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Zach Leary

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Excerpt 3 – Who Are You Now?

It is said that 65% of the jobs that the elementary school children of today will work in have not yet been created. 65%. That’s not a typo. And this is according to this U.S. Department of Labor report.

This is because we are evolving and mutating in such rapid time that the future is tricky if not impossible to predict. A currently undefined new industry could (and will) dominate the landscape in 10 years? You bet. See: Uber.

It’s great that we’re able to innovate and create new solutions for temporary problems. We are getting better and better at that. However, at the same, how we’re also going to address our bullshit is also tricky if not impossible to predict. In fact it’s muddy. No one has a real answer to it and those who once did are now scared silent. The election of the dreaded, dumb but clever Orange Man has cast a shadow over our culture that has never before seen the light of day. This is an all new riddle wrapped inside an enigma that is stuck in the damn vending machine.

The good news is that something beautiful is starting to take shape in the very mud that we’re temporarily stuck in. Much like the glorious lotus of the spiritual world. And I know this isn’t just my echo chamber reaffirming my liberal hippie ideals. Something IS happening and a discussion is starting to form that is appearing from all sides of the spectrum. Our collective misfire and dumbing down of the world has reached a tipping point.

For now, all the big solutions and collective ideas aside, let’s talk about our own selves first.

The inter-personal key to success is to live within this mystery and to embrace it. Even if it seems dark and offensive. Don’t shun it. Look at it as a beautiful wave of energy that everyone one of us gets to be part of. It will ebb and flow. And when it ebbs, the key is to step into that unknown bubble and find your own reality that works for you. Be authentic. Don’t let anyone decide what is best for you. Similarity don’t let anyone decide what isn’t best for you.

Naturally, it’s great to get inspired and to take cues from paths previously explored but the choice to morph and adapt that path into your own life is what makes authenticity such an important vehicle for happiness.

Since so many options for realizing our dharma and living in our own happiness are so widely available the only real requirement for any of them is to grab a hold with a grip that is entirely your own, that has is firm entrenched with your own stamp of uniqueness. That’s the wonderful thing about the technological realities of today combined with the non-dogmatic approaches to the many spiritual paths available. They can be blended to fit your personality in a way that also gives you the freedom to leave behind what isn’t serving you. It’s not a take it or leave it proposition. The only real requirement is sincerity. After that you’re free to exist as you wish. The previous gate holders of “the” church or “the” media don’t have to be a part of your trip anymore. It’s up to you.

Robert Anton Wilson once said “Reality is whatever you can get away with.”

Blog - WAYN

Excerpt 2 – Who Are You Now?

Excerpt #2 from my upcoming book “Who Are You Now?”

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When I started to really explore the theory that spirituality and technology are the most dominant wings of change for the 21st century I began to see more and more how the two can live together. The antiquarian idea that man can not be scientific and believe in God at the same time is no longer relevant. Additionally, the idea that the intelligent use of applied technology is a link in spiritual evolution is in step with logic, harmony and even with ancient doctrines. It is then in fact completely logical that Gods plan for us includes our relationship with technology and it’s subsequent mutation of our condition.

Because of the loosening of our cultural morality belts that the 20th century, especially the 1960’s, did for us – it is with that new found social freedom around what God is or isn’t that we can now start to have fun with integrating God into our lives in a way that suits the individual. Rather than the past model of forcing the individual to comply with the institution. The strict, obey or else, rules and regulations that old dogmas put forth in The Church are now dissolving into a patch work of spiritual paths that are adaptable and a whole lot more fun.

In my view it is entirely acceptable to take refuge in Gods new manifestations of ones and zeroes. Cyberspace is essentially another dimension. As John Perry Barlow said “it’s the place you are when you’re on the telephone.” That’s it.

It’s a fifth dimension that allows our consciousness, identity and personality to hang out in. Within that dimension also exists Gods love. It is true that I relate more with the Eastern spiritual traditions that Western ones but it frustrates me that the idea of what God is (as defined by those traditions) feels old, stale and stuck. In these traditions God hasn’t changed much in thousands of years. That feels off to me. If human beings evolve, invent, innovate and mutate then certainly God must too.

That means the following: God is AI, God is VR, God is the fabric of connection found in social media, God is the love that you experienced when connecting with something or someone online, God is the compassion that arose when you took on the suffering of the Syrian refugees you learned about from that YouTube video. These are but a few examples of how God is present in the 21st Century.

