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Parables For The New Conversation (Chapter 19: The Path)

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The following is a chapter from my book ‘Parables For The New Conversation.’ One chapter will be published every Sunday for 36 weeks here on Collective Evolution. (I would recommend you start with Chapter 1 if you haven’t already read it.) I hope my words are a source of enjoyment and inspiration for you, the reader. If perchance you would like to purchase a signed paperback copy of the book, you can do so on my production company website Pandora’s Box Office.

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From the back cover: “Imagine a conversation that centers around possibility—the possibility that we can be more accepting of our own judgments, that we can find unity through our diversity, that we can shed the light of our love on the things we fear most. Imagine a conversation where our greatest polarities are coming together, a meeting place of East and West, of spirituality and materialism, of religion and science, where the stage is being set for a collective leap in consciousness more magnificent than any we have known in our history.

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Now imagine that this conversation honors your uniqueness and frees you to speak from your heart, helping you to navigate your way more deliberately along your distinct path. Imagine that this conversation puts you squarely into the seat of creator—of your fortunes, your relationships, your life—thereby putting the fulfillment of your deepest personal desires well within your grasp.

‘Parables for the New Conversation’ is a spellbinding odyssey through metaphor and prose, personal sagas and historic events, where together author and reader explore the proposal that at its most profound level, life is about learning to consciously manifest the experiences we desire–and thus having fun. The conversation touches on many diverse themes but always circles back to who we are and how our purposes are intertwined, for it is only when we see that our personal desires are perfectly aligned with the destiny of humanity as a whole that we will give ourselves full permission to enjoy the most exquisite experiences life has to offer.”

19. The Path

After several tries, the astrologer finally managed to get the sculptor to accompany her on her weekly trek. She chose her favorite trail up the forested side of the mountain in the middle of the island of Allandon, which leads to a breathtaking view from the peak.

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When they were about halfway up the mountain the trail split sharply in two, and there was a tree in the middle of the fork with a large arrow nailed to its trunk. The astrologer asked the sculptor to stop for a minute.

“You’re supposed to spin the arrow,” she said. “It will tell you which side of the fork you should take.”

The sculptor spun the arrow, and it pointed to the right.

“So I’m supposed to take the path on the right?” he asked.

“That depends on you,” she replied. “If you take the one on the right, it means you believe in destiny. If you decide to go left, it means you believe in free will.”

“I suppose you think you know which path I’m going to take,” said the sculptor.

“Well yes, I think I know you pretty well by now,” the astrologer replied laughing.

The sculptor took a deep breath and marched forward right through the fork. He walked past the tree and continued directly between the two paths, trampling small saplings and crackling underbrush as he climbed.

“Hey, that’s not fair,” said the astrologer, struggling to follow behind him.

“Why not?” asked the sculptor.

“Well for one thing, this isn’t even a path!”

“Neither were the other ones before the first person walked on them,” he replied.

The metaphor for life as a path is an enduring image that is used in one form or another in virtually all spiritual traditions. Perhaps this is because the metaphor so simply encompasses the paradox of human life: that we are charting the course of our lives through our choices even as we seem to be following a predetermined route.

In a way it is hard to completely deny the deterministic quality of our life here on Earth. The study of genetics reminds us that the color of our eyes, our height, and the illnesses we are predisposed to are decided upon long before we leave our mother’s womb. We seem to have no choice, further, as to which culture and parents we are born to, and which part of the world we grow up in. Are we also predestined to fall in love with a certain person, follow a particular vocation, and die at a time and place that has been etched in stone all along? If so, then where is the choice?

On the other end of the spectrum there are thinkers like existential philosopher Jean-Paul Sartre, who reject determinism out of hand. For Sartre, choice is the only precondition of being human. We are free to choose anything except to deny our freedom of choice. Life in and of itself is meaningless, and so we are called upon to create a path for ourselves out of nothing. This stance has some appeal, but it snubs the suggestion that we each have some transcendent purpose or mission in this life.

