The HighExistence Podcast

Categories

HighExistence
general

Archives

2019
August
July
June
May
April
March
February
January

2018
October
September
August
April
February
January

2017
November
October
September
June

2016
December

2015
February

2014
November

August 2019
S M T W T F S
     
        1 2 3
4 5 6 7 8 9 10
11 12 13 14 15 16 17
18 19 20 21 22 23 24
25 26 27 28 29 30 31

Syndication

“The Stoics can teach you how to find a sense of purpose in life, how to face adversity, how to conquer anger within yourself, moderate your desires, experience healthy sources of joy, endure pain and illness patiently and with dignity, exhibit courage in the face of your anxieties, cope with loss, and perhaps even confront your own mortality while remaining as unperturbed as Socrates.”
― Donald J. Robertson, How to Think Like a Roman Emperor: The Stoic Philosophy of Marcus Aurelius

Donald Robertson is one of the world's leading experts on Stoicism, especially how it relates to cognitive science and therapy. Donald has spent decades as a clinical psychologist and has been studying the great Stoic classics for just as long. Recently, Donald released a book, part biography, part self-improvement, about the life and philosophy of Marcus Aurelius. It's a truly amazing read, as practical as it is enjoyable.

“When we reason well about life and live rationally, we exhibit the virtue of wisdom. Living in agreement with Nature, in part, means fulfilling our natural potential for wisdom; that’s what it means for us to flourish as human beings.” ― Donald J. Robertson, How to Think Like a Roman Emperor: The Stoic Philosophy of Marcus Aurelius

In my first interview with Donald, we covered a lot of general Stoic principles, but in this episode we look specifically at decoding the mind of Marcus Aurelius so we can start living more like this philosopher king.

“According to Stoic philosophy, when we assign intrinsic values like “good” or “bad” to external events, we’re behaving irrationally and even exhibiting a form of self-deception. When we call something a “catastrophe,” for instance, we go beyond the bare facts and start distorting events and deceiving ourselves. Moreover, the Stoics consider lying a form of impiety—when a man lies, he alienates himself from Nature.”
― Donald J. Robertson, How to Think Like a Roman Emperor: The Stoic Philosophy of Marcus Aurelius

WHAT WE DISCUSSED IN THIS EPISODE:

  • The Stoic training of Marcus Aurelius
  • The role of compassion in Marcus' life
  • The battle between Stoicism and sophism
  • The biggest influences on Marcus' development
  • How Marcus journaled and reflected on his day
  • The biggest mistakes and misconceptions when practicing Stoicism
  • The Stoic view of pornography and other temptations
  • Donald answers, do Stoics ever see themselves as victims of life
  • The incredible emphasis and techniques Marcus used to manage his anger
  • The hardships that beset Marcus' life
  • The level of plagiarism found in Stoic texts
  • Western philosophy and psychedelics
  • The role of mysticism and psychedelics
  • Much, much more!

If you like this podcast, please remember to subscribe and leave a review! <3

Direct download: Donald_Robertson_2.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 7:40pm EDT

Most people have heard of Stoicism.

It's a philosophy dense with practical wisdom.

But how many Stoics do you know?

I don’t mean people who have read Meditations or Letters from a Stoic, I mean actual Stoics…

Individuals who are comparable to the authors of these books in their tranquility, wisdom, self-discipline, and joy.

This was a question I kept asking myself as I embarked on my study of Stoicism 10 years ago.

One of my passions is learning, or more specifically learning through systems.

I’m the guy who measures every workout at the gym, keeps detailed spreadsheets for my martial arts progress, and has pretty much every habit tracking app available on his phone. I believe technology, if harnessed correctly, can be an incredible tool for wisdom.

This is why, when I first started getting into Stoicism, I was disappointed by most peoples answer to “How do you ACTUALLY become a Stoic?”

Most of the time the answer was something like the following:

Read the original Stoic classics multiple times. Reflect on your day by journalling. Do a few visualizations throughout the day. Focus only on the things you can control.

It’s not a terrible answer, but it’s far from great. I needed a roadmap. I needed to know that I wasn’t going to be wasting my precious time focusing on the wrong things. I needed a system.

Since there weren't any available, I set out to create one (this would go one to become The Stoic Quest).

When I first started Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu two years ago I realized the deep value of embodied wisdom. You cannot watch technique videos and expect to beat opponents at grappling. So much of the learning comes when you are faced with challenges you must overcome.

With Stoicism, many people spend time filling their heads with ideas and not putting any of it into practice. This means the time spent reading about the Stoic principles acts more like a distraction from problems than an antidote to them.

So how do we get around this? How do we get actually bridge the gap and put theory into practice and stop wasting time in intellectual lala-land??

That's what we discuss on the podcast today. On this episode, I relinquished my usual role as podcast host so I could sit in the hot seat. Fellow collaborator at HighExistence, Mike Slavin wears the interviewer hat and together we explore topics such as:

  • How I used Stoicism to overcome my social anxiety
  • The exercises I developed for reducing intense fear
  • The right and wrong ways to learn Stoicism (and anything else)
  • My favorite technique to live with more gratitude
  • The key components missing from modern Stoicism
  • My thinking process behind the Stoic Quest
  • And tons more

Visit highexistence.com/stoicquest to learn more about the Stoic obstacle course.  

Direct download: Gamifying_Stoic_Philosophy.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 8:06am EDT

"In the last couple years there's seemed to be a... decided shift [in my mind] in the direction of dethroning rationality as... the primary tool that I use to parse reality, and putting it in its proper place... And through deep listening and deep internal experiences and even mystical experiences, arriving at a sense of a felt at-home-ness in reality and in the present moment, in which you're trusting and surrendering to the flow of reality..."

— Jordan Bates, HEx Podcast #23

Today I'm excited to share one of the best conversations I've ever had. 