I do identify myself as a spiritualist. That of someone who sees the difference between the material world and the spiritual world. I strive to love more even if it pains me to do so. In times of being wronged or angered that limitless well of love and compassion is the only ingredient that can combat these less desirable human emotions. Change comes when my online identity affords me many more opportunities to practice my spiritual ideals. In there, I have more chances to tell someone that I love them and more chances to help and to serve. All thanks to God widening the net of consciousness in cyberspace. And for that I’m grateful.

Funny Me

2016 – My Problem Child

(Yes, I stole the blogs title from Albert Hoffman’s seminal book ‘LSD – My Problem Child’. I’m pretty sure he wouldn’t have minded)

2016, by all accounts, seemed to be a rough year for most people. If it wasn’t “rough” it perhaps certainly was a year of transition, change and deep shifts in our collective consciousness .

Here’s some of the bigger learnings for me from this past year.

1.) I’m smarter than many but not as smart as some

In between these two spectrums lies the ability to know where my strongest suits are settled. This space is where I can tread effectively and meaningfully. If I have doubts that I’m not smart enough to deal with a certain topic then that just sells me short and I don’t get the results I’m after. On the flip side I know what topics I can only skim the surface of and don’t dare compete in. That realization allows me to stay in my zone and be the best I can be within that zone.

2.) Podcasting is harder than I thought

Embarking on “It’s All Happening” in 2015 was no doubt a good idea however, 71 episodes later I’ve come to realize that it’s harder than I thought it would be. Releasing to the world an hours worth of good content every week takes great care, preparation, thought and balance. The art of listening to other people is a whole art unto itself. But listening to others while gently steering them in the right direction in order to keep the conversation vibrant and interesting is also an art unto itself. I’ve learned that you really just can’t throw episodes out in a hurried and rash fashion – it’s better to release a show late than to release one on time but of poor quality. My listeners have taught me so much and now that the show has a decent following getting listener feedback is more important than ever. That’s the barometer.

3.) The political sphere follows and does not lead

I heard Ram Dass say this in a lecture from 1983. At the time I never really paid much attention to it nor did I even think it was true. It was then and is now. He was so right on. Let’s not forget it.

Politics follows polling data and then adjusts according to that data. If the political narrative really was based on leading it would forge it’s discourse not based on fear, a watered down pubic sentiment (polls), or precedent. Rather it would be based on breaking ground and boldly deciding what we can collectively do as a society. Sure, Thomas Jefferson and John Adams listened to the frustrations of the late 18th century but do you think they really cared how the Declaration of Independence was “going to play” in the field. Fuck no. They were rebels, they rebelled. Let’s do more of that.

4.) Time is finite

My incarnation as a 43 year old named Zach Leary is where I’m at and what I’m doing now. Sure, you can change and begin again. There is a certain elasticity to life that allows you to be flexible when needed and for memories to come and go. That’s great and all – but – time is finite. There are only so many days that I’ll be able to do what it is I think I should be doing and using those days wisely is of the utmost importance. I used to think that “Oh, I’ll get it to when I’m ready.” No longer do I think that.

The time is now. Move. Act. Follow through. Produce. Get into action.

Of course, I’ll have an off day when a Netflix binge and Thai food delivery is the best I can do. When that happens I’ll make peace with it and not beat myself up with the “undisciplined loser” dialogue. I can learn to embrace my shadow side with softness but also with enough sting to get myself off the mat and back into the ring. I can only speak for myself in that I feel I have just enough to offer the world, my God and my heart and that my dharma is to simply honor that.

As Krishna Das so wisely says “As far as I’m concerned the only thing we need to renounce is our self-hatred and judgment of ourselves, and our sense of unworthiness, and our sense that we are not worthy of love. This is where we should start. If we could just work with that place a little bit the whole quality of our lives would change.”

That’s it.

5.) Egg McMuffins – really people?!?

By far the most hate mail/tweets/messages that I received from being on the Joe Rogan Experience was from people responding to my  occasional failing of eating an Egg McMuffin from McDonalds. Seems that there are a fair amount of people who truly believe that succumbing to that occasional vice literally makes me “not spiritual”, “a poser”, “not a hippie”, “a cruel hypocrite”, “a drug damaged sociopath” and my favorite “a delusional acid casualty.” Well now, there you have it. I’m really in love with that sort of attack and find it so amazing that there are so many perfect people out in the world.

Should I not eat Egg McMuffins? Yes, of course. McDonalds is about as bad a corporation as it gets and factory farming sucks. But I’ve spent a huge portion of my adult life barely able to gasp for air or for any love at all. If I fall to an occasional trapping of the hypocrisy of the material world, I’m ok with that. And trust me the lowly Egg McMuffin is not as bad at it COULD get for me. I’ve danced in many more dangerous and disingenuous arenas than that. I’m blessed that I’m currently not doing those dances, truly.

