First of all, I just want to say a huge thank you to each and every single one of you who've bought my book, left a review, shared it with your friends. It's been incredible to see you all think like a monk.
And if you don't have it already, please, please, please go and grab your copy at Think Like a Monk book dotcom where you can get audible Kindle. And I read through the audible myself. It's over 20 hours. If you could deal with my voice a little bit more than it's right there. But I can't wait for you to read this book. I put so much love and energy into it and I can't wait for you to train your mind for peace and purpose every day.
Check it out.
Since the 1980s, hip hop and America's prisons have grown side by side. And we're going to investigate this connection to see how it lifts us up and holds us down.
Hip hop is talking about what we live trying to live the American dream in at the American Dream. I'm Zinnemann. And I'm Rodney Cormark.
Listen now to the Louder than Ariete podcast from NPR Music, where we chase the collision of Crime and punishment in America. And I think that's often what's missing, finding purpose that we look to just feel fulfilled ourself.
But actually that final piece that really creates purpose is, OK, how do I use this to serve other people? And that can apply to anything from comedy through to movies, through to accountancy and law. Like there's nothing in the world that can't be used to help people. And I think sometimes we limit we say, oh, well, you can't help people because your X, Y, Z or that career can't help it. That's not true.
Everything can be used in the service of others and engage in that way.
Everyone, I am so excited, I'm buzzing, this is the first ever event in our virtual book tour called Dear 20-20, Think Like a Monk and you joined in. This is super historic for me. If you have a copy of the book. I am so grateful to you right now for being here. Thank you so much for showing up. And I can't wait to share this time with you today. Now, before we get going, I wanted to share with you a letter that I wrote to 2020.
Now, I'm sure many of us would have so many things we'd like to say to 2020. Here are a few of the things that I wanted to share. I've never shared this with anyone before. It's exclusive. And here for this audience, in 2020, the world was hit by a deadly pandemic. Difficult to understand by any academic. It could make you cough, lose, smell and taste, gave trouble breathing, bluish lips or face. People felt heaviness and pain in their chest.
Human resilience and response was put to the test. First there was anxiety and then there was confusion. We couldn't hug a handshake or fist bump until a solution. Schools were closed, leagues were canceled, and no one could meet. Social distancing became the new norm. We had to be apart by six feet. We couldn't stand in line outside concerts, but we stood outside stores. Billions were stuck indoors, finishing Netflix and getting bored. People had to work from home.
It was the new normal. We wore sweatpants to work.
Only the upper half was formal wearing shorts, by the way, people couldn't travel abroad, so they pursued the journey with. Then people danced on their roofs and bedrooms without any reason. People lost their jobs and started to pursue their passions. People use their passions to serve others and make things happen. We started celebrating heroes like nurses, doctors and those on the front line. Everyone would clap and cheer for them all. At one time it affected people's wealth and their mental health.
But then people started taking more care of themselves. They practiced yoga, music and meditation. They started to support each other. All across the nation, people raise money for those in need and gave up their salaries. They danced online with the world and sang on their balconies. No one saw it coming and no one could see it leaving. But people became much more grateful to be breathing. Hundreds of thousands of people died. May they rest in peace.
Let's send love to all their loved ones to hope that pain will ease. We deeply understood that our choices affect others strangers, brothers, sisters, lovers, fathers and mothers, old and young. The virus didn't discriminate rich and poor. The virus did infiltrate. It showed us we weren't in control and had to be more prepared. We needed to care more for each other and the planet. We had to be aware it was a warning like no other being apart brought us closer together.
We finally found ways to use technology for the better. We became more mindful and started to judge less. We develop kindness and tools for less stress. We led with more love, compassion and empathy. We gave up flomo comparison and jealousy. The choices we make now will affect future generations. Our togetherness will be celebrated, our sacrifice will be recognized.
We can choose to show them what we do at tough times and ask yourself. When your child or grandchild asks you in 2030, 2040 or 2050, what did you do in 2020, do the answer that you want to share with them. Now for the very special moment, I'm so deeply excited to introduce not only a special guest, but a very dear friend. Of course, you already know who it is, Russell Brand, who needs no introduction.
But you may think you know Russell, the actor, the comedian, the genius, but that's only a small part of who he truly is. He's also an activist and an amazing thinker in the realms of spirituality, philosophy and life. As some of you may know, Russell and I have been friends for some time, and I'm always so grateful to get to talk with him more and share this meaningful conversation. If you don't already listen to his amazing podcast Under the Skin, make sure to check it out.
And of course, he's a phenomenal author with some incredible books. So without further ado, let's welcome the one and only Russell Brand. J.
Hey, Russell, it's so good to see you.
Good to see you. And listen to you. You're so compelling and magnetic. And I just want to congratulate you off the bat for this wonderful achievement of yours, this incredible book that I've been reading. Thank you for giving me a personal inscription. Well done. I wish you every success with this book, and I'm very excited to be speaking with you about it.
Thank you so much. And I wanted to say I was so excited to do this with you in person. I know that's what we'd originally planned. And I want to thank you and your team for making this possible and for you joining us live from London while I'm in L.A. and I'm so deeply grateful to you for all your support and mentorship and guidance over the last few years. So thank you for always being there for me.