In sunny Costa Rica just before our recent Apotheosis retreat, I sat down with my brilliant colleague Mike Slavin to talk about transcending rationality. 

Especially in recent centuries, Western culture has placed rationality on a lofty pedestal, increasingly glorifying it as the most powerful tool for parsing / understanding reality.

This misguided over-valuing of rationality has resulted in untold misery.

Rationality is a wonderful servant but a dreadful master. Employing it as one's primary tool for parsing reality tends to result in nihilism, disenchantment, existential aridity, and a paranoid sense of being a stranger in a hostile, alien universe. 

"And that's where mystical experiences or psychedelic experiences can temporarily melt away those linguistic filters so that you come into raw, unadulterated contact with the all-enfolding Ocean of Reality, and you see that you are a wave on that Ocean, just as the tree is a wave on that Ocean. And when you have that direct experience there can be a direct apprehension of this Sacred Sigh of Relief: 'Oh, wow, I don't have to think this rationally, but I just know this in my heart: Everything is Okay.' Everything is deeply, truly Okay, and it's where it needs to be, and I'm where I need to be, and I see now that the neurotic rabbit holes and spirals of my rational mind have functioned as a nihilism-producing trap that was preventing and blocking me from having this direct apprehension of the gloriousness of Reality because I was attempting to use the rational mind for a function for which it is not well-suited."

— Jordan Bates, HEx Podcast #23

Humanity is presently being summoned to transcend obsolete and unsustainable modes of being, and one aspect of this level-up is dethroning rationality, becoming trans-rational, and rediscovering deeper, wiser, intuitive levels of human intelligence that re-enchant / reconnect self and Nature. 

Intrigued yet?

I hope so.

Mr. Slavin and I undertook a mission to spelunk the rabbit hole of trans-rationality, attempting to illuminate the failure modes of rationality, its appropriate function, and to map out a blueprint for transcending rationality to attain a more expansive sense of at-home-ness in Nature. 

This was a tall order, but I must say that I think we did a pretty damn good job...

You can decide for yourself. Without further ado, here is my extra-ordinary conversation with the luminous legend, Mike Slavin.

WHAT WE DISCUSSED IN THIS EPISODE:

  • What may truly be deserving of the word "God"
  • Dethroning rationality as one's primary tool for parsing reality
  • Realizing rationality is a wonderful servant and dreadful master
  • Embracing, trusting, and flowing with the Mysterious River of Being
  • How to feel at home in the universe
  • The false security of being over-attached to one's models of reality
  • Why the map can never be the Territory
  • Why rationality can never quench one's existential thirst
  • Why dogmatically clinging to castles of concepts has plagued mankind for aeons
  • How Western culture has misguidedly glorified rationality as the ultimate tool for parsing reality
  • The immense power and value of mystical experiences
  • How mystical / psychedelic experiences melt away linguistic filters, allowing one to come into raw, unadulterated contact with the all-enfolding Ocean of Reality
  • The Sacred Sigh of Relief: Directly perceiving that everything is deeply, completely Okay in all moments and everything is where it needs to be
  • Much more...
Direct download: Bates_Mike_Podcast.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 5:06pm EDT

In May 2019, Jordan Bates and I (Jon Brooks) met up in London to attend the Rebel Wisdom summit.

Having not seen each other in the flesh for 6 months, we thought we'd celebrate our reunion by recording our first ever podcast together.

Jordan and I have always had incredible, dizzying, profound conversations about topics that frequently come up on HighExistence, and we've been intending to start recording them and releasing them as podcasts for quite a while.

There is this segment of the spiritual or psychedelic or new age community that seems to be participating in these things more from a place of ego and kind of trying to really wear the costume and have this kind of spiritual chic clothing and have all the markers of spirituality. It's kind of like spirituality and psychedelia are a fashion trend for some people, and it's kind of all about what's on your spiritual resumé, how many ayahuasca ceremonies have you had, etc. There's this kind of misguidedness around what spirituality actually means. And some people don't even realize the extent to which they're using spirituality as a persona and another game of appearances and status and virtue signaling rather than being deeply invested in the inner journey which is largely a thing that no-one sees. 

— Jordan Bates, HEx Podcast #22

Personally, some of my favorite podcasts are not strict interviews but more of the "hanging out" genre, were I get to see individuals I'm interested in riff on topics I'm curious about.

If you're a regular HighExistence reader, or anyone interested in spirituality for that matter, I encourage you to hang out with Jordan and me in this episode and leave a comment with your thoughts and questions. Let's keep the conversation going!

Here are some of the themes we delve into on this episode:

  • The toxic elements of modern spirituality
  • The psychological need to create personas and identities
  • The benefits and traps of "not caring what people think"
  • Spiritual narcissism and the shadow
  • The hidden danger of rebellion and non-conformity
  • The beauty and magnificence of ordinary folk
  • The limits of mass psychedelic healing in society
  • Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu as a spiritual practice
  • The art of letting go 
  • And tons more...

If you enjoy this podcast, please subscribe and leave a review! 

<3


Transformational Breath is a type of conscious connected breathing. It's a breathing awareness practice, and it's also a breath control practice. Essentially we breathe in what I'd describe as a conscious, rhythmic way where we don't pause between the inhale and the exhale. So we breathe in one continuous loop. And this type of breathing can help us tap into altered states. So we can use different types of breath to induce a trance-like state.

— Philippa Wilkin, HEx Podcast #21

Philippa Wilkin is a radiant, beaming healer and facilitator who uses the transformational power of the breath to help people let go of blocked emotions and live a flourishing and free existence. 

I first met Philippa at the first HighExistence Apotheosis retreat—she agreed to facilitate in a last minute change to the itinerary.

When I attended her breathwork workshop I was expecting good things, but what actually happened I could never have expected.

It was totally mind blowing and changed my opinion on the breath forever.

