Waking Up: Becoming a Conscious Human

Waking Up

Steve Pavlina

Waking Up

What does it mean to wake up and become more conscious?

Let me share some perspectives that should make it easier to understand the process of waking up.

The Cellular Perspective

From the cellular perspective, you can see yourself as an individual person interacting with other individuals. You’re like a single cell in the larger body of humanity, which is comprised of billions of other people-cells.

For example, I could say that I’m a guy (a cell) who’s dedicated to helping people (other cells) live more consciously. I may communicate with many people during my lifetime, but each person is a unique individual, so the impact is different for everyone. We may all be part of some larger body of humanity, but our interactions mainly occur at the individual cellular level.

This is similar to one of the cells in your body noticing the other cells around it and deciding to do what it can to be of service to those cells. It may help a lot of cells, but it still regards itself as an individual cell helping other individual cells. And it won’t help all cells equally, nor could it do so even if it tried.

The Holistic Perspective

From the holistic perspective, you see yourself as an integral part of the universe as a whole. The overall intent is to help universal consciousness grow and evolve, particularly the human consciousness of which you’re a part.

This would be like one of the cells in your body recognizing that it’s part of a larger physical body, whereby it stops thinking of itself primarily as an individual cell and begins to see itself as being of potential service to the greater whole. Its fate isn’t as important as the fate of the larger body.

So with this perspective, instead of thinking of myself as a guy who helps people live more consciously, I can see myself as a servant of humanity helping to create a more conscious humanity, or as a servant of universal consciousness itself. My primary role here is to serve conscious evolution, which isn’t necessarily what’s best for any particular individual human in the short term.

Other Perspectives

Of course there are other perspective too. We could discuss identification with community, nation, all life, the cosmos, etc. These perspectives are equally valid, but exploring them would add complexity without adding much substance to the core ideas. So for now I want to keep this simple.

On the atomic side, you’re an individual, and other people are individuals too. On the holistic side, we’re all part of a greater whole.

I’m not suggesting that any one perspective is best. All of these perspectives are valid. But I will suggest that it’s important to integrate the holistic perspective more fully into your life if you wish to experience a healthier flow of abundance.

“Waking up” basically means that you consider and integrate the holistic perspective as part of your daily life. Of course there are degrees of waking up, depending on how aware you are of the holistic perspective and how fully you’ve integrated it into your life. In the same manner, the cells in your body may have varying degrees of awareness that they are in fact part of a larger human body.

Alternatively, to be “asleep” is to be unaware of the larger holistic perspective. We could also define this behaviorally by saying that someone is asleep if they’re aware of the holistic perspective, but they don’t attempt to act congruently with it. In terms of semantics, I’d say that the first group is asleep, while the second group is trying to sleep.


At the individual level, fairness seems to be about equality. But of course we don’t see that much genuine equality in the world. It’s quite obvious that some individuals have more resources than others. Some people seem to be luckier too.

Does your own human body care about fairness when it doles out resources like oxygen and sugar to its individual cells? To an extent, sure. When resources are abundant, there’s plenty for all, but even then the distribution isn’t perfectly equal. And when resources become scarce, the body will starve cells that are less important to its survival to divert more resources to the most crucial cells.

So the question is, are you an essential cell in the larger body of consciousness? Or are you superfluous? Well… look at the resources that life sends your way. Do you feel all your needs are well met — your physical needs, emotional needs, social needs, self esteem needs, etc? Are you a highly self-actualized individual? Or do you have strong unfulfilled cravings for things that are important to you? Have you possibly given up on meeting some of your needs? Are you flourishing or are you stuck?

If you’re struggling to get your needs met, that’s a hint and a half that life itself isn’t particularly concerned with your well-being. Don’t fret though if this describes your situation. It’s a problem that can be fixed. Just don’t try to fix it by clamoring and complaining — that doesn’t work and will often backfire.

This may not seem fair, but in a way it is reasonable. You may be a very nice, kind, and generous person, but if your focus is at the cellular level, you’re probably missing so much of the big picture that in the grand scheme of things, your contribution just doesn’t matter that much, at least not from the perspective of universal consciousness.

