The Age of the Psychopath

Capitalism’s economic hierarchy system and structure has evolved over thousands of years to a point where it is now so tainted with villainy due to its vulnerability to corruption, that the very worst of our species have risen to the top through centuries of financial bullying, shady deals, back-stabbing, bribes and blackmail; that over time, has granted certain families, corporations and their business allies positions of great influence & power.

In the Capitalistic system, it’s an unsettling fact that these unscrupulous individuals with power and wealth at the top of the financial pyramid, have direct influence over the quality of life of everyone else below.

Democracy does not work when it is money that steers a nation and not the will of its people. It is not right that these morally corrupt individuals are making such financially self-serving decisions at the cost of great suffering to millions; indirectly guiding the precious ship of our future onto dangerous and jagged rocks for nothing more than their own gain.

Capitalism demands infinite growth on a planet with finite resources. It’s a system which exhausts and drains people, simultaneously destroying the environment on which we all depend for our survival, just so the 1% at the top of the pyramid can live in luxury. Let us be honest here and admit that it is only the top 1% who truly benefit from the capitalistic system, everyone else are merely economic wage-slaves propping up those at the pyramid’s peak.
Whether we like it or not, Capitalism has given birth to the age of the psychopath.

A psychopath is someone whose brain has developed without the software of empathy and a connection to their emotions. They are exceptionally self-serving, not caring who they hurt or damage in acquiring whatever it is they desire, often being money and power. Most are not violent, but many are viciously ambitious. In essence, a psychopath has no conscience and will do anything at any cost to further their own agenda. For the record, only a small percentage of psychopaths turn-out to be murderers, despite how they are portrayed on-screen.

Psychopaths do not process emotions in the same way that everyone else does, having almost no connection to the majority of feelings that belong to the human experience. Because of this, friendships and relationships prove challenging to a psychopath, as the emotional drive that fuels these pursuits just isn’t there for them. Psychopaths have to fake the portrayal of the feelings required for any kind of relationship, for the sole purpose of fitting in. Without this effort on their part, a psychopath would appear cold, robotic, cruel, distant and uncaring, leading to the subsequent failure of that connection and their potential discovery. Fake friendships and romances are the societal disguise of a psychopath, allowing them to appear normal and remain undetected. Relationships of any kind are a necessary inconvenience to them, more than a meaningful pursuit.

For the record, many psychopaths have been documented as having exceptionally high levels of intelligence, which they need for their own survival; as it requires a sharp mind for them to accurately mimic emotional queues and responses. They do this to remain hidden in plain sight, as the label of ‘psychopath’ adds zero merit to career paths and relationships, ultimately preventing them from achieving their goals. It’s in their own best interests to remain undiscovered.

They do not find the pursuit of love or happiness appealing. They instead find the acquiring of wealth and power to be thrilling, investing their time, effort and energy into attaining as much of it as possible.

Due to this, banks, corporations and the political centres of every country are rife with psychopathy, as psychopaths are drawn to the money and power hierarchies of these institutions like wasps to a beer garden.

Many people project their own healthy perspective of conscience and morality onto the corporations & establishments of the world, refusing to believe the dark rumours of their unscrupulous behaviour are even possible, expecting psychopaths to approach & process life as they do. However, the proof is in the pudding; as when I hear of the insidious decisions being made by the various governments and corporations around the world, I acknowledge with great sadness that such behaviour is to be expected from those without a conscience. Their very actions give them away.

Psychopaths being in charge of each country’s political and economic infrastructure is what has led our world to its current state. Environmental protection laws for example, are overruled by psychopathic corporate leadership paying-off psychopathic legal decision makers, people more interested in their own financial gain than safeguarding our species habitat for the collective wellbeing of us all and for future generations to come.
Expecting a psychopath in a role of influence to care about the wellbeing of the collective is utterly futile, as they simply do not have the necessary brain software for that type of leadership. Would you expect a shark to care about the feelings of the surfer whose perky wetsuit covered buttocks it just turned into a light and chewy mid-afternoon snack?