The breath is a profound healing tool, and if you're not using it you are missing a very important area for transformation.

HERE ARE SOME OF THE TOPICS WE DISCUSSED...

  • What is transformational breath and how it links up with other self-improvement tools.
  • Philippa's involvement in Apotheosis retreats.
  • Jon's own experiences doing breathwork sessions with Philippa.
  • The amazing benefits practicing transformational breath.
  • Philippa's unlikely journey as a facilitator.
  • The approach Philippa takes with self-improvement and spirituality that differs from the mainstream.
  • How we can be better at practicing self-care.
  • Philippa's view on having prophetic visions and how they fit in with her understanding of the world.
  • Tons more! 

WHERE TO FIND PHILIPPA WILKIN

Direct download: Philippa_Wilkin_Podcast.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 4:39pm EDT

Akira is something of a musical-philosophical wizard.

He's been called the DJ of the Intellectual Dark Web and is the innovator of a new genre of music called Meaningwave.

He samples Terence McKenna, Alan Watts, Jordan Peterson, Hunter S. Thompson, David Foster Wallace, Elon Musk, Jock Willink, David Goggins, and a variety of other philosophers, thinkers, artists, and inspiring figures.

And he synchronizes these samples in delicious ways with a wide array of gorgeous beats he conjures to create a uniquely enchanting and mind-expanding listening experience.

His album 'The Path' with Jocko Willink has been particularly influential for me lately; it's a ridiculously motivational album and I highly recommend it, along with the rest of his work.

We'll be interluding some of his music throughout this episode so you can get a taste of his art.

Akira is an extraordinarily insightful and entertaining individual, and we had a lot of fun in this episode exploring a truly vast expanse of territory.

We discuss everything from space migration and the Jungian shadow to transcendental experiences and the wonders of being alive in 2019.

Without further ado, let's get into it; I hope you enjoy this technicolor journey as much as we did.

Direct download: AKIRA_THE_DON_PODCAST_smaller.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 7:25am EDT

You may be having the most extraordinary psychedelic experiences. You may be communicating with DMT-entities. Mamma Ayahuasca might be visiting you nightly. But if it's not making you a kinder person. Then it's just a holiday. It's just a thrill. You might as well just be watching a movie. You might as well be watching Disney's Fantasia because it's not making you kinder person. It's not making you a more loving person. It might even be making you a worse person because you're becoming a self-regarding, vein dick.

— Jules Evans, HEx Podcast #19

If you look at the literature on ecstatic experiences, it often just focuses on psychedelic experiences, and it says this is the type of experience you can have when you're on LSD or magic mushrooms or MDMA and so on. That's a rather narrow way of looking at it. In fact, people have similar kinds of ecstatic experiences in lots of different domains, in lots of different fields of human activity. I'm a big admirer of Aldous Huxley, because I think he more than anyone else had this kind of bird's eye view of all the different ways in which people get out of their heads and go beyond their ordinary egos.

— Jules Evans, HEx Podcast #19

Jules Evans is a practical philosopher, writer, helps run the largest philosophy club in the world, and played a key role in the modern resurgence of Stoic philosophy. Jules' first book Philosophy for Life and Other Dangerous Situations, explores how ancient Greek and Roman philosophies (particularly Stoicism) can help us flourish today. His second book, The Art of Losing Control, explores how people find ecstatic experiences in modern western culture.
 
In this episode, we discuss:
  • The wonders and limits of Stoic philosophy
  • Near death experiences
  • Why Aldous Huxley was so great
  • The value of ecstatic experiences
  • Ayahuasca retreats stories
  • The dark side of psychedelics
  • Jules' most recommended books
  • And tons more...

NOTABLE MOMENTS

What to you is the point of philosophy? [02:54]

How Jules became interested in Stoicism and Greek philosophy. [04:10]

Was your PTSD triggered by a bad LSD experience? [07:27]

What Jules could have done differently to manage the fallout from his difficult LSD trip. [10:06]

Jon discusses how he believes his levels of neuroticism has declined as he's gotten older. [11:36]

Jon shares his interest in Stoicism. [12:36]

Jon explains how he used Stoic techniques to help him cope with the fear of jaw surgery. [13:21]

How Jules used Stoicism to help him cope with social anxiety. [14:09]

Was simply learning about CBT and Stoicism enough for you to reduce your social anxiety, or was there a practical element too? [16:46]

Jules explains how cognitive bias, perfectionism, and poor coping strategies prevented hindered hindered his recovery from anxiety. [19:35]

Jules explains what happened in his near death experience (NDE). [22:02]

How Jules' epiphany from his near death experience led him to CBT. [30:54]

Stoicism is about being true to the god within you. [32:28]

How Jules connected his mystical experience with Stoicism, CBT, and eventually Buddhism. [32:54]

Jules explains his role in the modern resurgence of Stoicism. [34:17]

Some of the areas of human nature Stoicism doesn't address. [37:01]

Why did you call your second book The Art of Losing Control? [39:34]

Jules explains the wide-ranging states of ecstatic experiences. [41:04]

What are the main paths to losing control that you discovered in your research? [43:54]

Alcohol as a means to escape ordinary consciousness. [45:44]

Jules explains what he calls "The Festival of Ecstasy." [46:59]

Jules discusses how war, violence, and crowd rallying can be seen as ecstatic experiences. [52:12]

The worship of technology as a substitute for religion. [55:34]

The 1960s as the antidote to the Enlightenment's pathologizing of mystical experiences. [57:04]

Why is it normal for many of us fear going beyond our ego and have ecstatic experiences? [58:59]

What is a spiritual emergency? [01:05:46]

Jules explains how any route to transcendence can become unhealthy if it isn't approached wisely. [01:09:26]

How ecstatic experiences and psychedelics can lead to ego inflation. [01:13:44]

