Mantras for Manifestation

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Recently, I have been putting too much energy into my own self chatter as I try to make sense of my life, climate change and other crises that the world faces at this critical stage in the earth’s history. I have been able to understand different aspects of my life and my personality as I exist in this historical fragment. However, sometimes my thoughts become too much to handle, and I need to turn down the volume.

Thoughts are physical manifestations of the mind. Just as a guitar uses strings to produce sound waves, the brain uses nerves to produce thoughts. However, the mind and the brain (they are separate) can either play harmonious melodies if they are in tune or a raucous cacophony when out of tune.

One method that I use to condition my mind is to chant a mantra using vowel sounds. Vowel sounds are universal human sounds that are embedded in our space-time reality as harmonious constants. We can harmonize with these constants and condition our minds and bodies by chanting them out loud or even in our heads if necessary. When you chant vowel sounds the sound waves reverberate throughout your body. The cells in your body begin to adhere to the harmonious sounds individually and collectively in systems such as your central nervous system. Once your cells are vibrating harmoniously it sends a positive feedback loop to your brain that then sends more positive thoughts to your cells.

These are the objective effects of chanting. The subjective and unconscious effects of chanting mantras are noticeable in the conditions of your life and the quality of your perceptions. You may perceive more beauty in your daily life. Or have a better experience at work. Your personal relationships may experience more harmony. Or you may have more vivid dreams. The possibilities are infinite.

I titled this post “Mantras for Manifestation,” mostly to get your attention. However, I hope that I made it clear how a vibrational sound wave from your vocal cords actually manifests a new condition in your awareness. It is possible that harmonious mental and physical states will lead to greater prosperity, but there is a lot more to life than material goods. When we can focus on getting our emotional needs met without the use of material objects we feel more fulfilled and happy than we would if we attempt to satisfy those needs by buying something new.

I want to share with you one mantra that I use to harmonize myself on four levels. Before I chant, I remind myself to subdue my ego in order to stay connected to the universe. If it’s a sunny day and I’m outside I like to chant with the sun hitting my third-eye. This really amplifies the effects of chanting.

The mantra goes, Om Maat Ra Ma Om.

Ma'atMaat was an Ancient Egyptian principle that represented harmony between human society and natural laws. The Egyptians deified the principle through the goddess Maat. I believe that their devotion to Maat was a major reason that their civilization lasted thousands of years in prosperity. Maat held their society together by promoting moral behavior by villagers and pharaohs alike. I don’t have a source to show you now, but they must have extended this philosophy to nature. They could have suffered a calamitous event such as a famine, outbreak of disease, or enemy invasion on mere chance alone. Yet they persisted for 4,000 years or more. They must have known that they had to give more to nature than they took from her in order to continue to reap her rewards. Knowing this fact is why I use Maat in my mantra.

magnetosphereRa is the sound of the sun god in Ancient Egypt. It is the masculine creative force represented by the sun.

Ma is the sound of the earth, and it’s also why we call our mother “mama”. It represents the feminine creative force.

Both of these sounds contain a long Ah sound, which was the first sound of creation at the moment of the Big Bang according to several traditions such as the Yogis, Tibetans, and Egyptians.

Om is the sound nature (the universe) makes when it is in harmony with itself. Om actually consists of the sounds Ah-Ooh-Ma, which is why you will also see it written as AUM. The first sound being Ah.

As I chant, I consciously and subconsciously know that I am harmonizing my mind, body and soul with human wellbeing, the sun, the earth and the universe as a whole. The mantra reminds me that the best way to create is not from my ego’s desires but from the higher awareness that I am a small part of a larger whole that is continuously evolving.

The Power of Om, Carl Jung, Dalai Lama

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Do you know what Om means? It doesn’t have meaning as much as it has feeling. Maybe a better question is do you know how Om feels?

Over the past six months, after talking intensely with one of my friends about spirituality and the nature of reality, Carl Jung has had an increasingly significant influence on me. She was really into the psychology of Jung from a more let’s say academic perspective. My perspective on most things gets filtered through a spiritual lens: spirit creates matter after all. I never really paid psychology any attention in undergrad. Psychology as it’s taught today is pretty much dominated by Freudian analysis. Freud, I think didn’t get the whole picture because he was stuck on sex. Jung was different, not by choice but by unseen forces that changed the course of Western thought.

When I began to look at Jung’s life I became more and more interested in his spiritual life. His experiences include a Near Death Experience (NDE) during a heart attack where he found himself floating above the Earth and then approaching a temple that was guarded by a “black yogi”. During this NDE he saw his doctor in “primal form” as he put it, and correctly predicted that his doctor would die soon after. He also had dreams that predicted World War I, which led him to study the collective unconscious. His experiences were outside of the realm of acceptable phenomena at the time, and even now. Yet had he remained unaware of his own unconscious and other ways of perceiving the world, he would have remained in a state of psychological distress for his entire life. His work was healing as much as it was revealing.

I recently came across a youtube video describing a conversation between Jung and the author Joseph Campbell. Check the video out before I go further. I’m not sure what the deal is with the naked Egyptian god mock-ups but keep going.