Their reckless, selfish and short-term profiteering is condemning our species and the planet to an operatic oblivion.

Wars are the most profitable of all capitalist business ventures, generated revenue in the billions. Psychopathic political leaders have no problem steering a country towards war for the sake of generating vast amounts of wealth for themselves and their business associates, thanks to their shares in weapons manufacturing. Lacking empathy, they care not for the unbelievable level of monstrous suffering, destruction and loss of life that war generates, as long as they benefit from it. This is why the western world is always involved in one conflict or another, war is forever perpetuated by the establishment to safeguard a steady stream of weapon sales. Peace will never be attainable whilst psychopaths are in positions of political power and when there is money to be made from the sale of arms.

Also, being in positions of political influence allows a psychopath a certain level of protection from the legal consequences of sating their obsession with power, this includes sexual power over others, which often manifests as sadism and paedophilia. Numerous legal charges of paedophilia and sexual violence have been made against many within political circles over the years, but these cases always seem to disappear, never seeing the inside of a courtroom. When a legal system is so corrupt, that money and power guarantees innocence and legal immunity, that legal system has proven itself to be a sham and broken from the inside-out.

The power structure and hierarchy of the capitalistic system is a playground and economic stepladder for psychopaths, as those with no conscience have zero problems stepping over others to further their own agenda and fill their pockets.

I share this perspective not to sadden you, the reader, but to bring attention to a topic that is often overlooked. The first stage of overcoming any problem; is to first acknowledge that the problem even exists.

I honestly believe that all aspects of life are cyclical, not just the planetary seasons. That everyone and everything has its day. Psychopaths are currently riding the crest of their time, but thankfully, it will be temporary. Everything in life is temporary, including every chapter of our culture’s history and each & everyone of us. A particularly dark and vicious winter will always break with the arrival of the spring; the age of the psychopath will be no different. Their time will have an eventual end.

So what can we do in the meantime to counteract the unpleasant backlash of their tyrannical leadership?

Here are a few suggestions…

1) Avoid mainstream news and newspapers. The psychopathic establishments of the world have no conscience, so use the mainstream media to coerce and manipulate public opinion via a non-stop conveyor belt of fear-inducing propaganda. News broadcasts always deliver biased and agenda-driven information, programming the public as to how they should think and repetitively reminding everyone to be afraid of everything. A frightened populace is easier to disempower and control, hence the employment of this tactic. Also, scared people make better consumers, as happy people don’t spend money. Keep their corporation-friendly, agenderised perspective of the world out of your mind by steering clear of their news sources, not allowing yourself to get pulled into their manipulative mind-games.

2) Avoid advertising, commercials and infomercials. Capitalistic consumerism marketing utilises powerful and highly effective techniques based upon the manipulation of consumer fears. Empower yourself to make clear and decisive purchase decisions, that have not been tainted or influenced by the subtle effects of advertising. Do this by steering clear of watching, reading or listening to any kind of marketing, once again keeping those mind-games away from your life as much as possible.

3) Vote with your money. Choose to keep your money in a bank that doesn’t profit from shares in weapons manufacturing. Choose to also shop with companies that stand-by ethical principles. Just because psychopaths have no conscience, doesn’t free us from the responsibility of answering to our own. Giving our money to unscrupulous corporations adds to their wealth and power.

4) Self realisation. The establishment benefits from our passiveness and gullibility. By actively working upon our own self realisation (connecting with our soul) we strengthen our minds and deepen our connection to one another. This helps in keeping us from being manipulated by their divisive and fear-inducing agenda, as well as simultaneously adding our deepening love and wisdom to the world. We may not have the power to ultimately change the political and corporate status quo… but we DO have power over the destiny of our own consciousness.

5) Safeguard your morale and positive outlook. It’s important to not allow the current state of the world to affect our positivity and hope, as the world needs our optimism and love now more than ever. On a personal level, humans tend to evolve the most when faced with having to overcome a crisis; I believe it to be the same at the species level. This crazy time will one day make sense, as it leads to huge leaps in our collective evolution, as we overcome this dark chapter together and climb back towards the light. We cannot always control what happens in life, but we can control the way in which we respond.