Jules discusses his first ayahuasca ceremony. [01:14:18]

The easy and the hard path to becoming a shaman. [01:16:34]

The dark side of psychedelics. [01:17:39]

What can we do to prevent ourselves from falling into the trap of ego-inflation when having ecstatic experiences? [01:19:11]

The only value of ecstatic experiences. [01:23:42]

Jules explains how after finishing his two books he then saw the limit of them. [01:25:03]

The mature Buddhist view of ecstatic experiences. [01:27:11]

How do you live your life both on a daily basis and in a more general sense different after doing the research for these two books? [01:29:03]

Jules discusses his post-Ayahuasca dissociated experience. [01:31:46]

The importance of understanding spiritual emergencies: a spiritual awakening which has temporary psychotic features. [01:34:27]

The things that can help people through spiritual emergencies. [01:37:04]

Jon shares a story about a friend's spiritual emergency. [01:40:11]

The danger of seeing your experience as unique and special. [01:42:37]

The rise in reporting of mystical experiences. [01:45:46]

Why we need a mature, nuanced terminology for ecstatic experiences. [01:46:54]

What are your favorite books on the topics you write about? [01:48:06]

Pema Chodron's personal crisis. [01:53:06]

Closing remarks and where to find out more about Jules. [01:54:18]

RECOMMENDED BOOKS FROM PODCAST:

By Jules Evans:

  • Philosophy for Life and Other Dangerous Situations
  • The Art of Losing Control

On Stoicism:

  • Meditations by Marcus Aurelius
  • Discourses and Selected Writings by Epictetus

On Ecstatic Experiences:

  • The Varieties of Religious Experience by William James
  • Moksha: Aldous Huxley's Classic Writings on Psychedelics and the Visionary Experience by Aldous Huxley

Spirituality:

  • The Places That Scare You by Pema Chodron
  • Cutting Through Spiritual Materialism by Chögyam Trungpa
  • Ram Dass' Podcast

Other Books Mentioned:

  • The Making of a Counter Culture by Theodore Roszak
  • Spiritual Emergency by Stanislav Grof

KEEP UPDATED WITH JULES EVANS:

Jules' Official Website:

http://www.philosophyforlife.org/

Direct download: Jules_Evans_and_HighExistence.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 7:18pm EDT

"If someone says, “I’m a fucking loser,” that’s a form of dishonesty. What you actually are is a collection of atoms talking to each other. To say that you’re a loser isn’t accurately describing yourself. To say, “right now I’m having a thought that I’m a loser and engaging in some self-pity around that,” that’s more accurate."
— Dan Munro, from HEx Podcast

“When I say I was working with criminal offenders, really I was just coaching people, and now I’m still coaching people it’s just they’re less likely to be in a gang these days.”

— Dan Munro, from HEx Podcast

I heard about Dan Munro from a friend who had received coaching from him. My friend was telling me how amazing this coach was and that he was even going to receive more coaching from him in the future.

I wanted to talk to Dan about coaching, so I arranged a call with him to pick his brains about this topic as well as connect in general. I was blown away by Dan's groundedness and willingness to share his ideas with me. As the call progressed, it turned out that Dan and I were already connected.

Dan told me that Donald Robertson, the Stoicism writer, was writing the foreword for Dan's new book on honesty. Quite the synchronicity considering I had recorded a podcast with Donald a few days prior.

Who is Dan Munro?

Dan Munro is a Confidence Coach based out of Auckland, New Zealand who now lives in the Czech Republic with his fiancé. Dan created the Brojo men's mastermind group which is growing every day, and is the author of The Legendary Life and Nothing to LoseDan also worked for many years as a probation officer where he learned how to make lasting change with the worst coaching clients you could wish to have—people who didn't want coaching.

Dan used to really struggle with authenticity, honesty, and making "real" connections. And as we know, it's usually the people who suffer in a particular area that go on to master it and become the best teachers.

There is nothing quite like hearing Dan's ideas straight from the man himself, however, so If you'd like to live a more authentic life, and walk through the world with more ease and confidence, give this episode a listen:

In the podcast, we discuss:

  • The role of honesty in confidence
  • The difference between good and bad coaching
  • How to deal with manipulators
  • The dark side of the pick up industry
  • What it means to "be yourself"
  • Dan's confidence boosting 30-day challenge

(Please remember to leave a review because it helps us to improve the podcast!)

NOTABLE MOMENTS

  • What who Dan? [04:25]
  • Why do you focus so heavily on "confidence"? [05:27]
  • What is confidence? what does the word mean to Dan? [08:15]
  • The power of having core values. [11:55]
  • What did you used to be like and how'd you end up here? [14:15]
  • Dan's time studying pick up artistry and how it relates to authenticity? [20:25]
  • What kind of effects does "honesty" have on your coaching clients’ dating life? {25:25]
  • Jon Brooks talking about his experience with authenticity and dating. [30:25]
  • Should a self-hating person “be themselves”? [32:25]
  • The power of focusing on accuracy when trying to be honest. [36:15]
  • Do you ever lie or tell white lies, what is your relationship with the truth on a day to day basis. What would it take for you to tell a lie? [39:25]
  • How would you deal with coaching clients who are caught up in pathological relationships that are founded on lies? [44:25]
  • You mentioned that you worked with criminal offenders? How did that experience inform your understanding of psychology? [52:10]
  • How was your fear of confrontation obliterated when you were a probation officer? [57:42]
  • What is gaslighting? [63:35]
  • Who do you deal with invalidators or manipulators? [1:07:25]
  • How did you transition from being a probation officer to being a confidence coach? [1:12:10]
  • What is the difference between a good coach and someone who’s a bad coach? [1:15:17]
  • People who are avid readers, practicing good self-care, etc., might think, “I don’t need a coach.” Do you still think there would be value in coaching for this type of individual? [1:22:22]
  • Can coaches actually change their clients or is something else going on? [1:28:20]
  • Dan's thoughts on improving clients vs. revealing them to themselves. [1:33:39]
  • The power of human connection in successful coaching. [1:37:40]
  • What challenge would you give someone listening to improve their confidence? [1:43:55]
  • Where can people learn more about you? [1:47:22]

LEARN MORE ABOUT DAN MUNRO

Direct download: dan_munro_podcast.mp3
Category:HighExistence -- posted at: 5:23pm EDT

Donald Robertson is the expert of experts when it comes to Stoicism—the ancient blueprint for living the good life.
 