Thank you. Now, J. My function here is to interview you, so I'm going to have to assume control of this situation, even though this is very much a domain and you were commanding it with aplomb, as anyone who loves you and I count myself among that number would expect. But without further ado, tell me how you are feeling about the launch of your new book, Think Like a Man. How are you feeling? Especially sorry you've been working towards for a long while.
How are you feeling? Absolutely.
It's been in the process of the idea. First came to me probably around four years ago and I started writing the book and preparing for it around nearly two years ago now. And it's been an incredibly amazing week like this is week one. The book came out last Tuesday. And so you're speaking to military seven days after that. And I'm just feeling really humbled and grateful at the response. It's been amazing, like everyone who's just shown up all across the world and, you know, supported and being a part of this launch.
And it's been phenomenal. So I'm feeling really good about it. And I'm glad that it's finally in people's hands because I wrote it, finished writing at end of last year. And so I've been really excited to hear feedback and read reviews, and it's been really meaningful to see all of that.
Yes, it must be rewarding for you, in a sense. Did you find it easy to operate in a different medium, often the content you create on camera, so you're used to engaging with people in that format? I think the book is positive that I've already read a fantastically written Jay, of course. How did you find the process of conveying your ideas in a different format? Was it challenging? Did you enjoy it? In the beginning?
It was really challenging. I found it really hard. Like you said, I'm so used to speaking and I always thought that, oh, you could just speak and then write and then it would look the same and sound the same and people would digested the same. And then I started realizing that that wasn't the case. So the biggest intention I had is that I wanted, when everyone reads it, to feel like I was sitting in the room with them, that we were spending time together, that it was a really pleasant conversation.
And I think that took a while for me to learn and understand. So it was definitely challenging. I fell in love with the process after a bit after a few months, and now I'm excited to write more and more. That definitely was challenging in the beginning.
Of course, I've known you for a long while and my wife and I were talking about you most favorably, knowing that I was going to be spending this virtual time with you. You know, when we first met, it was because you were spending time with a mutual friend and mentor of ours. Right. And that's why me and my wife reminded me that you used to drive him to the house. You wouldn't come in, you would wait outside.
But that conveys incredible humility and sort of commitment to your own sort of pilgrimage, a spiritual journey. Now, how are you dealing with that? You know, since then, you've become like a sort of I've been watching the stuff that comes up on screen in the tremendous success of your book, the social media success. How does that intersect with your spiritual practice? Because one of the hardest things for me has been doing what I do for a living and trying to keep grounded while still working on the world in a world that requires so Claudette's engagement and to a degree, ego.
How was that journey affected you?
Yeah, I think that's a really. For question, I remember that I've done that so many times, driving rather than 20 years, and it would always fool me so much joy to see your interactions and how much you had so many incredible questions and curiosity. And I love spending time with you.
And so for me, seeing your relationship was so joy giving to me. So when we finally got to connect, it was really an honor for me. But I think that it's a daily challenge to manage and monitor what you're speaking about. I think it's something that I have to be aware of and conscious and intentional about every day. And so my training and understanding of humility and ego is a really strong foundation, and it really gives me a great starting point.
But the thing about ego is that its biggest trick is making you feel like you've conquered it. And so if you ever feel ego less or you feel like you're humble, it's almost like ego's winning more and more and more. And so for me daily, reminding myself of why I'm doing what I do. One of my favorite practices and I don't have enough time to ever share this with you, but it was among practice in teaching that really helped me was that every time someone congratulates you or admires you or says something positive about you, you accept it.
But you after accepting it, you pass it on to the person that gave you that skill or that realization of that ability. So if someone says to me, like, oh, gee, I really appreciate this about you, I accept that and I thank them for it. But at the same time, I then pass that on as gratitude to the teacher or the mentor that gave it to me, and sometimes even someone who indirectly gave it to me, maybe someone was mean to me in the past or someone treated me badly in the past.
And you remember them and say, Oh, I learned that good quality because of some pain. So to me, there is some of these practices that have become almost wiring's in my mind and brain because I practiced them over so much time that it almost happens by default. But I have to keep cementing that realization. I hope that answers your question and at least to start it off.
It certainly does. And how do you literally say out loud to the person what you just did?
What I usually do in my head, but if it's someone I know, if we were talking, then I'd be like, oh yeah, that's something I learned from so-and-so. But initially, if that person would be like, what are you talking about? And then my answer will be, OK, let me just pass it on in my mind to my teachers and my mentors and my coaches or like I said, an ex-girlfriend or an ex partner or something like that, too.
That may have taught us something powerful. Right.
Just to prevent you from taking it on board.
Yeah, I am pretty sure they got exactly.
There's a beautiful story that I think was told and I think it's law abiding citizen. That movie with Gerard Butler, I think it's in there and it's also in Marcus Aurelius is meditations. And it said that when Marcus Aurelius would walk around the Roman square, he'd be followed by a whisper almost or an assistant. And the assistants only role would be to whisper in his ear, You're just a man. You're just a man. Because Marcus Aurelius would be praised and given so much adoration that he needed to remind him.
