Welcome to the second article of my blog, the Tao of the Trail.
Following the thread started with my first article, here I want to go deeper into the aims of the project, my reasons for becoming a writer and the meaning behind the name.
First though, let me tell you how I got to the starting line.
The story behind the project.
Up until the end of last year, my work was in industrial machinery with the business that I had started almost eight years prior.
As you can imagine, in the period prior to the end of that chapter, I had been having a number of conversations with my friends and family, regarding my plans to sell everything up and get into writing.
Then, of course a number of them told me I was crazy, others pat me on the back, but everyone was asking me: “So, what is this blog going to be about then?”.
The more people asked me about it, the more I found better and better ways to communicate it.
I knew from the get go that what I wanted was to provide a resource for people to find their sync with their inner world, with others and with nature by telling them about my journey, my resources and the insights and clues that I found along the way.
Now the ship has sailed and I have made it my work to get my ideas out of my head and into the page, a message in a bottle from me, to you.
My motivation for becoming a writer
My writing is simply a byproduct of the insights that I gained throughout my story, during my quest for self enquiry and greater synchronicity with the world outside me: other people, other beings and nature.
As a responsible dweller of my inner forest, I began to coppice, prune and landscape wherever it was needed and as a result I ended up with a yard full of (metaphorical) wood chips, something that could be useful to others too.
In fact, metaphors aside, I do feel that we live in an age where people are increasingly lost.
Ironic, because it’s the age of information but at the same time also the age of disinformation.
We have never been lied to so much and so effectively as now, so I found my calling in a work that may help people to break away from the tethers of this system that revolves around both informing them and disinforming them, as if they were sheep to be driven wherever the sheep dog told them.
This has nothing to do with the world’s manipulators having some superior power over ordinary people.
The manufacture of consent, as Noam Chomsky calls it, has its roots in people’s desperate desire to know that there are benevolent powers at work to run the show, to help the world go around as it were and that some undisputed dogma is there to hold on to.
In doing so, they make sheep out of themselves, to the joy of all natural exploiters of human weakness.
In its infinite wisdom, if sheep abound, nature will send more wolves.
As I found out, when one stops looking for suppliers of truth, they stop being vulnerable to liars.
Social Conditioning and Mental Detox.
One of the sections of my blog, the one that contains this article, is called Mental Detox.
Rule n.1 of detox is: stop putting garbage inside you.
Rule n.2 is: get rid of the garbage that you’ve been carrying around, it’s heavy.
As a successful species that began by carving out its own environmental niche, why do we find ourselves so dependent on higher powers?
Why do we conform to a world view imposed from above and end up being unauthentic, chronically stressed, open to addictions, socially challenged and environmentally damaging?
In two words: social conditioning.
It piles up generation after generation, so that each of us from an early age is force fed a ready made belief system and discourages your direct experience so that you may never form your own views and make your own choices.
No wonder so many are unable to make certain choices unless TV or politicians or influencers send clear instructions.
Ancestral Wisdom for the modern world.
Fortunately, social conditioning is just the evil twin of another, much more helpful guy who helps you to cultivate personal enablement, your own ability to gain your own insights from life. I dedicate a whole section of my blog to it and I call it Ancestral Wisdom.
Alongside Ancestral Wisdom, through the blog I also aim to provide all of the insights that I gained through all the modern personal enablement work I did during my years in business, the two combine very well.
I have invested a lot of money in courses, workshops and consultants over the years and it’s great to have something to share as a result.
In trying to decide what to call my project, I asked myself: what is the underlying connection between every word, image and activity that will be offered through my blog?
What am I trying to achieve through this work?
I found that I was trying to express the very toolkit that I had developed for my own personal growth.
A path of inspiration, experience and action, rather than any sort of magic pill.
I wanted to come up with a name that gave the idea that yes, this is about taking control of one’s own choices but at the same time, something close to befriending a wild dragon.
On the one hand something that is completely up to you and at the same time not at all.
A system where the expression of will is just as important as surrender and where the consolidation of the self is just as important as its forfeit.
Let us back up for a moment to reflect on these beautiful words from Prem Rawat:
“You have something exceptional going on, something amazing is happening. What is it?
For approximately 4.5 billion years, you were dirt. That’s the age of the earth.
Now some scientists figure it’ll be another 15-20 billion years that the earth is going to be around and after that it’ll disappear.
So, for the next 15 billion years, what are you going to be? Dust.
You were dust, you are going to be dust. What are you now?
You are alive.
The dust talks, the dust smiles, the dust dances, the dust cures other dust of ailments.
The dust thinks about going to mars, the dust wants to discover the universe.
You being alive is the exception to the dust. Dust you were, dust you will be, you being alive is the exception.
The question is: is this exception exceptional?”
There’s nothing like not seeing the difference between having something and not having it, to make sure that we take it for granted and misunderstand its value.
There’s a great method for stopping this from happening, I practice it a lot and a whole section of my blog is dedicated to it, it’s meditation.
One of the many benefits of well practiced meditation is that it gives you a tangible idea of nothingness.
As any engineer will tell you, you must find the zero point, if you are going to be able to orient yourself, without the zero point you are lost.