You may be doing what could just as easily be done by someone else, which means you’re highly expendable. You may be playing follow the follower. You may be genuinely helping, but only at the cellular level. You may be doing nothing much, which makes it easy to ignore you.

If you live in such a way that doesn’t really contribute much, don’t be too surprised if it seems like life is starving you for resources. After all, life doesn’t need you as much if you aren’t actively helping with its expansion and growth.

Consider the cells in your own body. You may scratch an itch on your arm and kill lots of cells in the process without even thinking about it. Individual skin cells just aren’t that important to your overall survival. But you’re less likely to scratch off a patch of critical brain cells. A cut on your finger is no cause for alarm, but a cut on your eyeball is something you’d do more to avoid. Your body is even designed to protect some parts more than others. If something flies at your face, you’ll automatically throw up your arms to protect your head. But you won’t normally use your head to protect your arms.

Do you think you’re among the critical humans that the larger body of humanity would move to defend and protect? Or are you among the sacrificial parts?

What Does Consciousness Want?

What do you want as a human being? Think about your goals, dreams, and aspirations for a moment.

Now consider what an individual cell in your body would want. It wants oxygen and sugar. It wants to eliminate waste. Is this on the same level as your goals? Do you aspire to breathe, eat, and take dumps as your primary goals for the year?

Hopefully not.

Now look at this from the other side. From the perspective of the consciousness itself, your human-level dreams and goals seem petty. It’s important to keep people happy to an extent, but the fate of any one human is largely insignificant. Universal consciousness really doesn’t care if you have a job or an income, if you get the house you want, if you have a good relationship or not. It doesn’t care if you get laid or remain a virgin.

Well, it cares a little, but it’s not a major concern, just as you aren’t overly concerned about the fate of any individual cells in your body. It’s the body’s overall status that matters. And you probably identify more with your mind (your collective cellular intelligence) as opposed to your physical body anyway.

Similarly, universal consciousness is more concerned with the evolution of consciousness itself (our collective consciousness) as opposed to the fate of any individual human or even of humanity itself. Now the loss of humanity would probably be a setback, but consciousness may eventually recover in other forms.

What does consciousness really want? Like you and like your individual cells, it wants to get its needs met, and it wants to grow and evolve. But the level on which it’s capable of doing this goes way beyond what you’re capable of as an individual.

Look around at all the amazing — and accelerating — achievements of consciousness. It’s expanding in many directions simultaneously. Consider what’s evolving on earth. Humanity itself is becoming smarter and faster and more connected. And it’s having some health issues to deal with as well. And consciousness wants to keep going.

Living Small or Living Large

You can spend your life fussing over your own piddly cellular needs, but in the grand scheme of things, it won’t be anything to write home about. No matter what you do or don’t do as an individual, it’s just not going to matter that much.

The same can be said of any cell in your body. At the individual level, a single cell isn’t particularly important.

Imagine asking a cell in your body what he’s doing with his life, and he talks about the Bloodstream Marketing course he’s taking and how excited he is about all the extra sugar he’ll earn from his efforts. Oh boy!

But will his efforts pay off? Probably not. If he isn’t getting his needs met, there’s probably a good reason for it. The larger body will see that his needs are well met if there’s a good reason to do so. Otherwise it will divert resources where they’re needed.

This is how silly we humans appear to universal consciousness. It still cares about us and wants to see us happy for the most part, but it finds our cellular perspective to be rather limiting. If you push to get your individual needs met, but you do so in ways that the larger body doesn’t care about or which may interfere with its bigger plans, it will either ignore you, or it will swat you down like a mosquito.

Imagine if a cell in your body said, I just want to eat food and reproduce like crazy. That might seem fun from his perspective, but then the larger body has a tumor to deal with. Send in the white blood cells.

If you feel like some greater force keeps knocking you back down every time you try to get ahead, you’re not imagining it. It really is knocking you back down, and it will continue to do so until you stop trying to get ahead like a cancer cell would. Have you ever noticed, for instance, that as soon as you try to make progress on cancer-like projects, you keep getting distracted, so your attention has to turn somewhere else?

Quite often we cry “Life is so unfair” when from a larger perspective, it’s a no brainer that life is either going to ignore us or attack us. Humanity’s white blood cells will come after us and make life unpleasant for us when we forget that we’re part of a larger whole and that its well-being is more important than our individual well-being.

