experience in our reality. Our actions are based on obtaining feelings for ourselves. If you want to live your life in a way that leaves you with a specific feeling of being more spiritual and connected to the earth, source, god or whatever, then go ahead and collect crystals, sign up for expensive yoga classes and burn in-scents and candles until you get lung cancer - if that's your definition of spirituality. Live your life the way you want to. Chase after your feelings and enjoy the results of what you get through those pursuits.

Just know and always remember that no matter what you say or think about yourself, life and reality overall, you are already that which you seek.

You are all of it.

You are that.

And you've been it all along.


This post originally ran on the Zen Punk Project blog, at zenpunkproject.com.

So... we're back.

Hi Everyone. Guess what? We're back at it. That's right, Shaun and Shep are back online to cause more chaos and disappointment. 

You can expect regular shows again every week.. or every other week.. or once a year. Who knows what will happen. Just be grateful, will ya? 

If you didn't notice already, our Podcast feeds were erased on iTunes. This means we have to set everything up again and basically start over. It sucks, but oh well. That's what we get for disappearing. If you were using iTunes or Stitcher before, keep watch for the new feed to appear so you can subscribe. Everything has been submitted and we're waiting to be approved. Maybe they don't want us on the internet anymore? Otherwise, you're free to listen here on our website. 

We're also going to try to do mini shows in between the bigger ones. Shep and I live more than an hour's drive away from each other and we both have crazy work schedules, kids that are busy with school and other activities, mortgages, wives, and so on. Being an adult an sure suck sometimes. We've tried recording remotely, but, it just doesn't work as well. We need to be with each other to build off each others expressions and the energetic flow. Sounds a little weird, I guess... but, it it what it is. 

So, why did we stop recording, you ask? 

Well, honestly... I don't know. I think we got burned out of it all. I think I did, anyways. I'm usually the cause for things coming to a halt. Depression is a bitch, I'll tell you that. We've both had our phases of being totally invested in the show and the mission, and other times shaking our head and saying we don't care anymore. It's been an interesting ride, for sure. We've been through a lot of crap together from the very beginning. But, either way, we can't step away from these topics. We can't stop our drive to know more and to explore the crazy things going on in our reality. We can't sit and watch as our world burns and people suffer. We want to do something

This media company may not ever do much for others. It may not solve any problems of the world. It may not reach a wide audience and gain national exposure. We may not be able to dedicate our life to this type of work and become full-time 'journalists' or 'podcasters'. It'd be cool if we were able to, but, Shep and I are pretty content with everything, no matter what goes on. We're learned a lot about ourselves and reality overall. And the deeper we go into the questions and the mysteries, the deeper we end up going into ourselves. We still have so much to learn. Or, not. This media company has been an expression of who we are, what we're driven by, and we've been plugging our own 'teachings' into everything we can, and we'll continue to do so. Maybe, it's been helpful to some of you. Or, not. 

Our time away from the show was spent in various ways, doing various things. We still posted articles online and tried to keep the conversation going. We stared at a lot of trees (yes, we do love trees). All we heard from people is they wanted us to record again so they could laugh at the things we say, that not many others would dare to say. We became a source of silly, absurd, and immature entertainment for many people. Sure, there were others that revealed to us that we've actually changed their life through helping them wake up to understand new things about the world, our governments, cultures, spirituality, and most of all, themselves. This makes us feel all sorts of feels when we hear this. But for the most part, we seem to be a pair of comedic idiots that get people smiling. And, that's fine. We are that, I guess. But, in a way, I think at some level, after doing this for so many years, we hoped we would have reached different results. We learned quickly, again, that expectations are a dangerous thing, and should be avoided at all costs in regard to everything. Let things be, as they are, without contempt or judgment. Accept what-is, as it is, until it is not. 

With this media company, we wanted to help bring people to awareness of a lot of different things. We found that humor is a good way to reach the younger generations. They're tired of being told what to do and how to think. Sometimes, it's better to just laugh at how silly things are in order to create enough space in people's minds for them to begin questioning on their own, and build up the urge and confidence to create change. And so, we laugh. We joke. We poke. We mock. We discuss. And we invite others to do the one thing that they are most uncomfortable with, and that's to look within. To me, there's no greater question than, "Who am I?"

As we start pushing out more information through our little platform here, I hope you'll feel welcome to participate. We want it to be an open community where we aren't the "leaders" or the "authoritative voice". We're entirely against that idea in every way. We are nobody, and we don't want that to change in any way - especially in our minds or the minds of others. We want to help wake you up to your own power, your own truth, your own ability to create change, not only for yourself, but for others. There's a lot of crazy shiz going on out there in the world right now. I guess you could say there always has been. And we're all here to face it on a daily basis. But, there's a lot of crazy shiz going within all of us. I'm not sure which is worse, sometimes. Ultimately, I hope to help others make a decision about one important question: Who am I? 

Who am I, in response to all the events going on around me? Who is it that I want to see show up? How do I want to respond? How do I wish I could be? What impact do I want to create? What legacy and revolution do I want to be a part of? Who is it that's buried within these patterns, habits, experiences and observations? Who is it that recognizes that "I" within "me"? 

Or, do I want to sit, play the ignorant card, and see how it all plays out? 

There is no right or wrong answer. You're free to think and do as you wish. 

For a lot of people, they feel they don't have a choice with the matters of the world, and that's where we want to step in. When you're given the gift of awareness, you are given the gift of conscious choice. You're free to embrace the information, or not. You're free to go left, or right. But either way, a choice has to be made. You fight, or you fly. Sure, we may not be able to change the government or sway society in a different directly on our own. We realize it's something that takes all of us to do. We all have to do that collectively. We have to begin conversations and be willing to open our minds and accept new information. And then, we have to be strong enough to say that we were wrong before and that changing directions is a better path for us now. That's how we change the governments. That's how we change society. That's how we stop wars and dismantle damaging mindsets that feed into the system of fear that keeps us locked in place and following orders. That's how we embrace love and heal each other and ourselves. We do it all, together. And it all starts with each of us. 

We joke the way we do because we are sick of how things are, to put it bluntly. We're tired of humanity destroying itself. We're tired of religions controlling the minds of it's followers through a fear-based, guilt-inducing method of worship that can be purchased. We're tired of our governments, and those in 'power', greedily taking our societies down a road none of us would ever choose for ourselves. We're tired of being slaves to the system that's been installed to free us and protect us. We're tired of being lied to and denied the rights and abilities to explore our own consciousness. 

Like most of you, we want a new and better world. We'd rather make light of the crazy things going on in the world as a way to free our minds from the addictive grasp of negativity, confusion, and hopelessness that can easily swell up within you and take control of your perspective, intentions, attitude, and choices. Humor is very powerful. But truth is even more powerful. And usually, the first thing truth does, is piss you off.

We want to un-slave you from the world around you, but more than that, we want to un-slave you from your own mind. We want to bring awareness to as many as we can about a wide range of topics, and let them simmer on the possibilities and opportunities that we all have, together. We want to infuriate you. We want to inspire you. We want to get you questioning and demanding truth. We want you awake, alive, hungry, and confident. 

Whether we are doing a podcast, or trying to create a media company, or not, we will still be a part of this fight for our rights, our freedoms, and our lives. I hope you will join us for the laughs, the tears, the confusion, the trials and challenges, and the love. 

Cheers,

Shaun