6) Vote for a politician that stands for the collective, not just the wealthy few. However, these politicians are admittedly few and rare, but when one does stands for office, give them a chance with a vote. We must remember though that the political system cannot solve the very issue that it helped create. True democracy cannot exist alongside an economic system due to its extreme vulnerability to corruption. With this in mind, it’s also safe to assume that psychopaths will never vote away their own riches, power-base and luxurious lives; to believe that they will, is innocently naive.

I believe great change is on the near-horizon for our culture, as life has a way of governing and balancing its books without any input from humanity. I foresee the political world ultimately destroying itself at the indirect hands of its own toxicity. A forest fire, regardless of its size and savagery will eventually burn itself out.

The good news is, no storm lasts forever; all storms come to an eventual end, including storms of psychopathy.

Whilst we wait for this storm to blow over, let us connect within and utilise this crazy time as an opportunity to evolve ourselves. Winter is always the best time for self-realisation work, the darkness encourages introspection and healing.

We beat them, by rising above them.

If you disagree with any of the views I have expressed here, I respectfully ask you to please keep those disagreements to yourself. Feel free to be as supportive as you like, I would actually appreciate that. However, please note that any negative comments will be ignored and immediately deleted. I simply wish to share perspectives… not invite heated debates or hostile correspondence into my life.

If you are overwhelmed by the urge to vent at me… I ask you to simply move on with your life… find something online that you DO like… and use that explosive creative energy to leave a positive comment about that instead.

Use your words to celebrate… instead of criticise.

Let your focus be love… instead of hate.

Why Religion Needs to Evolve

I was raised in a religious household and attended religious schools as a boy; experiencing first-hand, the ins-&-outs of a religious system.
As I matured as a teenager, I distanced myself from religion in the same way that I once distanced myself from my friend’s lick-happy dog after having observed it slowly and enthusiastically demolish its own rear-end like a five-star continental breakfast. Yup, it’s safe to say that I stepped away after having developed enough perspective to see through its blatant hypocrisy, falsehoods, discrimination and judgments, which it openly declares are the will of ‘God’, not to be questioned or analysed; just obeyed.

Before I continue, let me be clear; any issue that I may have with religion is not with a great number of religious folk, who for the most part, are very kind, peaceful and loving people; it’s with the system of religion itself and its closed-minded (and closed-hearted) zealous followers who judge & discriminate others.

Essentially, religion has two fundamental principles; it provides a stylised and structured prophet & God worshiping method, simultaneously offering a moral guidance system, granting a person a kind-of bench mark of good behaviour to aim for when going about one’s day.

For many people, these are useful tools and who am I to disagree with that?! We all need something different to help us get through life and its various challenges; each to their own.

However, I personally believe that our species has now come to an uncomfortable and dangerous crossroads, either we evolve and climb out of the pit we have created for ourselves, or we perish at the hands of our own reckless and self-destructive nature.

For example, the manner in which our species treats its own habitat is an outward reflection of how we treat ourselves. Only a species gone completely mad would indirectly destroy the environment on which it depends for its own survival, for the sake of short term profit for greed-addicted share holders.
Collectively, our species may be intelligent, but it most definitely is not wise.
We need to wake-up and begin making the right kind-of changes or we will face catastrophic consequences.

How does this connect to religion?

After exploring a personal path of spirituality for many years now, which began in my late 20’s after a traumatic period of suicidal depression, I’ve experienced for myself the consciousness-maturing powers of meditation, psychedelics and the study of mysticism.

This journey has included several profound and transformative transcendental experiences, which utterly changed my life.

With all of this combined, I can comfortably say that the software of my consciousness feels like it has been well & truly upgraded, so-to-speak. I feel that I’m a very different person now, compared to person who I used to be, as a direct result of my journey inwards. My family and friends have witnessed and commented on this transformation, which is proof enough for me that the change is not illusory trick of my imagination). For the record, this journey must have been as strange for them to have observed, as it has been for me to have lived.