Now imagine if an individual cell in your body said to you, “Wait a minute. I get it. I may be just a tiny cell, but I’m a part of this whole body. That’s cool. Is there anything I can do to help?”

What would you say to it? You might wonder what one conscious cell could do for your whole body. Not much most likely. But then you might think, What if this cell could wake up many others, and what if those cells could awaken still more? Eventually you could have a body filled with cells that were aware of the whole body and seeking to serve it. This would fix a lot of your problems. You’d have much better health for starters. Cancer wouldn’t be able to take root. Most diseases would be eradicated easily. You’d always be able to maintain your ideal weight.

So you might tell that one conscious cell, “Go around and wake up more cells. Gather them together. Then we’ll talk.”

Being a Conscious Human

A conscious cell is aware of the whole body and realizes that the body matters more than any individual cell. The cells are there to serve the evolution of the body and mind, not merely themselves. There’s obviously a connection between the good of the cells and the good of the body, but it’s easier to have a healthy body if on some level, the cells are aware that the body’s health is more important than their own. A cell that works against the health of the body is a disease cell.

A conscious human being is aware of the larger body of humanity and has a sense of a greater consciousness that’s unfolding and evolving at a much higher level than any individual human can.

There is value in the lower level perspective. It’s not a perspective to ignore but rather to integrate with the holistic perspective. For example, through relaxed meditative breathing, we can connect with the lower level perspective of our own cells. Breathe in. Breathe out. We’re getting plenty of oxygen. Life is good. This cellular level perspective can help to ground us. Many meditations are essentially about tuning back in to this cellular perspective, while other meditations involve expanding to a more holistic perspective. The ideal is to be able to consider all of these perspectives as valid.

If our cells aren’t healthy, our bodies can’t be healthy, and so humanity itself can’t be healthy. And of course the opposite holds true as well. But there are ways of meeting our needs on different levels that are in alignment with all of these perspectives, and there are other ways that are out of alignment. To live consciously, we need to shift towards the ways that are in alignment, so we can meet our needs as we also meet the needs of the cells in our bodies and of the greater body of humanity.

I’m certainly not the first human being to have the experience of “waking up” and becoming aware of this. Other conscious humans helped wake me up and continue to help me stay awake… or to reawaken me when I lose that perspective. I also endeavor to do my part and help other people wake up to the realization that jobs and money and marriage and retirement just aren’t that important. There are more important things to attend to here. Meeting our cellular needs is still important, but we don’t want to fuss at that level too much. We have more significant work to do here, and we could be experiencing life at a much higher level of existence.

Living your life as a part of humanity will take your experience to a level that’s far beyond life as an individual human being. Even if your intention is to help people, try expanding it to a vision of helping humanity, as if humanity itself is a conscious entity. It’s a whole different level of being.

Now what I’m seeing is that the gathering phase is well underway. Many years ago, it seemed like conscious people were very isolated. Now they’re coming together in bigger and bigger groups. I’m involved in multiple groups of this nature, and it seems like every few months I’m hearing about new groups forming. The conscious humans are clustering, and these clusters are growing larger and more organized. It’s as if new organs are incubating with the larger body of humanity. Something is definitely happening, and it’s a wondrous thing to behold.

Consequently, while I know some people are worried about where humanity is headed, I’m not worried at all. In fact, I’m excited about it. I have the privilege of being able to see what many of these conscious people are up to, and they’re starting to create transformational ripples. If you’re reading this article, then these ripples have already reached you, and you’re being impacted by them.

Some conscious cells are still isolated, however. Others are in very small groups only. And of course there are lots of people who still primarily think at the cellular level (go Bloodstream Marketing). But this is changing.

Perhaps the simplest way I can explain what’s happening is that humanity’s Power has been increasing by leaps and bounds, and now its alignment with Truth and Love desperately need to catch up. Otherwise humanity will eventually crash and burn. For instance, the first atomic bombs were dropped only 66 years ago, yet now we must somehow ensure that they’re never used on a global scale, not even 1000 years from now. One serious mistake or lapse during any minute that we have nukes, and it’s a major setback for us all. That’s a tall order that cannot be satisfied at the cellular level of consciousness. We’ve had too many close calls already (see the documentary Countdown to Zero for details on that). The larger body of humanity is aware of this challenge, and it recognizes that we need more people who are Truthful, Loving, and Powerful to deal with this existential threat.