Here, Jung in two places has a transformative experience with the sound Om, the sound nature makes when its in harmony with itself. The spontaneous Om of the scientists sounds as if they were captured by the overflowing love of the universe. As if they instantly became one with nature outside of the control of their ego, a type of instant samadhi. Om, and other sounds, are likely embedded in the fabric of the universe. A type of om field that we can all tune into either knowingly or unconsciously.

The Himalayas really are a special place. I traveled to Ladakh in northern India and stayed there for two weeks. I went to a monastery for children practicing to become the next monks and nuns in the Tibetan Buddhist tradition. The love and joy that emanated from these kids was really amazing. They told us that they do prayers and meditation for all of humanity to live in peace and harmony. It’s really special for them to live with that kind of meaning, and practice such discipline at a young age.

I still remember the face of one young nun standing across from me in the temple. The lead monk had us westerners stand up and face the children. They started singing “om mani padme hum” and encouraged us to sing along. I put my hands in a prayer position and after around the third om mani padme hum I hesitatingly started to join the singing. I made eye contact with the little girl and her face lit up as she saw me join in. It was kind of hard for me to look at her as I felt a little weird saying om mani padme hum yet she just radiated infinite love. After a few minutes of singing om mani padme hum, my mood was transformed into one of openness and togetherness as all of prayed for peace and harmony in the world.

I didn’t know what om mani padme hum meant at the time, but I knew how it felt, and that made an impression in my heart chakra that lasts to this day.

If you’d like to know what om mani padme hum means, and how it can be a way to transform your mind, then watch this cool video from His Holiness the Dalai Lama.

A letter to my sister: Out of Body Experience, Carl Jung and the African Unconscious

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When I was, let’s say seven years old, my standard response to “what do you want to be when you grow up?” was “a lawyer.” That’s until my little sister, Khayriyyah (pronounced Ka-ree-ah), also wanted to be a lawyer. This frustrated me, being her older, and only, brother in a family of six (at the time, we ended up being 7 strong). I wanted to be original, unique, I guess being the only boy in the family wasn’t enough.

I’m glad she pushed me away from pursuing that dream. I can’t imagine being a lawyer now. I’m already pretty discontent with “the system.”

My sister didn’t end up becoming a lawyer either. She chose an even better field; she’s a psychologist and school counselor. She’s also a mother, a great one in my opinion. She recently wrote a blog post detailing her experience giving birth to her son. She explains how she had an out of body experience (OBE) immediately after her son was born:

But all I could think was something was missing. I was looking for all of those emotions and they weren’t there. I got weak. People were screaming. Who were these people screaming at? I could see the girl in a hospital bed. Then I realized that girl was me. I thought about dying because that seemed so much easier. But these people said I had a baby who needed me. Somehow I opened my eyes. Then it happened again. And once more.

Is that called dying and coming back to life or almost dying. I’m really not sure. All I know is that I did not know my child for the first two hours of his life. The rest of the details don’t matter.

She saw herself from above. I think that’s pretty cool. Not the almost dying part, but the fact that she could see without eyes, and she’s flying over everyone. Khayriyyah can fly! Okay, I know you almost died, but you didn’t.

Another psychologist, the grand daddy of psychology if you don’t count Freud, Carl Jung also had an OBE. He was also in the hospital suffering from a heart attack when he suddenly found himself flying a thousand miles over the earth. He looked down and saw Ceylon, what is now called Sri Lanka.

The beginning of 1944 I broke my foot, and this misadventure was followed by a heart attack. In a state of unconsciousness, I experienced deliriums and visions which must have begun when I hung on the edge of death and was being given oxygen and camphor injections. The images were so tremendous that I myself concluded that I was close to death. My nurse afterward told me:

“It was as if you were surrounded by a bright glow.”

 That was a phenomenon she had sometimes observed in the dying, she added. I had reached the outermost limit, and do not know whether I was in a dream or an ecstasy. At any rate, extremely strange things began to happen to me.

It seemed to me that I was high up in space. Far below I saw the globe of the Earth, bathed in a gloriously blue light. I saw the deep blue sea and the continents.  Far below my feet lay Ceylon, and in the distance ahead of me the subcontinent of India. My field of vision did not include the whole Earth, but its global shape was plainly distinguishable and its outlines shone with a silvery gleam through that wonderful blue light. In many places the globe seemed colored, or spotted dark green like oxidized silver. Far away to the left lay a broad expanse – the reddish-yellow desert of Arabia; it was as though the silver of the Earth had there assumed a reddish-gold hue. Then came the Red Sea, and far, far back – as if in the upper left of a map – I could just make out a bit of the Mediterranean. My gaze was directed chiefly toward that. Everything else appeared indistinct. I could also see the snow-covered Himalayas, but in that direction it was foggy or cloudy. I did not look to the right at all. I knew that I was on the point of departing from the Earth. – Carl Jung, Memories, Dreams, Reflections

Carl Jung was pretty much alone in his worldview when it came to experiences like these. He went through long periods of social isolation because there was no one in his professional or personal circles that could relate his experiences to something valid. There was no one to tell him that he wasn’t crazy for having an OBE or having visions.

Khayriyyah, you’re not the only one who thought it would be easier to die in that space. Here’s how Jung puts it.