Now, we may not be able to have assistants that assist us in that way, but we have to be our own assistants in our mind and remind ourselves of our humility and anchor. And I think there's so much liberation in knowing that it's not all to do with you.
It's almost too much pressure.
And I often say that, like for me, if you look at the book, you see the bulgogi too. You see the Vaders, you see teachers and mentors. And you wrote a book called Mentors, which was phenomenal, too. And, you know, it's like that to me is just so freeing, realizing that it's not all down to you. I think that's too much pressure for all of us to try and do it all ourselves.
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Your family has adapted to a lot of change this year, and with some creative problem solving, you discover new ways to tackle life's day to day from schools out to summer vacation all the way back to school. I've been talking to my friends who have families and they've all been thinking about how they're going to celebrate Halloween this year. Well, this Halloween may look a little different to many of us, but the treats don't have to stop. Candy with a quick hands on science and art project, your kids won't get bored.
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That's really beautifully explained, if it was me, I would pay that person doing the whispering to say you're just a sexy man. And on some of the questions that are coming from the chat, A.J., Sunny is asking, how do you deal with anxiety when you're going through loneliness? What do you do? That's a question from A.J.. Yeah.
So anxiety is definitely tough for so many of us. And I think people experience in different ways. I do recommend that people do find professional help and support if this is something that has gone on for a long period of time. But for me, the first part of it, through loneliness, specifically what you mentioned, is starting to explore loneliness a bit more. So I feel like in English we have two words for being alone, but we only use one of them.
So one of them is loneliness and the other one solitude and monks, anaesthetics and yogis, as well as more recent writers like Paul Tillich would talk about how being alone there's a strength in solitude, there's a power in being alone. There's actually great strength in it. But we don't see that because when you were a kid and if you remember school ruso and if you were one of the kids that didn't have a lot of friends, you'd be considered the weirdo or the loner.
Or if you had a party and only five people showed up, you'd be considered unpopular. And so we've constantly made loneliness seem like a bad thing and a negative thing. And so now everyone's scared of being lonely. So if you're 30 and you're not married, it's like, oh, my gosh, you're lonely. How are you still single? And so we've created this really negative narrative around being lonely when actually a lot of traditions would find power in solitude.
And so the first thing I'd suggest is sometimes solitude is a great way of learning about yourself. And to me, that's a really good place to start, because when you learn about yourself and you find out what you like and what you dislike and what you're passionate about and what activity, every day brings you joy, you start loving your own company in your own mind, in your own space, and that allows you to remove some of that initial anxiety.
Is that something you come out and. Yeah. So I spend the first section of the book is called Letting Go or Let Go. And a lot of that is letting go of these layers and identities and expectations, opinions and obligations that society puts and puts on us. And I remember you talking about achieving great heights and attending some of the most incredible award ceremonies in L.A. for like movies and music and hosting. And and you were just kind of like, well, really is this really is like you have to let go of that being the epitome of the pinnacle of society.
And I think a lot of us have to do that in our own selves. And so for me, letting go is not just physically distancing. It's not just about being alone or solitude by physically distancing. It's mentally and emotionally distancing from the expectations, opinions and obligations of society. And to me, that's what solitude really is more than even just physically being away from people.
But when you're going on this sort of regular news media and those kind of things, how do you deal with conveying a message that comes from a very esoteric personal practice? I know how serious you take your meditation. I'm often dazzled by the degree that you're willing to go through, the hours you put into meditation, your commitment to not using profane language or curse words and stuff like that. When you're going into the nexus of this machine appearing on daytime TV in America or in a popular TV shows, how do you present this message, which has roots in very sort of early and very pure practices?
Yeah, my goal is to try and present them as purely but also as practically as possible. And so for me, it's also about really connecting with people with their current challenges in life and where they're at. And I think that's the same for me. That's the only reason why I was able to understand. I'm sure you feel the same way. The only reason why we were able to take on some of these, because, again, I'm born and raised in London.
I grew up in north London. I didn't grow up in a religious family. I wasn't meant to be a monk. Like I have material desires. I have an ego. I have all of this stuff. But I was able to adopt these teachings because someone presented them to me in a practical way that connected with the life I currently lived. And so for me, my goal was always, how do we make it really practical? And I'm excited.
Actually, we're going to take some questions afterwards. I'm going to ask you as well, because I love your perspectives. And so we're going to take some questions from the audience that Russell gets to answer to the guys. Leave your questions for Russell and me. We're both going to go back and forth, but that's really important to me, that we speak to people in a way that it's meeting them where they are, not where you think you are or what's next for you.
And I think that's where it gets confusing. So I remember one of my teachers would always give me the example of if you're practising, for example, a PhD mathematician came into this broadcast and started speaking about the mathematics. I wouldn't have a clue. You might, but I definitely wouldn't have a clue. And I'm sure I'll go over both of our heads that if they were able to. In a basic equation or two plus two equals four, we do understand, and so it's not about basic in the sense of not being evolved or pure.