You’re going to start picking up on this at the individual level, if you haven’t already. For instance, you’re going to feel far less tolerant of political leaders who lie to you. We’re going to see different kinds of leaders emerge, the kinds of leaders we truly need in this day and age. There are plenty of people like that, but in order for them to become popular enough, we just have to continue waking up more individual people. Once enough people are awake (or stop trying to sleep), we’ll see some major shifts. These shifts are already happening in the world of business, where popularity with the masses isn’t as necessary.

The Flow of Abundance

What we’re seeing is that on some level, this higher consciousness is taking note of what’s happening, and it seems to be assisting and accelerating the process. It wants human beings to wake up because a body of conscious cells can do much more than a body of unconscious ones. So if you’re concerned that there are too many crises in the world, recognize that there’s an upside. These major challenges are helping more and more people to finally wake up. We can’t even begin to address these challenges with cellular-level thinking, so we have to wake up in order to solve them.

There’s a lot of rebalancing that’s occurring as universal consciousness and individual human consciousness communicate with each other about how to best meet each others’ needs. How can humanity continue to evolve and expand while keeping individual humans happy and healthy? For humanity to be at its best, enough individual humans need to be at their best as well. You’re going to see this reflected in your own life too, as you grapple with the challenge of how to serve some greater life purpose while also making sure your individual needs are satisfied. In a way, you’re helping humanity experiment in order to find good solutions, which it can then spread to other cells. This is why cells like me feel an undeniable urge to pass on what we’ve figured out thus far.

As I’ve seen in my own life, this higher level consciousness is clearly listening. Somehow it can perceive the level at which we’re thinking, and it responds in kind. If you keep thinking at the cellular level, this higher consciousness will keep trying to wake you up. You may lose your job and other possessions, for instance, until you finally realize that those things don’t matter. We have more important things to deal with right now.

I’m far from perfect in this area, but I’m gradually getting the hang of it. I’m noticing that whenever I slip back down to cellular level thinking, I get a good smackdown. I feel like everything slows to a crawl. And when I shift back up to a higher level perspective, it’s like I’m back in the flow again. The phone rings with fresh opportunities, money just shows up, loving relationships flow into my life, and more. Fortunately perfection isn’t necessary. We just have to shift the balance far enough to achieve critical mass.

For those who are stuck at the cellular level of thinking, I suspect that life is going to become increasingly difficult for you. You’re going to see your worries, fears, and frustrations magnified. Life will seem to be getting worse. It may seem like important aspects of society are falling apart around you. This is happening for a reason though. These old systems are going to be dismantled. That’s actually a good thing. They’ll be replaced with better things.

For instance, you may be worried about debt, either your own or your country’s or someone else’s. But from the larger perspective of humanity, debt is meaningless. Humanity really doesn’t care if our financial system collapses or not. In fact, it may be better for it to collapse and be replaced by something else. So if you’re really attached to the current system and the money in your bank, you may get scared. But if you’re looking at the big picture, you’ll probably feel excited instead.

Be willing to lose what doesn’t matter, so we can all gain what does matter. Jobs don’t matter, but creativity does. Paying our bills doesn’t matter, but keeping our bodies healthy does. Getting good grades in school doesn’t matter, but preserving and passing on our collective knowledge does. Start reorganizing your life around what matters, and be willing to shed what doesn’t.

Try not to be too attached to remnants of the old cellular consciousness, like the money you have, the job you do, and the home you live in. The more you cling to those things, the more stressed out you’ll be. Just notice that these are all artificial cellular level concerns. What’s important is that humanity is evolving in a very positive way. You can resist that change and see your old goals fall apart, or you can flow with it and actively participate in the process of change.

For those who are waking up, life is going to become much easier in a way. Your life will explode with opportunities to learn, love, share, and grow. The good stuff will come from your alignment with the expansion of universal consciousness. But it’s important to keep the perspective of what really matters. Money doesn’t matter. Bloodstream/Internet Marketing is pointless and shallow. Waking people up and consciously co-creating something amazing is what matters.