From below, from the direction of Europe, an image floated up. It was my doctor, or rather, his likeness – framed by a golden chain or a golden laurel wreath. I knew at once:

“Aha, this is my doctor, of course, the one who has been treating me. But now he is coming in his primal form, as a “basileus of Kos.” [1]  In life he was an avatar of this basileus, the temporal embodiment of the primal form, which has existed from the beginning. Now he is appearing in that primal form.

[1] Basileus was the king (i.e. “basileus”) of Kos – a small Greek island on the Aegean Sea. The island of Kos was famous in antiquity as the site of the temple of Asklepios, and was the birthplace of Hippocrates.

Presumably I too was in my primal form, though this was something I did not observe but simply took for granted. As he stood before me, a mute exchange of thought took place between us. The doctor had been delegated by the Earth to deliver a message to me, to tell me that there was a protest against my going away. I had no right to leave the Earth and must return. The moment I heard that, the vision ceased.

I was profoundly disappointed, for now it all seemed to have been for nothing. The painful process of defoliation had been in vain, and I was not to be allowed to enter the temple, to join the people in whose company I belonged. – Carl Jung, Memories, Dreams, Reflections

Just as you were woken up, Khayriyyah, because your son needed you, Jung was also woken up because he needed to finish his work on earth. Your story, and your profession, reminded me of Jung’s out of body experience. But it also makes me think of Kemet, or ancient Egypt and what Dr. Edward Bruce Bynum Calls The African Unconscious. 

Khayriyyah asks, “Is that called dying and coming back to life or almost dying. I’m really not sure.”

The Ancient Kemetans called it, “coming forth by day and going forth by night”. In Kemet, the pharaohs and priests practiced, among other things, willful out of body experience, or near death experience.  I think this process of exploring other realms of consciousness is one of the ways they developed a lasting civilization. They were the first psychologists. They studied the unconscious, what they called “the underworld” to make sense of reality. Just as Jung developed the concept of archetypes, universal human mind patterns, the Kemetans developed mythology that explained life, death and the cosmos.

Here’s how Dr. Bynum explains their practice.

This ancient approach to the Amenta, or unconscious, began in Kemet and spread down the Nile and then throughout the Mediterranean world of Greece, Rome, and the Near East. At one time there were over 400 such temples to the god Asclepius. They existed from 600 B.C.E . to 500 C.E . The medical caduceus, a staff with a serpent entwined around it seven times, was taken from this period. The whole point, beyond physical- medical healing, was to “awaken” the sleepers to the deeper spiritual life existing in the unconscious depths of their experience. It was to re- member , to put back together again the consciousness of the finite individual material life with the infinite collective and luminous life of the great spiritual being. When this was accomplished, the neophyte matured into one of the “sons of light” and was capable of “coming forth by day and going forth by night.” -Dr. Edward Bruce Bynum The African Unconscious 

Judging from your blog post, Khayriyyah, it seems that your experience and the experience of the pharaohs had the same illuminating effect.


For anyone interested in pursuing these topics more here are a few videos and links.

Why is everyone wasting their time?

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You ever ask yourself, what is the purpose of civilization?

What are we doing every day as a society and where is this society going?

Can someone ask any one of our leaders this question? Ask the president. Your congressman. Governor, priest, scientist, CEO, billionaire, celebrity, general, mayor or coworker. Nobody has a fucking clue.

Some people will spout off the usual, “well we have to grow the economy, create more jobs, cure disease, solve the poverty issue.” We’ve been doing those things for half a century and we haven’t gotten anywhere. And it doesn’t answer the question. As a group what are we doing besides consuming resources and “making money”?

After the war, you know the big one, World War II, we were told that we had to grow the economy and develop valuable farmland so that everyone could achieve the American Dream. By we I mean white “nuclear” families. So not me, really you all, and I wasn’t alive yet.

No one even mentions the American Dream anymore, there’s no real narrative holding “us” together except our corporate masters telling us to shut up, eat more crap food and go shopping for Christmas presents.

When did America become so aimless?

There is one thing that could bring all of humanity together, that is looming over all of our heads, and most people want to do something about, climate change and the environmental crisis. Yet, the biggest forces getting in the way of solving the issue are also within the most powerful country and calling all the shots. It could be that the US is not suited to solve an issue that doesn’t require more power, more use of force and more money.

America has always solved things by expanding. Need more land? Buy it cheap from France. Crowded cities? Build sprawling suburbs. Running low on cheap oil? Go to war with Iraq.

The purpose of life is not to make money. It is not to be rich (with money). Yet that is what is drilled into our heads every day. What happened to culture, art, cultivation and community?

In my mind I keep going back to 9/11/2001. And the so called terrorist attacks. That was the day that accelerated the decline of anything real that we once had. You could argue that the day that George W. Bush won the 2000 election was the beginning of this current phase that we find ourselves in. On that day, I remember staying up with my freshman year roommate to watch the results. I remember George W. Bush calling Fox news and telling them that his brother Jeb promised him that he would win Florida. This was after Florida had been called in favor of Al Gore. We all know the hanging chads, and the controversy that followed.

After seeing Florida go to W, I turned to one of my friends and said, “we’re going to war with Iraq.” I knew that W would want to follow in his father’s footsteps. I didn’t realize at the time that America, and the world, would never be the same because of it.

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Since 9/11 a tsunami of destruction in the form of political, economic and cultural violence has washed over the old American landscape. Our cultural memory has been diminished.