It's about simplifying so that it meets people where they can connect. And so for me, I'm always trying to understand how I can better share and understand. And the best quotes I've heard of it from Einstein is if you can't explain something simply, you don't understand it well enough. And so for me, that's always my practice. I'm all right. If I can explain this to a four year old, then it doesn't make sense. So I'm always thinking to myself, how do I learn this?
How do I learn this and understand it? So that's kind of my personal challenge to myself.
Do you sometimes become frustrated? Because I was thinking then when you use the example of mathematics that we don't live in a culture that kind of denies the existence of mathematics in the culture, that's predicated on materialism, on consumerism, on commodification, has a vested interest in kind of denying spiritual principles, very fundamental principles such as you are enough. You don't need to buy anything else. We're all connected to one another. In fact, we were all one.
You don't need to compete with other people. So you see with the mathematics example, whilst we may be ignorant of maths, there's not an absolute denial of maths where sometimes your spirituality is had a bad rap. It's been present, it is woo woo. It's been presented as dogmatic and negative and attached to so prejudicial and condemnatory ideas. How do you navigate that space, knowing that you're living in a world that not only is sometimes ignorant of those principles, but in absolute denial of them?
I think for me I feel a sense of responsibility to try my best to present what I've learned in a way that is compassionate towards anyone who may have those blocks, because there's a reason someone has that block.
It could have been their parent. It could have been a religious institution. It could have been an early experience in childhood or at school. And so my heart just feels extended and compassion to whatever background someone is coming from, because I feel we all have blocks to different things and I know blocks that I have. And so being compassionate towards other people's blocks just because they're different, but then feeling a sense of responsibility. And so, for example, in the book, I not only share inspirational stories of people who become monks or lessons or legends or parables, but I also say I share a lot of science because to me it's really important that the meditation techniques and the practices we talk about and that's where I really got fascinated by monks brains because I've interviewed Matthieu Ricard, who's been called the world's happiest man, because his brain has the highest form of gamma waves when scanned, which are linked to happiness, joy and attention.
And then they did 20 other monks and then they found the same thing. And so for me, it's I love seeing the science behind the spirituality in the stories. And I'm almost thinking, like, if and I know you do this, too, and if all of us were able to be more synergized in our approach, then hopefully we would limit that skepticism or cynicism that comes. And so for me, I see as a responsibility to try and change the way things are presented, realising that I won't get it perfectly right and realising not everyone's going to agree, but not everyone agreed with a lot of incredible people.
So I'm just little old me trying to make a decision and trying to make a change. And I'll keep trying to do that. Is there something getting in the way of achieving your purpose this year hasn't been easy and I speak with people every day about how they can better manage stress and anxiety and overcome things that are interfering with their happiness. And I always recommend better help. Better help will assess your needs and match you with your own licensed professional therapist.
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That's athletic green dot com forward slash purpose. Obviously, if you're practicing at the level of your man, the happiest man and monks that have built an entire lifestyle around achieving that kind of peace and happiness advantages to that, when he was speaking out thinking, wow, is that well, then do we have to make those kind of changes in our lives that we have to become sheets? And do we have to deny ourselves of pleasure and engagement? How are we going to live in a world where we're increasingly online, where we're defined by what we do for money?
How are we going to utilize these techniques while dealing with the limitations and demands of materialism?
Absolutely. And that's why I called the book Think Like a Monk and Don't Live Like a Monk, because I don't think it's practical even for me now in my life. But I definitely know that I've tried to extract the mindset that are useful in our day to day life. So we may not be able to become people that meditate for four to eight hours a day like monks do. But we could carve out four to eight minutes to start with. We may not be people that are going to say I'm going to remove all my material possessions because we've got kids and families to feed and all the rest of it.
So it doesn't make sense. But we may say I'm going to limit my wants and focus more on my passions and my hobbies and my interests. So there are elements in the essence that we can extract from the teachings and apply them to our lives so that we can feel some of those benefits. And and I really feel that. And I know many examples of people in the world who have jobs, who have families who are trying to do this, and they definitely feel a greater sense of joy, happiness and purpose in their life than they would if they didn't.
So for me, it's more about, well, let's take a look at the practices and let's start carving out moments in our day where we are thinking like a monk and taking that mindset rather than having to transform our whole life.
And of course, for those of you that can take out a day for a meditation retreat or taking out a week to go on a retreat is beautiful. That immersive experience could restart your whole journey.
And so when we can travel again, but even now, online sessions like this, when people can dial into that, it can give them the answers that they're looking for and give them an answer of what's next rather than just going on that default autopilot mode. And then, yes, just go by. So to me, it's more about giving people the tools to make the decisions for themselves. Yes.
As you have said earlier, in ways that can be implemented in harmony with a lifestyle that places other demands on us. So honing in on some of the specific things you talk about in the book. What do you feel, for example, about forgiveness and you speak about in the book degrees of forgiveness and how forgiveness functions and create serenity that force a little bit? Yeah, absolutely.
So in the bulgogi to there are three aspects called the modes and modes of basically every activity, every thought, every action is in one of these modes and the modes of goodness, passion and ignorance. So for example, forgiveness in the mode of ignorance is like, oh, I don't want to forgive anyone, I want revenge and they need to fall apart. So that's considered the mode of ignorance. It's an ignorant intention with an ignorant action. The mode of passion is saying, well, I'll only forgive them if they say sorry and they make it up to me.
