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Zach Leary

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Excerpt 2 – Who Are You Now?

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


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.


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


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.


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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.




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!


Days 16 and 17 – All together

Chapter 16 – Two Paths
Chapter 17 – The Power of Faith

Yoga Teacher Day 16 – Amy Loftus
Yoga Teacher Day 17 – Tiffany Russo

The irony slash bullshit meter went off a little bit in todays yoga class. There’s a little bit of a disconnect in writing about the Bhagavad Gita after practicing yoga at Equinox. Equinox is an elitist over priced gym for affluent upwardly mobile mostly white people that basically is “maya”, no offense or anything but there’s a little bit of silliness in all of this. Look, I’m getting a lot out of this and based off the letters I’m getting other people are too. That’s great. But next time I think I have to take a project like this with a little more levity if I’m going to stay surrounded in these kind of environments. In the same breath, however, I don’t think that this blog would be more credible if I was doing yoga in Mysore or anything, I’m just stating the obvious irony and humor of this situation. Anyway, I digress.

My ol’ pal Rachel read my blog the other day and she called me and said “seems kinda cool but I didn’t understand any of it.” That amazed me. I actually know a thing or two about a niche topic that is completely foreign to people who don’t engage in these practices. How did that happen? A wise person once told me that “discipline is finding what you love to do and then doing it.” I’m content that my passion for the yogic way of life has made it’s way to people who are not of this ilk. This issue is why I’ve only recently started writing about my spirituality and my journey. Because I’ve led such a varied life I’ve always been a little concious about possibly turning people off who from other facets of my life (or previous lives) who will chalk me up as being “weird.” A certain self conscious and self deprecating demeanor is finally dissipating.

The 18 day thing is starting to wind down and while I feel physically amazing many of my challenges are still front and center. Studying the Gita with such an intense focus will really make you take a look at your life – the good, bad and the ugly. Yes, I feel very blessed that so much grace has been bestowed upon me but at the same time I see clearly the issues that I have to work on.

Chapter 16 is great because it deals with the humanity we’re all going to face at some point. It sheds light on even the dark side of the human condition that no one is immune from. It’s as if Krishna knows that Arjuna is going to have some darkness come up so he needs to remind Arjuna to stay steadfast and true on the path, for this is what might happen if you don’t.

Verse 4 “Other qualities, Arjuna, make a person more and more inhuman; hypocrisy, arrogance, conceit, anger, cruelty, ignorance. (5) The divine qualities leads to bondage. But no not grieve, Arjuna; you were born with divine attributes.”

The latter part of Verse 5 is one of the great subtle suggestions on a tangent topic that I like to think about. Is everyone born divine or are some born with so many samaskaras that they can not escape “evil” behavior? For instance, is even the most shocking serial killer born divine and full of bliss? Did they merely learn how to be evil through the influence of society? Fun to think about. I personally think that everyone has the ability to be divine in this lifetime and that for some it’s just tougher to access than for others. Krishna says “some have divine tendencies, others demonic.”

Simply put Krishna is reminding Arjuna to stay humble at every turn and to not let the vast temptations of wealth and desire cloud his judgement. This is explored more in Chapter 17’s topic of “The Power of Faith” but Arjuna twists it a little and asks about people who are faithful but not necessarily on this path. This is very helpful because it creates enough malleability for all of us to coexist. Krishna states that “Our faith conforms to our nature, Arjuna. Human nature is made of faith…those who are sattvic workshop the forms of God.”

Even in my cozy polished yoga studio surroundings I can still learn to see that other people have the ability to be loving, kind and sattvic despite the wrapper. We all have to be somewhere doing something and it just so happens that some people lead different incarnations than others. No one is better than the other. That’s the joy of the variety of the world. All love. Hari om.


Day 15 – Birth after birth

Chapter 15 – The Supreme Self
Yoga Teacher – Govind Das

Before today’s class someone asked me what am I going to do at Day 19. Since I’m on day Day 15, I can’t say that I am 100% sure what I’m going to do at Day 19. But I suspect that I’ll just keep going. The personal little trick this experiment played on me was to jump start my asana practice and to use the blog as a way to hold me accountable. Sure it’s fun to write and to share with others but this has helped me to see where the blockages are in my practice and how best to work through them.

I’ve said many times and I’ll say it again – the only way to get through your obstacles in your practice is to simply show up and do the practice anyway. Even if you really don’t feel like it just show up and practice with sincerity. That’s it. That’s all that’s required. Honestly, I don’t think God cares if you’re struggling or if your own stuff is getting in your way. That’s your own shit. Just show up anyway. It’s through the repetition that we notice the patterns actually start to change. If we are sporadic and not dedicated one way or another it shows. This is why finding what works for us is truly essential. Starting with a little dogma is good to get you going but then take that and find your own flavor.

In today’s class Govind Das reminded us of the meaning of savasana. I hadn’t heard a teacher talk about it in sometime and when you stop to really consider it’s origins it’s pretty far out. Savasana means “corpse pose.” In an exaggerated sense it gives us pause and reminds us of our impermanent nature that is line with all universal laws. Our bodies will die someday. Everyone we know, someday will die. So the application of this pose settles us into that peace by putting our bodies close to the earth. Now in a more day to day application the pose symbolizes death in the sense of dying after we perform our practice only to renew again even stronger. You perform a strong practice for 80 minutes, you sweat, breathe, maybe dance and then all of that tapas work is done and you just fall into the earth like a pile of ash. Then you are reborn having worked out your karmas. Over and over again – we do our practice or live our life, then we die and get to do it all over again and again and again.

It’s taking savasana to the extreme but it is important to note where savasana occurs in the sequence of hatha yoga.

Chapter 15 is an esoteric chapter in that there are many paradoxes. At one point it supports a merging with Brahaman and the notion that we are all one and in another breath it states that Krishna and the atman are indeed separate, even after death.

Krishna says in Verse 7 “An eternal part of me enters into the world, assuming the powers of action and perception and a mind made of prakriti. When the divine Self enters and leaves a body it takes these along as the wind carries a scent from place to place.”

Do we really have any idea where are going next? Why not operate under the notion that our souls are eternal, full of knowledge and full of bliss? What’s the downside exactly? Additionally, do you feel like you’ve incarnated at the very moment in these times for a reason? I say yes because it helps to shed light on your dharma. I feel like I’m here at this time for a reason and it’s my duty to strip away the things that are getting in the way of realizing that reason. That is the nature of the Supreme Self in life.

At any moment I can enter into savasana, literally or figuratively. That deep surrender after we’ve put forth effort helps us to hold the mirror to ourselves. Only we can decide if we’re making progress or not. That’s the bit of self actualization and self realization that the divine gives. We are granted grace but will we use it? I look back on all my misgivings and all my mistakes and wonder how I didn’t accept the grace I was given. These are the paradoxes of life, practice, yoga, God and the material world.

Now…who to practice with on Day 16…hmmmmm