It’s impossible to experience higher states of consciousness and return to earth the same person. Experiencing universal oneness and the interconnectedness of everything, will do that to you.

I do not share these words to gloat or to pat myself on the back, but to simply highlight the effectiveness of the various methods used by spiritual seekers to develop their consciousness. These sentiments are not unique to me; they are also echoed by anyone who has vested the time and effort into connecting to the spirit within; as when we reach for the soul, the soul reaches back.
Religious systems do not utilise any consciousness development methods whatsoever, as the only tools used by religion are prayer and worship and these do absolutely nothing for the development of one’s consciousness. Prayer and worship might bring comfort to a believer, but they do not help one’s soul evolve. Plus, following the moral guidance of a religious system doesn’t automatically bestow goodness upon a person by default (as many of its followers naively believe); as look at the amount of avoidable suffering that is added to the world by huge numbers of religious followers, believing their behaviour to be morally superior and blessed by a higher power.

In fact, I would go as far as saying that a religious system is an anchor around a person’s neck weighing them down, actually preventing the development of their consciousness, because the words that religious systems are based upon, are not the pure and holy teachings that their followers believe them to be. By adhering to the outdated perspectives of a religious system, one keeps oneself chained to a lower level of consciousness, being the consciousness level of that system’s author at the time that it was written.

I say this because religious institutions believe that their holy texts are the unquestionable word of ‘God’. However, anyone who’s directly experienced for their self, the higher mystical realms will testify, that the further one’s consciousness transcends; the more one directly experiences unity and oneness with everything. This is how I personally know that these religious texts are merely the outdated words of men, because they are divisive, judgemental, misogynistic and non-inclusive. These teachings reflect the immaturity of the authors, more than the profound wisdom of a higher being.
Any true spiritual teaching would be based around universal oneness, promoting unity, freedom of choice, inclusivity, peace, fairness, feminism, respect of nature, equality and mutual respect of differences; the exact opposite as to what message all religions peddle.

For example, look at the religious perspectives of the LGBT community, of women, of other faiths and non-believers. Religious division has caused humanity more chaotic and destructive turbulence than anything else in the history of our species; it manifests the very opposite of what it says it promotes. The proof is in the pudding, as they say.

This is a problem for the evolution of our species when religion has been (and still is) responsible for a vast amount of suffering and conflict. It causes more problems than it solves and needs to change, to prevent itself from adding further pain to a world that is in desperate need of love.

It is time for religion to evolve or be left behind.

Religious texts were written a very long time ago and humanity has evolved a lot since then, these texts have been outgrown by the intellectual and moralistic development of our species.

Religions haven’t changed for thousands of years because the priesthoods that have been built around them have much invested in these systems remaining the same. These institutions have accumulated vast amounts of power and wealth in upholding the profitable ‘middlemen’ position between its followers and their interpretation of ‘God’. If people were to experience for their selves, higher states of consciousness and universal oneness; they would realise that these priesthoods were not only unnecessary, but also highly corrupt and hypocritical; far from being the spiritual role models that they make themselves out to be.

It is the institutions that do not allow the adjustment or updating of their holy texts, as it would undermine the sanctity of their meaning, which would then undermine their credibility as the guardians of these texts and as community leaders to their followers. Their luxurious lives would be subsequently and negatively affected as direct consequence of this; therefore, it is in their best interests to keep everything as it has been, keeping their followers chained to outdated and destructive systems purely for their own selfish gain, refusing to do anything that would potentially jeopardise their power-base and finances.
Higher realms of consciousness do not need priesthoods guarding their gates; far from it. If these people were sincere in their role as spiritual mentors, they would be promoting consciousness development, not prophet and God worship; guiding people towards their own spiritual self-realisation, instead of solely relying upon the sharing of stories of a prophet’s experience of self-realisation.

