Treebeard: Becoming The Change We Wish To See

Exploring the development of inner resilience
Sunday, November 23, 2014, 8:50 AM

This week's podcast delves into matters of the inner self.

Here at Peak Prosperity, we follow a lot of the problems and challenges of the world around us and explore what can be done in response to them. And in seeking solutions, we have to remind ourselves that if we want the world to be different in some way, the only way to begin changing it with 100% certainty is by changing ourselves. In the end, we are responsible for how we perceive and relate to what's happening around us, and true change begins with taking ownership of what our reality is, and what we want it to be.

For such a heady topic, we've responded to previous requests from the PP.com community and invited our own philosopher-in-residence Andrew Graves -- better known as Treebeard on the site -- to expound on the topic:

In the West, we've done a great job of exploring the external world, but have done absolutely nothing about exploring the internal world. And if the internal self is disordered, even if you have the right facts and ideas and are doing the right things, you'll still just create more disorder around you. If you aren't in the right place and don't have the right awareness, then your actions will simply create more disorder. I'm sure we've all met people like that, where they are saying all the right things, but you just sort of feel like something is off. 

So it's really about changing the way we perceive the world, and the way simple ideas are missed because they are so obvious, not because they are complex. It's about going back to base one, looking internally and seeing the world as it is, which -- as simple as that statement sounds -- is an amazing challenge. 

I think the first step in being able to come in contact with reality is owning the ugliness within human beings. This can sound negative, but I think you have to go through the darkness to get to the light. Think of the atrocities throughout history, the things that human beings are capable of and what we have done over time. And, it's our avoidance, our desire to be good, to be nice, to reject that dark part of ourselves is what keeps us from being able to see reality directly. It's taking ownership of what we are and we are capable of, and owning that darkness, that allows us to come in direct contact with reality. And, when you, there is an overwhelming feeling of intense love: it's a state of being where you realize where the foundation of the world is. But, as long as we are trying to apologize and reject that dark part of ourselves, we are holding ourselves back from experiencing life as it is.

So the first step coming in contact with the dark side, which allows you to see it for what it is. Then the separation from the self and the observed disappears, and contact begins, and love just flows organically as a part of that experiential process. So, in fact, the thing we avoid, the thing we say "No, not that", is the very thing that we need the most. If we can have the courage just to own all of it, the darkness of being a human being and all that entails, once we own that, then all kinds of possibilities come into play.

Click the play button below to listen to Chris' interview with Andrew Graves (59m:26s):


Chris: Welcome to this Peak Prosperity podcast. I am your host, Chris Martenson, and I am really looking forward today. Today is going to be just a great podcast, because we are going to spend some time in an area that has really been consuming a lot of my off-screen time as I think through things. And, it starts like this: I am 52 years old, and with every passing year, I learn more and more. And, once, once I thought that the answers were all out there somewhere, and it was my job to get and find them, you know, to gather experiences and data and facts, and that this was the path to knowledge. And, it was for the life stage I was in. It was a very important part of my life. But, now, I know that all of the most important discoveries I have yet to make about life are inside of myself. And, whether you call this being on a spiritual path or simply maturing in a healthy way, the results are the same.

I now look at life completely differently and have learned some important truths. Chief among these is that I am the only one responsible for how I experience the world and my relationships. The only person I can with 100% certainty change in a relationship is myself. And, I know that whatever torments or blockages a person has in their life can be addressed and healed by that same person looking inside themselves, that in fact, that is where all of our answers truly lie. Now, taking one step further, if we want the world to be different in some way, the only way we can begin to change it, again, with 100% certainty, is by changing ourselves.

So, today, we are going to back up and we are going to become philosophical about the world and our place in, and maybe burrow into that inner space where all the answers lie, and we are going to do this with our very own Peak Prosperity member, Andrew Graves, who most of you know as Treebeard. Yes, our resident philosopher is coming to the podcast format. Welcome, Treebeard, or I am going to call you Andrew from now on. Welcome, Andrew.

Andrew: Wow, thank you very much, Chris. Glad to be here.

Chris: I am really excited. Okay. So, there is only going to be so much time to talk about this. I am sure we could go on for hours and we probably will, just not all today. So, let’s run through this from the outside in. At a lunch meeting today, I was talking with a gentleman about the angst that I witness in people everywhere I go as being rooted in some existential dread. By which, I mean a deep-seated feeling that something is just not right; by which, I mean our national narrative just does not line up very well anymore with either the facts as we can read them if we choose to, or even our daily experiences. And, so of course, if you think you are on a ship that is headed for a whirlpool, it is hard to feel really good about things, no matter how comfy your life is. So, let’s leave the convincing aside. Let’s begin with a shared belief that Western culture specifically, but maybe humanity generally, is on an unsustainable trajectory. From your perspective, how does that impact us as individuals?

Andrew: Well, it is an interesting statement that the consciousness that creates the problems is not the kind of consciousness that can solve them. And, like I said a little bit earlier, that so much of what we have done in the West, as you said initially was we have done a great job of exploring the external world, but we have done absolutely nothing about exploring the internal world. And, if the internal self is disordered, even if you have the right facts and ideas and are doing the right things, you will still just create more disorder without you. If you are not in the right place and do not have the right awareness, then the actions become—they create more disorder. I am sure we have all met people like that, where they are saying all the right things, but you just sort of feel like something is off.

So, it is really, like you said, it is about changing the way we perceive the world. In a way, these simple ideas are sort of missed because they are so obvious, not because they are complex. So, it is sort of going back to base one, looking internally and seeing the world as it is, which is really, as simple as that statement sounds, seeing the world as it is, it is an amazing, amazing challenge. Because, we are always perceiving the world through our own sort of, maybe not "craziness" is maybe not the right word, but through our own perceptions, our own way of identifying ourselves as a particular person or group and not the common, the context directly with reality.

In my mind, Western culture went off the rails back with the Greeks and the whole idea of the _____ [00:04:33] and of Plato where you cannot actually get in direct contact with reality. But, there is a whole part of our consciousness which is able to perceive reality directly that we have neglected and actually sort of—in Western culture the saying does not even exist anymore.

Chris: Well, and this is something I call "trust yourself," which is really an invocation to ask people to begin to really use all of their sensory apparatus to sort of divine where we are going. Because, our heads can tell us one thing, right, we have a narrative in our heads that defines our reality for us. And, we all have them. I am not saying I have transcended this by any stretch. I replaced one narrative with a different one and then I have a different sort of a view. So, at Peak Prosperity, we have looked at a bunch of facts and we have come to this new narrative that says, “Wow, this direction that we are being asked to fully engage with seems to be heading in a direction that looks like it might end badly, or it has risks. Or, wait a minute, once we start to examine it, is it even taking us there in the style we have been told? Like, are we really happy, are we really fulfilled, are we really living to our fullest selves?”

And, I want to talk, though, about this narrative and the importance of narrative. So, you wrote recently, I have got a quote here from a comment you had put, and here it is. It says, “As the veneer of American exceptionalism crumbles away, the raw drive for power and control has become more and more apparent. The flimsy propaganda dressing of making the world safe for democracy is disappearing as the years and mountains of evidence built of our brutal foreign policy, of assassinations and covert wars, and support of brutal dictators, and relentless support of extractive economic policy dressed up as 'free enterprise.' The poorly constructed propaganda has always been this shoddy and ridiculous, but it seems we never had the courage to look ourselves in the eye so that we can say what is truly great and beautiful about our country.”

What you are saying there to me is that we have a narrative that we have been told, and as we—let me talk to you about my American dream narrative, right? You grow up, you learn that we are the greatest country, we have freedom, we have democracy, we have free enterprise, we have got equal justice, she is blind, money has real meaning and value, because you have to work hard for it. All these things you can easily now with the Internet scratch away at and go "whoops," maybe not all entirely true. But, a national narrative, the way in which we identify ourselves, I have learned is really, really important. And, if you are being asked to engage in a narrative that is frankly not good for you personally, but not good for your children if you happen to have them, or not good for anybody, it gets... it is hard to look that square in the eye without it being a very uncomfortable sort of experience.

Andrew: Right. I think the first step in being able to come to what I would call in contact with reality is owning the ugliness that human beings can be. And, again, this can sound sort of negative, but I think you have to go through the darkness to get to the light. But, humans as a species are—can do some really, not just Americans, but as, think of the atrocities throughout history, the things that human beings are capable of and what we have done over time. And, it is sort of the avoidance and the desire to be good, to be nice, to reject that dark part of ourselves is what keeps us from being able to see reality directly. It is taking ownership of what we are and what we are capable of, and owning that darkness that allows us to come in direct contact with reality. And, when you do come in direct contact with reality, there is an overwhelming feeling of intense love, and it is not something that you can describe or something that can be discussed in an article or be intellectualized. It is a state of being where you realize where the foundation of the world is. But, as long as we are trying to apologize and reject that dark part of ourselves, we are holding ourselves back from experiencing life as it is. And, we have all these mechanisms, we have all these ways of describing that and making that different.

So, in a way, I sort of pick on America, because—not pick on America, but that is what I know, that is the place that I am. And, by not owning up to... and this is, I guess, there is a lot of pieces here and it is hard to know where to start. But, the key problem really is identification. Any time you want to try and build the ego, the individual self through identification, we are—I am an American. America is a great country. Therefore, by virtue of being part of this group, I am therefore a good person. Or, pick your, whether it is a church group or an intellectual group, you went to a certain university, whatever it may be, that identification separates us from that which we love. Because, you are now dependent upon and using that entity to build the ego within yourself. And, when you do that, when you are dependent on something, you cannot truly love it, because you need something back from it.

So, in order to love America as it is, the first step is admitting and being—coming in contact with that dark side, which allows you to see it for what it is. Then the separation from the self and the beloved or the observed disappears, and contact begins and love just flows organically as a part of that experiential process. So, in fact, the thing we avoid and the thing we say, "no, not that," is the thing that we need the most. If we can have the courage just to own all of it, not only the darkness of being an American, but the darkness of being a human being and all that entails. Once we own that, then all kinds of possibilities come into play.

Chris: Let me—I totally agree, and let me put a personal flavor on that. One of my formerly favorite pastimes, and I got to be honest, one that still occupies me from time to time is blaming others. For instance, I see bankers and what is happening in the whole banking industry, and I look at that and I will say, “Wow, that’s really evil and it’s greedy and this really upsets me.” Ask my wife, it still does. And, I will carry that until I realize that the very fact that I am responding that way emotionally means I have identified with them. Which means, to go one layer deeper, it means that I would be doing, if I am honest, I would be doing exactly the same things as those evil, greedy bankers if I was inserted into their circumstances. Which means that whatever it is that I find that really upsets me about the human condition is something that exists inside of me. It is part of me.

Andrew: Right, exactly.

Christopher: And, once I can get to that point, I get to this—I can start to begin to get that separation and that compassion of saying, “Oh, look, they’re not evil, greedy, they’re just, they’re like everybody, they’re doing the best they can.” And, I can maybe cast, I will still cast judgment and I will say, “And, this is maybe not the ideal operating circumstances we should be in right now. How do we shift that?” But, you are saying the first step is to just have that awareness that there is nothing happening out there that is any different than what is happening inside.

Andrew: I mean, think about it. There is this whole issue with the one percent. You have got one percent of the population which is getting enormously wealthy, and 99% of the population is getting much poorer. Well, that condition cannot exist unless the 99% are enabling that one percent to do what they are doing. And, the minute you blame somebody else is the minute you give away all your power. Because, now the people you are blaming are the people who have the responsibility and the power to act, so then you become a victim. The minute you take ownership of a problem, then you also take your power. Power, responsibility and ownership all come together. You cannot just selectively say, “Okay, all the bad stuff in the world is the responsibility of person A, B, C, and D. And, all the good stuff in the world is the responsibility of me.” And, it really is having the courage and the strength to take on that weight, and then act in a way that makes a lot of sense.