When you align yourself with this higher level consciousness, abundance will flow through your life with relative ease. However, this type of abundance will be universal level abundance, not human level abundance. It doesn’t mean you’ll necessarily have more money, a more luxurious home, or more possessions. That kind of stuff just doesn’t matter and represents artificial needs, not real needs. This level of abundance means that you’ll be experiencing the benefits of being in a healthier body. You’ll get more of what really matters — more growth opportunities, more love, more joy, more inner peace.

Focus on your true needs. What do you need to feel abundant? You need to keep your body healthy with healthy food, sunshine, and clean air and water. You need a reasonable degree of safety. You need love and belongingness. You need self esteem. You need an outlet for your creativity. Your true needs are quite simple in fact, and they’re easier to satisfy than your artificial needs. You don’t need the latest tech gadget. You don’t need a job or an income. You don’t need to get married. You don’t need to master Bloodstream Marketing.

Your artificial needs may not align well with humanity’s larger concerns. But your true needs certainly do align. It’s in humanity’s best interests to keep its best servants healthy, happy, and prosperous. In that sense, if you dedicate yourself to serving this greater body, it will surely watch your back.

Aligning With Higher Level Desires

In order to tap into this greater flow of abundance, you have to tap into higher level desires.

First, recognize that your human level goals are beginning to bore you. No matter how important you try to make them, you can’t get motivated to work on them. You just can’t get that worked up about making money beyond a certain point. People may tell you it’s important to have specific financial goals, but when you try to do this for yourself, it makes you feel yucky inside. You can’t get motivated to work on those kinds of goals. They don’t inspire you. And so you procrastinate and then beat yourself up. It’s time to end this cycle. It’s time to re-align your desires with something that actually matters to you. You can set better goals than the human equivalent of stockpiling oxygen and sugar.

Stop thinking about what you want for yourself as an individual. Start thinking about what you want for humanity as a whole.

In the past, you may have been hesitant to even think at that level. Start thinking at that level now.

What do you want for humanity itself? Where would you like to see this larger body go during your lifetime and beyond?

Do you want us to clean up the planet? Explore outer space? Improve our educational systems? Stop fighting wars?

Let yourself dream about what’s possible for humanity. Notice that these dreams are much more impressive than anything you could possibly do as an individual.

Become a billionaire? Who cares? Start a charity? Big deal. Discover a new planet? Nice try. When will you be ready to work on a real goal, a goal for humanity itself?

Receiving Guidance

The best part is that you don’t even need to figure this out yourself. All you need to do is wake up to this higher level perspective, and then simply ping this universal consciousness to tell it you’re awake and ready to serve. Ask it for guidance, and guidance will come.

Just be aware that universal consciousness is frakkin powerful. It’s way more powerful than human level consciousness. When you tap into this resource and align yourself with it, your life is going to speed up. At first it may seem like drinking from a fire hose. It will take some time to get used to it.

If you feel that the flow is too much for you, you can ask it to slow down. I do this all the time. When I’m feeling overwhelmed, I say to the universe aloud, “Okay… this is too fast. Let’s slow this down for a week or two and give me a chance to catch my breath.” Then when I’m ready, I ask it to speed up again.

With practice you’ll get used to this faster pacing. You’ll get used to things showing up when you need them. You’ll get used to experiencing synchronicities almost every day.

A synchronicity is no accident. Universal consciousness knows what you need, perhaps even better than you do. You really don’t even have to ask for your specific needs to be met once you ask to be a better servant of humanity. As Jesus said, just say, “Not my will, but thy will be done.”

Lately I’ve been holding off on setting specific goals for myself. Instead I’ve been saying to the universe, “Bring me what you want me to work on, and also please bring me whatever you know I need for optimal health, happiness, and flow.” And then I do my best to remain open-minded and detached from outcomes. I let the universal consciousness guide me instead of having to set specific goals and intentions. I still have an intention, but it’s simply to do what’s best for humanity as a whole.

Partly I’m doing this because I’ve reached the point where any individual-level goal would bore me, and I wouldn’t be able to motivate myself to work on it. I just don’t care that much about oxygen and sugar to make it the central focus of my life. So I’m willing to risk things like losing my money, losing my home, having my relationships disrupted, etc. just for the opportunity to see where this flow leads. And yet somehow when I move past this fear of losing stuff, I seem to gain much more than I lose. As far as meeting my human needs goes, they’re all nicely satisfied and then some. Bloodstream Marketing just can’t compare.