Worship keeps people’s attention directed externally, whereas it’s been proven time-and-time again over many thousands of years, that a person can only elevate their consciousness by directing their focus inwards. It is by consistently reaching for the soul that indirectly stimulates our spiritual evolution, not praying and listening to some morally-redundant child rapist prattle-on about a prophet.

Direct spiritual connection is meant for everyone, not just the characters of the ancient religious stories.

As I say, religious institutions have much invested in keeping its followers distracted with pointless worship; preventing any kind of real spiritual maturity, demanding people’s full dependency, as this keeps the priesthoods in a powerful and profitable role. However, by doing this, they are keeping a huge amount people locked into old belief systems that divide and cause conflict, adding avoidable darkness to a culture in desperate need of love.
If religious communities spent the energy they expend on worship on instead developing their connection to their own spirit; it would change everything. As a spiritually-connected person is more loving, patient and tolerant; taking a vested interest in the greater good of the collective. The greatest gift we could ever bestow upon the world is the gift of our own spiritual evolution, as like ripples on a garden pond; the positive side effects of that transformation expand outwards into the community. All the relationships in the life of a spiritually-connected person are greatly improved by their matured level of consciousness.

It’s safe to say that consciousness development adds more love to the world than worship, yet worship takes centre stage in every religious system, sadly.
Religious institutions are not going to willingly choose to evolve their methods, so what can religious folk do to take charge of their own consciousness development?

Here are my suggestions…

1) Add a proven consciousness development method to your spiritual practice, such as meditation, Kundalini yoga or psychedelics exploration (to name but a few). Prayer, worship and moral guidance aren’t enough on their own to elevate a person’s consciousness to higher levels. The aim is to experience for oneself, the kind-of mystical experiences spoken about by the prophets. As I say, these experiences are for everyone, not just a chosen few.

2) Let love be the guide, instead of religious texts. It’s okay to be inspired by religious scripture, as long as those words are not creating a divide between one person and another. Remember, anything that does not promote love, inclusion and unity was sadly written by influential men guided by their own shortcomings, disguised or mistaken as ‘God’s will’. When in doubt as to how to act or respond in any given situation, ask yourself ‘what would love do in this situation?’ and do that instead.

3) Ignore the perspectives and guidance of religious institutions & their corrupt leaders, as they do not have your best interests at heart. Instead, develop the courage to become an independent person of your faith, letting love… and only love, guide your actions.

4) Religious community is important to many, but belonging to a group shouldn’t be at the expense of being a morally-blind sheep following a flock that judges, excludes, divides and discriminates. Set-up your own community or prayer group if you must, but make the core principles of your group be that of love, inclusion and unity.

It’s time for our species to evolve and religion has proven itself to be an obstacle in the way of this.

At the core of each of the purest of spiritually philosophical teachings was the simple message of love. It is time to return to that level of simplicity; as love includes all, excludes none and bridges all divides.

As we can all agree, our world needs that now more than ever.

If you are offended by any of the views I have expressed here, I ask you to please keep your offence to yourself; as the religious crowd can be a passionate and vocal bunch. However, any negative comments will be ignored and immediately deleted. I simply wish to share perspectives, not invite heated and hostile correspondence into my life.

If you are overwhelmed by the urge to vent at me, I ask you to simply move on with your life, find something online that you DO like and use that explosive creative energy to leave a positive comment about that instead.

Use your words to celebrate instead of criticise.

Let your focus be love instead of hate.

My second Dark Night of the Soul

During a crazy six month period in 2015, I lost my home, my job, my girlfriend, all my savings, my little business and fell-out with several friends. To top it off, I had no choice but to move-in with my father (with whom I have a very strained and volatile relationship) in his pungent house, many miles away from my social circle in an area that I detested.

I’m not too proud to admit that losing just one of those things would have been challenging enough to process, but to lose all of them together almost overwhelmed me. I have never had to overcome so much heartbreak, grief & tragedy in such a short space of time. Next to healing from a suicidal depression in my late 20’s, this particular chapter was been one of the toughest experiences of my life.