So it's demanding something before we forgive. And the mode of goodness realizes that whether that person does the right thing or did the right thing or the wrong thing, if I forgive them, then I'll be free of the pain and the trauma that comes with holding on to unforgiveness or holding onto that pressure. So every one of our actions are always in one of those modes. So the mode of ignorance, you're motivated by fear and insecurity. So revenge is an intention that's motivated by fear and insecurity in the mode of passion.
You're motivated by desire and result. I want someone to say sorry to me and then I'll give them something back. A motive goodness is motivated by love and compassion. Where where we realized that actually out of love and compassion for myself and love and compassion for that person, there's no point in me holding this grudge. So the goal isn't to say, oh, if I'm in the mode of ignorance, I'm a bad person. The goal is to say I'm in the mode of ignorance.
That's how I feel right now. Let me see how I can upgrade to the mode of passion and let me see how I can upgrade to the mode of goodness. So it's not about judging ourselves or saying, oh, we're less than or we're not. Right. It's about dealing with our conditioned response and habit and now saying, well, how do I rise from this? Because I realize that it's not beneficial to me. And I think all of us who've ever had to forgive someone will realize that actually wanting to take revenge on them didn't work, because even when we got that body that we thought would get them back, they still felt that way about us.
We still didn't feel happier about ourselves because we did it for them or if we demanded closure from someone, even if they kind of gave it. We still felt empty inside because we knew it was something we had to give ourselves, so forgiveness to me starts with forgiving yourself and it extends out when we start upgrading in this level of the modes, you still revert to deploy quite traditional resources in your understanding of spirituality.
Go back to the days you look are also interested in biblical scripture and the Koran to check out a lot of various sources.
Yeah, I was really fortunate when I was around 16 was when I first got really interested in spirituality, religion and traditions. I felt really bad that we as a family celebrated Christmas, but I didn't know too much about Jesus Christ apart from his birth that we celebrated at school. But I felt bad that we had Christmas and we had a Christmas dinner, even though there wasn't Turkey was vegetarian or whatever at home. And I was just a bit like, whoa, wait a minute, I'm giving presents to my family, but I don't really know what this is about.
And so I started attending the church in my local area when I was about 16 and just wanting to learn more. And I remember reading parts of the Bible there. And that's why in the book you find me quoting from a lot of Christian monks. At the same time. I remember reading the Koran around the same time because I was dating someone from a Muslim background and I wanted to understand more about her tradition. And so that's that was my reason for reading the Koran.
And then when I wrote the book, I dived even more into it when I lived as a monk, dived into more of the Buddhist literature is and and all of the Hindu literature is, of course, which are much more closer to this. So to me and the book has that the book has so much quoting from monks of all different traditions, because I think Paymer Children, for example, is a Buddhist monk, is I'm a huge fan of her work.
I think she's done phenomenal work in healing the heart for so many people. And to see she's someone I quote a fair bit in the book, and that's kind of where I get excited. I kind of see myself as a curator and a synergise and someone who can grab and see parallels and connections. And I go back to that Steve Jobs feeling of creativity is connecting things. And I always think that looking for parallels and synergise is really interesting because that's where you find answers.
You don't find answers in polarities and divisions. And so for me, that's always my. And same with science, whether it's science or even whether it's mainstream culture. I love watching a movie and going where's the bulgogi to principle in this movie? And I can always find it. And that's what I love. I love wisdom being so relevant. And I start the book with that quote from Ivan Pavlov that says, If you want a new idea, read an old book.
And I really, really love that, because to me, that's where that intersection of new and old science and spirituality, religion, but also daily ritual, like I love seeing those synergies. That's kind of where I get my buzz from.
Are you interested in all states of consciousness that don't necessarily mean I know that you are a abstinent person, like maybe you don't drink or take drugs? I'm not referring to that. But states achieved through yogic exercise, for example, Kundalini and breastwork. Are you fascinated with areas of religious discourse that seem to be dealing with alternate dimensions, alternate reality? Is that something that interests you? Yeah, it does.
I think anything that extends humanity beyond the body is fascinating to me because I think so much of what we talk about is all around the experiences of the body or even just the emotions or even just the mind. And I think any sort of venture into the world of consciousness fascinates me because, A, because I'm excited to see if science will ever be able to figure out and share more on it. But because I think these kind of alternative experiences, as you calling them, give people faith in different ways and give people the realization that there is more to us than our bodies and our minds.
And and I think that that's why it fascinates me, because if anyone's ever had an out of body experience or if anyone's ever had a meditation where they felt completely connected with their consciousness, they now have a completely different paradigm to life.
And so that's why it fascinates me, because I think for so many people, we need to really feel and experience something to believe it.
And if that if you're with someone who's like that, then I think these practices can be really powerful and useful, because part of what we're dealing with is, I would say, mundane challenges. I don't mean mundane in a pejorative sense. I mean the challenges of everyday life. I'm feeling anxious and feeling insecure. Then there's the more sort of extreme problems that are happening. We live in times of tyranny and abuse and the great fear. Sometimes I wonder about the what might be regarded in a secular society is the extreme aspects of spirituality.