Progress and not perfection. One day – yes – I will be Egg McMuffin free. Maybe that even starts now? Who knows? Ram Dass so often and correctly warns us of being “phony holy.” That is the one thing I never ever want to be. So there it is!

Happy 2017. I’m really feeling an upswing not just in myself but in the collective dialogue. Let’s do this thing.

Me

JRE Episode #891 with Zach Leary

Clearly getting the call to come on the Joe Rogan Experience is the one you want to get if you have a podcast that’s at all an irreverent stab at analyzing the cultural multi-verse. Without Rogan it can probably be said that the genre wouldn’t exist in the healthy and vibrant way that it does now. He’s the OG Jedi master. That of course means that getting that call to come on the show is thrilling, surreal, nerve racking but ultimately a fantastically joyful manifestation from the Gods.

It was a blast to do. Did it go as well as I wanted it to go? No. Were my expectations of myself too high? Yes. Do I want a do-over? Yes. That said, there’s some good stuff in it and I’m happy I even got the chance. Joe was kind, welcoming and generous with his time and attention. I hope you enjoy it.

Click on the image to watch it on YouTube or to listen on iTunes click here

Me

Psychedelic Parenting Podcast

Mostly I get pretty resistant and challenged when I’m asked to speak on “growing up Leary.” Over the years, I’ve learned to make friends with it and can probably let go any future attitudes around it. Jonathan Thompson who runs this podcast is a really nice guy and did a great job at hosting this all around discussion. It transitioned from the life at home with Tim stuff to many great topics ranging from spirituality to addiction. I revealed way more than I thought I would. Enjoy.

CLICK HERE TO LISTEN

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Upon Further Review

The other day I posted something on Facebook that said I “wasn’t excited” about my upcoming adventures in travel induced spiritual bohemia. Since I posted that I started to feel a little self conscious about it. More and more these days, I’m very aware of what kind of issues I have that rate either as a “real problem” or a “privileged whiny persons problem.” Expressing any sort of strife or concern about my mental well being during this years journey is very much a “privileged whiny persons problem.”

Nonetheless, how the world effects us matters. How our actions effect us matters. And how our emotions hit us matters. All the love, spiritual awareness and even intellect doesn’t work until you have something to graft it on. In a very “how the fuck did that happen?” mood, I found myself waking up in Ram Dass’s house last August wondering how I so casually spent the last 14 years going to an office pretty much every day. In my head I always thought I was cut from the cloth of the American road warrior ethic that spawned the Grateful Dead, Kerouac, Ram Dass and Barnum and Bailey. That was the blue-print that I always resonated with most – the fierce commitment to going where the heart draws you even if it’s unpredictable and often times mistake laden. And while I still maintain this to be true in theory only, I found myself digging in deep towards a safe, stable and career centric life style in Los Angeles as a response to my mid-20s woes that saw me neck deep in addiction and a floundering of the human spirit. So I cleaned up, got a job, did ok at it, and poof – 14 years went by.

Now here’s the thing, I’ve been a good worker and reasonably successful by career standards but admittedly I’ve never had the passion to REALLY want to see it through in it’s current manifestation. I’m a good digital marketing strategists but somethings been missing. And when you feel something is missing the only choice is to take action.

There is a duplicity in the spiritual life – on one hand one gets an absolute peace with the way things are and on the other an acute awareness of what feels dharmic and what doesn’t. So while you can find many ways to find happiness, no matter the external situation, if something isn’t right it becomes very hard to accept it for the way it is. Tinkering becomes necessary.

With no conscious intention made I’ve amassed a decent resume and have become quite accustomed to being a solidier of the work place, a house holder and someone who’s adventure laden roots have fallen by the wayside. So now, the calling to seek and explore more is very loud. This brand of non attached exploration just feels foreign to me so my first reaction is to be nervous about it which is why I said earlier in the week that I “wasn’t excited” yet. Nervous, unsettled and unpredictable. I’ve become a product of the American culture of having to know where the next paycheck is coming from so breaking that mold is just as vital for me as is seeking deeper inner connections and realizations.