Donald spends his days now residing in Canada writing books and creating online courses on how Roman and Greek philosophy can help us live more wisely. Prior to this, Donald spent over 20 years working in London as a psychotherapist.
 
What's so amazing about Donald is that he interweaves his academic career as a clinical psychologist with his love of philosophy to bring to life a very practical, wise, and ultimately healing ideas that we can all benefit from.
 
If you are at all interested in Stoicism, this podcast episode is a "must-listen."
 
Some things we discuss in the podcast:
 
  • The best books on Stoicism you've never heard of
  • The overlap between Buddhism and Stoicism
  • The intersection between psychotherapy and Stoicism
  • The Stoic version of enlightenment
  • How to think like Marcus Aurelius
  • Some of the criticisms about Stoicism
  • And tons more...

BOOKS RECOMMENDED

PEOPLE MENTIONED

NOTABLE MOMENTS

  • Why did you want to write a book about Marcus Aurelius? [00:48]
  • Why would anyone want to think like Marcus Aurelius? [10:08]
  • What is your experience as a psychotherapist? [11:35]
  • Did you ever combine psychotherapy with stoicism? [12:52]
  • What mental health problems will Stoicism help most with? [15:00]
  • Do Marcus and other Stoics live up to the hype? [19:26]
  • When did Marcus start training in Stoicism? [24:32]
  • What are the philosophical origins of Stoicism? [26:44]
  • how does one actually embody the stoic philosophy? [31:30]
  • What is the view from above exercise? [36:00]
  • What are the best books on Stoicism? [36:45]
  • How do you read Stoicism books? [38:26]
  • The role of socrates for aspiring Stoics. [42:40]
  • How do the Socratic dialogues relate to Stoicism? [44:00]
  • On a personal note, how has stoicism affected your own life? [46:36]
  • Why the ancient stoics are so iconic and memorable? [51:38]
  • What is the overlap between buddhism and stoicism? [53:55]
  • Do you think there’s a Stoic version of enlightenment? [56:43]
  • Modern stoicism focuses a lot on how to be, but what Stoic techniques can we use to cultivate more joy? [59:00]
  • Tranquility vs. virtue in Stoicism. [01:05:26]
  • Derren Brown in his book Happy says that an issue he has with Stoicism, a philosophy he generally loves, is that the stoics tend to demonize anxiety and anxiety is sometimes useful. What are your thoughts on this? [01:07:00]
  • The Stoic perspective on voluntary vs. involuntary emotions. [01:14:40]
  • Closing remarks, and more information on Donald Robertson. [01.20:00]
Direct download: Donald_Robertson_Stoic_Interview_1.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 1:49pm EDT

"For those who would say that sugar is addictive, if that was truly at the root of the addictive nature that people have with some foods, you wouldn't see them seeking out cookies, you'd see them seeking out sugar packets. You'd want that raw cut at its most basic form. Heroin addicts don't want things cut with their heroin. So I think we need to think about it in a broader perspective."

Eric Helms is one of the most insightful, unbiased, and respected figures in the nutrition and exercise industry. For most of Eric’s career, he has worked as a coach for drug free strength and physique competitors at all levels.

But he’s not just a coach. Eric is a competitive athlete himself, and has pro status with the Professional Natural Bodybuilding Association and competes with the IPF at the international level as an unequipped powerlifter.

As if that wasn’t enough Eric has also published multiple peer reviewed articles on in exercise science and nutrition journals. He’s taught undergraduate and graduate level nutrition and exercise science and speaks internationally at academic and commercial conferences for fitness, nutrition, and strength and conditioning. He has a Bachelor of science in fitness and wellness, one masters in exercise science, a second masters in sports nutrition, and PhD in strength and conditioning.

Eric is perhaps most well-known for being one of the 3D Muscle Journey coaches and his amazing Nutrition and Strength Pyramid books. 

If you’re even slightly interested in your health or physique, this episode cannot be missed. Eric and I discuss intermittent fasting, how to spot bullshit advice, the problem with formulaic diets, whether sugar is toxic, how you can educate yourself properly, the benefits of lifting weights, and a ton more.

Direct download: Eric_Helms_Podcast.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 11:38pm EDT

Sometimes I don't really like the word enlightenment because it suggests something final. It suggests an end point, and I don't think there is an end point. You can think in terms of a landscape of expansive experience which different traditions or different individuals view in different ways. They may just be sitting or standing on different parts of the landscape so they obviously interpret it in slightly different ways.

— Excerpt from Steve Taylor Interview

Steve Taylor is a British psychology lecturer at the university of Leeds.

He is also the author of several best-selling books including The FallWaking From SleepBack to SanityThe Leap, and his most recent book Spiritual Science: Why We Need Spirituality to Make Sense of the World.

Eckhart Tolle described Taylor’s book The Leap as containing “a great deal of precious wisdom, expressed in the straightforward, clear, and down-to-earth language that Steve Taylor is so good at.”

Taylor’s primary interest of study is in the field of transpersonal psychology, where he explores the science of higher states of consciousness, wakefulness, and the claims many of us are familiar with in popular spirituality.

In my talk with Steve, we discuss...

