Reality and Practice

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Real time excerpts from my upcoming book “Who Are You Now? Technology, spirituality and the search for our very own identity”

Whatever you think reality is. That’s not it. That’s why these practices are so important. They are methods which can pierce the veil which then allows us to view things as they really are. Yoga, meditation, kirtan, psychedelics, making art, whatever..they all reveal the same a-ha moment. It’s just that those moments are short and fleeting. That’s why we do them regularly.The true value in any practice is the remembering, the taking it with you in everything you do. The Gita defines it “as remembering Krishna in every action you perform.” When you do that, this thing we call reality has more meaning and can certainly be a lot more fun to play around in. 

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Bernie Sanders endorses HRC!

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Of course. He’s a pragmatist and has common sense. Being a member of the federal governing body for so long he knows that change comes in small doses. Remember that Bernie is NOT an outsider. He is part of the US Senate – the most dysfunctional group of “leaders” ever assembled. Yes, he’s the best one of the bunch but still – he knows how the game is played. Voting Jill Stein does nothing in this particular case. Letting Trump get elected is not some game where we can say “well…he needs to get elected in order for real chance to happen. America needs to wake up!” – that is utter and complete nonsense. It’s not worth the risk. Bernie knows that and is calm and level headed enough to pick a reasonable strategy – it’s a shame many of his supporters are not.

Growing up Angeleno – illusions, race and all

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When I first learned that what we commonly refer to as the “ghetto” was born out of unfair economic practices, it all made so much sense to me. When the modern mortgage system was spreading in the early 20th century most of the lenders were racist and didn’t want to lend money to people of color. The result of that was that many concentrated communities sprung up in typically undesirable parts of town that no one else wanted to live in. The buildings were shoddy, the available work in that area was sub-par, and so began a system of creating a socioeconomic loop that was nearly impossible to get out of.

At that time the aftershock of the Civil War was still very palpable; it was not ancient history nor was it a distant memory. Many people alive at the time were just one step away from living through the ramifications of what happened then, and simply did not want to deal with integration. Instead it was easier to create an institutional form of racism that allowed the white individual to say “oh, but I’m not racist” but then turn around and create an economic wall that kept colored folks segregated, isolated, angry, afraid, and highly disadvantaged. This created a culture of white privilege which is borne out of a sense of more options being available to white folks because colored opposition wasn’t even around to be felt or heard.

I know this experience well, from growing up in a white, affluent part of Los Angeles in the 80’s and 90’s. Embarrassingly the only time I ever experienced the tiniest glimpse of black LA was when I attended Raiders games in the 80’s, or when my parents would get lost in Inglewood after a Lakers game. Back then Inglewood was much grittier than it is now. Other than that, I was raised to think that my entire Los Angeles was north of Wilshire and west of Vine St. – anything else might as well have been Mars. It wasn’t until I started going to public schools in the 8th grade did my world view change. LAUSD was famous for implementing “bussing” programs which allowed for kids from the inner city to be “bussed” into different schools because the schools in their neighborhoods were overcrowded. It was built to alleviate a specific problem but also helped to integrate kids who normally wouldn’t cross paths. While I’ve never experienced what it’s like to have to go back home to an apartment on Florence and Normandy in 1990 (pre LA riots), or felt what it’s like to not have a parent home when I returned from school because they were out working a second job, I was introduced to people that did live in that reality. I was exposed to something that was outside of my white bubble. I am also thankful that my parents did not introduce me to the concept of a difference in skin color or racism. That thought was never taught to me personally, but because of the segregated nature of Los Angeles in a physical sense, I can see why people who were brought up that with those values feel so much tension in and around LA. There are generations of millions of white people who are brought up to see a black person in Los Angeles and immediately think that “they” are far from home if a colored couple is walking down the street in Beverly Hills. And if that black person is wearing saggy jeans they must be a banger, right? This horrific view of the world is still so apparent within the hearts and minds of so many white people that it’s become second nature. It’s an embarrassing reality that most “liberal” white people from the Westside don’t want to admit. Adding to that is the very fabric of the way that our city is laid out physically. Sure there are some hipster neighborhoods that borderline-classify as melting pots but let’s be real – LA is a sectioned off and segregated melting pot. It so happens that many of the white people who are brought up to think like the horrific cliché when they see a colored person outside of their “zone” are now cops. That’s just math. Sure there are black and Hispanic cops in LA too, but there are also many white ones.