I mean, specifically monastic living, higher state of consciousness. I can't help but think that they might be a significant component in any. Meaningful change will have to take place beyond the level of the individual, although, of course, I acknowledge that we start with the individual doing excellent work in that area, making these ideas palatable, accessible. Certainly that's what you do for me. But what do you think about the sexual implications of living a life that is predicated on principles that extract spirituality?
Yeah, if I understand your question correctly and you can tell me if I've got it wrong, but I remember said we were in New York together and and you were saying, you know, everyone's always trying to demystify spirituality, like, I want to read mystify spirituality. And I love that because it was such an interesting viewpoint because you almost really appreciate and enjoy the really extreme forms of it. And when I say extreme, I don't mean extreme in action, but in experience and attending rituals that are very ancient and timeless.
And for me, it's it's interesting, isn't it, that there will be different leaders who push and lead society in different ways. There'll be some who put out something extreme which will sound crazy and will all catch up in a few years. There'll be people that make things really easy and accessible to understand right now.
And it's almost like I always feel like we need everyone because everyone's going to have a different flavor and a different approach and a different need, and their knowledge or their sharing will be realized at different times. And so we know that there are so many traditions or cultures that only gain traction many years after that wisdom had been left on the planet. So if I'm understanding your question correctly, I think we need people on all levels of the spectrum sharing messages from a truthful and genuine space of experience, because that's going to connect with people at different times.
And we may not even get it right now, but ten, fifteen, twenty five years down the line will be like, oh, wow, that person was ahead of their times. I don't know if I'm understanding your question correctly.
So I think you do understand it. And you've certainly answered an aspect of it in that there are different levels of understanding and appreciation. Another aspect of what was inquiring about is the sort of social implications of living in a spiritually, you know, sort of what might call a of Enuka. Yes. Yes. You can see the sort of political and social aspect of mental health, addiction, conflagration. I wonder how you feel that the spiritual principles are applicable beyond our individual practice, which is, of course, the focus of this book and into more into a broader social context.
Is that something you think about or is it thank you for explaining it.
That makes so much sense. I do think about it. I've been spending a bit more time thinking about it. And I think, Mike, as you said, my focus very much for the last few years and my work has been focusing on the individual and I don't know if I'll ever stop doing that because I really love trying to improve individual lives and experiences. But I do I do spend some time thinking about structure and systems. At least what I know now is that ultimately the action that anyone takes is fueled by the purity of their intention.
And so systems and structures cannot solve problems if they don't come from a place of purified intent. And so you can't solve a systemic issue just with a new system. It's got to be solved from someone who's implementing the system with love and with compassion. So people often get confused, like how does love and compassion solve the world? And it's like, well, it doesn't what it does, it solves the problem of the heart. And then you use your strategy and your mindsets and your statistics and your data and your science.
Then you use all that stuff to create systems that facilitates the conversation of the heart. I was reading about something recently. There's a documentary that's coming out that Will Smith's support of the Ammend documentary. It's all about the 14th Amendment and it talks about how like this incredible amendment that is meant to be about equality for all that people have constantly found loopholes in it to not give equality for all. And that's what I mean by that. You can have a really good amendment or a really good principle or a really good system.
But if people aren't wired to serve that system through purity of intent, we end up manipulating and abusing a system to get what we want anyway. And so to me, that's where they go hand in hand. And when I say compassion and love, I don't mean like, oh, let's just all hold hands. And that will change the world. I don't believe that. What I believe is that policy makers, decision makers, presidents, prime ministers, people of power and responsibility and influence can be coming from a place of inherent love and compassion.
Then the system will actually work. And by the way, that includes people, citizens, too. It doesn't it's not just top down. It's bottom up as well.
I like the way you put that. Like, you know, Satish Kumar and one of his books was talking about me and. Like Bertrand Russell in the 60s who was campaigning for nuclear disarmament, and he said, what's the point in getting rid of nuclear weapons if we don't get rid of the mentality that created and we'll just continue to perpetuate these ideas. And it's like you're saying that unless there is a sort of a fundamental change at the level of individual consciousness, how can it prevail on a broader level?
So in a sense, there is no distinction between individual spiritual growth and collective social growth data. In a way, the same idea just depends which side of it you feel your dharma is in, I suppose. Correct.
And I think that's the biggest mistake we make, is that we think it's either or. So we start. So some of us will be like, oh, no, it's all about individual change and that's all that matters. Forget the system. And then there's other people. It's all about the system. Forget the people. And it's like, well, no, it's always both, right. Like, it's it's always this symbiotic coming together. And so we have to value spirituality and strategy.
We have to value techniques and deep spiritual thought. We have to value purity and purpose. Like it's about embracing polarities. It's about really trying to understand, like even the work we do, like I often talk about it, that I wouldn't be able to do what I do if I didn't understand strategy and wisdom. Like you have to understand both because there's a beautiful statement by Martin Luther King where he said that those who love peace need to learn to organize themselves as well as those who love war.