  • The problems of the materialistic worldview
  • The best way think about enlightenment
  • How we can define consciousness
  • The three ways we can achieve awakening experiences
  • The unlikely benefits of extreme emotional turmoil
  • The uses and dangers of psychedelics
  • Why telepathy is scientifically possible
  • And a lot more...

I really loved my conversation with Steve. He is a very calm, grounded presence but is also able to clearly put forth very important, profound ideas on how we can live a more enriched spiritual existence.

It's a tendency in some spiritual traditions, also in some forms of Buddhism, to denigrate the natural world and the material world, almost as if we're trying to transcend it. In a similar way, some spiritual traditions tend to denigrate the body as well, almost as if the spirit is trying to transcend the body, and the spirit and the body are two different things. So it's important not to fall into that kind of dualistic attitude, I think. You've gotta see the natural world as spiritual—it's full of spirit, it's sacred, and it's alive.

— Excerpt from Steve Taylor Interview

Direct download: SteveTaylorPodcast.mp3
Category:HighExistence -- posted at: 3:23pm EDT

Paul Austin (@PaulAustin3W) is the founder of The Third Wave, a website designed to improve psychedelic literacy so these powerful tools with great potential can be used in a safe, structured, and responsible way. Paul is also co-founder of Synthesis, the world’s first legal psilocybin truffle retreat in Amsterdam.

This interview was conducted fresh after Paul returned from Burning Man, so he is in a state of new beginnings and processing what I gathered was an extraordinary journey. In the episode we discuss Paul’s path from socially awkward teen to charismatic speaker and entrepreneur, the uses of microdosing, his thoughts on leadership, his current passion projects, favorite books, and much more.


This podcast is brought to you by Synthesis, the world's first safe, professional, legal psilocybin retreat. Paul Austin and HighExistence's own Martijn Schirp co-founded this revolutionary psychological program. The retreat is based in Amsterdam and is primarily focused for healthy individuals to get a mystical experience or a breakthrough in a personal or professional problem. If you would like to experience psychedelics with expert supervision and carefully designed integration procedures, check out Synthesis and tell them you came from HighExistence.


SELECTED LINKS FROM THE EPISODE

  • Connect with Paul Austin:

PaulAustin.co | Twitter | TheThirdWave | Synthesis

Other People Mentioned as Influences

Direct download: paulfinalpodcast.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 7:02pm EDT

I’d like to use me as living proof that nobody was worse than me that I’ve ever met, and nobody was darker or closer to death or more sad. And to have this thing happen... if it happened to me, it can happen to anyone. So just give it a chance and give yourself a chance.

— Gerry Powell, The HighExistence Podcast

Gerry Powell, according to his website, “was the personification of the American businessman: rich, powerful, and unhappy.” In fact Gerry was one of the most miserable people on the planet. Even though he sold his cosmetic surgery company for $94 million dollars, had 5 houses, 20+ cars, and 2 planes, he was suicidal and addicted to drugs and sex.

But if you met him now, you would not see an unhappy man. Instead, you’d see a beaming, glowing, radiant, compassionate guy who is truly addicted to living a tranquil life and seeing others thrive and grow.

So what happened?

Gerry took Plant Medicine:

I realized something was very wrong because the more I acquired the more I suffered. I spent hundreds of thousands of dollars and travelled the world on my journey to heal myself through every self-help and healing modality I could find. A friend introduced me to Plant Medicine and in one night I had an experience that transformed my existence and liberated me from a lifetime of suffering. That was 2 years ago and my life continues to unfold in an extraordinary way.

When Gerry was experiencing his transformation through Plant Medicine, he received instructions in a vision to start a new company:

As a result of my experience I decided to open a center in Costa Rica that would offer all of the modalities that had the greatest impact on my life, enabling me to share them with as many people as possible at a price they could afford. I modeled it after the Club Med philosophy of an all-inclusive resort experience offering modalities, accommodations, organic meals, and first class amenities.

The center that Gerry opened in Costa Rica is called Rythmia. The HighExistence team went here to interview Gerry and experience the Plant Medicine ceremonies firsthand.

Gerry is an amazing, charismatic, hilarious speaker. This is one of our most entertaining podcasts to date. In our interview, we cover such topics as:

  • Gerry’s transformation after drinking Plant Medicine
  • The reason Gerry created Rythmia
  • The HighExistence team’s experience at Rythmia
  • How you can introduce a close one to Plant Medicine
  • Gerry’s vision for the future of Rythmia
  • And much more.

If you are interested in plant medicine …

Visit Rythmia

If you were inspired by the podcast and want to visit Rythmia, you can book your place on their website here

Direct download: Gerry-rythmia_1.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 5:05am EDT

Plant medicines such as Ayahuasca are big news. More and more shamans are popping up offering their services to create inner-change and healing for those who are willing to drink from the magic cup.

But are there any real shamans left? Are the true masters of plant medicine anywhere to be found? And what negative consequences are coming from trying to heal the world at large with psychedelics? 

To truly consider these questions with an open mind is too painful for those who blindly follow, and likely too unorthodox for those who blindly reject. But for those somewhere in the middle, this podcast is for you.

Jonathon Weisberger was born in California but raised from a very young age in Ecuador. For over 15 years, he has been leading avid adventurers into remote regions of Ecuador, Peru, and Costa Rica to rediscover Nature's beauty and intelligence.

For over 10 years (1990-2000), Jonathon lived and collaborated with 5 distinct indigenous tribes in the Upper Amazon, including the Secoya tribe where he learned to cook the sacred plant medicine Yagé. This plant shares many similarities to Ayahuasca.

In the following mind-bending episode, we ask Jonathon how we deal with life if we're feeling lost, how we can learn to experience the world in an animistic way, and what "real" shamanism is all about.

This discussion is electric. You may feel overwhelmed by the speed at which Jonathon is able to connect raw knowledge with his poetic perspective on life, but it's one hell of a ride.