Chris: And, Andrew, this is—I want to, before we move past that point—because, this is really central to the core tenet of Peak Prosperity in my mind. I always set this up as this is a "trust yourself" environment. We are going to start laying out the tools, we are going to start gathering our personal capability to begin to wrestle with the implications, the facts as they exist, looking inside, looking outside, starting to really put these pieces together. But, I never wanted to or set myself up to be a guru of any kind, because I do not believe in them. I believe that it is... each of us has the responsibility to act in ways that are in accordance with what we know to be true. And, that can shift over time. But, as of today, I think the people at Peak Prosperity feel that responsibility. They know they have got some important information. They are starting to see the world in ways that other people around them are not. And the struggle then—the struggle is how do I really take on the weight of that responsibility? Like, at a deep level, that is really the request being made when you come in contact with this world-changing sort of information, is what am I going to with it? Right? And, it becomes your responsibility, doesn’t it?

Andrew: Oh, absolutely, and that is so important, that point about—and I do not know where this idea got into my head—but, for so long, it is really about you have to take responsibility for all your own actions. And, absolutely, we do have to go out to experts as it were, but if that expert cannot explain the issue to you in a way that you can understand and internalize and then act upon it, that person is not really an expert at all. Because, we have to be able to trust our own ability to perceive reality, and if you cannot get to the point where you can internalize it, well then, do not play in that field. If you cannot have someone explain how the stock market works to you, then do not go in the stock market. Because, now you are giving away your power and allowing somebody else to make a series of decisions for you that you do understand. So, that is deflating in the strongest sense of your own self-worth and being, and does not allow you to act and grow and take responsibility for your own actions.

There is so much misinformation and bad information from people who are posing as experts who are really giving you very bad and poor information, who are now sort of putting people in a position where they have no information upon which to act. And, that is one of the great crimes that is going on right now in this world, especially it seems in the United States. The quality of information that is available—and kudos to you, Chris, for what you doing, of course. The quality and the amount of information we get from the website from you is just astounding. And, what is out there, I mean, you talk to other people—I am sure many people have had the same kind of experience. You talk to other people and they just do not have a clue. They just do not have the information to make sort of rational decisions. It is just, it is really astounding.

Chris: It is astounding. And, the desire to continue to keep those waters muddy is strong. I was one of the only commentators I am aware of—there were a few, but not that many—who picked up on this whole idea that Janet Yellen, basically, was blaming the 99% for getting poorer. And, I took exception to that, because the facts are easy to ascertain. When the Fed prints money, it flows to people who the Fed hands it to. That is not a really difficult concept. But, still, you had Janet Yellen out there saying, “Well, you people, you’re not entrepreneurial enough. You’re failing to invest in your children sufficiently, and next time remember to have wealthy parents.” I just thought that was so disconnected from what is easily and obviously verifiable information. The fact that it went unremarked on just shows you how vast that gap is between context and information and how little of that really gets connected in our society, almost by design, I guess. I am not clear on that, but it is too big of a gap for me to just say, “Wow, I guess we just—another major thing that fell through the cracks there, huh?”

Andrew: Right. And, I guess I just would like to sort of transcend the whole political thing. I guess, on the outset, it is true that by sort of owning the darkness, admitting—again, the whole idea of identification, that you identify and sort of use the group you are within to build your own structure, the individual "I" or ego. That once that occurs, then it becomes very difficult to see anything objectively. We have to sort of cut that cord. And, if you sort of, okay, of course, the evil that comes with power is sort of a given, that the United States has had this idea of Manifest Destiny. You can go through the horror stories of what we did to the Native Americans, and it is kind of like the assassinations and all that stuff. But, some are like, well, let’s own that, let’s admit how real evil is and begin to understand what evil actually is rather than getting into this whole blame game and then sort of move on.

Because, sort of getting into these political arguments, to me can be sort of almost self-destructive and unproductive, because already you sort of tend to what I would call "match energies." And, you polarize and then you are sort of shouting at each other, and it really does not go anywhere. It is almost like you have to admit, okay, this is, the evil is there, but what is evil? How can people of good intentions, well-educated, with moderate temperaments, how can they go ahead and do these crazy things? That is sort of a question that seems to come up over and over again, either you see this in the dialogue on the website all the time. Are these people crazy or are they evil, or are they stupid?

And, I think what it is about is that there is a way of thinking and perceiving the world that does not allow them—it goes back to what I said earlier about the consciousness that creates the problem cannot solve the problem. And, as long as we keep coming back at them on their terms, in their context, then nothing ever shifts. It just polarizes about a center point which we cannot get to, and that center point is what I call connecting through reality through what I would call sort of the authentic self. And, so, yes, let’s admit that the evil is in the world. Let’s not get hung up on the fact that Janet Yellen can be doing enormous evil, even though she may not be aware of that fact, because of the instruments, her cognitive instruments she is using to try and solve a problem. But, let’s not get hung up there. Let’s examine what evil is, how we get past this mindset that is destructive to one that can connect to reality and connect to the foundation of the world, which really is love.

So, that, to me, is the important part of the dialogue, and to get caught in the sort of political stuff, and the blame game, it becomes unproductive and does not really go anywhere.

Chris: Oh, it never does. It is why we avoid such belief-based material as much as possible at Peak Prosperity. The thing about Janet Yellen for me is not to say that, “Wow, she must be really manipulative and evil to have said what she said.” I honestly, I will tell you, I flat out think that she believes what she said. I think that it is amazing that she has a context that is so fundamentally different from what I think is a easily verifiable context, and those are two separate worldviews. So, here we are with lots and lots of powerful people entrenched in spots. And, here is something I run into all the time, Andrew, these same people who will be out there trading the bond markets, vigorously, daily, in the stock market doing their thing, running hedge funds, being the captains of industry—it does not matter their station, but especially the people who are very high up—they will play the game because that is the game that they have in front of them.

But, privately, they will tell you they are really uncomfortable with where things are going. And, how could you not be when the World Wildlife Fund says, “Hey, we lost half the wildlife in the last 40 years,” and somebody else goes, “Hey, where’s all the water going?” You know, you see these signs that say, “Huh, maybe there’s something here we should look at,” but nobody publicly really knows how to address that yet. And, so it really gets to be like individual consciousness is a difficult thing to wrestle down. But, boy, is that just a far cry easier than trying to wrestle down the collective consciousness or unconsciousness as the case may be. Meaning, you take the Janet Yellens, you take the CEOs, you take the hedge fund operator and they will continue to do what they do, even though deep down, they know they are doing the wrong thing.

And, that is picking on captains of industry, but I think there are a lot of people out there living those two lives with a deep sense of, “Hey, maybe this isn’t the right direction for me, personally, or even for us collectively. And, I got to keep doing this.” And, that tension, that is the angst I talked about at the beginning of all this. That is what I feel more and more palpably. Maybe I am looking for it, but I am pretty sure it is building.

Andrew: Oh, absolutely. And, I think what it is is that—and I have sort of picked on this a lot in my commentaries—is that there is two sort of, maybe in the popular culture it is called left brain and right brain. I am not quite sure that is the right way to say it, but there is two different ways at which we get information from reality. And, the mechanism that we use is one that is very powerful, but at the same time, the way it functions is to divide and fracture the world into pieces. And, that is what we sort of call the rational mind, and what it does, it takes things and splits them apart and compares them, and that is a very powerful and useful tool. But, we have come to the point where we are saying that that tool is the only method of connecting with reality. And, by its nature what it does is it fragments things. It takes things, it takes A, B, it splits them apart and then compares them, which one is bigger, which one is smaller, which one is lighter, which one is brighter, and that is a great thing. If I want to size a beam in your house and you want to know whether it is Douglas fir large or an LVL or it is PSF or whatever the material may be. Someone has taken that board, it is run through a machine, it has got data on its compression strength and its bending strength and all kinds of wonderful things. And, I can make a rational decision and put the right size beam in your house.

But, if that—and again, another sort of a broader way of thinking about this is the difference between knowledge and wisdom. So, you take a society where the only method that we will accept as a way of getting access to reality is one that splits things into pieces, it disconnects things. So, in a sense, sort of a foundation of the issue, and this angst that you mentioned, that we have all sort of felt is that this disconnection from reality is because of the way we perceive reality by breaking those bonds and splitting things into pieces. And, we think if we break that piece small enough, we are going to get down to some sort of ultimate reality that is now going to give us the answer to everything, sort of the idea of the root cause of the universe, when in fact, perception of reality comes from putting everything back together. So, in a sense, what we have done now, we have broken the world into a million pieces and now we have to try and put it back together, which I would call sort of ecological thinking or direct perception. And, that is a faculty and an ability that we all have that we sort of are denying it exists, and we are using a part of our consciousness that does the opposite, that disconnects us. And, so if there is anything I can say about the 21st century, it is really about disconnecting from reality. And, the more disconnected from reality you become, the more fearful you become.

And, the Eastern—which has been a great model for me—has a very nice and concise way of describing us. If you have time, we can get into that a little bit. But, until we shift out of that mechanism where we accept only the rational mind as our only bridge to reality, we are going to continue to create the same kind of havoc and problems that we have been seeing on and on. We see this thing where yogurt is bad for you; no yogurt is a cure to all things. Spinach is good for you; no it causes cancer. This diet, this is the diet of the moment. No, that does not work, we will go to the other diet. This is the product of that kind of thinking that fractures everything into a million pieces and it continues.

We probably do not have time to get into this in all the detail we would need to, but that thinking is what creates that kind of flip-flopping from one silver bullet to the next. And, until we can get out of that mode and accept the other part of our consciousness, and accept a bridge and connect us back to reality again, it is going to be the same kind of chaos. And, again, if we use that same kind of consciousness, even with the right information, we are going to continue to create this outward chaos that we are seeing around us forever, until we make that change.

Chris: So, let me chase that down a little further, because it is a very important set of points in there. So, you said, “Well, maybe about the time of the Greeks,” so we went down this reductionist, left-brain path. And, we have chased that pretty far. And, so as we have gone down that reductionist path, you know, we went through all of Newtonian physics and we discovered that, in fact, there was not just Earth, Air, Fire and Water. There were these things called molecules, hey, wait, there is these things called atoms, hey, wait, they have these nuclei, protons and neutrons with electrons around. So, we defined reality, but then as we burrowed further a strange thing happened. We got into the idea that once you go down a little bit further into the subatomic space, nothing is Newtonian anymore. There are no such things as particles, everything is an energetic form with a wave function and a set of probabilities around it. And, that is all we can say, right? We went quantum on the whole thing.

And, so science maybe should be leading us. Once we went down the science whole, it is a torus, it brought us right back to the surface again and says, “Hey, guess what, you can’t possibly know everything by breaking this all apart, because once you’ve broken it apart far enough, it literally becomes unknowable.” And, it is just probabilities at this point. But, the hubris of the left brain is that you can know it all. And, I run into this all the time where people say, “If we create those sorts of problems, we’ll fix them.” I have this vision that nature is so complex that we still cannot begin to understand what is happening in a teaspoonful of fertile soil, let alone what is happening across our gut biome, let alone what happens across an entire integrated ecosystem that is beyond—it is beyond our rational brain. It is beyond any super computer to understand. But, there is a knowing that we can interact with that, those ecosystems in very positive and enhancing, abundance-enhancing ways, but it is not through the reductionist path.

So, what do you say to this idea that this rational side of our mind actually is a rationalizing thing and it has rationalized our approach by saying, “You know what, all we have to do is get a little better at this and we got it nailed. Just, we’re just going to, with just a little more technology and we’re there. Then we’ll have it.”

Andrew: Right, exactly.

Chris: Does that exhaust itself or are people going to cling to that right to the point where it becomes completely obvious that that was a broken model?

Andrew: Well, I think, I mean, the beauty of it all is—and I have said this and I know people think I'm crazy—but, the world is perfect in that every off-course action has a corresponding reaction that brings you back to the center again. So, the thing has to self-correct, because the world is perfect in itself. And, all these sort of, I like to think of these sort of perceptions as like if you think of reality as a loaf of bread, all these perceptions, whether you are an agnostic or you are religious or you are a scientist, or whatever it is, to me, is a slice through this loaf. And, you look at that face and what you are describing is completely accurate. It is like the old tale about the wise man and the elephant. Each one of their perceptions is exactly accurate, and they are all true. But, they do not get the point because they are not seeing the whole. And, the greatest sort of sin, which is actually an archery term for being off-target, is when the part tries to become the whole.