In the new conversation, a sense of both freedom and destiny are important components. There wouldn’t be much use for a conversation to help each other get where we’re going if we aren’t actually going anywhere in particular. But without the presumption that we have the freedom to make choices, speaking about how we can navigate our lives would be pointless. Somehow we need to pull together both sides of the paradox in order to sustain a powerful vision that inspires us to live life on purpose, with vigor and enthusiasm. When we don’t, we are left to live our lives lazily suspended between these two polarities, living like puppets on a string on one hand, and without the inspiration of a higher purpose on the other. If we never reflect on this matter, we might continue to default to the belief system we were born into, not realizing that we have long since outgrown it.

I think it is highly beneficial to try becoming more aware of the belief system, the paradigm, through which we make sense of our lives. When we identify the way we give our life meaning, we gain the capacity to ask ourselves if it still fits. Then as new experiences and information come in, we have greater flexibility to adjust and to try on a new way of looking at things, even if it’s just for fun. The new conversation provides a space to explore our paradigms without judgment. All ways of looking at the world are respected and seen as valuable. It is not about trying to prove one right, or justify a certain point of view. It is simply putting our ideas out into the space, so that we can benefit from each other’s wisdom and unique experiences as we choose. We share what works for each of us—by this I mean what makes us happy, what brings us fulfillment and the feeling of being truly alive. Inspiration follows naturally. I am fortunate to have been a part of many such conversations, which often facilitated important shifts in my own beliefs. If I may, I would like to share the paradigm that currently works for me.

In my view, freedom of choice and destiny don’t have to play off against each other at all. We ourselves are dual beings, and we live at more than one level of existence at the same time. Destiny and free choice are reconciled when we assert that destiny is a choice that has been made at a higher level of awareness. In other words, if life could be seen as a predestined path that is ultimately of our own choosing, then everything falls into place. Never mind that we have forgotten that we have chosen this path, for that is the beauty of it all. A precisely measured dose of amnesia about the higher awareness of our Dao Self is exactly what sets the wonder of the human experience in motion. If we were fully ensconced at all times in the peace and serenity of our Dao Self, what would be the challenge? What would move us to heroic and courageous acts that make us feel truly alive?

Life is eternal. The fact that we associate life with a birth and a death is an important convention for our purposes here, but this is only part of the picture. Our current life on Earth is but one of a long line of incarnations we have experienced, and these incarnations are not necessarily all as human beings. Wayne Dyer reminds us that “we are not human beings having a spiritual experience, we are spiritual beings having a human experience.” Our decision to have this human experience has happened of our own choosing, as part of our eternal life. And so it is likely that we have been party to the decisions of where we would be born, who our parents would be, and what the main purpose or goal or path for this particular cycle on the Earth would consist of.

Our path in each particular incarnation is a subset, a fraction of our larger path that leads us back to the Dao. We have designed the path for this current incarnation in a way that helps us learn something that we need to learn, or heal a part of ourselves that needs healing, or remember some aspect of who we are that we forgot when we separated from the Dao. In other words, we have moved by choice into the illusion, to follow a path out of the illusion to the truth.

If we can be less serious and have some fun walking our path that is a major step. We hear all the time that the purpose is not to arrive at the destination but to experience the journey. In this regard, while life keeps us busy with tasks we need to perform, agreements we need to keep, lessons we need to learn, or healing we need to undergo, none of these things really capture the ultimate purpose for being alive. Like Joseph Campbell, I believe the fundamental reason we are here is for the experience of life itself, which brings us bliss when we move into greater alignment with our higher self and rapture as we awaken to the greater wonder that we are.

For most of us, experiencing bliss and rapture is not easy. Nor is it supposed to be. The flow of life, which for each one of us is the path of our chosen destiny, is not the proverbial path of least resistance. We are not meant to live in perpetual comfort and avoid all obstacles, confrontations, and challenges. In essence, the flow of life really leads us towards resistance.

Imagine a running back in a football game. His path is a line to the opposing end zone, which, if reached, makes him the hero and brings about unbridled celebration. But to do it, he must get past eleven big men who will do everything to stop him. That is why the goal is of value: it is difficult and challenging. In a college game once a very funny thing happened. A running back carrying the ball got spun around after a couple of jarring tackles but stayed on his feet. Disoriented, he suddenly started running the wrong way without knowing it. As he rushed towards his own end zone, the players on the other team were actually clearing the way for him to make it. Only after he finally arrived in his own end zone and was tackled by the other team did he realize what he had done. Needless to say, he was not celebrating. Since football players understand the game they are playing, no player would ever want to be caught doing this. But in life we do this all the time. Instead of going where we really want to go, challenging the obstacles in our way to make a touchdown, we often run away from the obstacles, and then wonder why we’re not the star of our own life.