And I think that's what's missing is that often when we believe in peace and love, we don't get organized, we don't get strategic, we don't get focused, and we just kind of hope that things are going to change. And that's I'm not into that mindset at all. I really I really believe that we have to be organized.
But I want to open up and have you answer some question, because I've been talking so much and I want to hear your incredible mind and your incredible voice and insights in all of this. So I want to take some questions, Russell, if that's okay with you in asking me so many amazing questions.
But for the next 15 minutes that we have with Russell, I really want you to hear from him. So send your questions in. And when I see them up on the screen, I'm going to read them out to Russell. So we've got the first one from Kirishima. Thank you, Karishma. How do you deal with external pressures and expectations from people around you, especially when you are happy with where you are in life? Russell, I'd love for you to answer that question if if you'd like to take it.
Well, if I'm happy in my life as such a for me, I have to really cherish and treasure that because I have dealt with a great deal of anxiety and turbulence. So if I find myself happy, that's something that I hold quite sacred. I'm willing to evaluate the relationships in my life continually, not from a selfish perspective, I hope. But now, as a father of young children, I'm pretty clear about what my priorities are. So if I feel that there are negative influences in my life, external pressures from people that I do not think are beneficial or nutritious, if of explaining to them if it's someone that I care about, that's important to me.
If the problem continues. I do consider that as part of my whole 12 step approach, the possibility of letting go of that relationship, I can't hold on to environment, social or otherwise, that are ultimately negative for me. Jane, what are you thinking?
No, I love that. I think that's great. I think for me, it's always finding ways to just be more convinced about the path that I'm on.
And you can only get that the more you walk it. And then that way that noise kind of just gets quieter. And to me, it's like that's why I think stillness and solitude is so important. I feel like whenever I feel like I've got all these competing expectations and people's opinions, again, my head, I just need to spend time alone and just recalibrate, like what I really care about and what's important to me.
And so I spend a lot of time just being away from it all to be like, OK, well, what do I feel? What do I believe? Have I really tested that belief? And then I can feel more confident about it. So, yeah. Thank you, Karishma, for that wonderful question. Let's take another one from the audience. And Russell, I'm loving hearing your insights. I know Patel says, what basic steps can we start to perform to steer towards our purpose in life?
Russell, I'm intrigued in your version of this because you've lived so many different lives and won so many different hats in your journey. And I wonder I've never addressed that question. I wonder how your purpose is transformed or changed or how you even think about it.
I'd love to hear that from you in a sense. Thanks, Jay. A lot of it is would have to refer to the answer you gave to the previous question. Is spending some time with myself looking at what my intentions are. If I can honestly say my intentions are kind to others and myself, then I'll run it past another person and get another perspective. I have, as we've discussed with mentors, people further down the path. The May all people have a different.
I have a different perspective than I do and I get their opinions and impressions also. So eventually what I'm trying to find when. This is a sort of harmony because of my history of addiction, when I repeat the same pattern in various forms again and again and again. And to your point, earlier when we were discussing forgiveness, if I still are really I'm trying to get something here or I'm trying to make an impression on somebody, if I see that that's part of my purpose, then I'm considered before going down that road, someone needs to spend some time in reflection and to consult people that know more than me and to make sure that it's in alignment with my basic principles, which are simple things like am I being selfish?
I'm not being selfish in my being dishonest. I run those kind of checks and balances without you, mate. Yeah, I love that.
I think those are awesome. And I think those are the things that really start the journey. And in Chapter five of the book, I speak about the concept Dharma, and it's without a doubt probably my favorite concept that's had such a big impact on my life.
And Dharma can be loosely translated in English to multiple things, but it translates to eternal purpose or inherent nature, and it's really found in the synergy between passion, strength and compassion. So it's like, what do you love? What do you enjoy? What are you actually good at? What do you have a natural talent in? And don't confuse inexperience with weakness. Sometimes you just haven't done something enough to be good at it and you think I'm not good at that.
But strengths, what are your strengths? And finally, compassion. How do you use it to help someone else? That's really what purposes. It's when you use your passion and strengths in the service of others. And I think that's often what's missed in finding purpose, that we look to just feel fulfilled ourself. But actually, that final piece that really creates purpose is, OK, how do I use this to serve other people? And that can apply to anything from comedy through to movies, through to accountancy and law.
Like there's nothing in the world that can't be used to help people. And I think sometimes we limit we say, oh, well, you can't help people because your X, Y, Z or that career can't help you. That's not true. Everything can be used in the service of others and engaged in that way. All right. Let's take some more questions for Russell, because I'm loving hearing from him and it's wonderful to see. Russell, thanks for doing this in the evening as well.
Let's take another question. OK, man, when you are at a crossroads in life and feeling stop, everything starts to become negative. How would you go about starting to rewire thoughts to make the best decisions, Russell, when I'm sure you've experienced several crossroads in your journey and feelings of feeling stuck?
I think you'd be a great person on this and try to where I'm at a crossroads. I try again mentors because I've had a lot of examples in my past of making decisions that were negative. I like to console other people. That doesn't mean I've become overly dependent on the day if I am or neglect my own intuition. I do like the console. You know, like, for example, I was making like a world decision quite recently and I had a bunch of options.