And, the mind is not the seat of consciousness, and again, this can get very abstract and difficult to deal with, but the mind in a sense is a processor of consciousness, but not consciousness itself. And, when you try and take the mind, when the part tries to become the whole, that is when things get distorted and out of shape. So, what we have done is, we are saying this, as you put so well, I mean, the unknowing, the incapability of the rational mind to perceive reality directly, the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle, the particle/wave theory of light, all kinds of amazing things that _____ [00:28:44] brought us back full circle to realize the limitations of the rational mind. The rational mind only processes consciousness, and I think the Hindus have done a great job of describing how that actually exists, and are actually—they describe seven centers, or chakras—but, what the mind does, it processes where your consciousness is in your body, in your being. So, if you are in the fear center, then everything you see and perceive is perceived through that center. So, everything becomes a life and death experience. Someone in a gas line gets cut off and has to wait an extra half hour, you hear these stories of somebody getting out a gun and shooting somebody. Well, that person is processing their reality through their fear center, where everything becomes a life and death situation.

So, there is a possibility of trans—so, again, if you are thinking of the computer of a mind as the seat of consciousness, then you are denying the ability to perceive reality directly, because it only is a mechanism that processes consciousness, not the seat of it itself. Is that too abstract, or…

Chris: Well, not for me. I have been wrestling with these things for a while, and the first piece—and I got this from Eckhart Tolle after listening many, many times to A New Earth, a book on tape. It was very good for me. And, what he is talking about there is that the mind identification, this thing called ego, which is my tool, which is just on all the time, it is just talking to me all the time. It is parsing things, it is organizing, weighing, sorting. There is an attractive person, that is not. I like this person, I do not like that person. This is a good experience, that is a bad one. It is doing all that stuff for me and I have been trained in that, because that is all of my Western culture is like that is the thing. That is the thing you want. We are going to put you to school for it and you are going to work that tool.

So, it became an awesome tool and it was only much later I realized that I have a consciousness that is separate from that tool, from that chattering box, and that that consciousness is—it actually exists throughout me in a way. And, so, yes, if I have a certain body of, an orientation that I am coming through, that experience is my reality. So, you mentioned the fear center. An example I have talked about before on the site is imagine you are walking down the street and you are having a perfectly lovely day, and somebody walks by you and they are just laughing. And, you have a framework that says, it is paranoid, “Oh, my God, they were laughing at me. Oh, my God, this person just laughed at me. My day is ruined. How did they see through this veil of mine. Oh, my God.” And, your day is crushed and you will process that, maybe chew on it for the next 48 hours until it begins to dim. And, it was a really transformative, bad experience. And, somebody has that same experience, walking by that laughing person, but their view is that this person was sharing happiness and that they just got a dose of happiness and they walk off and they have five minutes of bliss from that. And, that is the end of the experience for them.

Same experience, two entirely different experiences with it, and that is just showing that that mind tool that connected through our framing, that does define our experience 100%, completely. We will call it reality. That was truth for both those people, those were true experiences. It was true.

Andrew: Absolutely. Yeah, and so if we continue to identify with the chattering mind as it were, then the saddest thing about that all is is it denies you a direct connection with reality, which can occur through the intuitive mind. Because, the chattering mind, which is, again, it divides and as its very method separates things into pieces and separates us, disconnects us from each other. Once that portion of mind finds its rightful place in our general consciousness, then the intuitive mind which can connect directly can separate between the small I of ourselves, the individual ego, and the big I of the universe, then direct connection becomes possible. And, so all the sort of the craziness that, like you said, the people that you talked to who have just, you can talk yourself blue in the face and they are so connected to a belief system, because they are holding onto all these individual separate pieces of their individual egos, then no connection becomes possible. But, once the mind can stop and take its rightful place and we can come in direct contact with reality, then everything shifts.

To me, then all these other problems that we are trying to solve can be solved so quickly. It is like, how shall I say it... the problem is enormous, but it is very small at the same time. Because, it takes such a small shift within each one of us to transform ourselves in a way that we can begin to solve these problems in a rational way, rather than applying the same old consciousness which serves us—continues to multiply the whole problem of unintended consequences; sort of the story of the century, huh?

Chris: Yeah, and I am going to hearken back to this idea where you said the world is perfect, which I hold. And, to get there, though, a little circuitous as always. What I am thinking about in relation to what you just said, I believe it was in Macbeth, Shakespeare wrote, “There is nothing ever good or bad, but thinking makes it so.” Which is this idea that the thinking is what attaches either good or bad to it, right? And, so this was a big part of my identification for a long time, so I get it, right? So, like you make a winning stock trade and that is great and you are elated, and then you make a bad one and that is crushing and it is awful. And, what I now know is that it is just my frame of reference, whether I decide to call something good or bad. And, I have started to really lose that architecture in my daily life.

So, people often say, “Oh, you know, wouldn’t you just want joy and happiness and all that?” And, I say, “No, because one of my beliefs about my culture is that it’s asking us to live in a very narrow band of existence." "Hey, are you too happy? We got a pill for that." "Oooh, are you too sad? Got a pill for that." "Here are the three things you can talk about at a social gathering." It’s this little, thin little band, like "don’t get too high, don’t get too low, stay on the reservation and it’s a tiny one.” And, that is my experience with it. And, now, what I want is I understand that life is all about these paradoxes. Sun Tzu said, “if you really want to live, you have to embrace death.” Meaning, the paradox, that you cannot really live until you are comfortable with death, right? And, I now know that my, like people say, “Oh, I really, I want to love more deeply.” I now know that the paradox that comes with is, my capacity to love is directly connected to the amount of grief that I am capable of holding.

Andrew: Right, that is exactly where I wanted to go next, which is amazing. Our ticket in is our ability to suffer. And, it is funny that Buddhists say that life is suffering. And, it is not, I think we sort of understand that backwards, because the suffering comes between the perfection of the world that is out there and the state in which we are in and able to live with the difference between where we are and what our capabilities and possibilities are. So often what we do is, there is some negative part within ourselves, we are not capable of loving the way we are, maybe feel a little too greedy, or maybe feel like whatever the typical issue may be that we then, rather than accept that state and allow ourselves to stay there in that conflict, in that place where we are uncomfortable and experience that suffering and pain and allow ourselves to transform it, we tend to justify it. "Well, you know, if I did not do it, someone else would do it." Or, "I am better than the guy next door, so it is really okay."

So, if we can find that place, and again, it all starts with, again, the foundation of beginning to love ourselves, we are able to accept that pain. But, that pain is our ticket in. That is our ticket into reality. That is our ticket into a true experience, real spiritual growth, allowing ourselves to, like you said, in so many ways allowing ourselves to accept all those dichotomies. Because, in a sense, once we name something, once we say, “Okay, I’ve got a solution to that problem,” then the learning stops, because we are no longer dynamically alive. But we sort of, we put it in a box, defined it, and based on the limitations of our current consciousness, it really is impossible to resolve those things at that level. Because, that understanding, I find, always comes with an annihilation of opposites, where things that apparently seem to be in conflict suddenly disappear, and that is sort of that, where the peace resides, where you come in direct contact with reality.

It is allowing ourselves, as you said... it is the pain that is the ticket in, it is the ability to suffer that is our ability to love. And, once the two sort of travel together, they are both sides of the same coin, and once you get to that place, then you are able to see reality directly. And, when you are in contact with reality, it is, the power of the love and the power of reality is simply overwhelming. And, it sort of makes the struggle worth it. There is a sort of a sweetness to suffering that I cannot, it is hard to describe. I am sure we have all experienced that at some level or another. But, it is that, where real love comes from, love that has no "I" attached to it, where there is no, nothing in it for me, there is no ulterior motive. You are there, just at a pure essence of being and the self is gone. And, when the self is gone, that allows you to connect to the other, allows you to connect to the people you love, allows you to connect to, you can say, “I love my country.” You can say, “I love this person.” Because, it is no longer attached to the self. And, when the self is gone, then you can connect to reality and then, like I said in an earlier podcast, sort of the inane chatter of the ego mind sort of becomes absurd. And, you realize the lack of reality to it, in a way.

Chris: I agree with all of that, and let me see if I can put one spin on this. And, it hearkens back to this idea that nothing is ever good or bad, but thinking makes it so. And, it is around... this was a really important part of my own development, what you are describing here. Let me talk around the word "suffering," because, to me, I have a judgment around suffering and I would say, “Oh, that’s bad.” In fact, somebody really... I got one of those great transmissions. I love these, where somebody says one thing to you and it like shifts you. I love those moments. And, they said, “Pain is real, suffering is optional.” And, what I took from that is that sometimes you have real pain, real physical pain, a toothache or there is real physical pain. There can be heartbreak, which has a physical component. That is real. The suffering is the optional part. And, so those moments of intensity you are talking about like where it is grief, when I feel those now, I no longer say to myself, “This is a bad experience,” or “I’m going to experience this so that…I can grow more.” Or, I am not even saying that I want to really experience this so it will move through quickly. I do not have any attachment to that anymore. I just simply notice it, and I actually like the intensity now of whatever I am experiencing, whether it is joy or if there is an opposite to that. I actually revel in that, because now it feels more like I am actually engaging in life as I was designed to, that I am here to... like my capacity to experience more and more intensity is now, it is, there is a little goal, I got some ego wrapped in it. I like it. It feels right to me in a sort of a DNA blueprint—I cannot even explain it. It is like, I can just say, “This feels human and normal, and why was I not... nobody talked to me about this when I was growing up, nobody.”

Andrew: Yeah, it is amazing how much, how little, how little our inner development and inner self is sort of been neglected. And, I think in some ways, this sort of the gnostic traditions behind all the major religious traditions in the West have sort of been lost. And, so we have sort of been left with sort of these outward shells where the sort of the vital life force behind this sort of deeper, inner spiritual training is sort of almost, has sort of been neglected in a way. And, how little of that gets transmitted, and I think in some ways, it was transmitted through families, generation to generation. Our culture has been so destroyed by a whole variety of forces, that all those sort of normal transmitted forces that sort of allow that kind of information to be transmitted has sort of been lost. And, our cultural pieces that were sort of the residual vessels of that kind of stuff has sort of been lost as well. So, now we are sort of left to sort of rebuild and rediscover this on its own, which is an amazing—it is amazing to watch it all happen.

Because, my sense is it is almost like this energy is like hitting the planet right now and it is all—and maybe it is, it is sort of what, maybe what the Hindus call "creative destruction." Where all the old systems and structures, cultural structures that were sort of decaying and then become ossified, were now sort of being swept all away and allowing this new thing to come into place. Where in order for birth to occur, you have to have the death and decay of the old systems first, which creates the space for the new to come into existence. So, even in the sort of negativity there always is the creation of possibilities that is allowing us to transform ourselves.

Chris: Yeah. You and I are of an age and, let me tell you that, not everybody, but more and more when I encounter young people, so to me this is now anybody under the age of 30, but sort of in that 30 zone and under. I am encountering more and more people who, including my own children, who have really much more elegantly advanced inner tracking mechanisms and they have done personal work. And, these are not new concepts to them, and they have looked into this future that you and I talk about, that we talk about on Peak Prosperity. And, they flat out, largely said, “No, thanks.” They can see that this is a destructive direction to go. They are not engaged with it. And, what is interesting to me is that we really need to start to figure out how to get the "we" in this story again, because, there is this generational gap that has started to appear. Not everywhere, but it is starting to appear. It only makes sense, right? Because if you are asking young people to live into narrative that they frankly are going to call, excuse my French, bull**** on, well, guess what, do not be too surprised when they do not show up all excited for that party when you ask them to step into it.

And, so it feels to me like this, this layer of this consciousness and this conversation that you and I are having, we really, really, really have to have this open dialogue about what is really important, what it really means to be alive, the kind of world that we are creating for ourselves. Because, and I will be honest with you, I have a design, I have some attachment to outcome. I would really rather not enter that world where there is ten billion people on the face of the planet and we are all eating seaweed. And, there is no other animals left alive, I do not want to go there, personally. I have a different future that I could imagine, where we all get to live in abundance. But, where do we start, like you and I are having this conversation, but like how do we, how do you think we really begin to, what more can we do to make this an okay and safe conversation to have more widely?