In life we are not up against eleven big men in oversized padding: we are up against ourselves. The only resistance to our growth and personal transformation is our own resistance. We experience it as fear. It often stops us cold. So when we feel fear but still gather up the courage to move forward anyway, we feel at one with the current of the river and take in its power. Remember that the river represents change, and so when we are in flow we are travelling down the river without offering any resistance to what is, to the changes that life throws at us. The river of change through which our lives naturally flow can sometimes be turbulent rapids, and despite our fears we are asked to decide which way to turn. We suffer not when we feel fear but only when we resist what we are afraid of. This causes us to start paddling furiously back upstream, away from the turbulent rapids of change. Eventually we learn, at every stage of our evolution, that pushing through our fear is the only thing that can move us along our path, and so is the only truly worthwhile action in terms of human evolution.

When we are in the flow we could not be more happy to be alive. Life offers a thrill a minute, any time we are willing to follow its appeal. And while we are meant to experience peace, life never calls us to be complacent, or to conform, or to take the easy way out. It challenges us to take a risk, and face precisely what it offers us. Sometimes this means stepping into the darkness, the unknown brought on by change. In the process we evolve. Our consciousness expands and we move ever closer to self-realization. The path of familiarity, laziness, and suppression, what we commonly refer to as ‘the path of least resistance’, is paradoxically the path of most resistance, because we are resisting the most fundamental aspect of nature: change, growth, and evolution. Feeling truly alive will always demand taking chances. There’s an old African proverb that says, “If you’re not living on the edge, you’re taking up too much room.” This is not to say that we always have to be risking our lives, but rather we must be willing to risk who we think we are in order to make way for a bigger, grander vision of ourselves to emerge.

Of course this path is never forced upon us. We always have the choice as to whether we go with the flow or against it. Even if our life has a particular destiny, we can choose to resist it. And we all do resist sometimes, because we are afraid—of failure, of loss, of danger. Sometimes it does not seem safe when we don’t know what is coming around the next corner.

But we are all perfectly safe. There is an invisible force that holds us with love and compassion at all times. Even though we sometimes feel alone we are never alone, because we are always connected to the source. Even though we sometimes feel confused and lost, we are never really lost because our every step is being watched and guided. The more I take the time to look back at my life so far the more I feel this. All the significant events of my life, especially the difficult, the scary, and the embarrassing, happened for reasons beyond my understanding at the time. Today I can see that they brought me to precisely where I am now—at the threshold of fulfilling a great desire.

The happier I become with where I am, the more grateful I become for all the events that led me here. It is impossible for me to regret any event that has expanded my consciousness. As time has gone on I have learned to trust more and more the quiet voice of my intuition, which I believe is the voice of this invisible force that kindles my deepest desires. When I align my actions with this voice, my whole life begins to make more sense.

But it is not only internally that this benevolent force guides us. It makes use of the external world as well, and not just in one or another particular way but in a multitude of ways, for it is connected to all that is. Particular animals may cross our path for a reason, or we may meet certain people at the right place at the right time. Doors literally open, signs come into our field of vision, books fall off shelves and songs come on the radio, aimed to give us clues as to which way we are headed.

There is not necessarily a fixed rhyme or reason as to how and when these ‘meaningful coincidences’ come into our lives. Our task is less about figuring them out and more about just noticing them and, if we so choose, following them with gratitude and curiosity. To do this is to acknowledge the invisible force that is pulling for each of us from afar to fulfill our destiny. From afar, because it cannot interfere with our free will, for this would negate the precious experience of life entirely.

Because we have freedom, it is quite possible that our destiny in this life could go unfulfilled. This is what it means to have ultimate responsibility for our lives. Whether we pay attention to the signposts that border the path of our destiny or ignore them is entirely a matter of choice. The more we pay attention to them, the more often these signposts crop up for us. A growing number of people today are coming to see that even the most tragic events in their lives were ‘meant to be’, and that everything happens for a reason.