“Shamanism explores an area that contemporary Western science knows little about- the mind.”
― Jonathon Weisberger

A shaman is someone who can choose the moment of their own death. The shamans are few. People who practice shamanic practices are many.

― Jonathon Weisberger

Jonathon challenges the conventional wisdom on ayahuasca drinking and the new culture that surrounds it as well as how phenomenological truths hold a sacred space in our world of objects and scientific facts.

“If science is defined or understood as a mode of seeking knowledge, a means of interpreting nature in a way that can be demonstrated to others, then the plant-medicine traditions of the Amazon as they have been practiced constitute an authentic scientific discipline.”
― Jonathon Miller Weisberger

Jonathon also talks about his time spent with the Secoya Tribe, explaining their philosophy and warrior way of life. Yagé is for more than just healing, it can make you stronger.

“Among the Secoya, clear guidelines regulate preparation of the medicine. They are adamant about this preparation method and insist that the guidelines be followed. I've already discussed some fundamentals of harvesting the plants. When respected, all the elements and subtle factors combine to make a potent and efficacious medicine, necessary for a positive and healing ceremony.”
― Jonathon Miller Weisberger

We also explore in the discussion with Jonathon:

  • The role of a "bad trip" when drinking plant medicine
  • What a "dieta" is and how following one may benefit us
  • The amazing character traits of Jonathon's Secoya mentor
  • How we can improve our spiritual position
  • What it means to "sin" and alternatively live a sin-free life

Recommended Products:

Apotheosis: The Ultimate Spiritual Retreat

Jonathon helped facilitate the Yagé ceremony at our first ever HighExistence retreat. To come to one of our upcoming retreats, apply here

Jonathon's Projects:

Direct download: Jonathon_Weisberger_Master_of_Plants.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 1:20pm EDT

Can psychedelics cure Autism? It's a question researchers are only beginning to ask, but Andrea Domenichini has already run the experiments – on himself.

Over the past few years, he's taken MDMA and LSD to help connect the parts of his brain that allow most people to understand others, feel their emotions, and make lasting connections.

But before we get to that, what even is Autism Spectrum Disorder? Probably not what you think it is. Most people on the Autism spectrum aren't Rain Man or maths geniuses. They're people whose brains function differently, but in myriad different ways. It's called a spectrum for a reason, and that spectrum involves dozens of symptoms (each highly variable) which are then bundled together under the 'Autism' label.

Dre shares his personal journey from alienation to deep human connection, beginning at a point in his life where jobs and relationships just weren't working out. He stopped, took stock, and asked himself the question that most of us are too scared to ask: Am I the problem?

For me, Autism was being a featureless white room, without windows or doors. MDMA opened a door in that room. Suddenly I could see outside to where "real people" lived. LSD allowed me to leave that room.

These experiences were revelatory: until MDMA, he'd never felt music before. Until LSD, he'd never felt a true sense of peace in himself.

Using his biomedical background, Dre explains how these substances can do such incredible things, what they meant for his own development, and why it's essential that more research is done to help people with Autism.

But do people with Autism even want to be 'cured'?  And is 'cured' the right word to use?

For many people, there's immediate resistance: Autism is a part of their identity and sense of self. And Autism is simply a different way of thinking, not some kind of disease.

For Dre, he wanted to change – he wanted to understand other people and to be able to grow as a person and pursue his dreams in a world that simply isn't set up to accommodate or understand Autistic people. With such potent psychedelic tools available to make that change, at the very least, more Autistic people should be made aware of the possibility of change, if they want to experience it for themselves.

 

More From Dre:

Exclusive Podcast Offer:

Direct download: HE_Autism_Podcast.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 8:05am EDT

Talking to Daniel Schmachtenberger is like having an audience with a prophet. His vast knowledge extends across health, economics, technology, strategy and philosophy. More importantly, he’s a brilliant communicator dedicated to bringing those often disparate fields into dialogue, in order to make powerful, genuine change for the betterment of our individual and collective lives.

Last time I met Daniel, we spoke about the collective future of humanity in the face of imminent ecological and economic disaster. This time, we bring the focus back to you and me: the individual life and how we can become the best, most fulfilled and conscious versions of ourselves.

This is a conversation about unlocking our individual potential through empowered responsibility. What steps can and should we make to create the foundations for a truly high existence? Crucially, the aim here is not to feel responsibility as a burden to be shouldered, but as the wellspring of personal power and agency.

 

EXCLUSIVE OFFER FOR PODCAST SUBSCRIBERS:

Take the ultimate life experiment, our 30 Challenges to Enlightenment Course, a complete spiritual path to help you overcome the limitations of your mind and to embody the highest philosophical realizations. Use the code ‘WISDOM’ at checkout to get a huge 25% off the course, available only to podcast subscribers at store.highexistence.com.

Direct download: Daniel_Schmachtenberger_Interview_2_Bounce.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 5:30am EDT

Geoff Thompson is a charismatic enigma. A nightclub doorman and martial artist turned award-winning playwright, author, and spiritual teacher – he defies easy description and confounds all expectations.

Geoff grew up with few prospects, under the shadow of his own fears. Inside, he yearned to be a writer, but with no obvious mentors or opportunities in sight, he slid repeatedly into depression and began to reconcile himself to working factory jobs and capitulating in the face of all conflict.

But then Geoff did something incredible: he made fear his mentor.

He constructed a Fear Pyramid. Taking pen to paper, he listed in ascending order of magnitude everything that scared him, from spiders right up to physical violence. And then he began to systematically confront them, one after another.

In this incredible interview, he shares his story and the simple yet life-changing tools which you can employ to discover your hidden strengths and discover the life that's waiting for you.