Andrew: Yeah, that is a good question, and it is something I think we all struggle with. And, part of what you have done by creating your website and allowing people to connect, to me, there is sort of a, there is, it was not everything and we have to be aware that there is always a sort of a dark side and a light side to all kinds of technology. In a sense, what I really feel good about on the technological side is the ability, what is happening with the communication possibilities. The automation side is a little scary in some ways, because in a sense, what we need to do is connect consciousness through reality. And, when you automate things, you are pulling consciousness out and away from the productive activities that human beings are engaged in on a regular basis. So, think about the flash crashes on Wall Street. Here is something that you are now sort of creating these dark pools where machines are running reality and the human consciousness is sort of pulled from sort of important parts of our whole financial system.

On the other hand, the ability of us to connect on through the Internet, even in my profession, it is like, if you have not got a better answer than someone can Google on the Internet in five minutes, then you had better start looking for another job. And, I think that goes across the board. I mean, the level of information that is available to us is really astounding. You would have to live in the Library of Congress 30 years ago in order to have this kind of access to information, and access to other cultures and to other peoples and ideas and thoughts. It is just, it is amazing, and that to me is where sort of the most hope for me comes from. And, I think, again, the idea of the world being perfect and it is self-correcting, that each of these actions—I do not think we are going get through it, a population level where—I do not know, but I think that each one of our actions and this off-ness that our generation observe. The other thing I can think about is if things could happened any other way, they would have. That each one of these steps, as difficult and painful as they are, are part of a necessary evolution of us, both individually and as a culture, and as a race, to get to the place where we need to be.

And, I sort of think of evolution not as a straight line, but sort of follows a form of our DNA, a helix. So, from one point of view, it looks like we are going in circles, but from the right perspective, actually, we are moving in a direction, so we may be returning back to a point where we perceive that we were before. But, at one level, it has been transformed by processing through all those portions of reality. It is like each and every... like when Jesus said, “No law of the letter will be overturned.” We have to process through each piece, and there is no shortcuts. We have to go through it all. But, that whole process and everything that is occurring in the world today is part of that process of our hearing the darkness, owning the darkness and then allowing ourselves to transform the darkness into light.

And, to me, it is just about really the best thing we can do is live close to our authentic selves and communicate to everyone around us what are we going through honestly and authentically. And, that is really an amazing and transformative process. I think the other part of it is believing and loving ourselves. And, when we act authentically and not by following and not becoming a second-hand person looking for the expert to then walk in their shoes. But, internalizing all the things that are coming at us, opening up and addressing them authentically and telling and talking to our friends and loved ones about it, how we feel authentically, our ability to act authentically is transformative, and not only of ourselves but to everyone we come in contact with.

And, I think it is going to just explode. I think we are at a point where all of a sudden, all this stuff is going to be—people are going to realize this is just completely insane. What the hell were we thinking? I mean, thinking of a guy who is going to own a 10,000 square foot house. I mean, how much room does the physical body need? How many beds do you need? What is that really all about? Why is that needed? What is that? I think once we see that like all of us that are coming to those realizations, what is that really about? Why do we need this stuff? And, we are going to find the answers are really about cultural expectations and nothing to do with our internal happiness and what we really need.

So, again, we can be very happy with a lot less than we are using right now. It is like Rob Hopkins, it is the other reality is so much better. He was an environmental campaigner who talked about, “Oh, the world’s going to end, you got to change, the world’s going to end.” And, then he realized that just did not work. This alternative reality is so much better, it is so much healthier, saner, happier way of being, that when people realize there is another alternative out there, I think the old system is going to flatten itself in a very short period of time.

Chris: And, that is where I attach what I am seeing shifting in young people is that they have lost their connection to the old narrative, because it, frankly, is a bum deal for them. And, so the old narrative just, it is going to lose its energy at some point anyway as we go towards that. And, so when I, yeah, this whole idea that—here is my new understanding, is that the baseline for humans, you take our DNA and you give us our basic needs. Our baseline is happiness, joy, and health. Those are our baselines, but we have got that all upside down. People now have this view that oh, health is something that you have to work for. You got to go to the gym, maybe get a trainer, get a special diet, because we have created a system of unhealth for ourselves, so that our new baseline is unhealthy. So, people have to seek what I consider to be baseline. Our bodies heal themselves, it is magnificent, right? And, happiness should be our baseline, but we have sold ourselves this idea that happiness comes from having that 10,000 square foot house or getting this next thing. Ask anybody on their deathbed how much happiness that bought, and they will say "practically none, it might actually have made me unhappy." And, George Carlin said, “Trying to achieve happiness by buying stuff is like trying hunger by taping sandwiches to your body.” So, he got it in a single line, right?

So, really, this is like the stuff that you and I are talking about as we say, “Okay, the world around us, if we begin to let it in and really understand it as we see it, it’s starting to say things to us.” And, those things might include the idea that we are not actually, we do not have the number one lifestyle in the world. And, that it is not perfect, and that there could be more balance and that this thing we are all trying to achieve through the outside by buying houses and cars and all of that, that was actually something that you cannot achieve from the outside, you can only achieve inside. And, that once—I agree with this transmission mechanism, because I have had this personal experience of people saying that because of my presence, I have shifted them. And, I have not done anything. I have not tried to shift them, I did not have any plan, I was not trying to be a spiritual nothing or other. But, that I am carrying a frequency inside myself which says that I am very happy and very content with where I have ended up. And, I got here, I got to admit, Andrew, because I started down a path of fear and said, “Whoa, look at this stuff I got to avoid.” But, now that I got here, I would run towards it willingly. If you took it all away again, I would get back here much more rapidly, because I would go, “That’s a better place to be. That’s a better place to be.”

Andrew: Oh, absolutely.

Chris: And, I guess, we are coming up on our time here, but in closing, for me, that process started with a moment of personal pain, emotional pain. And, I experienced that at the time and said, “This is awful. Poor, suffering me.” And, now I know that was actually my call to... that was my invitation to go on a journey. And, so now I would not pass that up. At the time, I was like "what can I do to avoid this?" And I tried everything. But, now I would look back and go, “Oh, no, that was the moment it all started. That was awesome. That was good stuff.” So, this path has some intensity on it. But, I no longer say it is good or bad, I just say, “If you really want to step into a truer, authentic self, which, where I find greater contentment and happiness and other people seem to as well, that involves a path that has some intensity on it for a lot of people.” But, that intensity is not bad. It just is. It is just part of life.

Andrew: I think, what you said is so important, and that is such a key point, and that you certainly have to do something. You realize just by the place that you are shifts people around you. That is such an important point. You do not have to go out and solve anybody else’s problems. You do not have to tell them what to do or how to be, that by being in the place yourself, brings that part of other people forward and allows them to become, experience what you are experiencing. So, by each of us are part of this greater consciousness, and by each of us fulfilling ourselves, and being present for other people is really transformative. You do not have to go out and fix somebody else. You do not have to solve their problems, but by just being present and listening to another person, the power of that, to really listen, not with your own craziness and your own agenda, your own ideas, but to listen authentically and openly to another person is where the transformation can occur. And, then all this idea like well, they have a different religion, they have a different way of thinking and seeing the world, all that stuff sort of falls by the wayside organically and naturally as we begin to connect with each other really in an authentic and real way.

Chris: Absolutely. I think of that as like—that is the ultimate gift economy, because the truth was, I got that transmission from somebody else before me, and I will pass that on to other people and that is the way it spreads. It is just, and it is not anything special. Everybody has got the capability, it is just a thing, it is just, it is what humans do. It is actually part of our blueprint and it is, other cultures have recognized that for a long time. I am very hopeful and excited to see that my own culture is starting to wake up to this. We are seeing little signs, you know, mindfulness and the CEO room is starting, you know, we are, yoga here and better eating there. And, so people are starting to get to this idea that, yeah, there is more to life than we can just get to through our left brain. That is the easiest way to put it.

Andrew: It is sort of interesting and in a way, it is sort of like, you look at when different cultures sort of become in contact with another, like when Eastern culture became in contact with the West. Well, now, sort of yoga has turned into an exercise craze. They sort of take it and distorted it, but the same time, that is sort of the negative side of it, but the same time, the positive side, there was the shift when people began to realize that the material or the outside world is not where happiness resides. But, there is something internal, there is an inner journey that can sort of transform ourselves, that takes us away from thinking that the answers are all outside of ourselves. That buying the next thing or owning the next piece of property or whatever it may be that we quickly become attached to, is sort of not the way to happiness. But, as each one of these waves washes through the culture again, they do get diluted in way that we can think of as being negative, but at the same time, I think each little increment sort of transforms our culture in a way that takes it in a more positive direction.

Chris: Yeah, and I will, you know, let me go one step higher than that. For me, it is this idea that I am very happy with the personal progression I get out of this line of inquiry and wrestling with these things, thinking about them. And, in that spiral way slowly getting, even as I re-experience things, slowly seeming to make some progress. Is this idea that this thing we are talking about, to me actually feels like a worthy pursuit, to really do as much as I can in this pass through life, to really advance myself and open myself up. That feels worthy as a human. And, it was a recent interview, somebody asked me a classic question, like "if you could have three people for dinner, who?" And, I said, “Oh, it’s Carl Jung, it’s Albert Einstein and Herbie Hancock.” You know, why an astrophysicist, a psychoanalyst and a jazz musician? And, the answer was because in their memoirs, each one of them expressed some idea which went like this, “People think I had these great ideas, but it was not me. I just opened myself up and creativity flowed through me. I was a vessel.” They all said that, so people who I really admire, who are really deeply creative, who really changed the course of things for humans because of what they produce in life, many of them come to this idea that, “Oh, yeah, I was in touch with this extraordinary, amazing source of creation. And, I’m just the conduit for that.”

I wanted to ask them "what are your practices? How did that come to be?" And this is the most important thing I have learned now. The first part of my life was about acquiring information and skills. This part of my life is about removing those things that prevent me from accessing that source of creativity. It is about losing stuff, not gaining. I do not need any new skills, I just need to lose those masks, those barriers that even within myself prevent me from accessing what I think I am capable of. And, that feels like a worthy, that is really, that is a challenge that I am really intrigued by.

Andrew: Yes, and that is very well said, and that is a great next sort of step. And, that, it is really, and that sort of goes to the whole idea that even our own thoughts, we sort of perceive ourselves as a source of many things. And, even our thoughts, I sort of like to think of them, there is only one creator in a sense, and that even our thoughts is like finding shells on a beach. And, then we find the shell and say, “Oh, I found the shell, this is my thought, this my idea,” and we become attached. In reality, this is all just us experiencing reality. And, once we begin to identify, it is, you begin to lock down and close your ability to perceive reality directly, to come in contact, as you say, with that creative, loving, powerful force that animates all of life.

So, it is the idea of sort of the greedy, small self that wants to hold onto things. It does not trust, it lives in fear, that is unable to let go and sort of allow the energy to flow through us as a conduit for the greater sort of reality that we are all in contact with. And, again, that stuff goes back to the same idea of becoming attached to the rational mind and rejecting the intuitive mind and not allowing ourselves to experience things directly. And, for me, I mean, I came through, again, a challenging life in a lot of ways, and that, part of what allowed me to grow as a person was the idea of non-attachment. That idea that this behavior, this activity, whatever it may be that we are currently experiencing is not who we are in the depths of ourselves, but allowing ourselves to experience the difference between what we can be, what our potential is, and where we are currently without judgment. And, allowing to sort of love and accept ourselves, which is, to me, what allows us to transform ourselves and allow us to come directly into contact with that creative force that you just talked about so eloquently.

So, it is really about non-identification, not defending the self, but allowing ourselves to, having, and again, it comes to sort of loving ourselves and allowing ourselves to experience reality without judgment. Because, oftentimes, the pain of "oh, I should have done that right," and this sort of brings up an interesting story about someone who had a very difficult life. And, then to show the judgments we have about people, and she got into a place where she was addicted to drugs for a while. And, in our sort of negative cultural narrative, "oh, you are a bad person, you were taking drugs and what not," and she said that, thank God those drugs were there for me at that point in time, because that is what I needed. I was in so pain I needed to self-medicate myself at that point in time. So, let go of the negative judgments about the self, because when you are becoming in a very negative place where you are judging yourself, you do not get the ability to learn from the experience.

