New Book Announcement!

I’m thrilled to announce that my new book “And Now The Work Begins” will be published by SoundsTrue in late 2022 or early 2023. The book serves as a manual for psychedelic integration while taking an exploratory look at set and setting and how it can be re-examined for use in the 21st Century.

My observations over the past few years has shown me where the psychedelic renaissance has succeeded and where its fell short. While the experience of psychedelic journeys can be profound, they can also form escapist patterns if work isn’t put into post-journey integration.

Partnering with SoundsTrue is a dream come true and I’m humbled at the opportunity to share my voice with a larger audience. Please continue to visit my site and listen to the MAPS podcast for updates on the project.

LAMPS 2021 – May 21-23!

I’m honored to be invited back to the LAMPS conference on May 21-23. I’ll be speaking as part of two panels. One on integration and the other on the role psychedelics can play in substance abuse recovery. This event features some of the great minds within the modern day psychedelic movement and is not to be missed. This year is entirely virtual so you can beam in from wherever you may find yourself. Get your tickets now!

event.lampss.org/zachleary

Zachleary.net 2021

After a long hiatus of not having any online presence, I’m back. I was somewhat flattered that zachleary.com is now considered a premium domain and is for sale for a considerable sum. Sadly, that’s not in the cards right now so I had to let it go. This dot net domain name should work though.

For those that know me personally, you know why I went dark for so long. All I can say is thank you for sticking with me and for encouraging me to get healthy and start fresh. It took some time, but I’m feeling good and ready to re-emerge.

For those I harmed in 2019, I can’t even begin to express my regret and embarrassment. That said, I ask for your patience in doing whatever I need to do to make the situation right. It will take time but I promise you that I haven’t forgotten you and am doing everything that I possibly can.

For new friends in my new city, Austin, know that I’m here and am available for a variety of things. Kirtans, talks, psychedelic consults, etc…please feel free to email me at zachleary@gmail.com.

with love

-zl

The Landscape of Being on Team Human

As you traverse the landscape of this thing we call life there are an endless amount of activities to take note of. Some of that activity manifests in a way that takes on physical shape – energy and matter are made of the same stuff, that sort of thing. Other activity takes form in how you see other humans living their life and their own personal lila.

Very quickly – the word lila comes from the sanskrit language and translated it means “divine play” in the context of ones own life. So you’r entire life is a play of divinity in which all the ingredients that make up a play thus make up your life. Success, love, tragedy, heartache, all of it. That’s your lila.

When observing someone elses lila why is that most of us fall into the mode of judgement and ridicule? Why is it that we simply can’t create a world in which literally everyone can live in peace and prosperity without active judgement and persecution?

There may be logical answers to this question. Morality and values comes mind. For instance, someone like Sam Harris can make a very articulate and thoughtful case that in order for our society to evolve that we must take note of ISIS and break down why their entire theosophical way of living is completely fucked up and thus a detractor of progress. I’m certainly not going to spin any new age anti-intellecualism and suggest that who are we to say that our morals are better than theirs? Certainly, I agree that it’s impossible to form a world that abides by a doctrine that says you must kill those that leave the faith. There is a certain barbaric aspect to much of the radical tenets of Wahhabism. I agree.

Where I get lost however, is the suggestion that the entire muslim faith is out of their minds (and then list reasons) much like Harris and Bill Maher do on a regular basis. When one side elevates themselves into a realm of superiority based on logic and reason it gets into the game of separation. No one benefits from saying that 1.6 billion people are out of their minds and need to change the way that live. With the modern world the way that it is that sort of dialogue will do nothing but result in more war, finger pointing, name calling and political escalation that ends up being a policy based excuse to escalate the war machine.

I’m tellling you – this method will not work. I think the doorway in needs to be far more compassionate and systemic.

Until we learn to not install our values on the entire world, no matter what, we will never know peace. I’m not suggesting ISIS gets a free pass but I suspect that if the US didn’t conduct so many foreign policy blunders in the first place that combined with the US idea of manifest destiny that ISIS would be in the forefront of the current conversation. ISIS just didn’t rise out of nowhere, out of nothing. It didn’t just appear because there were such a surplus of radical Islamic practitioners that needed to form their own state, an Islamic State.

If you forgot what the concept and mission of “manifest destiny” is and how it is defined, I encourage you to look it up and revisit it. It is so brazen and arrogant that it may shock your sensible values of the spiritual aspirant.