Here’s the good news: we live on a living earth that is aware and conscious, always trying to correct the imbalance and heal the cancerous agents. Some humans think that they are bigger than god, but mother nature will smack them back down into their place when they least expect it. The laws of nature are clear: we can’t keep this act up for much longer. And there is always the unaccounted bit of data that has a butterfly effect rippling through the system. When that day comes we will have an opportunity to rebuild our institutions and practices into something better. We can stop focusing on mindless consumerism. And work to make a sustainable society that benefits all of humanity, and our fellow earth inhabitants.

-Mike Free 27

The Black Spiritual Capital of the World

woheart Every black person around the world must be thinking about their basic survival after witnessing the multitude of black men (primarily) and women who are left to bleed in the streets at the hands of cops and non-cop white civilians. The militarization of police forces, and the current political climate has me looking to the not-so-distant past for patterns of behavior. Racism in the form of white supremacy has produced horrible atrocities in the United States and beyond. Something has to be done about the racial violence before things go too far.

I don’t know what the answer is to a problem that is deeply embedded in the psyche of a large population that seems to derive its value by deliberating oppressing and devaluing black and brown people. I do know that black people will not give up the struggle for freedom. I think many of us are realizing that it is not good enough for us to try to become “equal” to whites by working harder, getting more education, and buying the same luxury goods. To be black is to strive for freedom and justice.

I don’t have an answer as to how we achieve freedom, but I do have a clue as to one thing that is necessary. A black spiritual and cultural reservoir that can thrive free of oppression and disseminate spiritual practice, spiritual energies, and culture throughout the African diaspora.

The world is currently undergoing a massive spiritual crisis that has most people disconnected from their higher selves and focused on materialism. When this happens we see destruction and killing on a massive scale. Morality and social bonds tend to decline, and powerful groups are able to exploit the zeitgeist of the times.

We need a new way of understanding the world that puts spirit back into all aspects of life. We need the actual experience of different realms of existence that permeate our current 3D world. The 3D or material worldview usually ties up all of our perceptions, imagination and dreams. We have to access our higher faculties that give us immense power as divine, creative beings. We need new organizations that will serve as a repository for developing a new unified practice and lifestyle that facilitates our spiritual growth and political liberation.

I think that Ancient Kemet is the font for this new practice, as well as other African traditions like the Dogon and Yoruba of West Africa. After all, Kemet has been the font for all of the major spiritual practices that were, in my opinion, the primary building blocks of all civilizations.

The human psyche has been hijacked. Our symbols, once sacred like the scarab that transformed dung into new life, have been replaced by three pointed stars that navigate for us and apples that we can’t eat. Our gods don’t return any favors for all that we bestow upon them. We are loyal to them, but they only repay us with more misdeeds while they trash our mother.

It is time to return to the guidance of the stars above and the earth below. It is time to reconnect with our ancestors, and their brilliance of imbuing everything with spirit. All of our power as free beings on this earth comes from the very thing that animates our bodies: our very own souls. It is the part of us that can never be destroyed. I think that most black people are aware of this deeper knowledge of reality, not because we are inherently different, but because we hold the DNA memory of a very ancient spiritual awakening that survived in our cultural awareness despite 400 years of slavery and colonialism.This ancient memory extends beyond the first civilizations to develop in Africa in what is now Egypt and Sudan 6,000 years ago (if not before).

Edward Bruce Bynum describes the “African unconscious” as the pathway to the source of all spiritual knowledge. As this awareness of spiritual knowledge grew, so too did other capacities like morality, art, mythology, astrology and astronomy, and architecture. The reason, in my opinion, that Kemet lasted for over 4,000 years was because they were able to stay in harmony with both earth ecological flows, and non-material cosmic changes that affect human consciousness. I’m not sure what went wrong in Kemet to cause their vulnerability to outside invasions and subsequently their downfall. It could have been something that was unavoidable cosmically speaking. Or maybe they were unwilling to upset their balance of masculine and feminine energy by adopting the militaristic worldview that was needed to protect their civilization from outsiders who were simply not as spiritually advanced as they were. Sure they fought wars with the Nubians to the south, who were more like their warring cousins. They also fought the Assyrians and other groups in the Levant. It took a long time to destroy their civilization. And from my smidgeon of knowledge, it seems that they were not interested in colonizing other people through subjugation. They had influence throughout Africa and all they into India, but they seemed to be mostly focused on having an advanced, harmonious civilization rather than expanding their power and resource base through domination.

Maat I believe that the principle of divine justice, or karma is so deeply embedded in black African awareness that it puts us at a big disadvantage in understanding the minds of historically technological and material cultures like western civilization. We know that there is more to this world than winning, or dominating someone else. I believe this comes from thousands of years of moral and spiritual development that we see in present day principles out of Africa like ubuntu, and taught thousands of years ago in Kemet. For Africans, and indigenous peoples in America, the idea of karma was such a part of our reality that we didn’t imagine we would be in the fight of our lives for the next 400 years. We could not have imagined such cruelty to our bodies, psyche and humanity. We could not imagine the harm done to sacred lands that were apart of who we were. I can feel our ancestors saying “don’t they know that this is going to haunt them in the afterlife? That their heart will be weighed against a feather?” Of course, I can’t convey the pain that they were going through.