Because, there is so much, you are, like you said, pain, the suffering is optional, but pain is not. If you are able to let go of the judgment about what you are experiencing and love yourself as you are going through this process, that allows you to transform yourself, because you are not identifying with those pieces and accepting yourself as the process that you need to go through to get to where you need to be. And, it is not too bad, it is not, this is not unfortunate, this is, what is happening is not bad, this is a necessary part of a transformation that we need to go through to get to this other place where we can really be authenticate and loving and true to each other. And, it is just part of the process, and once we accept the fact that this is not, "oh, why did this have to happen? Why are we going through this? Why is the banks doing it?" whatever, whatever our particular bug-a-boo may be at the moment. And, it is not to condone it or to say it is okay, and that is the, I think that is the difficulty most people have, but they are saying by accepting and forgiving it you are condoning it. But, that is a totally different kind of place. If you are able to accept and love through the process of this pain and realize it is not condoning it, it allows us to learn and move forward and heal all those things that need healing in our world right now.

Chris: It is all so very well said, and if it all boils down, it begins by fully accepting and loving ourselves, and then from that, everything else flows. So, we have been talking with our philosopher-in-residence, Andrew, also known as Treebeard. So, Treebeard, thank you so much for your time today, and I know we are going to have to continue this conversation, because, obviously, we just scratched the surface.

Andrew: Oh, absolutely, it was great fun.

Chris: It is great fun for me, too, and by the way, this was my own personal moment of vulnerability, because I have been holding and thinking these things for a long time. So, I have gotten to the point now where I am just like, "you know what, it is time to just let this stuff out and see what happens," and some will resonate with it, some will not. So, to anybody listening, hope you are taking what you can from this, and if it works for you, great, and if it does not, that is fine, too. Not trying to convince anybody of anything, just letting some stories out about what has been true for me. So, Andrew, thanks again.

Andrew: Well, congratulations. Great. Thanks, Chris.

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pinecarr's picture
Status: Diamond Member (Offline)
Joined: Apr 13 2008
Posts: 2263
What a treat, Treebeard and Chris!

I hope that you make this thread of discussion a regular feature at the site.  You have hit on an area that I suspect many of us are struggling/dealing with, and being able to hear open discussions on the topic -at this level- is very welcomed and appreciated.




pinecarr's picture
Status: Diamond Member (Offline)
Joined: Apr 13 2008
Posts: 2263
More comments after listening to the whole podcast!

The idea that the first step is "taking responsibility for your own actions" really resonates strongly with me.  That's how I found Chris's site, just by taking responsibility for a very bland and common choice:

"How can I do asset allocation for my retirement savings, so I make enough $ to retire comfortably (modestly), while mitigating risk so I don't have to worry about how its doing all the time?" (yes; heavy irony here:). 

The simple answer would have been to follow conventional wisdom for asset allocation and diversification. And I really, really, really wanted to do just that, and be done with it.  But something inside of me (my "gut") was very uncomfortable with blindly trusting conventional wisdom with such an important life-choice.  And so I took personal responsibility for the choice I needed to make.  And that iterative cycle of questioning and learning is what eventually led me here; the more I learned, the more I questioned, and the broader my questioning became. 

Your comments on suffering also resonated strongly with me, both: "pain is real, suffering is optional", and (paraphrasing) that "suffering makes the transition/transformation for spiritual growth possible".  Several years ago, I experienced deep pain and suffering at the unexpected death of a very close friend.  But as hard ("intense") as that experience was, I learned an incredible amount from it.  I learned that I could dwell in pain and see myself as a victim in my loss.  Or I could try to look at the loss through the lens of gratitude, for having been so incredibly lucky to have had such a beautiful person/friend/teacher in my life for so many years.  I had to find a different way to look at the event -to get a  more positive "cognitive handle" on it- in order to make it through the event.  From that experience, I learned that I did have the power to change how I looked at things, and to see the positive in an experience in order to constructively cope with it.

That hard-won lesson (spiritual growth) came in handy a few years ago when I had to deal with betrayal and the subsequent break-up of my long-term marriage.  The pain was very real, and I didn't ignore it or sugar-coat it.  I don't want to make it sound like there wasn't any real pain; there was!  But through it all, I knew I had a choice of whether I wanted to go through prolonged suffering by seeing myself as a victim, or whether I wanted to find a different cognitive handle - to see the positives in the situation and grab ahold of them.  And there were a number of positives to focus on.  So from my previous experience, I knew I could choose which lens I wanted to look through when I perceived this event, and how I subsequently experienced the event.  I can't tell you how much difference that made in reducing the amount of unnecessary suffering I experienced.

Finally, I think experiencing painful events also teaches us humility and compassion.  When you lose a friend you love dearly, you start to see how many other people have experienced such losses and have gone through similar pain.  When you experience the pain of betrayal and the break-up of your marriage, your eyes are opened up to just how many other people have had to experience that situations, many under much worse life circumstances. And you also start to realize that other people have gone through  other different, but equally (or much more) challenging situations.  It is a strong lesson in humility, and in finding inner strength to likewise persevere.

Thanks again, Chris and Treebeard!


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Another Great Discussion

 The constantly varied topics and interesting guests along with Chris's own insights  are why this has become one of my favourite sites.  Years ago I stumbled upon a book by an American philosopher Allan Watts. "The Taboo about knowing who you really are." It had a huge influence on me at a time when I was seeking to understand life and my not so happy part in it. Many of the same themes were present in todays discussion. A particularly relevant part was his description of Western society as being schizophrenic, dividing things into either good or evil, and this is obvious today in the ranting and raving of our politicians and media.

I recommend this book to anyone interested in these ideas, it is available free on the internet, and is a valuable resource to anyone lost on the path to enlightenment. Unfortunately am still lost  on that particular path,   or maybe fortunately?

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Truly Inspiring

This podcast was one of your best ever!  And for me it was even more delightful as the guest was one of our fellow, long time members Treebeard.  Many thought provoking ideas were discussed and I will be listening to it again.  Would love to hear a few "Off The Cuff" discussions along these lines, (especially with Treebeard).

These concepts affect people so much more profoundly than the price of precious metals or the fluctuations of the stock market.  

Thank you for sharing these personal thoughts and observations!  Well done.

AK GrannyWGrit

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Very thought-provoking. Thanks.

I especially liked the emphasis on owning the evil humans are capable of. One of Pope Francis' first statements was to acknowledge the violence and evil perpetrated by the Catholic church over the centuries, and only THEN did he condemn the evil of the Muslim extremists; violence in the name of religion is never acceptable. Just one example. 

I agree that there is hope with the younger generation -- no, they aren't saving money, they have a different view of work, etc. But among certain groups, there is a rejection of materialism as a value system that seems to be healthy, and could mean there will be a better system to arise from the ashes. 

Recently I had to take a dive into Biology to help my daughter who wanted to be homeschooled for a semester to overcome some social issues at the local high school. I was shocked at the level of granularity that Biology was being taught compared to when I studied it in the 1960s. Talk about missing the forest for the trees. Cell respiration at the molecular level. The electron transport chain.How can memorizing chemical reactions be helpful for understanding the wondrous mystery of life? Especially for a 14-year old in this culture. So the high school teaches that life is reducible to chemical reactions, and sex is for entertainment, but make sure you don't get pregnant. What a world.

What is Andrew's background?


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Aloha! Watch Cool Hand Luke and you know what that means! The way the system communicates to the masses is punitive and in fact even our money lacks any sort of Freedom of choice. We have legal tender and if you fail to adhere to that then you got to jail. Ask Bernard Von NotHaus about monetary freedom. In Cool Hand Luke those with the authority, the Captain, communicates by authoritative repression. He enforced rules and regulates with violence. Isn't that a microcosm of macro global government.

There is another "failure to communicate". Those of us here at this blog take for granted the world knows what we know and sees what we see. Even in America that is a physical impossibility. If you just take internet access stats then there are 60 million Americans who have no internet. Then add in 119 million with no broadband. That is a lot of people who cannot even listen to this podcast much less contemplate the dark suffering and acceptance. In my vicinity where I live in Hawaii I am the only one with electricity out of some eight neighbors.

That said from my own experience I believe people can only make profound change in their lives if they experience deep pain. Not just a one time event like the death of a friend or parent, but a sustained painful existence whereby you realize that your safety net, your comfort zone is no longer viable. It leaves you no real choice other than to look inward since your connection to your former reality outside yourself no longer allows your life any sort of long term future. It is the time when you see your future on your current path as just too painful to continue the facade. Once you accept that your present being is rendered a false reality then your search for a new more sustainable way to live opens up. You change how you live and you change who you share your life with. You start a search, a path, for your own truth by forging a connection to your past. As you move forward you then see how false and shallow your former life really was. For me I saw past experiences in my life that I labeled as "normal" as being disguised atrocities. I even recognized certain events of my life that I had purposefully buried and never looked at or talked about. I tried to completely forget that those events took place at all. I had totally underestimated the depth of my pain, my darkness. Amazing enough once I took those parts of my life back and made them part of who I really was it made me accept myself completely and enthusiastically. It was like a high without any drugs other than the high of my own acceptance. Once I let go of my destructive former inner voice my life turned around. I had an enhanced ability to look at reality without my own personal inner judgment that held me back in the past. In short I made much better choices in every aspect of my life.

This may sound simplistic to many here but one of the biggest changes in my life is I gave up this idea that I needed to have absolute control 24/7. Going through life holding onto that sort of belief system only created more "drama" in my life and my life became more out of control not less. One of the biggest improvements in my life is I moved myself into a path where I live in minimal drama ... minimal conflict! Sometimes the best strategy is to let your oppressors have enough rope to hang themselves. What I have found out is that they will gladly take that extra rope and string themselves up all on their own! But you have to let them go first!

Now I am a farmer. You cannot be a farmer and a control freak at the same time. Something has to give. You either have to stop farming or give up control! In fact farming is one of my most enjoyable tasks I have in my day now. It takes me to a place of pure simplicity.

I also produce videos and write for other financial blogs. That's what I do when I have a need for human interaction. Otherwise I could easily slip into a total hermit lifestyle here on the farm. Yet, when I look back to my youth and early adulthood living on a farm was the last thing I could see myself doing. I look at that part of my life as another "lifetime" when I was another "person". Without the severe hardships I faced in those days I would never have looked inward to find a new life.

I appreciate this topic from Chris and Andy. To me it is a topic not discussed enough, but then there is a BIG reason why. True CHANGE brings on a lot of fear. People all too willingly will dismiss the past as "the past" and urge you to "move on"! For me I do not think you can ever truly "move on" unless you have faced the demons of your past and accepted them and made them your life long friends. They are as much a part of you as the color of your eyes. It is a fatal mistake to just "move on"!!




Arthur Robey's picture
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Anti-Copernican Revolution.

These thoughts are in line with Tom Campbell's interpretation of the Quantum erasure experiment. Using the minimum of clearly stated assumptions (axioms), he argues that for him Reality is a fine-resolution Virtual Reality game.

You are real, and You are the great prize. It is all about You. You are on a journey to your Godhood.

Evidence? What do we need next?Communication, Knowledge- Internet! Done. AI to take care of the mundane work? Coming up! Energy? Watch this space.

Oh Great Poopchick of the Cosmos! You are the Great Prize. That was said before, about 1982 years ago, middle east.

(Poopchick is colloquial Russian for Belly button).

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We live in our own heads

...the minute you blame somebody else is the minute you give away all your power. Because, now the people you are blaming are the people who have the responsibility and the power to act, so then you become a victim. The minute you take ownership of a problem, then you also take your power.

And taking ownership of our lives, while living in the NOW that partakes of eternity....yes. Too many of us live in our own heads, not in the real world. And too many of us blame someone else for things we have the power to solve. It's willful blindness. And what can be infuriating is seeing, all around us, our addiction to anything that will keep us from experiencing reality. CS Lewis, in his book The Great Divorce, talked in analogies about people who avoided dealing with reality in various ways, until reality killed them.

Yes, kaimu is right. "True CHANGE brings on a lot of fear."  Pinecarr is right: we will not change until it gets more painful to be willfully blind than open our eyes and intuitive senses.

Great Podcast Thank you.

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affecting people profoundly


These concepts affect people so much more profoundly than the price of precious metals or the fluctuations of the stock market.