It’s no wonder we’re so fascinated by conspiracy theories. We are all in the middle of the biggest conspiracy possible, as all the inner and outer forces of our world are conspiring to give each of us the chance to experience the bliss of fulfilling our chosen destiny, right here and now. Understanding this may be the quintessential way to be with what is, and from the many conversations I have had with people who live with this conviction, I am confident that it is a way to a happier, more peaceful, and more joyful existence.

Move on to Chapter 20…

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Consciousness

A Spiritual Perspective On Smoking Cannabis: An Important Viewpoint To Consider

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In Brief

  • The Facts:

    In the video below, Sadhguru shares his perspective on smoking marijuana and why it's not truly needed to achieve the feeling one may receive to do it.

  • Reflect On:

    I'm not saying there isn't medicinal value and that we should outlaw this plant, I'm saying we have a very large societal challenge, just like with alcohol, where we are not facing our inner challenges and are using substances to cover them up.

I was having a conversation yesterday about something that has always been a reflection point for me. Since I was a kid, I was never drawn to substances, even alcohol. I always felt great, high even, when just being.

As I got older and I finally tried cannabis for the first time, and then a few more times after that as years went on, I started to realize it actually brought my state of being and clarity down. The tough part was trying to explain that to others when having conversations about how these substances don’t produce a true experience of higher consciousness, but more so give you a glimpse in a sense.

Before we go on, I want to bring something up. The challenge with this topic is that we tend to get very emotional and rigid about it. Not only that, but we aggressively try to lump people into FOR or AGAINST cannabis. I’m not here to do that. I’m simply creating a reflection point as my desire is to help shift consciousness and empower us within to create a world where we can truly thrive. So for a moment, set aside your own hard coded beliefs and just be open to what this article is shining light on.

Societal Cannabis Culture

For the most part society either breaks down into people who judge cannabis as a drug that is for ‘stoners’ and are very against it. These people tend to believe there are no positives to cannabis. On the flip side are the people who feel cannabis is an amazing wonder plant that can do no wrong, and that the “highs” it provides expand the mind and we experience peace.

The truth is, cannabis has good aspects and not so good aspects to it. And while the positives can be really helpful for a very small subset of people on this planet, smoking it is one of the worst ways to use cannabis health wise. Not only that, society is using its medical benefits to turn attention away from the addiction many users have to it. This is a tough pill to swallow and makes many people aggressive and angry when I bring it up, but it’s true. In a big way, but not all the time, we are using cannabis as a society to help cope with feelings deep down that we want to shut off or hide from. As a note, we are also using food, TV and other things in the same way, but right now I want to focus on this reflection.

Cannabis can assist people with autism, people who have seizures, and in some cases it may have helped people cure cancer. There are benefits that can come from this plant being used in a proper medicinal way, but we must remember to look at the downsides that come from regular cannabis use that many simply don’t want to acknowledge.

A Note On Legalization

First off, I do not believe the plant ever needed to be illegal to begin with. In fact I’ve done much research on how it became illegal and it really had more to do with protecting an industry more than anything else.

That said, there is something to consider here that many of us aren’t looking at too clearly when it comes to what legalization really means. It means that powerful people are going to be the ones who profit most from it, that’s why it’s becoming legal. Not only that, but the reason it is taking so long is so they can get in place the many aspects required to make sure they achieve what they want: stripping medicinal aspects out of the plant profiles, controlling the seeds, and ultimately feeding society cannabis focused solely on creating a THC based ‘high’. This is no different than controlling alcohol and feeding it to society in the ways we currently do.

The cannabis industry is worth over $40 billion, making it the second-most-valuable crop in the U.S. after corn. As stated in a powerful article by GQ, “And even though weed is still federally forbidden, it sounded like whoever was behind BioTech Institute had spent the past several years surreptitiously maneuvering to grab every marijuana farmer, vendor, and scientist in the country by the balls, so that once the drug became legal, all they’d have to do to collect payment is squeeze.”

Humans should be able to make choices as to what they want to do to themselves and their bodies i.e. smoke cannabis or consume alcohol, but I believe greater education needs to be placed behind both and ultimately: we must start looking at the real reasons as to why we use both of these substances so often.