I understand that this week’s shootings of two black men by white police officers, and then the insane retaliation in Dallas, were not in Los Angeles. The point Aim making is that I understand how our cities were initially built to be fucked up failures, with the deck stacked against the chance of success. Until we start truly living in integrated communities, or at least integrated mind sets, the road will be long. This endless bullshit Illusion of Separation is do deeply integrated into the Maya of white America that it will take bold action to course correct the trends we are experiencing. America is not that old; only 50 years ago the peak of the modern Civil Rights movement was in full bloom. Just 50 years. That means my parents were growing up before that – they were brought up in a segregationist America. That’s just one generation away.

We need to fix our cities, address the power struggle with cops, possibly not let cops with less than 5 years on the force have guns at all, and most of all offer across the board economic equality for all. As long as our inner cities stay in the disadvantaged column, things will remain tough. These problems are systemic and ingrained in our minds, but also into the visual landscape. Breaking these molds are a necessary step so we stop viewing the city and the world as separate or that of “us and them.” I wish there was some way to wave a magic wand that erased the innate ignorance of white America, but the reality is that there is not. That’s why I think we need to combat that ignorance with systemic fixes that will force change from the inside out.

Creating Value in the 21st Century

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I have a new talk that I’m beginning to get a handle on called “Creating Value in the 21st Century.”

It’s based around the idea of pushing our culture to see value beyond antiquarian measurement systems like the GDP or the DOW and move towards the inclusion of social and connection value systems that the new culture paradigm is establishing. For instance, the value of the United States as a country is still measured in the GDP, or the Gross Domestic Product, and as long as that number is going up our value as a society is as well. For reference it is defined as ‘the total value of goods produced and services provided in a country during one year.’

Adding to that, there is a formula where the actual GDP number itself derives. Investopedia lays it out in the the following way:

GDP = C + G + I + NX

where

C is equal to all private consumption, or consumer spending, in a nation’s economy, G is the sum of government spending, I is the sum of all the country’s investment, including businesses capital expenditures and NX is the nation’s total net exports, calculated as total exports minus total imports (NX = Exports – Imports).

(For more detail click here)

I am not an economist however, I understand that as an economic indicator in and of itself there remains popularity in the GDP because it deals with not just the value of what’s sold but also of the materials that go into whatever it is that is sold. So, theoretically the entire supply chain is accounted for.

If we take that snap shot and use it as the tell tale lens for a peoples overall health as a nation I propose there is something very flawed about that because it doesn’t take into account all the subtle, spiritual, inspirational, thought provoking and peer to peer work that most of us our doing on any given day. Therefore, with all of our insanely amazing ability to think, inspire and grow ourselves into these increasingly complicated biological connection machines there has to be a system of measurement that goes beyond just rudimentary manufacturing and sales variables that make up things like the GDP.

Let’s take the example of a favorite yoga teacher within your community. Let’s say your specific community and friend pool has a yoga teacher that is everyones favorite. His or her regular classes are usually packed and the feeling that is felt when leaving the class is commonly experienced to be ecstatic, inspired and transformational. For the sake of this example let’s say that there are 50 people who are in each class 4-5 times a week and of those 150 are unique (the other 50 being repeats). Those 150 people go out into the world completely changed people and take that change into their own individual lives. It’s without question, they are better teachers, parents, workers, lovers and friends all as a result of this one yoga teacher. Therefore the exponential effect that this one person has on the endless touch points of the 150 students is enormous and unmeasurable. If you really think about it, this yoga teacher may indirectly effect thousands of lives. Literally. That is value. That is real, tangible, un-esoteric value that makes the fabric of our society a better place. Yet, this person is often ignored as a value stake holder unless he or she creates a business around it.

