Jeremy relates his story of becoming a multi-millionaire by the time he is 25. He looks up to his mentors who were all far wealthier than him and he sees that they are unhappy and unfulfilled. He knows in his heart that there must be a better way to live life.
He gives up his first religion which is Baptists and converts to the Eastern Orthodox church. He talks about the difference between the Catholic, Protestant, and Orthodox churches. He believes that the Orthodox church is a more authentic version of the Christian church. His friend is Orthodox and bows to an icon of Mary and Jesus. He finds a practice in this faith that doesn't exist in the Protestant faith. Orthodox religion had no reminders of the religion he grew up with for him so he was able to tap into the beauty of it.
The convergence between the Orthodox church and practices from the east. He converts in 2009 and becomes a monk almost immediately. He gave up all his possessions. He loses faith in money as a replacement for his spiritual practice and gives up his business. He goes to Mt. Athos where only Orthodox men are allowed to live and they live in silence and practice. He talks about life on Mt. Athos. Jeremy talks about the difference between the life of a successful entrepreneur and the life of a contemplative monk.
We talk about the fundamental flaw of Western philosophy: I think therefore I am. This creates a false separation between the mind and the body, which are in fact one. Jeremy explains how he tried Yoga Nidra for the first time and comes into contact with his body for the first time since he was young. We then talk about how he balances his new contemplative life with the ambitions and goals he has as an entrepreneur. He comes up with a business idea at the monastery and re-enters the entrepreneurial life.
Jeremy explains how he found meditation in the Orthodox church. They use a form of meditation that is based on Mantra, repeating the name of Jesus and Mary in order to bring a meditative state to the body and mind. He finds a creative spring of ideas bubbling up. The power of meditation to give the thinking mind something to do so that creativity comes naturally. The ideas he comes up with this time have the power to do good in the world. He decides to run a homeless person he knows for Mayor of San Francisco. He talks more about his plans to run Memphis, the homeless man, for mayor of San Francisco. Jeremy is helping. We both agree that as we meditate more, we start to plan less. The ideas that come up have a way of figuring themselves out. It is more about aligning attitude and energy to let the ideas work through you.
In 2012 he starts his next company Guidebox. It does well and it helps Jeremey live his daily life. The company takes a lot of effort but doesn't really give an exponential growth. It is only linear. Everything in Silicon Valley is about money according to Jeremy. I disagree that all of it is according to money and that a lot of the negative consequences are unintended. Once someone creates something they have little control over the after effects. Ego death happens from his spiritual crisis. About 6 months ago he gives up working on ideas that don't make the world a better place. He decides to seek enlightenment with all the free time he has created. He finds headspace and mindfulness meditation. He spends 10 hours a day meditating. He describes the evolution of focused awareness that comes from meditation.
Jeremy finds out that marijuana and meditation go together or at least that's what he thought. I bring up that THC promotes schizophrenia and other anxiety issues. When used in conjunction with CBD, it can be a safe and effective medicine and that it is important to find the best ratio of CBD to THC. Jeremy finds that THC provides him with a lot of attention and focus. Meditation leads him to realize that consciousness can be manipulated through THC or meditation or a combination of both. His day becomes one hour of work and 10 hours of meditation for four months. He was still unhappy. There was no integration from the "high" state to a normal state. He starts to question his methods. He discovers that spirituality is not a mental or emotional state.
Jeremy talks about how Jesus is important to him and that he meditates with a cross. He would start to have hallucinations and it would scare him. He starts to use meditative inquiry to find out whether his marijuana use was helping him or not. He makes a sacrament of his marijuana usage. Jeremy realizes that he's been doing something called Spiritual Bypassing. He explains how his use of marijuana was helping him to skip the fundamentals of a spiritual practice.
The descent into the cannabis and meditation-induced psychotic break. He had violent body shakes. He had visions. Jeremy has an out of body experience. He hears a voice that says "You are born again". He holds the cross and makes the connection that it is helping him. He describes his psychotic break. He notices that reality is not what it seems. He saw Heaven. He saw Hell. He comes back, but realizes that something inside of him has changed. His body starts buzzing. He feels like he has taken on spirits.
Something inside of him makes him move to the window. Out the window he sees his spiritual elder from the orthodox church outside his window. He leaves everything inside of his apartment, his keys, his wallet and goes out to hug his elder. It turns out it wasn't his elder but a homeless guy who was sitting across the street. The homeless guy hugs him back and says "Well at least it can't get any worse than this". He couldn't get back into the house and he begins a 15 hour psychotic episode. He started telling people that he was homeless. Lots of hallucinations. I interject that psychotic break and other mental illnesses are subjective labels that society places on his experiences. A lot of what happens on the spiritual path have something called a spiritual emergency. He was put in the hospital.
In the hospital he is around other people who were experiencing difficult psychological issues. Once he was in there he started questioning his own sanity. This society puts people in hospitals when they have something like a spiritual crisis. The problem is that spiritual experiences are totally internal. They cannot be validated from the outside. In a world that demands objective reasoning, spirtual experiences are mental illnesses. He had to pretend that he wasn't crazy in order to get out because if he told them the whole truth. He decided to turn the hospital stay into a break where he could recharge. Nothing happened in the business while he was gone even though that was what he was worried about.
Mental illnesses in other cultures are not seen or treated in the same way as they are in the United States or other European cultures. The people who can tap into these energies are usually considered to be gifted in a way most people are not and what they say is respected. These people can become Shamans. Of course, some people are not in a healthy state of mind and need help. The problem is that a lot of times, we don't help them. What is the connection between spirituality, meditation, and psychic phenomena. We are an interaction between our environment. Therefore we are a product of our environment. We are the people we spend time with. He went into the hospital and hung out with people who he never would have been in contact with before. He started having all sorts of new ideas and thoughts. Perception of reality is not contagious, but delusion is.
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San Francisco has changed from a city with upper class, middle class, and lower class. Increasignly it is becoming more dualistic. Really rich people live here and a small amount of poor people with mental illness live on the streets. Tech people complain constantly about the homeless, but it is the last link that these people have with a world that is not filled with people like them
More about Jeremy's work can be found on his Non-profit's website: A foundation for a better society
If you are in the middle of a spiritual crisis, please get in touch with me: firstname.lastname@example.org. If i can't help you myself, I can connect you with others who know how to manage such crisis and point you in the right direction.
If you want to read more about how different culture handle spiritual crises and mental illness please check out this link: India and Its Innovative Mental Health Treatments