Looking At Cannabis Differently

I see that in many ways the use of cannabis is making the average user numb, in the same way alcohol does. I’ve used cannabis before, in a number of ways -smoking, edibles etc. I’m not saying the feeling is the same for every single user, but I’ve also been around thousands of cannabis users in my lifetime while they were high and you notice the same ‘vibe’ virtually every time. Perhaps there are varying degrees, but for the most part it numbs us out and sometimes quiets the thoughts to create a calmness. Is this like meditation? No, but it can be confused as that. I know, I’ve been there too.

Below is a video of a perspective on cannabis I feel is very important for us to consider. Let me be clear, I’m not saying there isn’t medicinal value and that we should outlaw this plant, I’m saying we have a very large societal challenge, just like with alcohol, where we are not facing our inner challenges and are using substances to cover them up. I am inspired to help create a world where we can truly empower ourselves form within, move beyond our mind and egoic challenges that help us grow and do just that – grow. But if we continually bury our challenges in substance, we won’t.

I believe it’s time we come to the uncomfortable truth and face the fact that as a society we have not done the greatest job in encouraging one another to truly explore, express and move beyond many of the emotional challenges life’s experiences have provided us, that are there for our growth. Think about it, do we want to just cope through life? Or do we want to truly move beyond our stuff? There is SO much suffering we can prevent by making it a societal norm to work through our challenges on a deep level. This is where I believe we must go.

Note: You can try meditation to help calm the mind and move more clearly through challenges. Here are more tools as well.

Lost relationships, divorces, losing jobs, feeling unloved, lack of confidence, depression etc. All of these things are not here so that we can use bandaids everyday to cover them up and get through them, they are here for us to learn more about ourselves, grow and evolve as people and as a society. To create a world where we can truly thrive. To get there, we must begin to face our challenges.

I made this choice 10 years ago when I started to discover meditation and inner reflection, and although I wasn’t a user of substances like alcohol or cannabis, I would use food to cover up my emotions or I would distract myself with TV, whatever worked. But I can share from experience, the incredible changes that come from shifting those stories within and gaining true empowerment will change everything in your life, and everyone can do it.

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Consciousness

New Moon In Virgo: Efficiency & Practicality

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We are having a New Moon in Virgo on September 17th. This is initiating a 29.5 day lunar cycle and new wave of energy for the coming month; however, the astrological configurations mentioned in this article will be more prominent over the following two weeks. This cycle will include a Full Moon in Aries on October 1st/2nd.

Virgo season began on August 22nd/23rd, nearly a month prior to this Lunation, and will end on September 22nd/23rd when Libra season begins. However, his New Moon will still carry some of its Virgo themes into the first eight days of Libra season prior to the Full Moon.

This is a good period of working with and co-creating with the energies of this sign. Virgo is associated with productivity, duties, service, health, cleanliness, and purity. It is organized, adaptable, conscientious, skillful, orderly, punctual, diligent, efficient, analytical, detailed, discerning, precise, and practical.

Virgo is about problem solving, adjusting to changing conditions, and coming up with solutions. Negatively, this energy can be cynical, fussy, high strung, and perfectionistic. It can also be exorbitantly mentally oriented as well as overly critical and discriminating.

Mars began its retrograde a week prior to this New Moon which will last until mid-November. This energy is a significant part of the current astrological backdrop. Generally it is a time that can ultimately help to facilitate a change in how we apply ourselves in certain areas of life, however, the retrograde period itself can bring frustrations and challenges that help with that process. You can read more about this Mars Retrograde here.

New Moon Trine Saturn & Quincunx Mars Retrograde

This New Moon is in a tight trine with Saturn in Capricorn which is transitioning out of its retrograde at the end of the month. This can be a good period for operating in a responsible, cautious, orderly, productive, realistic and practical way. However, considering that Saturn is finishing up its backwards motion, these next couple of weeks are generally better for getting things sorted out and prepared as well as perhaps focusing on tasks that you have already been working on.

It is possible that in late September and in early October, we can experience some sort of shift, or change in gears, that can take things into a different direction. Saturn will be in a square with Mars Retrograde at that time, and we may have to contend with limitations and obstacles that can affect how certain things move forward.