Let’s look at another person. Let’s make it up and just say this person is the CEO of a successful pen company. Plugging in the variables lets determine that the pen company is in the US, does not outsource manufacturing, has been profitable for the last several years and employs around 300 people. Certainly, employment is good because it allows the worker to earn money that can provide for food, gas and various living expenses. Thus the town that the pen company is headquartered experiences value because of local tax revenue and steady employment for many local families. Because we’re assuming the pen company is profitable that means the CEO is wealthy as is credited for stimulating the GDP and might be heralded as a powerful and valuable person because of his or her ability to guide the success of the company. That CEO may rise to fame and fortune because he or she has managed to create a financial eco system that makes good on the American dream. These are the heroes of our society – take Jack Welch or Henry Ford for example.

When comparing and contrasting the two people and their function in society I’m sorry but I do not see the pen company CEO as providing more value than the amazing yoga teacher. It’s just that the value of the pen company can be measured so specifically and with great precision that we have gotten in the habit of only looking at value this way. This is flawed. The yoga teachers value, while not instantly measurable, provides for healthier, more compassionate, stable and inspired people which when trickled out into the world is certainly very powerful.

One may ask – well…if you had no pen company then the workers could have no money to take the yoga class! True! But if you had no yoga teacher then the worker wouldn’t be nearly as good of a worker thus productivity at the pen company would be down.

There are many more examples that I can illustrate. Many of which go beyond employment mechanisms and roles and stretch out into more nebulous realms like social media and media. More on those in follow ups to this post.

The point is that I think we need to stop and re calibrate our overall value systems. I don’t propose we do away with gigantic pillars of the industrial age but I do propose we integrate new thinking and consider new combinations of system indictors as we move into the future.

(Thank you Douglas Rushkoff and Joi Ito for inspiring me on the topic of value)

#BernieOrBust is a Bust

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In some ways it’s been hard to articulate why the Bernie or Bust (or the NeverHillary) movement is dangerous, uninformed and petty. Mainly because it’s also well intentioned, optimistic and coming from a place of wanting real change to seep into the well of our political system.

I get the latter half, I do.

It’s a wonderful thing to be so passionate about the movement that Bernie Sanders has put in motion that you aren’t willing to part with it’s inertia come hell or high water. Passion and conviction are usually the ingredients that make real social change. See Dr. King or Ghandi for examples.

The Sanders campaign has been amazing at bringing once fringe issues into the national spotlight while simultaneously highlighting the core systemic problems within American politics.

While we do know this to be true the glitch in the matrix of the BerenieOrBust/NeverHillary movement arrises in that viewing the problem through that lens and that lens only is not viewing the entire problem. It’s like turning on the zoom lens to zoom out on the subject of focus but then stopping mid way. The lens stops half way through and insists that there’s nothing more to see – however, there is more to see. Much more. One has to zoom out as much as possible to see the complete picture and to know that you are dealing with many variables that go far beyond the stump speeches that Bernie has pounded home.

Let’s agree that the first step is analyzing the process – the zoom out. That’s Step One. Pause that for a moment and move on to Step Two which is the examination of the Hilary Clinton campaign and the candidate herself. There are a handful of really problematic issues with HRC.

For me the big four are:

  • Fracking – no politician of her stature has done more to advance fracking in the US and around the world than HRC. As Secretary of State she sold fracking around the world in an official capacity. Check out the eye rubbing Mother Jones piece.
  • Gay rights – in my world view, not supporting same sex marriage until 2013 when the polls said it was safe to do so is cowardly, spineless and anti-gay. How my homo-sexual brothers and sisters look passed this is beyond me.
  • War in Iraq – we all know this one. Add to that her record on military expansion, etc.
  • Goldman-Sachs speaking fees – you can not simultaneously want to reform Wall St. while taking in $650k per speech from Goldman Sachs and then to make matters worse, refuse to release the content of said speeches. This makes no sense.