I know this process started around 2,000 years ago with the Greek occupation of Kemet. Kemet was the gateway to higher knowledge that propelled Europe into technological and political sophistication. Kemet was also a protector of sorts for the rest of Africa. Preventing Asiatic and Mediterranean invasion. It was only a matter of time after Kemet fell that the rest of Africa would be left vulnerable to colonization. I think we need a new name for what Kemet was, either they were the only civilization, or they were beyond civilization. Perhaps, “holistic civilization” is the term.

The memory of Kemet lies in stark contrast to what we have now. We have solved, through and through, the material side of human society, and we have done it at the expense of our sanity. At the expense of our connection to higher planes of awareness that feed our being when we are synchronized with them. With this in mind, I say that as black people who are not benefitting from this materialistic paradigm we get a head start on forming integral spiritual practices that are a part of our daily lives. Rituals, exercises, language, mathematics, music, art, education and anything that will increase our spiritual capacities, and bring forth the visible from the invisible. We may need a central gathering place for coming together and increasing our spiritual power. And as we explore other ways of perceiving reality, we can develop a new, unified culture that is aligned with future cosmic changes taking place throughout the Milky Way galaxy and the universe.

Martin Luther King the Vegan Ⓥ

mlk-peaceLike most Southerners in the United States, Martin Luther King ate a diet full of comfort foods like fried chicken with mashed potatoes and gravy. But what if Martin Luther King lived a much longer life? Would he have decided to eat a diet based on his philosophy of non-violence?

There are three influences that could have led Doctor King to go vegan: the Vietnam war, Gandhi, and fellow civil rights advocate Dick Gregory.

Vietnam

In the days leading up to his untimely death, MLK began making connections between poverty in the ghettos of America and the country’s expanding military budget. Initially, civil rights leaders in King’s camp were hesitant to get behind him because they thought that any talk of Vietnam would detract from their efforts. However, King’s conscience could not bear remaining silent. Here’s just a small sample of what he had to say about Vietnam.

There is…a very obvious and almost facile connection between the war in Vietnam and the struggle I and others have been waging in America. A few years ago there was a shining moment in that struggle. It seemed that there was a real promise of hope for the poor, both black and white, through the Poverty Program. There were experiments, hopes, and new beginnings. Then came the build-up in Vietnam. And I watched the program broken as if it was some idle political plaything of a society gone mad on war. And I knew that America would never invest the necessary funds or energies in rehabilitation of its poor so long as adventures like Vietnam continued to draw men and skills and money, like some demonic, destructive suction tube. And you may not know it, my friends, but it is estimated that we spend $500,000 to kill each enemy soldier, while we spend only fifty-three dollars for each person classified as poor, and much of that fifty-three dollars goes for salaries to people that are not poor. So I was increasingly compelled to see the war as an enemy of the poor, and attack it as such.

Dr. King did not use info graphics, but if he did we can imaging a small stack of dollar bills going to the poor sitting next to a giant stack devoted to killing enemy soldiers. Immediately, we would have to question the ethical ramifications of such a huge disparity. Not only were dollars not going to help the poor, but many of the men on the front lines in the war, and every war, were from poor families. And they were dying at a higher rate than men from middle class families. This happens because many young, poor men and women have very few options to advance their lives through jobs or education.

Just before he was shot, Dr. King was planning a poor people’s march on Washington to demand that the United States government address entrenched poverty among blacks in America. This was a new MLK who was undergoing a personal transformation at a turbulent time.

Take a look at this video where he explains the systemic injustice and hypocrisy on behalf of the United States government.

“We’re coming to get our check.”

These are serious words from a man with a lot of power.

Gandhi

Gandhi was another man who wielded a lot of power and defeated the largest empire in the history of world. The grip that Britain had on India was unyielding, taking vast amounts of resources from one of the most abundant regions in the world in terms of natural resources and human labor (I hesitate to use this dehumanized word).

Gandhi was vegan, before the word existed. He ate no animal derived foods with the exception of drinking goat’s milk when he became ill. He loathed that he had to eat it to get better. I bet he was not getting enough B12, an essential nutrient, from his vegan diet. If he were alive now, he could just take a B12 supplement instead of resorting to drinking goat’s milk. Gandhi remained vegan for moral reasons. He did not want to cause suffering to animals, especially when he could eat readily from a wide variety of plants. He reasoned that if he ate cleanly and kept his heart clean through his thoughts and deeds that he could be the change he wished to see in the world.

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Doctor King with his wife Coretta in India.

Martin Luther King adopted Gandhi’s philosophy of ahimsa, nonviolence, for the civil rights movement in the United  States. He traveled to India to see Gandhi’s home and make international allies in the struggle for social justice. Surely, through all of his research he must have come across Gandhi’s views on the importance of a nonviolent diet to create a nonviolent society. King would have only needed a catalyst to get him started on a diet fueled by the power of plants.

Dick Gregory

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Dick Gregory and MLK having a chat.

That’s where King’s friend Dick Gregory comes in. Dick Gregory decided to follow a vegan diet after he witnessed a white police officer kick his pregnant wife in the stomach. Gregory did nothing to protect his wife or stand up to the officer. He reasoned that if he couldn’t lift an arm to strike a racist police officer who violently harmed his wife that he couldn’t kill an animal who caused him no harm at all.