As the guy whose mandate here is to write about the price of precious metals, I agree with you completely.  :-)

I've undergone a journey very similar to Chris, not identical but we've ended up at much the same place.  Ultimately, we are responsible for our own happiness, and we must embody and live the change we want to see happen - and detach from the outcome of projecting it on the world.

I too used to be really angry at those bankers, my favorite target to yell about.  I let that go, not because I tolerate or approve, but because I wanted to put my energy on creating something rather than fighting or destroying.

You and TB are right - if everyone is already good enough, then we definitely already live in a world of plenty, and instantly we all return to a better baseline of health.

Thanks for coming out of the closet Chris.  I'm sure it will disturb some and encourage others.  :-)


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The Fingers of One Hand.

"This is not Them doing this. This is all of us doing this."

Catherine Austin Fitts, on USA Watchdog. (Thanks Foggy)

Right on.

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Thank you

Chris and Adam, You have created for yourselves what has to be one of the most interesting and satisfying jobs in the world.  And for us members, you have also created an amazing community and access to information not available anywhere else.  I love the range of perspectives you seek out and particularly enjoyed this conversation with a member whose writing I have long admired.

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Emergent intelegence

How does one switch their phase? putting to use all this wonderful wisdom and foresight, or is that even the right approach? Individually ants exhibited very troubling behavior but collectively they are masters of their universe. Humans have the individual mastered yet collectively we see troubling behavior. From where does collective knowledge come? Clarity can be such the wiggly worm.

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Why do you care?

We'll gladly tell you we're the natural consequence of an un-directed event 4.5 billion years ago. A cosmic "accident", if you will. 

Yet we search for meaning and significance...

We'll proudly proclaim that our knowledge has allowed us to transcend belief in a God or gods.

Yet we freely use words like "evil" and "darkness of being a human being" which are rooted in objective moral truth...

We'll openly discuss our "spiritual" path or the "spiritual" growth we've experienced.

Yet, the beliefs stated above directly contradict the existence of any spiritual element in humankind.

I respect Chris and Treebeard very much, but frankly these are schizophrenic conversations.

In sum, if we are the product of random chance and not intentionally created by a moral being greater than ourselves, our lives have no objective meaning. The material universe is all there is or ever will be (Sagan). We are nothing more than a short-term collection of chemical elements.  Therefore, our thoughts, our loves, our relationships, our passions, our sufferings, our sacrifices are nothing more than chemical interactions...meaningless.  They are meaningless now and they will be meaningless 100 years from now.  So to my original question, why do you care?

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I'm not sure who this "we" you are talking about might be.  Perhaps you could just speak for yourself, rather than adopting the position that you are the spokesman for some group?



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Excellent Podcast

Hi Chris, another excellent podcast amongst the many articles which I've enjoyed reading over the past years here on PP. I am not an economist so I feel humble in all the wisdom and knowledge that has been shared so far. 

Today's podcast reminded me about the GAP that exists in many people's lives. The GAP between who we represent to be (our Suit) and who we really are within (our Monk). The larger the GAP between the Suit and the Monk, the more people suffer and feel unhappy. In the world today our children are being taught a lot of knowledge in school which develops the mind or the ego but rarely in schools children are nurtured based on their creativity, curiosity, uniqueness and individual gifts and talents. If you receive high grades you are ''successful'' and if you receive low grades you are not successful and praised. So we live in a society that nurtures external success but not our inner self. As we grow up we mainly focus on external success and fail to look within because as said in the podcast if we look within, we might need to go through the pain of truly knowing ourselves and we don't want that pain so we avoid looking inwards. 

Here's a graph which represents the GAP between our external selves and internal self. 

In business or leadership or politics we focus on nurturing the Suit (ego) without involving our (Monk) true self. The gap that exist causes suffering. Usually the larger the GAP, the more people suffer, the smaller the gap, the more happier we become. So the question is, how do we close the GAP?

1. Find your live's purpose. This transcends personal gain and looks at the greater good of society

2. Practice Acceptance. Life is not easy, we all have our individual struggles and difficulties on the journey. By accepting the challenges we open ourselves to our true self and become more humble

3. Be willing to face negative emotions that we carry within us. A divorce, being cheated in business or the loss of a loved one. 

True leadership starts with our inner self, to look at the greater good for society and others. This transcends our personal agenda. A lot of the global, economic challenges that we experience today can be overcome if we are willing to look inside of ourselves and overcome our ego and look at the greater good. Let's hope the world and our leaders will wake up. Maybe the damage is not big enough to make a change but it will happen sooner or later ...


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I know why I care

Before anyone condemned my negativity in my prior post, I wanted to provide an explanation.

I love Peak Prosperity and I have recommended it to many people.  Chris has opened my eyes to reality in many ways and I am forever grateful.  Any comment I make on this site is always intended constructively.

In my most-recent post, I intended to challenge the excellent thinkers in this community to examine their unexamined assumptions.  Chris stated of Janet Yellen in this Treebeard interview: "I think that it is amazing that she has a context that is so fundamentally different from what I think is a easily verifiable context, and those are two separate worldviews."  I feel similar amazement when otherwise intelligent, thoughtful people don't think critically about the consistency of their beliefs.  Am I guilty of believing inconsistent things?  Most definitely.  So I'm not judging, but rather encouraging fellow travelers on the journey. ;)

Even considering this revealing interview with Treebeard, Chris is very careful to hide his cards when it comes to spiritual topics.  For reasons that make sense, Chris doesn't want a lot of God-talk in his forums.  Yet, there seems to be an increasing desire in the community to explore "spirituality."  I believe this is too often neglected in today's culture, and I am grateful for this increased openness.  Without the discussion of the spiritual, the answer to "Why" we should care is underdeveloped.

Treebeard's take on things seems rooted in eastern spirituality.  He and Chris seem to share the belief that the answers to the important questions are inside each of us.  Sort of like "Each of us must find our own way and your way may not be my way.  If the concept of "God" helps you along the journey, that's great.  But if God's not your thing, that's okay too."  This sounds appealing, but is it grounded in true reality?

If there is no God who establishes an objective standard of moral behavior, on what moral basis can we reassure ourselves that the atrocities committed by humans are morally wrong?  Who decides what is good and what is evil?  If each individual can decide for himself, then I don't have to follow your rules and you don't have to follow mine.  Under that system, inevitably might makes right and the Government decides.  If the Nazis had defeated the Allies in WWII, would that have made what they did to the Jews morally acceptable?  If you reject the idea of a moral God who establishes moral absolutes, you cannot say the Nazis were evil with any moral authority that others are bound to respect.

The Christian worldview, even though imperfectly lived out, has concrete answers to all of life's significant questions. God created a perfect world, to be enjoyed and lovingly cared for by humankind.  God created humankind to enjoy relationship with Himself-to love and be loved.  But to have the ability to love, you must also be able to choose not to love.  Humans exercised that choice to reject God and introduced evil into the world. Evil is anything that opposes God's moral law and which God, as a righteous judge, must condemn.

All humans are capable of great evil.  And yes, as Treebeard suggests, we must accept that reality as true.  We are spiritually dead.  But because we are spiritually dead, we cannot, on our own strength, overcome the evil within us.

But the "good news" is that God did not leave us in our helpless state.  He intervened in human history, became a man, Jesus, and took upon himself the penalty of death for our human rebellion.  He was raised up from the dead (an historical fact attested to by many witnesses who were martyred for refusing to deny it) and now offers his substitutionary sacrifice to all mankind as a gift for those who, in trust, will accept it.

For those who do accept this gift, God grants . . . 

[Moderator's note: Unless I am mistaken, the forums rules prohibit proselytizing; in fact they prohibit all discussion that is specifically religious (as opposed to merely and generally spiritual) in character.  Unless I am further mistaken, in order to become a member one must first certify that one has read and understood these rules.]

Thanks so much to Peak Prosperity for being a great resource!

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RE: Eh


Wasn't trying to speak for any group, per se. Sorry I caused misunderstanding.

Chris, and other members on this site, have posted comments/articles on the site that reflect a belief that humans evolved from a process that started 4.5 billion years ago.  Normally, this belief is accompanied by an atheistic worldview, although I certainly recognize that is not always the case.  To my knowledge, Chris hasn't revealed his views either way.  So my comments were directed to those PP members who may hold that worldview.

There is much discussion recently on PP about "spirituality" and "inner self".  My point, inartfully conveyed, is that without God, every single thing PP stands for and all its education efforts, are meaningless.

That is not saying they are meaningless.  I think they're very meaningful. 

I'm just trying to challenge the often unexamined belief that God doesn't have to be part of the equation. So many people today operate within a moral framework that is antithetical to what they say they believe.  I'm certainly guilty of this at times.

Don't think of me as a contrarian.  If knowing the truth sets you free, think of me as someone who cares enough to try to free people with the truth.


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Incredible Timing

Chris & Co.,

Once again another very timely podcast.  Personally, I've been going through some very deep issues and have come to same conclusions just this week.

Keep this content coming because as far as I see, it is the big E in the background of the 3 E's = Existence.

with gratitude, Joanne

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I haven't listened to the podcast,so I don't know what territory it covered,but I'm sure you noticed that no-one has responded directly to you,probably out of embarrassment. Now I realise that this is a largely US centred site and these things tend to be taken more seriously on your side of the Atlantic,but I'm pretty sure that it's only politeness that causing people not to tell you that proselytising your personal beliefs(and I feel fairly safe in saying this) is not going to be welcome here. I,personally,am offended. You wouldn't see me injecting my atheism into discussions of psychological resilience,so why should you ejaculate about your sky daddy? In any discussion of morality god is not needed, to my mind and a lot of other people's evolutionary biology explains morality in a very satisfactory way (see Dawkins 'The God Delusion') as a strategy for the best survival outcomes in the natural environment. I've looked ad nauseam at the arguments both ways (having been indoctrinated as a child in a religious school) and find a world view without a supernatural element to be more in keeping with the data my senses record. It's also more intellectually satisfying and evidence based.

How can you use the word 'objective' in the same sentence as the word 'god'? Herein is your major,clinching problem (either that or you don't understand the meaning of the word 'objective'), your experience of god is unequivocally 'subjective', faith is subjective. I prefer evidence and you don't have any.

[Moderator's note: Please watch the tone of your post.  Also, it would be better practice to avoid speaking for other people on the thread.]

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How does Dawkins interpret the Quantum erasure experiment?

If information isn't available in our reality then that reality is fundamentally altered. If that information is retro-actively destroyed even many years later, then the results of the experiment are changed way back in the past.

This result is a body blow to any materialist. My understanding is that Dawkins is a classic materialist. (If it cannot be measured, it does not exist.) I have read one Dawkins book but it made no impression on me.

Unfortunately Dawkins' attitude rubs me up the wrong way- but that is a failing on my part, as I have an nasty reaction to fellow ape/pig hybrids who claim to have all the answers. This is an insufferable arrogance.

Somewhere in my past I have read that mathematicians have shown that all the matter in the Universe cannot hold all the information in the universe. So if a super intelligent being were to collate all the facts it would still leave vast voids of ignorance. And if this super-being were to investigate the voids of ignorance, he would do so at the expense of knowledge he had already gained. His knowledge would be a gossamer web with more hole than substance. This is in accordance with Chaos Theory. There are very real limits to our knowledge, in the same way that the speed of light is a limit to speed.

However, there is a way of bridging the vast chasms of ignorance, and that is with Quantum computing, which to my primitive mind, is Magic itself. The Q. computer can arrive at the result without investigating the Void. This is akin to hyper space jumps so beloved by science fiction writers.

So- The basic difference between Dawkins and me is that he derides my God as the god of the gaps. And I respond that my God is the God of the Yawning Chasms of Ignorance. Dawkins can rail against the Chasm but he lacks the courage to approach the lip. He prefers the comfort of the little patch of light in which he sits.


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Arthur, You can say a whole


You can say a whole lot of things about Dawkins,but having a lack of courage is not one of them.I tend to find that believers project all their fears,anxieties and distrust of atheists onto Dawkins,he has become a lightening rod for all they don't like about someone challenging their worldview.Basically,he makes them feel uncomfortable by making them re-examine their evidenceless beliefs.

I like the way you go to the very edges of fringe science and present new and challenging viewpoints.I think the vast majority of it is erroneous(eg E-Cat nonsense,unsubstantiated LENR etc),but keep it up.It's good to hear contrarian views.