However, I took comfort from an old Zen perspective on tragedy. It is said that every now and again, an intense fire will roar through the forest of our lives, destroying everything in its path. I have now experienced this first-hand. For the record, there was nothing more frightening than seeing my entire life turn to ash before my very eyes, when all I could do was look on helplessly, as the trees of my life burned to the ground.

Yet as destructive as a forest fire first appears with all the loss of vegetation and beautiful woodland habitat, after the flames have eventually died and the blackened ground cooled; sunlight is able to reach the forest floor. All that fresh carbon replenishes the earth and given enough time, the forest grows back bigger, greener and more beautiful than it was before it was destroyed.

So if this transformation is the ultimate outcome, a forest fire isn’t as destructive as it first appears. The loss is temporary and is not the end, but merely an evolutionary process. It’s a reset button, an opportunity for greater growth. So it goes with our lives after a great tragedy.

From great destruction, comes new life, as we cannot make way for the new, without first clearing out with the old. Nature lives by this law and as humans, I think we sometimes forget that we are also a part of nature too. The cycle of life & death also manifests at the level of consciousness, as we continuously evolve & journey through life. It’s just that occasionally; life needs to quickly clear our path of stuff that no longer serves us, (sometimes many things at once) so that we can begin the next chapter with a clear slate. All we can do is to let go, trust the process, accept the changes as best as we can and do our best to enjoy the ride.

When something ends, it is in our best interests to do our very best to let it go. To hold onto someone or something longer than it is meant for us, simply creates more psychological & emotional suffering. Better to let it go sooner, than to drag it all out and prolong the pain. By letting go, we create room for something new to be born. We cannot start a new chapter if we keep attempting to re-read the last one from memory, after it has gone. Also, the longer we linger in the dying embers of the old, smouldering chapter, the longer we delay enjoying the excitement of beginning a new one. The old chapter we mourn, was once a new & intimidating one too and we survived it and eventually learned to love it. The next one will be no different.

Keeping all of this in mind helped me cope during such a turbulent transition. My years of meditation practice, positive thinking exercises and Zen studies honestly saved my sanity during such a difficult time. I honestly don’t know how I would have emotionally and psychologically managed without them. I was able to navigate through it all without losing my dignity, my shit or my positive attitude and I’m quite proud of that, as it honestly wasn’t easy.

My life from that point was reset and I focused my efforts on rebuilding a much better one, with many improvements on the old one that was lost. I met new people, embraced new experiences and deliberately dragged myself outside of my comfort zone towards the kind-of life I had always wanted. I also began moving forward with a huge career change, which was something I had wanted for a long time, but had always found an excuse in getting started. After having lost everything, it freed me to begin my professional transformation.

I honestly believe everything happens for a reason, even the stuff that breaks our hearts. There is something to be learned from EVERY experience, even the ones that inspire tears. The beauty of having been truly destroyed is being granted the opportunity to rebuild ourselves, better, stronger & wiser than we were before. My personal forest fire became the spring board on which I chose to leap into a vast life change. Admittedly, it was beyond scary but at the same time, so damn liberating to be rid of a life that no longer made me happy. I was exhausted, bruised and battered from the trauma of it all, but I survived. The destructive and humbling experience reoriented me towards a better and more fulfilling life. I just needed to survive the initial re-set, which I thankfully managed to do. In mysticism, these intense life re-sets are called a ‘dark night of the soul’.

We are not the same person leaving the storm as we were upon entering it, which is the whole point of the storm. It’s meant to challenge and change us, this is how we grow & evolve.

In order to rise, the phoenix must first burn.

The 1/3 Rule

It doesn’t matter what we say, what we do, how we look or how we choose to spend our time; people will judge us regardless. So we might as well be our truest self and be judged for being authentic too.

Only a fearful person would have to make someone feel small, in order to make their self feel big. I feel a little pity those who regularly judge others, as that must be a very sad & fearful life to live.

Being authentic takes courage because it makes you an easy target for the judgemental comments of jealous cowards and of those, there are many in the world.