I’m not sure of the exact year the Dick Gregory became vegan, but it was some time in the 1960’s. Meaning he could have easily influenced King to adopt a vegan diet. King would have benefitted greatly from such a diet. It certainly works for Dick Gregory who is now 82 years old and still traveling the country giving talks and interviews on various media outlets. He’s still one of the funniest people to walk the face of the earth. And he gives great advice on connecting with the universal god.
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He also wrote a book on eating a vegan diet called Dick Gregory’s Natural Diet for Folks Who Eat: Cookin’ with Mother Nature. I haven’t read his book, but it gets great reviews on Amazon.

Connecting the Dots

Both Gandhi and Dick Gregory ate a vegan diet full of raw fruits and vegetables. Eating foods packed with the power of the sun can help to elevate your mood, awareness and consciousness. Your connection to earth goes through food. Food that heals can help keep you connected to the universal source through keeping the temple that is your body clean and energetic. When you eat animals you are absorbing the entirety of their life: not only the toxic antibiotics and hormones injected into them, but also all of the pain and suffering that they endured. It all gets passed on to you and can easily result in cancer or heart disease, but also changes in mood and unnatural hormone levels.

Imagine how hard it is to create a more just and nonviolent society when we treat animals inhumanely and then take on all of that pain and suffering by eating them. It’s like having a four wheel drive car where the front and rear axles are moving in opposite directions.

I have to believe had MLK been made aware of the horrible conditions and immense suffering that farm animals suffer at the expense of people’s desire for meat that he would have connected the dots and started a big vegan movement in the African American community and beyond. His level of compassion, and ability to make the connections between seemingly disparate things like the war in Vietnam and poverty would have tugged on his conscience forcing him to choose a diet that not only reduces suffering for animals, but also the humans who eat and kill them.

As he famously said, “injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.” It’s plain to see that this includes all living creatures on earth. That, my friends is why Martin Luther King, given the chance, would have started a large and long lasting vegan movement.

‘Til next time Light Travelers.

Mike Free

New documentary film Cowspiracy is a must see!

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I’m marking it down now: Cowspiracy will go down in history as the most influential eco-documentary of the 21st century. Yes, it’s that good, folks. The directors Kip Andersen and Keegan Kuhn have made the most complete argument for a change, and end, to animal agriculture as we know it. Anyone who calls themselves an environmentalist can no longer do so without also saying that they are a vegan.

And just in case you haven’t been paying attention, the earth is burning to death and we need to do something to reverse the destruction that we’ve caused. Most of that destruction has been caused by mega-scale animal agriculture to feed the unnecessary demand of meat eaters, primarily in developed countries.

The effects of the impacts caused by animal agriculture are so daunting that it would take a 90 minute film to explain them all. Oh wait there is one! It’s called Cowspiracy. Watch the trailer here, and then watch the documentary.

Til next time Light Travelers.

http://www.cowspiracy.com

Obesity in America: stop feeding the fat.

2ktUzO7Last week, I went on a tour around Aoyama in Tokyo to see the connections between new and old architecture. I’m joining a company called Context Travel as a docent in Tokyo, and I went along my first tour to see what to expect when I’m the one leading folks around Tokyo. The docent giving the tour, John, invited me to a restaurant to get feedback on his tour.

I mentioned that I could only eat a salad, or a smoothie because I’m (mostly) raw vegan, and he immediately started rattling off questions about what I eat. He was more interested in my diet for his own personal health reasons, and was not the slightest bit annoying or challenging of my decision to be vegan like many people can be when presented with such a stark contrast to their own eating habits. John admitted to me that he doesn’t feel very healthy and that he wanted to lose weight and get healthier.

I’ve gone vegan three or four times since 2008 and it usually lasts for about six months until I fall off the wagon. It’s only been about five weeks but this time feels different. I’m not fighting against myself to not eat meat. Rather I’m more focused on eating fruit. I’m not one of those people who gets grossed out by meat when it’s cooked. Raw and bloody is another story. Also, I’ve learned that it isn’t just meat that is unhealthy, but also processed foods and even whole grains. I just discovered that I am gluten sensitive. Gluten causes damage to my gastrointestinal tract by ripping off portions of the microvilli responsible for absorbing nutrients from food.

When I look at certain food now, I see pain. When I look at a hamburger I know what the combination of the bread with all of its gluten and refined carbs, plus the meat loaded with toxic chemicals and indigestible protein will do to my body. I see bloating, constipation, bad skin and body odor. I see myself twenty years in advance with an expanding waistline, shortness of breath, and declining energy levels.

I’ve been burned too many times before to enjoy just one more burger. Or one more piece of cheesecake. A few more salty french fries won’t make me feel better. And that’s the key. I want to feel better. I see and choose food that will make me feel amazing!

I conveyed these ideas to John. He agreed that being vegan is probably the healthiest way to eat. But he didn’t think that he could go vegan. He thought that he’s too weak and too addicted to meat and other food.

Here’s some of his “affirmations” surrounding food:

“I’m okay if I die fat and ugly.”

“I’m British, it’s my birthright to eat fish and chips.” (more like a death right)

“I just need a diet that I can sustain.” (this one sounds good but it’s actually limiting his potential)

“I don’t have the discipline to be vegan.”