Another tangental burning obsession for wanting to go on a walkabout is the sheer size of Planet Earth. I don’t know about you but it bothers me that pretty much the furthest place you can go on Planet Earth is only 20 hours away by place. That’s it. 20 hours to go to the most distant point from where you are now. To me that doesn’t reassure me that our entire range of exploration is really that infinite and endless. The planet feels small. I must say that I would have felt a lot more comfortable in older times when it took months and months to get somewhere before jet travel existed. Add to that much of the world was uncharted – so you’d literally spend many dangerous months exploring the unknown corners of our material world on rollicking ships and seas! Now the world is small and all reachable so I’d better see as much of it as I can since I’m pretty sure that I’m not going to be doing any space travel this incarnation.

In the last month I’ve quit my job, packed up my house, sent my cat to stay with my dear friend for awhile and narrowed all my immediate possessions down to some random suitcases. I plan on going to India, Brazil, Maui, Joshua Tre for starters. I plan on taking an honest stab at writing a book. I plan on refining my kirtan practice even more. Through the grace of fantastic friends I have a great place lined up in Maui, my cat has a home while I’m India, my ’73 Nova has an adopted mother (really) and I have no shortage of love and support.

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Day 18 – Completed. But only beginning.

Chapter 18 – Freedom and Renunciation
Yoga Teacher – Erich Schiffmann

I’m happy to say that I completed the task that I set out to complete. 18 days in a row of yoga (at a studio, not at home) with each day corresponding to a different chapter of The Bhagavad Gita.

It’s been a really amazing experience and one that I’d recommend to anyone. In fact, I’d go so far as to recommend this immersion for yoga teachers and their students. I’ve never done a teacher training but I suspect there’s a lot any fledgling yogi can get from this. There is an amazing amount of insight that you will get into an asana practice through the eyes of the Gita and I’m sure not too many people have done it before. The combination of that much yoga, reading and writing really awakened a lot of stuff going on inside of me and not all of it “good.” I initially thought the experience would bring me closer to bliss, it did that in a way but it also showed me so much of the work that I have to do. All of it “grist for the mill.” Someone once told me “you don’t deal with your problems by not dealing with your problems.” This couldn’t be more true. Most relevant to me was that so much the Gita, especially the early chapters, deal with Karma Yoga. The stuff we do and why we do it shapes our realities. I’ve become very aware of even the small actions and why they matter.

The most amazing part of my experience was without question the letters of support and admiration that I received from my friends. Some even joined me in solidarity and some expressed that because of my “no matter what” dedication that they too found a renewed dedication to their practice. I’m not quick to accept any sort of admission that I helped someone else but in this case, I feel great about it and really proud.

Los Angeles happens to be one of the most profound wells of yogic knowledge in America. There are expert asana teachers who will without question transform your practice if you dedicate yourself. There are teachers who are mystics and bhaktas who can open your heart and touch your soul. There are places you can go to sing kirtan practically any night of the week and above all there is a community that will support your path no matter what it is. Personally, I want to give my pranams to Govind Das, Saul David Raye, Mark Whitwell, Erich Schiffman, Micheline Berry, Annie Carpenter and all of the other teachers who I have ever taken a class with, not all of which I can name here. Thank you for keeping the light on.

In case you wondering the translation of the Gita that I used for this experiment was Eknath Easwaran’s. I found this translation to be the most direct and accessible for this purpose. It’s very easy to understand and uses language that is appropriate for any fledging urban yogi. There are other good translations as well and I know some people get very passionate about this to the point of even calling Easwaran’s “not authorized.” I was so happy that no one choose to use my blog as gateway to debate the splitting of sanskrit hairs by saying such and such version is the only right one. With that said “As it Is” by Srila Prabhupad is an excellent manual for a spiritual life and I highly recommend it. Additionally, Ram Dass’s 12 hours worth of lectures from Naropa University in 1974 called “Love. Service. Devotion” is an endless well of wisdom, humor and insight into the mysteries of the Bhagavad Gita. You can purchase it on iTunes or SoundsTrue as an audio book and trust me that your life will never be the same.

Do I feel like I am a better yogi now after 18 days? Sure. Whatever that means. I’m not even comfortable calling myself a “yogi.” I’m just one person who loves these teachings and am just eager to pursue it to the best of my ability. I do believe that I have some cognitive ability that allows me to share my insights with people in a fresh way so I will embrace that part of dharma as well. So maybe I’ll do another writing/yoga project next? The Yoga Sutras perhaps?

I do know that for me personally writing about these teachings and their experience in the real world is a way of opening doors that I wouldn’t have otherwise opened. So I’ll keep doing that.

Above all, I’ve become aware of my practice and the need to embrace everyone else’s practice too. All love. Thanks for reading!