And I like and I spoke to a mentor of mine and he said, at this point now any one of these decisions could be right or could be wrong. Sometimes we make a decision. It doesn't go the way we want. This just means in the future we will be making another decision. I think letting go of the idea of perfectionism can be very helpful about this. Whatever. In a sense, we make the path by walking. And if we let go of the idea that we're going to be curating or creating the perfect life, there can be some freedom in that.
But I would never relent from consulting mentors and looking at my basic principles that have always guided me.
I love them and I love how much of an emphasis you placed on mentors in your life. It's it's huge. And, you know, I know in that book you talk about eight mentors. I believe it is that you've really learned from in different areas of your life. And that's what I loved about that book, is you are very much clearer on different people. You go to different things for like it's not like you're not going to one person for everything and you're not going to everything for everyone.
And that's what I feel sometimes when you hear the word mentor is a lot of people think, well, I should have one person in my life that can answer every question. And that's not true. And the opposite is, well, everyone's opinion matters. So I'll ask all my friends what they think. And that leads to a mess. But you have very specific people for specific things career, spirituality, addiction, etc. You've got people around different areas.
Do you have a similar set up in your own life? Yeah, I think it's been really useful and I think it came from mentors also being honest. I've sometimes asked spiritual mentors career questions and they've said I know nothing about your career. And then at the same time, you know, you've I've I've had mentors in everything from social media to work, and I'm always seeking more. And I remember asking you to also be a mentor in my life, because for me, it was it wasn't because I'm trying to do anything similar to you.
But I really felt that your experience of finding spirituality in an amongst. It's very crazy world and trying to apply, I always thought that having that mentorship would be useful and useful sounding board because you've achieved the heights of everything in the world and keep turning towards more deeper spiritual Rumsen aspects. So to me, that's always been a fascinating thing to learn. So I recommend, like Russell has in his book and Russell shares in his life. And what I'm saying is surround yourself with mentors who are experts in different areas.
Don't try and expect your mom or your dad or your best friend to have all the answers. It's not going to work. Thank you.
That was very, very kind. I just want to thank you for your kindness and your knowledge and that. And I also want to say an important thing for me is recognizing people that can I express a little fear, not offend God as much as I used to, but I still experience fear, anxiety. And I feel that when turning to someone for help that I have to be careful to select people that are able to hold dear people that don't get inflated by it, don't get agitated and feel that can stay that they're able to hold contained hold space for me.
I think that's an important thing because otherwise you can escalate that stuff.
Yeah, no, that's such a good point. Actually, that is such a good point. Yeah. Even some of that, especially people that love you, they love you so much. But if you tell them you're scared, you'll be more scared after. And I've definitely. So yeah. No, that's a great advice. Let's take one more question for Russell, everyone, if there's one more question that can come through. Lindsay Murphy, thank you so much.
Last question. I want to thank you both for doing this together. I love and I'm inspired by your both beautiful human beings. Thank you very much. Do you have a routine or a favorite place to write?
Russell, what is your routine and favorite place to to write to cut off all potential distractions which can be difficult for your laptops you have access to online as you could be looking at things. And sometimes I do need to console things when I'm writing, but I tend to be I like the idea of sitting at a desk or whatever. But the fact is I write best when laying on the bed. All propped up for me is I make sure I have water and forgive me, some caffeine.
And then I went to bed on a laptop that is my routine and ritual. And I really love artists like Julie Cameron's book. For anyone that's approaching a creative writing project, I want to say a huge thank you to you for coming on today.
I really appreciate this. And I really hope that we get to do something in person soon together. It would be so fun to just share space with you. And I want to recommend to everyone, if you don't already go and subscribe to Russell's podcast Under the Skin, go and grab a copy of multiple of his books and go follow on Instagram, Facebook and other social media platforms if you haven't already, because you're going to find so many incredible conversations, insights to people that he interviews are fascinating.
And you always hear his thought process coming through. So please, please, please thank Russell by doing that. If you don't listen to me already. And Russell, thank you. From the bottom of my heart, I hope that next time I'm in London, we can spend some quality time together and reconnect deeply because I know we've missed each other a few times in the last couple of years, so I really look forward to it.
Jay, I wish I'm very grateful to you for your kindness. I wish you all the best for your path. Not I won't say proud because it's a word that indicates a type of I'm very excited, to be honest with you. Well done, mate.
Keep going. Chris. Hi, I'm Nick Slavophiles, and I want to invite you guys to give our show a listen if you're looking to fall in love with a new podcast, I'm someone who's been around the block and in my relationships in life, and I've certainly learned a lot about myself and in relationships. And we spent a lot of time on our show talking about social dynamics and interpersonal relationships. We have two great shows for you to check out our Asked Nick episodes on Monday.
Our callers call in, they share their problems, their questions, and I decide to share my insight, my opinions. And some people seem to find it helpful.
I sometimes I surprise myself and on Wednesdays, check us out where we have a more traditional show with all sorts of types of guests, experts, personalities, actors, athletes, interesting people, and just have some insightful conversations where we learn about life, love and all things that you can possibly imagine.
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