I initially got worked about this topic because of some podcast that Sam Harris rambled on about when trying to get everyone to read Dabiq, the magazine of ISIS. I too posted the same quest on Facebook thinking that it’s a good idea to understand how everyone is thinking, even if they are mad. It really pissed me of that Sam Harris called Chomsky and Greenwald “dangerous” for suggesting that US foreign policy played a part in ISIS’s hatred to us and that in fact George W. Bush was correct when he said “they hate our freedom.” First of all, Bush was not talking about ISIS when he said that – the landscape was so different back then that’s it not fair to say this was in fact true.

Many dozen global economic chess moves were played for decades that allowed that soil to get so fertile in the first place. Again, these things don’t appear out of nowhere. The basic problems of the US middle east policy still remain true – the presence in Saudi Arabia (the holy land), the support for Israel and the destruction of Iraq that split the country into warring tribal factions that we don’t understand.

Foreign policy dissection aside, I do come back to the idea that the attitude that exists  that suggests being a muslim sympathizer isn’t morally correct is also faulty. I realize that it’s often not so simple but I’m a human being sympathizer. I think we all have a place here to worship, exist and govern in the way that makes sense to ones true nature. The fact remains that a large portion of the global Islamic population enjoys being Islamic. It speaks to their heart and path. Yes, I find many of their extreme dogmatic instructions to be slightly insane –  however, I wish to leave them alone and let them figure out their own karmas. Again, a very powerful coalition of governments telling them that they are dangerous only makes them more dangerous. This is a fact. Instead, if we lead by example and make the opposite of their lifestyle attractive, calm, wise and loving that that will follow by attraction.

A few days later, Harris once again sent something out to his people, a speech that he thinks Hilary Clinton should make in regards to the muslim faith and how her position is different than her opponents. He was right on in saying that “Every religious community must interpret its scripture and adjust its traditions to conform to the modern world.”

That may be the best thing he ever said. The rest gets a little murky because he’s once again making Islam the hyper-focus here when it is not. It’s a symptom of the world not getting along and a symptom of dogma once again leading the left foot along the path.

For as long as we’ve recorded history we have known war. It haunts us like a virus that can’t be killed. What will change? I don’t subscribe to the philosophy that some war is just and therefore we must arm ourselves and constantly prepare because the enemy is near. That is a hallow and empty way to live. That is akin to settling for less. I’d much rater accept that peace is the only option and war is a strange anomaly that happens from time to time, but must be extinguished as quickly as possible when it does. And until we start changing our attitudes in how we see each other on the landscape of life nothing will ever change.

I’m on Team Human. I’m not on Team America, or Team Christian or Team Democracy. I’m on Team Human. I’m not going to go point by point on why 1.6 billion people need to change their way of life. Even if they probably do. But so do the people we now call the “alt-right” (Trump supporters) or so does a country that throws out 50% of it’s food. Think about that. This amazing nation of bounty and progress throws out 50% of the food it makes. Are we that fucked up and self destructive to think that’s ok? To me – that’s just as twisted as Islam extremists murdering women in these so called honor killings. Some people may find that offensive and I don’t mean it to be. I don’t think it’s ok to engage in these honor killings at all, obviously. But the point is no one here is getting out free of charge. No one can turn the lens on the other and place blame entirely on them.

Once again – I’m on Team Human. We all need to collectively view our part in this lila and take accountability for what we can immediately fix within our own sphere of influence. We need to do this while we simulatneously stop pointing fingers at others and what it is THEY need to do. If we could all exhibit a little humility here and admit that we’re in this together and we’re all complicit in the insanity, then we may have a chance in fixing all this.

Reality and Practice

Real time excerpts from my upcoming book “Who Are You Now? Technology, spirituality and the search for our very own identity”

Whatever you think reality is. That’s not it. That’s why these practices are so important. They are methods which can pierce the veil which then allows us to view things as they really are. Yoga, meditation, kirtan, psychedelics, making art, whatever..they all reveal the same a-ha moment. It’s just that those moments are short and fleeting. That’s why we do them regularly.The true value in any practice is the remembering, the taking it with you in everything you do. The Gita defines it “as remembering Krishna in every action you perform.” When you do that, this thing we call reality has more meaning and can certainly be a lot more fun to play around in. 

Bernie Sanders endorses HRC!