This New Moon is also in a quincunx with Mars retrograde which can reflect annoyances, tension, or conflicts that may require adjustments and adaptability. Issues that come up may be at odds with our needs or the way we want to express ourselves. This energy is the strongest on the 19th/20th but can also be more noticeable on the day of the New Moon.

New Moon Square Lunar Nodes, Mercury Square Jupiter

This New Moon is also in a close square to the North Node in Gemini opposing the South Node in Sagittarius. We may be at odds between the past (South Node) and the future (North Node), beliefs (Sagittarius) and facts (Gemini), our immediate aspects of life (Gemini) and the world at large (Sagittarius).

However, the focal point should be the North Node in Gemini and expressions of the South Node in Sagittarius energy should be serving that focal point and not be the emphasis. The rulers of the Nodes, Mercury (Gemini) and Jupiter (Sagittarius) are also in a tight square with each other at the time of this New Moon. This can reflect tension between these two sides and potentially conflicts between ideas, viewpoints, and opinions.

Jupiter is in the limiting Saturnian sign of Capricorn while Mercury is better placed in Libra, the sign of diplomacy, seeking common ground, considering different needs/perspectives, and fairness. Mercury square Jupiter can be good for learning but it can also be excessive when it comes to information and we can more easily be mentally scattered.

Mercury Quincunx Neptune, Then Square Pluto, Saturn & Opposing Mars

Mercury is in a quincunx with Neptune which is strongest on the 18th/19th. This energy makes it harder to integrate or juggle our intuitive, creative, imaginative, compassionate or spiritual expression with our mind, communication, tasks, and thought process. Issues pertaining to lack of boundaries, flakiness, delusion, escapism, intoxication, may come up.

Mercury moves towards a square with Pluto which is strongest on the 20th/21st. Our thoughts and communications can be deep, powerful, penetrating, investigative, raw, real, and potentially intense. This can also reflect obsessive or compulsive behavior, suspicion, fears, anxiety, or conflicts pertaining to power or authority.

Mercury then moves to a square with Saturn (22nd/23rd) followed by an opposition to Mars retrograde (23rd/24th), creating a t-square formation in that time period with the separating Pluto energy (20th/21st, mentioned above) tied into it a bit. This can be a time of obstacles, delays, communication issues, pessimism, and conflicts while we can get more easily irritated or angered. Circumstances may come up that can be pushing us to be more cautious, realistic, or responsible.

This period is the beginning of Mercury’s pre-shadow period in which it will be returning to another square with Saturn. Some of the issues or developments that occur at this time may be connected to things that will play out during the retrograde (October 13th/14th until November 3rd/4th) and weeks surrounding that period. It will also be the Equinox and therefore this energy is imprinted into the following three months in which it can manifest in other ways/areas separate from this initial period.

Making Intentions & Things To Consider

What can you do to be more practical, productive, and efficient? Is there anything you can or should implement to improve your health and functionality? What have the circumstances, developments, or challenges over the last week (leading up to this New Moon) shown you in how you should be applying yourself? Do you need to implement stronger boundaries? Do you need to be more adaptable? Are you clinging to the past or are you willing to take steps to help you grow? What aspects or details of your immediate life, surroundings, or relationships do you need to focus on more and what excesses or broad aspects of your life are getting in the way of that?

These are just some examples of what to consider or focus your intentions on at this time. However, it is good to reflect on anything else that is coming up for you. It is generally best to make any intentions within the first 24 hours following a New Moon. The exact moment it will occur is 11:00am Universal Time on September 17th. You can click here to see what that is in your time zone.

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Consciousness

Why We Get Into Fights When Sharing Information

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We’re in a time when mainstream media and traditional conversations are failing to address a number of important topics within society, anything from current events to politics and so on, and this is birthing a great deal of ‘alternative conversation’ that often stems from alternative media.

But with this, comes to the common ‘fight’ between various ideas and ideologies that is much more avoidable than we often realize. I wanted to share a quick tid bit from a recent episode discussing how we can reflect to develop better communication and connection faculties that can make a big difference in how we communicate important ideas that are emerging without creating such huge divides ad tension.

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