Putting on a false, people pleasing mask so that everyone will like us might avoid some judgement, but a person’s heart will wither and dry-up inside if a false life is lived for too long, creating huge amounts of misery & sadness in the process. It is better to be appreciated by just a few for us being our true self, than it is for being liked by many for being someone that we are not.

We are each amazing and unique, everyone being fantastic for different reasons. We should support each other as we drop the masks and become our truest self.

I keep in mind that no matter whatever we say or do…
1/3 of people with hate it
1/3 of people will be indifferent
1/3 of people will love it

It’s impossible to please everyone; trying to do so will be an inevitable failure. Not everyone will like or appreciate our true self and this is okay. I personally don’t like everyone I meet, so why would it be fair to expect everyone to like me in return? I don’t even like every song written by my favourite band, so it’s a tall order to expect myself to like all people that I bump into. With this in mind, I need to give others the room to not like me either, without taking it personally. To be honest here, I meet plenty of people that don’t like me and that’s okay, not everyone we meet will be our tribe. Thankfully, I meet plenty of other people who do enjoy my company with me just being myself. People’s likes and dislikes are often wrapped-up in all sorts of complexities that are rarely even about us. I once knew a guy that refused to socialise with a friend of mine just because she reminded him of his ex-girlfriend. It can be that superficial.
However, life does become so much easier when we don’t take stuff like this personally. The faster we let this stuff go, the faster we can just move on with lives. We win by being our most authentic self, seeking only our own validation. In doing so, 1/3 of people will love it and 1/3 is more than enough. It is the ego that would demand more.
It’s better to be loved by a small crowd for being someone that we really are, than to be liked by a large crowd for being someone who we are not.

This conversation took place earlier

“Show me the soul”, he said. “Show me scientific data, photographs and peer reviews of its existence”.
“Prove to me that love exists”, I replied. “Show me scientific data and peer reviews. I want you to photograph and capture love so that it can be studied. I want to see photographs of the love that you feel for your family and friends. I want you to measure and quantify in a laboratory, the amount of love that you have for your children.
I don’t want microscopic pictures of serotonin, oxytocin or dopamine levels. I want actual pictures and evidence of your love. Show me this emotion that you say you feel.
Until I see this evidence and data, I will not believe that love exists or that you have any for the people in your life, that you say that you do.
Just because we have yet to invent machinery that allows us to see and measure the soul, doesn’t mean that it is not there.
We cannot see love, but we have all felt its incredible power; even scientists. Love has inspired breathtaking acts of loyalty, bravery, romance, survival, resilience and sacrifice throughout the history of our species, along with great masterpieces of art & music.
Love is more than just a hormone cocktail and consciousness is more than just brain software.”

Buddha; the awakened one

The word ‘Buddha’ is a title, it means ‘awakened one’.

Buddha’s real name was ‘Siddhartha Gautama’ and he was an Indian prince who lived around 3000 years ago.

A famous astrologer told Siddartha’s father (the king) at his birth that he was destined to one day become either a powerful ruler, or a great spiritual teacher. Only time would tell which.

Despite his best efforts to shield his son from developing any interest in spiritual matters, Siddhartha was compelled to understand the nature of death and suffering, after seeing an old, sick man in pain during a Royal parade one day.

This burning desire for answers led the prince to leave his family, the palace and his luxurious life and travel all across India, spending time with the most eminent spiritual teachers of that time, hoping they would offer some insight and answers.

After a few disappointing years, Siddhartha left to seek his own answers; dissatisfied with the teachers and their perspectives.

He experimented tirelessly, exploring many types of lifestyles and meditations, knowing instinctively that the answers he seeked lay within.

A few years later, he was exhausted and burned-out from the intensity of his search. He sat down under a Bodhi tree and gave up his quest for answers, saying ‘I can do no more’.

At that moment of complete letting-go and surrender, it happened. Siddhartha arrived at enlightenment; the adulthood of the soul, the highest state of human consciousness.

He found the answers he was looking for. In the state of highest and purest consciousness, he finally understood the nature of death and suffering.