Of course. He’s a pragmatist and has common sense. Being a member of the federal governing body for so long he knows that change comes in small doses. Remember that Bernie is NOT an outsider. He is part of the US Senate – the most dysfunctional group of “leaders” ever assembled. Yes, he’s the best one of the bunch but still – he knows how the game is played. Voting Jill Stein does nothing in this particular case. Letting Trump get elected is not some game where we can say “well…he needs to get elected in order for real chance to happen. America needs to wake up!” – that is utter and complete nonsense. It’s not worth the risk. Bernie knows that and is calm and level headed enough to pick a reasonable strategy – it’s a shame many of his supporters are not.

Growing up Angeleno – illusions, race and all

When I first learned that what we commonly refer to as the “ghetto” was born out of unfair economic practices, it all made so much sense to me. When the modern mortgage system was spreading in the early 20th century most of the lenders were racist and didn’t want to lend money to people of color. The result of that was that many concentrated communities sprung up in typically undesirable parts of town that no one else wanted to live in. The buildings were shoddy, the available work in that area was sub-par, and so began a system of creating a socioeconomic loop that was nearly impossible to get out of.

At that time the aftershock of the Civil War was still very palpable; it was not ancient history nor was it a distant memory. Many people alive at the time were just one step away from living through the ramifications of what happened then, and simply did not want to deal with integration. Instead it was easier to create an institutional form of racism that allowed the white individual to say “oh, but I’m not racist” but then turn around and create an economic wall that kept colored folks segregated, isolated, angry, afraid, and highly disadvantaged. This created a culture of white privilege which is borne out of a sense of more options being available to white folks because colored opposition wasn’t even around to be felt or heard.

I know this experience well, from growing up in a white, affluent part of Los Angeles in the 80’s and 90’s. Embarrassingly the only time I ever experienced the tiniest glimpse of black LA was when I attended Raiders games in the 80’s, or when my parents would get lost in Inglewood after a Lakers game. Back then Inglewood was much grittier than it is now. Other than that, I was raised to think that my entire Los Angeles was north of Wilshire and west of Vine St. – anything else might as well have been Mars. It wasn’t until I started going to public schools in the 8th grade did my world view change. LAUSD was famous for implementing “bussing” programs which allowed for kids from the inner city to be “bussed” into different schools because the schools in their neighborhoods were overcrowded. It was built to alleviate a specific problem but also helped to integrate kids who normally wouldn’t cross paths. While I’ve never experienced what it’s like to have to go back home to an apartment on Florence and Normandy in 1990 (pre LA riots), or felt what it’s like to not have a parent home when I returned from school because they were out working a second job, I was introduced to people that did live in that reality. I was exposed to something that was outside of my white bubble. I am also thankful that my parents did not introduce me to the concept of a difference in skin color or racism. That thought was never taught to me personally, but because of the segregated nature of Los Angeles in a physical sense, I can see why people who were brought up that with those values feel so much tension in and around LA. There are generations of millions of white people who are brought up to see a black person in Los Angeles and immediately think that “they” are far from home if a colored couple is walking down the street in Beverly Hills. And if that black person is wearing saggy jeans they must be a banger, right? This horrific view of the world is still so apparent within the hearts and minds of so many white people that it’s become second nature. It’s an embarrassing reality that most “liberal” white people from the Westside don’t want to admit. Adding to that is the very fabric of the way that our city is laid out physically. Sure there are some hipster neighborhoods that borderline-classify as melting pots but let’s be real – LA is a sectioned off and segregated melting pot. It so happens that many of the white people who are brought up to think like the horrific cliché when they see a colored person outside of their “zone” are now cops. That’s just math. Sure there are black and Hispanic cops in LA too, but there are also many white ones.

I understand that this week’s shootings of two black men by white police officers, and then the insane retaliation in Dallas, were not in Los Angeles. The point Aim making is that I understand how our cities were initially built to be fucked up failures, with the deck stacked against the chance of success. Until we start truly living in integrated communities, or at least integrated mind sets, the road will be long. This endless bullshit Illusion of Separation is do deeply integrated into the Maya of white America that it will take bold action to course correct the trends we are experiencing. America is not that old; only 50 years ago the peak of the modern Civil Rights movement was in full bloom. Just 50 years. That means my parents were growing up before that – they were brought up in a segregationist America. That’s just one generation away.

We need to fix our cities, address the power struggle with cops, possibly not let cops with less than 5 years on the force have guns at all, and most of all offer across the board economic equality for all. As long as our inner cities stay in the disadvantaged column, things will remain tough. These problems are systemic and ingrained in our minds, but also into the visual landscape. Breaking these molds are a necessary step so we stop viewing the city and the world as separate or that of “us and them.” I wish there was some way to wave a magic wand that erased the innate ignorance of white America, but the reality is that there is not. That’s why I think we need to combat that ignorance with systemic fixes that will force change from the inside out.