I have practiced meditation for many years, observing the comings and goings of inner phenomena: heartbeat, breathing, thoughts, sensations, etc.
Meditation techniques such as anapana, chanting, dancing meditation or walking meditation have the power to connect your waking awareness with the deeper layers of your consciousness and life energy, and are also very effective as a holiday from the bombardment of the mind which begins as thoughts but it develops into tensions and micro tensions that develop in the body as a result of an undergrowth of desires, hopes and worries that are constantly going on in the background, pile up on top of one another and result in perceivable or unperceivable psychosomatic effects.
That’s not what you need.
Over the course of time, as I became accustomed to meditation, I developed the habit of taking time off from all those thoughts and tensions running amok in the background.
Over the years I realised that there is a lot to discover inside when the expression knob is turned down to the minimum and the perception one is turned up to the maximum, especially when there’s an underlying intention to understand what you’re dealing with.
Then one day, I had my first session of ayahuasca and one of my takeaways from that was that there’s nothing ordinary about life and life’s moments.
For those who still haven’t heard of ayahuasca, this now ubiquitous sacred brew is a very nutritious, very purgative and very hallucinogenic plant extract, that was discovered in the mist of time by the shamanic cultures of the amazon basin, where the plants that make up its ingredients grow native.
I will be writing extensively on this topic (in the Ancestral Medicine section) because it has had a significant impact on my growth as a man, it has given me many insights and not least, because a disgusting exploitative business has arisen around this most remarkable medicine and the cultures who guard it.
So no more ordinary for me, because of what Prem Rawat said and because life is too far from ordinary to be ever considered as such.
Since matter, time and space are central to our reality, we can feel that life here is about transformation.
We also experience transformation in matters that are more abstract than the development, growth, decline, decay and recycle of our bodies.
We change as people and we sign up to individual journeys of transformation, what these journeys are, is up to the individual.
Innocent to corrupt to innocent?
Rich to poor to rich?
Ignorant to wise?
Single to family to single?
Lonely to popular to lonely?
Weak to strong to weak?
Doubt to trust to doubt?
Whatever the individual path may be, we all feel the journey and the transformation.
This is what it’s all about and whether you proceed sure footed or you are rolling down the hill like a drunk who no longer knows what’s going on, the journey continues regardless.
As a result I see life not as a first class train journey where you can nap and eat nibbles, but as a trek over difficult terrain, a trail, where even the simple act of taking a step has nothing ordinary about it but is in fact an achievement that is exclusively the result of your work and therefore 100% yours.
To me, what makes the journey difficult is that it’s difficult to grow out of all the fears and inherited behaviour that are so good at stopping us from being the people that we want to be.
If the journey isn’t difficult, it’ll still be challenging, for the same reason why console games are challenging: because the end user demands it.
Here for some bad news: try as we might to live deliberately and deliberately committing to journeys of transformation as a strategy to live a nice life, it’s important to understand that there is no way to control outcomes, the canvas on which your story is painted won’t hear of it.
This ineffable, unfathomable, all powerful and all wise animal is dancing its venerable dance and you have two choices: dance with it or fall out of sync.
This is the other side of deliberate action: deliberate surrender.
Outcomes improve significantly as a result of working on the inner more than the outer, living deliberately, looking after oneself and showing true respect to other people, other beings and to the environment, sure, but the first thing to accept is that existence has a life of its own and it doesn’t just contain the things that we like but also that which we reject.
Existence isn’t something that you can milk for all that it’s worth, nor something that you can exploit, existence is a mother to return to and a force to be reckoned with.
Far from being a vending machine of success, it is more like a fountain of beauty and its beauty is all the more poignant because nothing is left out of the celebration.
The ugly is part of it as much as the pretty and the one exists because of the other.
It is thanks to their teamwork that existence goes from latent to manifested.
That’s where the challenge comes in: if you decide that you want to enjoy life, you are signing an invisible contract in which you commit to appreciating the B side of the album as much as the A side.
This quote from the Tao Te Ching talks about the phenomenon called Tao (pron: Dao).
The word itself in Chinese means “the way”, but for thousands of years it has been used to describe the deepest divine wisdom.
There was something formless and perfect
before the universe was born.
It is serene. Empty.
Infinite. Eternally present.
It is the mother of the universe.
For lack of a better name,
I call it the Tao.
So in conclusion, the reason I’m here is just to share my own journal of navigation that may serve as a toolkit for you to enjoy this miraculous, difficult and mysterious journey that has a life of its own: the tao of the trail.
Now that the philosophy is out of the way, let me tell you a little bit more about the project.
The project has three layers:
The first layer is inspiration, in other words, food for thought in the form of op-ed articles, images, interviews and commentaries.
The second layer is experience, that means putting up some nice events for you and enjoying some time together.
I have some very exciting ideas about this and I will be keeping you in the loop as soon as I am ready to launch them.
The third layer is action. The idea is to provide something for those who had the inspiration, had the experience and now are thinking of making a change in their lives.
I am planning to offer two courses: one aimed at people who are seeking their financial sustainability and the other aimed at people who do have their finances sorted but are seeking more time, fulfilment, or enjoyment in their lives.
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