Those four issues are fact based, are not conspiracy theory led and have yet to be explained by the HRC campaign or otherwise.

However, I think it’s wise to calmly and rationally admit that the problems within Hilary Clinton are perhaps no more than any major candidate who’s been in the game this long. Does that make it right? No. But is it the truth? Yes.

So, we know there are problems with HRC. Big ones. With that said, I don’t think the summation of those problems equates to her being an evil, mad dictator, xenophobe or a bigot. She’s a career establishment politician who has succumb to the pressures of her time and is a product of her environment. There are many pitfalls with a life led in that theater. The other stuff belongs to the other guy she’s now running against. And it’s our job to distinguish between the two. That’s Step Three.

It’s a very different animal to be anti HRC policy than it is to put her in the same breath as being like Trump. They are not the same thing. The maniacal tone that some people in the Sanders campaign have illustrated has created this circus of viscous, uninformed and foam-at-the-mouth worthy attacks on HRC that have landed like a San Andreas fault division within the Democratic party. All of a sudden, the HRC campaign has become this demagaury of evil and corporate conspiracy that is made up of the most secret and profane of the inner workings of the Bilderberg led faction within the US Government. As if, the real Wizards of America are pulling the levers of decision that make up the reality for the rest of us. Even if that is true that is not why she won the election. Even if a part of that is true (which it probably is) I still take the position that there simply aren’t enough smart people in the US Government working together to create an ongoing well orchestrated conspiracy.

I think there are little faction groups within the US Government that at times do work together in secret and get away with things that would land them in prison if the public did actually find out the truth. But I don’t think there is a sub-government with a secret handshake that’s pre-defining the outcome of elections that imply the actual voting process is a waste of time. Again, there are simply too many dumb people involved to be able to pull that off.

How about we just take a deep breath, wake up and see that Bernie Sanders just lost. He didn’t have the minority vote for one. Example: HRC has won on average 66% of the Hispanic vote compared to Sanders 34 % (SOURCE). Add to that, Sanders main edge was the awakening of the beast of the 18-25 year olds who usually don’t vote. That’s where his strength in numbers were. He won 22 states but fell short of the popular vote by about 3.7 million votes (SOURCE)

That said, yes there were many alarming problems within the election process we must take a real look at – the outstanding California votes, what happened in Arizona and NY too.

The point of this piece is not to conduct an election recap but rather it’s to illustrate that one; HRC and Trump are not the same thing and two; the NeverHillary/BernieOrBust movement is childish and not a complete picture on how to achieve progress.

This piece on Quartz by Melissa Hillman isn’t even that new (March 26th) but I just came across and it. It’s worth reading because it illustrates many of the problems that are arising from the Never Hilary/Bernie Or Bust movements. Fast forward 2 months later and we see the problems amplified even more so. The basic take away from the piece is that the BernieOrBust/NeverHillary movement is born out of privilege and is fraught with problems mainly because it’s supporters can’t look out of their own very small eco-system.

How privileged do you need to be to imagine that it’s a good idea to risk the actual lives of vulnerable Americans because you “hate” Clinton?

Additionally, this other strange sound bite has been emerging from the NeverHillary faction. The average Facebook post goes something like this “I’m #stillwithsanders and won’t support the election of a criminal under indictment from the FBI. I choose to vote my conscious and won’t let the system put a gun to my head. I choose Bernie or nothing.”

While not an exact quote it’s a near facsimile of the drones of posts I’ve seen on the topic. The only reason I didn’t cut and paste someones post is because I didn’t want them coming after me with their tantrums. Ok, so what’s the problem with the above sentiment? At first glance, seems to be ok right? But then, let it settle and really think about it for a moment. A nagging itch starts to happen.

Ask yourself this – when in your lifetime have you ever voted with your conscious on a presidential level election? When has your major candidate ever been so squeaky clean that you’ve felt so amazing about pulling that lever? The answer? Never. Never in your lifetime (maybe Carter if you’re old enough) have you voted for a major candidate who isn’t ripe with a slew of problems. When did all of a sudden it become a valid point to say that you’re voting on your conscious this election? All that tells me is that you’ve never voted.