Your third paragraph is.......interesting.I heard that the vast,vast majority of scientist and mathematicians are atheists,but I reckon the vast majority doesn't necessarily have to be right,but would you trust with an engineering problem,somebody who knows the facts and figures or somebody who does it on evidenceless faith? I know who I'd trust.

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I have just added Dr Michael McKubres critical analysis of the eCat demonstration to the Cold Fusion page.


Arthur Robey's picture
Arthur Robey
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somebody who does it on evidenceless faith?

See quantum erasure Harry.

Evidenceless faith does not apply to the measurement problem. The problem is that the evidence is unequivocal. The measurement controls reality, not the other way around. The dependent variable is the material world.

How does materialist confront this issue? To a materialist the Material world is all there is, but the Measurement problem unequivocally shows that the material world is subject to the sea of information.

Here is a prosaic example. You go fishing on a hot day and return thirsty. But you cannot remember if you put beers in the fridge, nor is there any information in our reality about whether you put beers in the fridge. Then the beers in the fridge will be in a condition of superposition. Only when you open the fridge and take a measurement will the issue be resolved. There were no beers "really" in there. The fridge both had beers in it and also did not have beers in it.

This is what the measurement problem has shown us repeatedly. It is death to materialism. There is nothing "out there."

Any attempt to portray me a loony is an attempt at an ad hominem, and this fact will be pointed out. Do not worry, I will not reciprocate.


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A Cat by another name?

Sounds an awful lot like Schrodinger's Cat? The Beers are in quantum flux until they are viewed.I don't understand why this negates materialism.

Not portraying you as a loony mate,just someone who expounds idea out of the mainstream.I've followed up your links many times,it doesn't mean I agree with them.I try not to be swayed by confirmation bias,but it's hard work.

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Thanks for coming out of the closet with this!

Great topic! Thank you for accepting your fear and stepping forward. As you can see by the other comments it does indeed resonate in this group. At the end of an 18 day private rafting trip down the Grand Canyon one of our group said “Well, back to the real world.” Someone replied that what we just experienced, the fear, the laughter, the thundering water and the terrifying beauty was indeed reality, what we were going back to was made up. The times in my life that I have seen the most personal growth were the times that I had upheaval, and the times that I felt most connected and empowered, and living in the moment. More please!

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We are all hypocrites

Chris and Andrew, That was a treat. Thank you for the podcast. I’m glad you brought up McGillchrist’s Left/Right brain concepts, and the duality of technology. Chris, I’m also very glad you brought up Carl Jung in the end (and Herbie Hancock, one of my favorites). Jung’s process of individuation is the circumambulation of the Self. Integrating your shadow is bringing attention and awareness to the evil/darkness inside of you, which is what the two of you were mentioning. Circumambulation also includes the integrating of all types (Hero/Shadow, Anima/Animus, etc) Jung often saw the blaming, or seeing others as evil, as the external projection of the shadow. I’m not sure we can ever directly face or completely own our shadow side. Here in the US, we definitely have embraced the Hero archetype and have ignored the Shadow. We love a winner as CA Fitts points out in the video Arthur posted.

Jung believed that to directly confront the shadow could potentially create a psychotic break. I would guess the same is probably true with the collective shadow.  I also don’t think we can truly own the responsibility of all our actions since we are never completely conscious of them and all the ramifications. I think we can move through life and become more conscious of the process of integration, which moves us in the direction of being more centered, balanced, and whole. I keep coming back to balance and centeredness. I like to think that in our dualistic world, being at the intersection of this dualism, or the cross section of these symbolic streets, gives you a pretty good view what’s coming, time to prepare, and adjust your attention. You can’t see them all at once, but if you use your periferal vision you can see about three out of the four…about all we can ask for.

Chris, I would like to comment that although you say at PP that you try to steer clear of beliefs, the entire PP message and community is built on a belief structure. That’s not to paint it in a negative light. I understand that beliefs not rooted in facts have less rational validity, but so much of our culture and society has been built up around fact/evidence that we have to question what has been left out of the equation? Economics is the study of human choices, but the underlying assumptions of this study, i.e. rationality/optimization, equilibrium, and empiricism has to be questioned in a way that lies outside of rationalism. Otherwise we wind up back in the same circular arguments.  In the end we can’t escape our belief structures because they ground us in reality and help us bind together as a community. It’s too bad that religion has such a negative connotation with some. “Religio” means to “bind together.” So in the right “spirit,” we all try to live religious lives. In the end we have to put our faith somewhere so we can make decisions within the context of completely unknowable future.

 I personally think we experience reality directly in every moment, but we filter it through our unconsciousness. This creates the suffering we experience…the layers of repression brought on by the Ego. The more I repress into my unconscious, the more filters I use during my waking hours and the more distorted the world looks. I think we delude ourselves in thinking that we can be completely conscious of all we are seeing/hearing/experiencing and can rationally interpret it in “objective” way. The materialistic approach that other posters are debating is the epitome of this delusion and intensive filtering. Do we ever hear discussions of our dreams (literally the dreams while sleeping, not aspirations/dreams)? Not really, those are discarded because they are often repressed the minute we wake up. How many of us take the time in the morning to bring attention to our dreams, possibly write them down and contemplate them. They can often shine a light on the unconscious filters we use during the day. Our dreams can speak to us in our ancient archetypal symbolic language, but unfortunately we convinced ourselves through our narratives in the conscious world that these dreams are meaningless artifacts from our daytime experiences, or the product of a bad meal. Jung’s incredible insights came through the attention he gave to his inner world, and that was primarily through personal dream analysis.  He was no saint, and not particularly a good writer, which is one of the reasons I like returning to his works…warts and all.


Finally, I agree, we are all hypocrites and responsible for our predicament. In this realization lie the seeds of empathy and love. 

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Thank you Mthorn 10


Thank you for your posts. I respect the measured and articulate way you laid yourself bare in front of the crowd, I don't know if you're couragous or a fool, so I'll give you the benefit of the doubt and call it couragous.  I feel as though I want to sit down with you, knee to knee, take your hands in mine, look you clearly in the eye and say "My brother/sister, I love you.  I respect your beliefs, your intellect, your courage, integrity and sincerity.  I have deep respect for everything you said, and I disagree with you on almost every single point you made.

I think one of the great, and perhaps insurmountable, challanges for this and any other culturally heterogenious population is, will we be able to recognise the importance of water, shelter, food and companionship to the entire community and make sure that everyone is warm, fed and feels somewhat secure, before we delve into the finer details of how we as individuals keep our shit together in the face of the vast unknown.

I have a genuine belief in humanity.  I also have enough knowledge of life and history to know that things can, have and will go horrable wrong.  

Courage and faith, love and peace,

John G.

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Good Discussion

Chris and Treebeard:  Good discussion and good comments that have followed.  I think this is an important discussion  to add to the mix at PP.  Searching for the "why" in addition to the "hows" behind the things that we do.  I like mobius's idea of calling this a fourth "E".  Existence. 

Arthur.  I love your posts.  You continually force me to push my brain down new paths and to make me exercise my old and sometimes very lazy neurons. I don't agree with everything you post or propose but reviewing your comments and the attachments are great thought adventures.


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big tents

mthorn, others-

I believe that we can all care - those from a western religious background, those who are more eastern, new age, and those who are atheists.  And I think we have enough space here at PP to allow all four of them into the Big Tent.  We are few enough in number, we can't afford to lose anyone.

Mthorn, if you were to approach an atheist from the place of neutrality (rather than from the standpoint of wanting to set him straight in an area where you are sure he's gone off the rails) you might be able to hear his answer as to why he cares.


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The Self Aware Universe, by Amit Goswami

deserves mention in this conversation.  Intro to Quantum Physics and Eastern spirituality.

Followed by God is not Dead.  (God=Quantum Consciousness).  Good reading.  Zen

PS Great ideas on "enlightenment" too, especially his Quantum Creativity book.  I met the man and he's the real deal.

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Excellent insights

Best podcast ever. Keep it coming Chris. Your insights on this topic are very useful. We are all on the same journey in our own unique way at our own unique stages. If we weren't we never would have entered the Peak Prosperity world long enough to hear your podcast. We would have said "this is not me"; flung aside the Crash Course book, clicked past your webpage and ran the other way... back to the standard narrative in search of solice there (good luck with that). Maybe some of us did, at first. And maybe we all still do that to various degrees... circling in and out of the standard narrative... trying to find a balance between the old path and the new path in ever decreasing circles of confusion. Please do more podcasts like this. (Great idea Mobius on adding E=Existence to the 3 E's).

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Erik's view.

Bob says it best for me.

In a soldier’s stance, I aimed my hand
At the mongrel dogs who teach
Fearing not that I’d become my enemy
In the instant that I preach
My pathway led by confusion boats
Mutiny from stern to bow
Ah, but I was so much older then
I’m younger than that now

The rest of the poem is worth committing to memory too.

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More care with logic, please

evidenceless beliefs

Um, one might be unconvinced by the evidence one has looked at (could be about anything, not just 'faith'), but that doesn't make it valid to assert that there's no evidence.


somebody who knows the facts and figures or somebody who does it on evidenceless faith

That is a false dichotomy.

Please let's take better care with logic.

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Thanks for the comments you made to Mthorn10. I have been a Christian since I turned eighteen, forty-two years ago. It has been a very interesting walk and I do not regret a moment of it (except maybe those moments when I was not operating based on my faith). I know that many participants at PP are atheists, agnostics, or just not into any type of belief or faith in anything beyond the here and now.

I have not used the platform at PP to proselytize. There are other places for that. I do feel my participation here has brought me insights helpful for understanding the world and have clarified aspects of my beliefs and how to live them in our current situation.  Hopefully, some of my comments and thoughts have done the same for others.

 Over the years there have been postings which could be taken as negative towards anything spiritual.  There have been times when those snarky and negative remarks left me feeling marooned on an island where no one spoke my language.

When I saw Mthorn10’s words this morning and then read HarryFlashman’s replies my heart skipped a beat.  Here we go I thought. Christians vs. atheists, spiritualist vs. materialists. The lines will be drawn and the bashing will begin. I was pleasantly surprised to see the two of you reach out to Mthorn10.  You didn’t let him off the hook about the nature of his comments but you did not attack his person.  No ad hominem bombs. Both of you went out of your way to invite Mthorn10 to participate further in PP.

Chris and Treebeard have opened up a door.  If we keep it open it will lead many of us to uncomfortable places we would not have chosen. My sense is that the “why” and “what does it all mean” questions are in our genes.  We all face them, even if only to finally scoff at the whole effort, decide there is no meaning and go off to have a beer. (Not advocating that, but even as a Christian I have friends that have come to that conclusion and we still find ways to get along.)  Having faced these questions will be a source of strength when things become difficult.

 To HarryFlashman:   It is possible  to  choose not to be offended.   One of  the ideas from the podcast was that you can control your reactions.  How you react will greatly affect the world around you and your ultimate well being. I try to not take offense, especially if the offender did not intend to offend.

To Mthorn10.  Jgritter said it. You are courageous.  I would love to discuss some of your thoughts and comments in a one on one communication.

Sorry this is so long.  Thanks to you all.  PP is one of the most intelligent and adult places in my life.

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Some sources I've found

I recently watched a documentary on Netflix titled "I am". Before the film was half over I had a notepad out so I could capture the names of the interviewees, some familiar to me and others not, and the institutes that are described in the film as working at the intersection of the domains of both science and what has come to be described as spirituality, to include the religions. The film opened the door for me to the existence of the Institute for Noetic Sciences and Heartmath. What little I've absorbed so far has given me a new jolt of optimism about the futures of ourselves individually, our species and the planet. Much of what took place in your podcast here resonates strongly with the discussions in the film.

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A remarkable podcast.

So much to resonate with here... having one of our own step forward and bring their passion better in to view for the benefit of all of us.. Thank you Treebeard!  The response in comments is remarkable too... so many new/old members/posters have been drawn to this..  I sure hope the series will continue Chris and Tree.  So much fertile ground there.  