Creating Value in the 21st Century

I have a new talk that I’m beginning to get a handle on called “Creating Value in the 21st Century.”

It’s based around the idea of pushing our culture to see value beyond antiquarian measurement systems like the GDP or the DOW and move towards the inclusion of social and connection value systems that the new culture paradigm is establishing. For instance, the value of the United States as a country is still measured in the GDP, or the Gross Domestic Product, and as long as that number is going up our value as a society is as well. For reference it is defined as ‘the total value of goods produced and services provided in a country during one year.’

Adding to that, there is a formula where the actual GDP number itself derives. Investopedia lays it out in the the following way:

GDP = C + G + I + NX

where

C is equal to all private consumption, or consumer spending, in a nation’s economy, G is the sum of government spending, I is the sum of all the country’s investment, including businesses capital expenditures and NX is the nation’s total net exports, calculated as total exports minus total imports (NX = Exports – Imports).

(For more detail click here)

I am not an economist however, I understand that as an economic indicator in and of itself there remains popularity in the GDP because it deals with not just the value of what’s sold but also of the materials that go into whatever it is that is sold. So, theoretically the entire supply chain is accounted for.

If we take that snap shot and use it as the tell tale lens for a peoples overall health as a nation I propose there is something very flawed about that because it doesn’t take into account all the subtle, spiritual, inspirational, thought provoking and peer to peer work that most of us our doing on any given day. Therefore, with all of our insanely amazing ability to think, inspire and grow ourselves into these increasingly complicated biological connection machines there has to be a system of measurement that goes beyond just rudimentary manufacturing and sales variables that make up things like the GDP.

Let’s take the example of a favorite yoga teacher within your community. Let’s say your specific community and friend pool has a yoga teacher that is everyones favorite. His or her regular classes are usually packed and the feeling that is felt when leaving the class is commonly experienced to be ecstatic, inspired and transformational. For the sake of this example let’s say that there are 50 people who are in each class 4-5 times a week and of those 150 are unique (the other 50 being repeats). Those 150 people go out into the world completely changed people and take that change into their own individual lives. It’s without question, they are better teachers, parents, workers, lovers and friends all as a result of this one yoga teacher. Therefore the exponential effect that this one person has on the endless touch points of the 150 students is enormous and unmeasurable. If you really think about it, this yoga teacher may indirectly effect thousands of lives. Literally. That is value. That is real, tangible, un-esoteric value that makes the fabric of our society a better place. Yet, this person is often ignored as a value stake holder unless he or she creates a business around it.

Let’s look at another person. Let’s make it up and just say this person is the CEO of a successful pen company. Plugging in the variables lets determine that the pen company is in the US, does not outsource manufacturing, has been profitable for the last several years and employs around 300 people. Certainly, employment is good because it allows the worker to earn money that can provide for food, gas and various living expenses. Thus the town that the pen company is headquartered experiences value because of local tax revenue and steady employment for many local families. Because we’re assuming the pen company is profitable that means the CEO is wealthy as is credited for stimulating the GDP and might be heralded as a powerful and valuable person because of his or her ability to guide the success of the company. That CEO may rise to fame and fortune because he or she has managed to create a financial eco system that makes good on the American dream. These are the heroes of our society – take Jack Welch or Henry Ford for example.

When comparing and contrasting the two people and their function in society I’m sorry but I do not see the pen company CEO as providing more value than the amazing yoga teacher. It’s just that the value of the pen company can be measured so specifically and with great precision that we have gotten in the habit of only looking at value this way. This is flawed. The yoga teachers value, while not instantly measurable, provides for healthier, more compassionate, stable and inspired people which when trickled out into the world is certainly very powerful.

One may ask – well…if you had no pen company then the workers could have no money to take the yoga class! True! But if you had no yoga teacher then the worker wouldn’t be nearly as good of a worker thus productivity at the pen company would be down.

There are many more examples that I can illustrate. Many of which go beyond employment mechanisms and roles and stretch out into more nebulous realms like social media and media. More on those in follow ups to this post.

The point is that I think we need to stop and re calibrate our overall value systems. I don’t propose we do away with gigantic pillars of the industrial age but I do propose we integrate new thinking and consider new combinations of system indictors as we move into the future.

(Thank you Douglas Rushkoff and Joi Ito for inspiring me on the topic of value)