“I eat too many carbs.” (this one is dangerous because it’s not true that carbohydrates cause weight gain)

What John doesn’t know is that he’s not doing the talking, the accumulated fat in his body is talking for him. It’s affecting his view of himself and reality.

I decided that I wanted to feel better. When I did, I stopped feeding my fat, and negative emotions. And I started feeding the real me. The lean me.

To show you that carbohydrates, sugars from fruit can make you lean and fit, here’s what I eat in a typical day in Tokyo.

4-5 kilograms (9-11 lbs) of oranges: In Japan they’re called mikan and they’re freaking delicious this time of year. Fall is mikan season in Japan and they’re pretty cheap. I scored 4 5-kilo boxes of mikan for 550 yen each. There are over 60 mikan in a box, which comes out to just over 8 yen per mikan. I bet that’s cheaper than much of the rice sold in Japan on a caloric basis.

Did you see that I eat 11 lbs of food and I’m still losing weight?

Try eating 11 lbs of beef and see what happens to you. I bet you’ll still be hungry after that if you’re still breathing. I don’t eat it all at once, but that gets me around 2,200 calories. Still not enough to sustain me. I need at least 3,000 calories per day.

4-10 bananas: that’s 320 to 1,000 calories depending on the size of the banana.

200 grams of spinach: there’s a reason Popeye ate spinach. It’s a superfood, look it up and eat it up.

I’ve been thinking about obesity in America recently since I started a high-carb-vegan diet. I get most of my calories from fruit and sometimes I will eat a cooked meal for dinner that includes a carbohydrate like potatoes, lots of vegetables and very little fat. I started eating this way because I wanted to feel better. I was not feeling great after nine months of eating the standard Japanese diet, which is becoming more processed, fatty, sugary and salty like the standard American diet.

I started about five weeks ago and I am now the lightest and slimmest I’ve been in about a decade. I’m not sure how much weight I’ve lost because I don’t check regularly, but I did weigh myself two weeks ago, and again yesterday, so I’ll just guess. I currently weigh 165 lbs fully hydrated. I stand 5′ 10″ making my BMI a healthy 23.7. BMI isn’t the best metric so I’ll give you my body fat percentage of 12.9 percent.

Two weeks ago my body fat percentage was 14-point-something percent. And I weighed roughly 171-ish.

My best guess is that I weighed around 180 pounds when I first started. A lot of the weight that I lost is excess water and digestive gunk.

I am happy that I lost a lot of weight in a short period of time, but losing weight was not my main goal. I started because I wanted to feel better emotionally, physically and mentally.

Millions of people die every year from being obese or overweight. That is unfortunate, but what is more unfortunate is not being able to feel your best when you’re alive. Food isn’t just killing people, it’s making them depressed, sad, irritated, angry and sick. Food should be our best resource for living a happy and healthy life. We have turned food into a nightmare of a carnival with flashing lights, distorted mirrors, and psycho clowns telling us what’s normal and good for us.

Here’s my offer to America and the world: instead of “treating obesity” let’s treat leanness. Stop feeding the fat and feed the muscle. Muscle, bone, organs, nerves and connective tissue make up the real you. The you that is meant to feel amazing and alive. Excess fat is just the end result of an accumulation of negative emotions and thoughts.

I have found that the best way to treat leanness is through a whole food vegan diet with most of my calories being supplied by fruit. Yet, even with that understanding I must keep in mind that it’s my thoughts, emotions and imagination that really make up my body. My decision to eat mostly fruit was preceded by my desire to feel better.

Check out this spirited away video. I think this sums up the state of food (and material consumption) in the world today.

Til next time light travelers.

Go vegan in Japan, am I nuts?

Fun Band

You know, the best part of living in a country that is not your own is that every day there’s an opportunity for adventure. And with the right mix of ingredients, any day can be epic, or yabai(やばい)as they say in Japan.

Today was a very yabai day. It kind of just happened randomly. I click like on any Japanese Facebook page that is about vegetarian or vegan food despite the fact that I can’t read most of it. It’s just that you never know when something will pop up and peak your interest, which is exactly what happened last week. One of the pages called Veggie Meeting posted an event for Vege and Fork Market in Kawasaki just outside of Tokyo.

Just to back track a little, I have been on again and off again vegan since 2008. Mostly off, unfortunately, because when I am vegan I feel much better and I lose a lot of weight. It’s also cool to not kill animals for food consumption. This time I went vegan 3 weeks ago after trying to get by eating less meat for a few months. It didn’t work. My health was in decline as I was eating the Standard Japanese Diet, which looks more and more like the Standard American Diet (that’s SAD for short…life) every year.

Not only did I go vegan, but I knew that I had to go back to being a raw vegan and do it as best I could in Japan where fruit and vegetables can be pricey. Why go raw vegan you ask? Isn’t that extreme? I like sleeping at night, if I can. I often wake up because I can’t breathe. My sinuses close up shop and my nasal cavity is on lock down. I can’t breathe from my mouth because I unconsciously close it when I sleep. It feels like torture some nights.