From then on, people began referring to him as ‘Buddha’ and he spent the following 40 years of his life travelling and teaching, dedicating his life to sharing the insights of his awakening

Adventure from the ashes

In mid 2008 I had signed-up for a three month intensive voluntary program to work on a nature reserve in the USA, building flood barriers, planting trees, maintaining footpaths and such like. All my paperwork had been arranged and it was simply a case of waiting to get paid from my job then hopping on a plane and getting myself there.

However, I never received those owed wages, for reasons I won’t go into here. Without those funds, I couldn’t afford the trip, so I had no choice but to cancel. To say that I was gutted would be a mighty understatement.

However, I’d just started learning about Zen at this point and chose to put its philosophy into practice for the very first time with this heart breaking turn of events. I decided to trust life and to just go with the flow.

The next day I met a wonderful woman online and we just instantly clicked. She lived in Lincoln, which is about a three hour train ride from Birmingham (England), so meeting up wasn’t too demanding on our schedules or bank balances. Within a month, we were working so well, I decided to move to Lincoln for us to live nearer each other, after falling in love with her and the beautiful little city.

After almost four years together, we sadly didn’t work out but I decided to stay in Lincoln and not return back to the Birmingham area. The people and the city of Lincoln had completely stolen my heart.

If I’d have gone to that USA nature reserve as planned, we wouldn’t have met online and I would have never have moved to Lincoln.

I would then not have had the vast amount of fantastic experiences that came as a result of that romance and move. I wouldn’t have then developed friendships with so many intelligent, fun, interesting & kind hearted people. I wouldn’t have then had the honour of working with the incredible students of Lincoln College as their senior Youth Worker. I wouldn’t have then learned how to make great coffee at a wonderful patisserie with a team of amazing people. I wouldn’t have then experienced subsequent romantic adventures with a few of the resplendent women of Lincoln. I wouldn’t have then lived and socialised with some of the nicest people I’d ever met in a large house-share near the Cathedral.

So much good and countless smiles manifested as a direct result of that failed USA trip, so-much-so, my mind no longer classes my not going as a ‘failure’.

Sometimes, when life slams a door of opportunity shut in our face, it is said that it’s because it lead to a path that wasn’t meant for us. That when life closes that door; it always opens a window. To keep practicing at trusting life, as it’s one of the most beneficial gifts we could give to our own mental health, as it reduces so much stress & anxiety.

Whenever something doesn’t go my way now, I always remind myself of my unplanned but successful adventure to Lincoln and how it was born out of an experience of tragedy.

I now always look out for that window when a hopeful door slams shut in my disappointed face. Those unexpected life twists have a way of being far more exciting & rewarding.

From breakdown to breakthrough

Avoiding dealing with my childhood damage eventually led to a full-on psychological & emotional breakdown in my late 20’s. There was only so much running I could do from myself before I eventually ran out of places to hide.

It took a vast amount of self destructive behaviour, serious substance misuse and a suicidal depression to manifest in my life before I finally admitted to myself that I couldn’t ignore my old wounds anymore. My avoiding them was indirectly destroying me from the inside-out.

As the saying goes, ‘when it becomes more of an effort to suffer than to change, you will change’.

This was definitely the case for me.

My breakdown led to a huge breakthrough and after a period of intense healing & introspection, I climbed out of the pit and slowly began to build a new & better life. This was one of the reasons why I believe it to have all happened, those painful experiences of my youth forced me into a corner as an adult where it was a case of either evolve or die. I chose to evolve, which then led to me becoming the man I was always meant to be.

In eastern mysticism, it is said that our suffering is our greatest teacher, that if we find the courage to venture into our own shadows, it will inspire great evolution & contentment. The cave that we fear to enter; holds the treasure that we seek, so-to-speak.

I learned after having navigated through that experience to be mindful to not quickly dismiss the pain & suffering in my life, as overcoming it all eventually leads me to my truest future self. You could say that our pain is the mud and we are the lotus.