While I may preach in the Gold threads.. I will not do so here.  I can only relate my own experience, which was to reject existentialism early on and be open to my own interpretation of what God is rather than accepting one of the pre-packaged concepts.  For me, the more I learn about quantum mechanics, the more I grow convinced that we are tied into the universe through our consciousness - and that we, or our souls if you will, remain so after our physical bodies die.  I join others who enjoy Arthur Robey's meanderings in the realm of quantum physics.

I have come to believe... or really to know on my own terms... that death is merely a transition, not to be feared.  I would highly recommend Eben Alexander's book, "Proof of Heaven" in this regard... about his near death experience.

While I have had my own experiences... I will relate one from a friend of mine who lost a very close friend of his last year.  The guy who passed was in plumbing and heating.. owned a small business.  He was also an ex-marine and gun enthusiast... and he made a really stupid mistake pulling a loaded shotgun out of a barrel that had a "sock" on it.  He had told my friend at one time that his furnace was OK, but that the electronics on it were the weak link and prone to failure.  The day after he died, my buddies furnace went out.  He went down to check on it and it was flashing an error code.  He reset it, and it ran for a while, then went back to an error code.  He reset it again and it was better after that.  Coincidence, or the application of a small pulse of energy from one realm into another as a way of saying, I am still here, and I still have my sense of humor?                           

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Now that we all feel better, let's get back to basics

The podcast was fun and touched a number of emotionality sensitive spots, worthy of further discussion( if you can afford the time). I, however, live in Alberta within the sight of two flare stacks that are attached to a series of pipelines delivering gas to many of you living south of the 49th. We can't ignore a depleting resource world, but can we afford to hole up and wring our hands over the plight of our human condition (I suppose, if you have the time).

Peter Tertzakian has written, the End of Energy Obesity, which delightfully explores a different scenario and may warrant reading. You cannot ignore human history or our avaricious nature as part of the future. For most of us, it is really a matter of time. I think it was Sam Goldwyn who said, "what has posterity ever done for me!".

It would be interesting to hear responses to this:

Hindsight really is 20/20, eh?

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A very (very) relevant discussion gentlemen - Thank you

Chris & Andrew, great conversation gentlemen.  I cannot begin to tell you how pleased I am to know that key community members hear at peak prosperity are awakened and receptive to higher and expanded levels of human consciousness and awareness.  I'm not surprised by this discussion really, as the pull toward peak prosperity and the deep resonance with Chris's and his team's work has been "intuitive" and "instinctual" as much as it has been intellectual.  I suspect that there are many in the pp community that will be pleased to hear you step into this line of discussion.  The headlines and the madness of the world today are not the problem, they are the symptoms.....symptoms of a  largely misdirected and misguided sense of self within much (most) of the earth's population.  A growing awareness of this fact and a wider spread awakening to the higher reality is key to our future on this planet if we are to survive long term.  Your reference to the work of Eckhart Tolle made me smile.....one of the most enlightened individuals alive today in my humble opinion.  Thank you for the great work that you and your team do in sharing and expanding this emerging human awareness.   

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JT Walsh

Duly noted.

The difference is he didn't really care if he offended anybody, he felt a sense of entitlement to interject his world view and inflict it onto people who who have heard it all before and have no interest in it (I notice he hasn't been back). It's because a majority or a healthy minority of most populations in the world have these relatively baseless beliefs that that kind of appeal to tradition is tolerated, and in some cases given privilege (see church of england bishops given seats in the upper house of parliament in Britain (house of lords) why does religion need to have a say? Why wouldn't believing in alien abduction have a seat at the legislative table? It's just as believable and with more evidence!)

.I reserve the right to be offended.

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I have to admit that I used to get very annoyed at religious groups accosting me for money at airports and on sidewalks.  I was likewise quite putout with the folks who would knock on my door to take up my time trying to convert me. Over time I came to see that, for me, allowing these encounters to affect my emotions was a waste of my own time and energy.  It was better to just let go and move on. I also came to see that they were not intending to upset me. When I have these encounters now I am actually often amused.

In terms of special privilege my thoughts are similar to yours.  I do not believe that organized religious groups should have special social, legislative or economic positions.  Who qualifies for tax exempt status is a recurring issue here.

Tolerance is a different matter.  We are all on this planet together.  To survive we need to find ways to respect our differences and to safeguard each persons' right to speak their mind. Even when our views of the world are very different we can still have civil, adult, conversations without having to change or feel threatened by each other.

I respect your right to be offended. I did not intend from my comment to imply that you were wrong to have such a position.

I thank you for your reply to my comments.  I look forward to future conversations.



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Listening to this podcast I

Listening to this podcast I was thinking about how Liebig's Law of the Minimum translates into the discussion on finding happiness...

A rough translation would be:

"A life well-lived is defined not by the amount of happiness found during the most abundant time, but rather by the period of time where happiness is the most scarce."

Interesting discussion

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Development -- The Myth of The Given

perhaps the one element/dimension left out of this (and most talks/discussions) is literally a blind spot to most .. (for it requires taking a 3rd person perceptive on out 1st person).. The Myth of The Given ..(where we falesly assume that others "see" the world as we "See" it)

Development seemingly unfolds in particular waves/stages in various Lines of Development (Eg Cognitive, moral, psycho-sexual, interpersonal, emotional, etc), the sum total giving perhaps a psych-graph for each individual (e.g. a Nazi doctor...could be high in cognitive...but low in moral). The Salient point is that those at lower levels of development.. Literally have no access to those at higher levels (Think of the smartest 10 year old on planet earth... there is still much Over Her Head (Robert Kegan's Classic book

 http://www.amazon.com/In-Over-Our-Heads-Demands/dp/0674445880)...I've seen the Spiral Dymanics chart on previous post... please give it a look .. 


see how it resonates with you






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This is such an important conversation
denc wrote:

(...) I'm not surprised by this discussion really, as the pull toward peak prosperity and the deep resonance with Chris's and his team's work has been "intuitive" and "instinctual" as much as it has been intellectual.  I suspect that there are many in the pp community that will be pleased to hear you step into this line of discussion.  

The headlines and the madness of the world today are not the problem, they are the symptoms.....symptoms of a  largely misdirected and misguided sense of self within much (most) of the earth's population.  


There are so many possible comments that I should/could respond to, but I'll start here with the parts in bold above.

I have always known that part of the resonance of the material at Peak Prosperity is due to the fact that it is deep and multi-dimensionsal.  For example, Adam and I walk the talk, we practice what we preach.  Our personal steps towards emotional, financial and physical resilience align with our words.

Without that 'depth' the material would fall flat. People would (rightly) conclude on some level that our message was not actually important.

Similarly, our material resonates because it sprang from a source far deeper than a desire for fame, money, or ego gratification.  It came originally from my opinion, or belief, that we humans are facing an existential crisis more than anything else.  What else would you call 7.2 billion people who plan to go to 9 billion while eating oil that is disappearing?

I started by revealing the utter insanity of tying everything to an exponential money system because that's a relatively safe place to begin the conversation that dodges people's political, social, and/or religious affiliations.

But the underlying truth is that the money system merely is a reflection of our internal belief systems, not the other way around.    So there is something baked into our current condition that is hurtling us towards the destruction and/or  over consumption of the very things that not only support our physical existence, but are sublime and beautiful.  

And that right there means we have an existential problem (hopefully not a predicament) on our hands.  Nearly everything we see around us we might term problems are really just symptoms of our profound disconnect from each other and from life itself.

I am agnostic as to whether people confront that through logic, religion, or any flavor of spirituality.  I have my own sets of beliefs around spirituality born of my own direct experiences and learnings, and they work for me.  Also they are changing and developing as I learn more.

But however anyone wants to begin to dig deep and address the profound disconnect that our culture asks us to live into, unquestioningly and completely, is exactly how they should approach the matter.  There are many paths, and there are many different types of people.

I am wired up with a very strong sense of intuition and that mainly comes through my body, or 'gut' as the saying goes, but I think my ability to detect and sense things I cannot fully articulate lies mostly in my heart.

At any rate, my current belief is that the predicaments we face cannot be met through any combination of new policies, better technologies, or clever investments alone...they will require that our most fundamental systems of beliefs be reexamined and then aligned with the reality of living in harmony with the life-supporting systems on this planet.

In closing, this is all very new territory for me to be openly talking about so please excuse any crude or undeveloped ideas.  Also, as I talk about and process these ideas further they will be developing, improving and shifting.  

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integral Theory

"Things are getting better and better, worse and worse, Faster and faster".. Complexity/Evolution (in the deepest sense.. cosmological, biological, cultural, consciousness) seems to be build into the fabric of the Kosmos. With so much complexity to "hold" we need better maps. I find the Integral Map (literally a theory of Everything) to be the best available map. For at its basis it claims there are at a minimum Four irreducible aspects of of Reality (The Inside/outside of the Individual/Collective) that tetra-evolve... please take a look at this PDF/Chart... would love to see some conversations with Integral though leaders (e.g. Terry Patton, Jeff Seltzman, Steve McIntosh,etc..)

Chris I saw you are involved in a tele-conference with many of these people in January... great cast of people (surprised i didn't see it on PP.com)







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Although the subject of this discussion is far from new territory for myself, keeping the framework of this subject centered on the three E's (or should it be "removing the framework completely"?) may help provide me with the prospect of lying on my deathbed and not saying "Oops, I think I got it all wrong....".  We come in naked, we go out naked....I'm liking the 4th E- Existence.  Wishing us all "spiritual" prosperity.  Aloha, Steve.

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Perceptual challenge

If I want to give others the ability to change themselves and myself that right, I might not want to perceive them or myself to sharply.

So that when the inevitable time comes and I intend to change my beliefs or to even look at new information with an open mind, then those perceptual challenges need to be within acceptable levels my sneakers of change can activate. 


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Losing my convictions.

It seems to me that the western mind is in the midst of a discombobulating paradigm shift, a philosophical revolution.

These things are never easy.

As for the religiously earnest who come knocking at my door, why I have always enthusiastically welcomed them in. Perhaps they did not take the sign on my door seriously.

Reality Ends Here. Please Mind the Gap.

Their conversations are always interesting, but I have noticed that they don't come any more.

I wonder how much conviction I will have at my death about losing the illusion? My instincts for life are very strong.

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Mind the gap.
Arthur Robey wrote:

Their conversations are always interesting, but I have noticed that they don't come any more.

I would love to be a fly on the wall for some of those conversations.

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Dear HarryFlashman

"To be offended" is an interesting concept: almost as though you are suffering physical harm by reading the words that flow from another's keyboard, and the only way to stop it is to make them be quiet.  That must be an uncomfortable feeling, and you have our sympathies in dealing with it.  

However, if you feel you have the right to assail any other user because you don't agree with their ideas, then let me assure you that this is not the case.  

The moderators will determine when conversation has delved into our prohibited territory of religious (as opposed to spiritual) matters.  In the meanwhile, if you cannot participate positively in the discussion, then you will do yourself a favor by stepping away from the keyboard.  If you have any doubt about what I mean by "positive," then I suggest that you contact me before posting further.  

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The Big Picture

In order to understand our live's journey we have to look at the bigger picture. There are two worlds we live in, the external and the internal. Most people live and look only to the external world because it is tangible and our minds tend to understand that tangible things are ''real''. For example, at PP we talk about money, gold, gas, natural resources, real estate etc...

However at the same time, we are living / walking the internal journey. The journey in search for happiness, to live a life that brings meaning and purpose to us and our families. To find joy in the things we do. To love and be loved. All of these can not be seen, only experienced. (PS: it's not because a person smiles that that person is happy. There can be big frustration or unhappiness in a person). 

The problem that we have is that we often only look at the outside world in pursuit of happiness, purpose and love and that we forget to look inside.

As I said in my earlier post, in school we are never taught about ''what is our live's purpose'', ''what are my values'' etc... so we pursue external success to find a sense of happiness and purpose. It's often only when we have a burnout, or crisis or big incident that our ego gets damaged and we start walking or exploring the internal journey.

We have to learn to trust our inner self and let it be a guide on our journey, rather than external expectations. Our own ''gut feeling'' is the inner compass that should act as our guide on our life journey. They key to ''success'' is to align your internal and external world. That you are able to discover and fulfill your life's purpose and live a good life externally. That your inner compass is your master and your mind and thoughts are tools to share your message with and for others... as Chris and Adam are doing so well here at PP.

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