EXCLUSIVE OFFER FOR PODCAST SUBSCRIBERS:

Take the ultimate life experiment, our 30 Challenges to Enlightenment Course, a complete spiritual path to help you overcome the limitations of your mind and to embody the highest philosophical realizations. Use the code ‘WISDOM’ at checkout to get a huge 25% off the course, available only to podcast subscribers at store.highexistence.com.

Direct download: HE_Geoff_Thompson_Interview_Bounce.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 6:01am EDT

Baba Brinkman is the only peer-reviewed rapper in the world. From evolution to climate change, medicine to religion, he spits rhymes reverberating with provocative questions, hard truths, and an irresistible humor which educate as much as they entertain.

At his core, Baba is a communicator, breaking down the barriers between academic science and psychology to bring the latest research insights and theories to a wider audience. Listening to his work is like taking Human Nature 101, but with a lot more fun and memorability than any class you'll ever take.

The Rap Guide to Consciousness is a mind-blowing tour de force, ranging from the mind-body problem to whether his young child can actually be considered conscious; and from machine intelligence to psychedelic states (including an unforgettable story of meeting an octopus in an aquarium while tripping balls on mushrooms).

EXCLUSIVE OFFER FOR PODCAST SUBSCRIBERS:

Take the ultimate life experiment, our 30 Challenges to Enlightenment Course, a complete spiritual path to help you overcome the limitations of your mind and to embody the highest philosophical realizations. Use the code ‘WISDOM’ at checkout to get a huge 25% off the course, available only to podcast subscribers at store.highexistence.com.

Direct download: Baba_Brinkman_Interview_Bounce.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 8:31am EDT

Daniel Schmachtenberger is truly a modern Renaissance Man. He's a thought leader who crosses disciplinary boundaries with incredible ease. He's an Evolutionary Philosopher, a Systems Designer, a Strategist, and he’s a founder at Neurohacker Collective – a movement dedicated to upgrading our individual and collective capacities and to safeguarding the wellbeing of all.

We sat down with Daniel to discuss the future of humanity, from how to combat looming ecological and economic disaster, to the practical steps we can take in our own lives to be the best versions of ourselves – to (re)open our minds to each other and to think so far out of the box that we forget that it ever existed.

EXCLUSIVE OFFER FOR PODCAST SUBSCRIBERS:

Take the ultimate life experiment, our 30 Challenges to Enlightenment Course, a complete spiritual path to help you overcome the limitations of your mind and to embody the highest philosophical realizations. Use the code ‘WISDOM’ at checkout to get a huge 25% off the course, available only to podcast subscribers at store.highexistence.com.

Direct download: Daniel_Schmachtenberger_Bounce.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:30am EDT

At Breaking Convention 2017 we had the chance to sit down with a modern-day philosophical powerhouse.

Peter Sjöstedt-H is a leading voice in the emerging world of psychedelic phenomenology; he's the inspiration for Karnak, Marvel's new, cerebrally-charged superhero; and he's the author behind one of HighExistence's most popular articles ever.

We talk psychedelics and philosophy; Peter's mission to form a bridge between the scientific disciplines; whether our consciousness exists outside our meat-bodies; and if more knowledge really leads to more happiness.

EXCLUSIVE OFFER FOR PODCAST SUBSCRIBERS:

Take the ultimate life experiment, our 30 Challenges to Enlightenment Course, a complete spiritual path to help you overcome the limitations of your mind and to embody the highest philosophical realizations. Use the code ‘WISDOM’ at checkout to get a huge 25% off the course, available only to podcast subscribers at store.highexistence.com.

Direct download: Peter_HE.mp3
Category:HighExistence -- posted at: 12:59pm EDT

Our guest this episode is Dennis McKenna, ethnobotanist, pharmacognosist, brother of the famed bard Terence McKenna, a lecturer, and one of the elders of the psychedelic movement. We talk with Dennis about human evolution, the psychedelic influence on consciousness, tripping with your parents, and the current state of the world.

EXCLUSIVE OFFER FOR PODCAST SUBSCRIBERS:

Take the ultimate life experiment, our 30 Challenges to Enlightenment Course, a complete spiritual path to help you overcome the limitations of your mind and to embody the highest philosophical realizations. Use the code ‘WISDOM’ at checkout to get a huge 25% off the course, available only to podcast subscribers at store.highexistence.com.

Direct download: McKenna_2.mp3
Category:HighExistence -- posted at: 3:56pm EDT

In our fourth episode of the HighExistence podcast we talk with Tim Urban, author/illustrator of Wait But Why and one of the Internet's most popular writers. We talk with Tim about the secret to Elon Musk's success, world travel, what entrepreneurs do wrong, cryonic preservation, and the dangers posed by superintelligent AI.

Direct download: HE_Podcast_Ep_4_Tim_Urban.mp3
Category:HighExistence -- posted at: 6:20pm EDT

In our third episode of the HighExistence podcast we talk with Vinay Gupta, global resilience guru, futurist, systems theorist, and technologist. We talk with Vinay about his invention, the hexayurt; ending global poverty; conducting dangerous research on Mars; and addressing/averting existential risks. 

Direct download: HE_Podcast_Ep_3_Vinay_Gupta.mp3
Category:HighExistence -- posted at: 1:55am EDT

In our second episode of the HighExistence podcast we talk with Tom Shroder, author of the book Acid Test: LSD, Ecstasy and the Power to Heal, and Nicholas Blackstone, a former marine who suffered from PTSD and how MDMA assisted therapy enabled him to go deep inside and confront the demons that haunted him after heavy combat in Iraq. 


In our first episode of the HighExistence podcast we talk with Rick Doblin who is the founder of the non-profit organization MAPS, a true pioneering group of people researching the healing effects of Psilocybin, MDMA and LSD. We discuss the new wave of research about the healing power of psychedelics, spiritual experiences and what he thinks of the famous quote by Alan Watts, 'If you got the message, hang up the phone.'


1