Eating raw food helps alleviate some of the conditions that prevent me from sleeping. I have a lot less mucous and the mucous that I have is clear of any solids. I can breathe a lot better when everything is not clogged up, obviously. Also, when I lose weight I lose fat from around my neck and chest and I snore less since my insides aren’t squished together. Finally, when my body can digest food efficiently it doesn’t create a lot of discomfort from indigestion. Raw fruit that is optimally ripe is super easy to digest and creates healing effects throughout your body.

When you eat dozens of pounds of fruit every week and avoid cooked food as much as possible it limits many opportunities to socialize. I adjust by eating all raw for one or two days and then having just one cooked vegan meal with friends. Or I will go to a farmer’s market that has cooked food and fresh fruit available. It’s only been 3 weeks, but I know what the pitfalls are from doing it before: sugar, socializing, alcohol and not preparing ahead.

I’ve decided that I am going to focus on creating the healthiest me that I can create. That means sticking to a vegan, mostly raw, high-carb, and low-fat diet. It also means running nearly every day or playing a sport. Then there’s the mental and spiritual side of having positive thoughts, dreaming big, and living in the moment.

Today was a great day for living in the moment. All of the food was vegan at Vege and Fork Market. Not only was it vegan but it was delicious oishii おいしい in Japanese. I had a great burrito with spanish rice, guacamole, lettuce and what looked like some kind of hemp spread. The flavors really melded together well. Then I had a vegan burger from Mana Burgers. Mana Burgers was pumping out burgers faster than your average fast food chain. It was one of the best vegan burgers that I’ve ever had, and a real hit among market goers.

The market had such a great and über relaxing feel to it. The weather was overcast yet not dreary, and combined with the fall wind and leaves it made the day perfect for such a gathering. I always enjoy being around people who are consciously promoting healthy living whether I’m in Japan, or California, or traveling through India. The tangle of Japanese consumer culture can make it seem like healthy lifestyles are rare here, but events like Vege and Fork Market make it easier for like minded people to connect and have a good time.

PS: check out the gallery for pictures of the market and Kakio 柿生 the surrounding area. The first part of kakio is kaki meaning persimmon. So the town is persimmon-o. Makes sense, there were tons of persimmon trees there. Beautiful place!

Food loves me: why I talk to my food

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Green food warrior: I grew this awesome organic daikon!

Bananas love me. Figs love me. Mangoes love me. Spinach loves me. Avocados love me. Oranges love me. Watermelon loves me.

How many times have we all said “I love food”? And we really meant it. I mean I know that I felt a lot of love saying it. I paid a lot of money over my life to love food. Traveled great distances while dreaming of the food I would eat, savor and enjoy. I love food.

But something changed when I started talking to food. Think I’m nuts? Just try it. For everything you put in your mouth for the next few days try talking to it. Tell your food, “I love you”. Say it with all your heart. And then listen for the response.

In any loving relationship there is no doubt what the response should be, it’s always a screaming “I LOVE YOU!!!!” For eternity, ’til the end of time.

Now to shift gears a bit, I’ll reveal my motivation for this post.

When people ask me where I’m from I tell them California, and then Los Angeles. I was born in Sacramento and my family moved less than two years after I was born. I grew up in New Orleans and lived there for 24 years. So why don’t I say I’m from New Orleans?

I spent two of the best years of my life in Los Angeles where I felt alive, and had a zest for life that was sometimes missing when I lived in New Orleans. I honestly never felt like myself in New Orleans.

I love team sports, so I took any chance to play football or ultimate frisbee. Even if it meant biking 3, 8, 12 miles, playing a game full on, and then biking back home. There was one month where every Sunday I would pack up 50 lbs worth of gear and supplies on a trailer hitched to my bike, host and play a flag football meetup for 3 hours on the beach and ride home with the gear.

This is the kind of food I ate daily in LA. Fresh squeezed  organic orange juice with juiced turmeric root. Super powers activated!

This is the kind of food I ate daily in LA. Fresh squeezed organic orange juice with juiced turmeric root. Super powers activated!

I was living my dream so the energy was always there. But there was one key ingredient that allowed me to sustain such high energy levels consistently for two years. The food that I ate was mostly organic, raw fruits and vegetables. It’s sounds simple but it’s not. I was eating food that was packed with the miracle that is life.

I recently received a message from my mother that one of my uncles had a massive stroke and will not make it out of the hospital. I know that he had a good life, and was committed to creating good in this world. That’s what matters most.

I send infinite love to him and his family as they go through what I can imagine is a daunting experience.

My uncle lived in a very challenging food culture. People from New Orleans famously say, “in New Orleans, we don’t eat to live, we live to eat.” In New Orleans, food, drink, music, community, culture and identity are woven together into the fabric of life.

I know that I am not going to change the world with one blog post. We live in a time where most Americans are overweight and health is declining because of the food. I face the same challenges as everyone else and I have not stuck to the perfect diet despite knowing that I should eat lots of raw, organic fruits and vegetables.

All I ask is that we all talk to our food. Tell your food, I love you.

Wait for the response. It may respond with a big “F you!” Or it may be just be a lazy “meh :/ ” When you hear your food scream “I LOVE YOU WITH ALL MY HEART” and tell you “you’re beautiful and full of energy” or maybe “your skin is glowing” or “wow look how athletic you are”, that’s when you know that your food loves you and is worth eating.

Til next time light travelers.