For me, the closest I came was Obama in 2008. In spite of his problems he inspired me with his intellect, oratory fervor and calming inspiration of hope. I got swept in it for sure. Did he let me down? Yes and no, but that’s another post.

The point is we must look at change happening on the federal level as going on with fits and starts. It comes in bits and pieces. Yes, I would have loved to see Bernie go all the way and I did what I could. I gave money and most importantly I gave my vote. But now that it’s over we must calm down and awaken to the idea that the main goal is to defeat Donald Trump. Additionally, I’m not enough of a cynic to think that the Sanders campaign didn’t effect the HRC campaign. The DNC has been moved inextricably to the left and many progressive issues are now on the table thanks to Sanders. Perhaps I’m naive in thinking that HRC really cares about this and that she’ll bring a couple of them to the table with sincerity, but I do. I think our voices have been heard and that alone is a victory. I never thought Sanders would win to be honest, I knew he was mainly a smart-white person candidate and that has it’s limitations.

To whine on about BernieOrBust is putting women, minorities, muslims and gays in great danger. It’s putting that pot you’re smoking back into the bong of criminality. It’s creating a world stage that will be ten times more dangerous and volatile than it currently is. It’s creating an atmosphere of tension and division many times greater than already exists. And it’s assuring that SCOTUS be in a position of we-are-compltely-fucked for a generation to come. That’s why I now support Hilary Clinton for president.

Wake up, be rational, sane and be thankful for the step forward we’ve made. Capitalize on the gains we did make and don’t blow it by letting Trump get elected.

Indigenous Intelligence LiB Panel covered by the OC Weekly

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The entire piece can be found here

My quote was as follows “I don’t believe there is a disembodied plant intelligence that lives outside of us, outside of our own consciousness or outside of our own hearts,” says Leary. “I believe psychedelic mysticism and psychedelic practices really just pierce the veil. They lift the veil and allow you to merge into the one and allow clear vision to see everything that’s around us, everything that’s possible and every screaming electron that’s flying around throughout the Universe right now that makes up our collective consciousness; which is really a disembodied collective consciousness. Psychedelics allow you to jump into that disembodied experience, where the one can be realized and you can feel it in your own heart.”

It was 20 years ago today…

Dear Timmy,

In the spirit of honoring things for how they truly are, I want to share that I feel a lot more sad than I thought I would feel today. Not for the loss of your great life but for all the time we spent together that didn’t happen. For all the songs we didn’t sing and for all the birthday parties we didn’t have. For all the hang ups I wish I didn’t have at the time. For all of the love I didn’t know how to express. I love you now more than ever.

And yes I am beyond grateful and amazed for all the time we did spend together and for all the time and love you did give me. You put a lot into my incarnation and I’m thankful for that. Don’t let me get away with whining selfishly about what I didn’t get. I got a lot.

When relationships grow in the spirit world, as this one does, they weave their way into the tender tapestry of every single breath and possibility that every single moment has to offer. I take you with me when I can and rest on my faith that you’re giving me that TL wink of approval as I settle into my own path and adulthood. I too have felt the burn of your frustrated scorn that comes from your genius-biased as you’ve witnessed the many mistakes that I probably didn’t need to make again. Through the juxtaposition of the two is where I feel your presence and continuous spirit guide in my life. Please stay right there, you’re needed.

Boy that was a fast 20 years, damn. I remember May 31, 1996 as if it were yesterday. I remember the final sip of coffee you had at the outdoor patio table and the whisper of the word “beautiful” right before your last breath. Many people who you knew and loved will celebrate you tonight by screening a great doc that you never got to see finished called “Dying to Know.” We will dance, sing and laugh in your love.

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LiB 2016

Amazing journeys at Lightening in a Bottle! Big thanks to the Do LaB for having me come out to share, speak and exchange ideas and love. I did a great on-site podcast with the uber creatrix Amanda Sage which will go live this week. Stay tuned at itsallhappeningshow.com for that.

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