Effect on Relationships

When you begin to align yourself with the perspective of higher level consciousness, your relationships with other people will shift. Try not to be too attached to what happens here. Your pairings with any one or more individuals aren’t necessarily going to be stable. It’s how your relationships affect the whole of humanity that matters. What ripples are you and your relationships co-creating?

People who aren’t compatible with this new perspective will fade from your life. At first you may fear that you’re going to end up alone, but there’s no cause for alarm. New relationships will come into your life, relationships with people who have a similar perspective. And these relationships will be much better for you than the old ones. They’ll help you hold the new perspective.

These new relationships will be different than what you’re used to, however. There will be less rigidity and more flexibility in this part of your life. Such relationships may defy traditional labels. You may feel a bit ungrounded in this new space. It takes time to get used to it.

Eventually you’ll realize that happiness and love can come from anywhere. You may have your emotional needs met equally well by a long-time partner or with someone you just met. Universal consciousness will guide you to whatever it is that you need to sustain your emotional health, as long as you don’t get too attached to how it shows up. If you remain open and flexible, your emotional needs can be satisfied with relative ease. Trust that universal consciousness knows just what you need, and it will deliver it right to you if you’re ready to accept it. Again, you don’t even have to ask once you’re on this path. It will satisfy your emotional needs because doing so makes you a better servant. You can’t serve humanity so well if you’re feeling lonely and disconnected. You’ll be more motivated if you have love in your life, so love will be delivered unto you.

Compared to where I was a few years ago, my relationship life might seem a bit strange these days. I have many relationships that would be difficult to label, but they seem to be healthy and flourishing in ways that are hard to get my head around. I can’t really define what they are, and I can’t predict where they’re going. But it seems like these connections are good and healthy for all involved. My biggest relationship challenge is unloading the traditional-minded baggage that nudges me to lock down and label each relationship, so I can feel like I understand it. But whenever I fall into that pattern, things get worse, not better. Conscious relationships don’t seem to like being locked down and labeled. They require more freedom and flow.

At first this sort of situation could make a person feel insecure. You may be accustomed to having a sense of security based on the stability of predictable interactions with people close to you.

However, when you align yourself with universal consciousness, you’re likely to move around a lot more relationship-wise. You’re going to meet and interact with a lot more people than you’re used to. Your social life will be rich and varied. Your stability has to come from trusting that no matter where you are, your emotional needs will still be satisfied. You’ll have the opportunity to share love, intimacy, affection, etc., and it can be more abundant than what you experienced at the individual level of being. I assure you that you won’t have to go it alone. This isn’t a lonely path — it’s actually an incredibly social path.

Effect on Work

Your work life will be transformed as well. You’ll probably need to stop thinking of your career in terms of having a stable job and earning a set income. Serving humanity requires a lot more flexibility and flow than a traditional job can provide. Thinking of starting or running a business is equally limiting. This is human level thinking. What does humanity need?

Humanity is more concerned with things like creativity, purpose, and expansion. It would love to see you contribute to the ongoing expansion and evolution of consciousness. That’s what matters. The other stuff is too trivial to fuss over.

I don’t really have a job title. Sometimes I make one up like President or CEO when it’s required for social convention, but the title is meaningless to me. When people ask me what I do for a living, I don’t really know what to say. I don’t do anything for a living. I just live. In certain situations I might say that I’m a blogger, author, or speaker, but that’s mainly what I say to people who are asleep and I don’t have time to wake them up in that particular moment. If I’m talking to someone who’s awake, then either they won’t ask such a silly question, or they’ll understand my honest answer… and they’ll probably share a similar feeling about job titles.

My business cards have the wrong address because I haven’t updated them in 5 years. My website obviously isn’t the prettiest one out there. I’ve never spent money to market or promote my website, book, or workshops. I don’t think it would be a bad thing to do so; it just hasn’t ever been necessary. Humanity takes care of all my marketing and does a better job than I could.

Last year I uncopyrighted all my blog posts and podcasts, so you have just as much ownership of this article as I do. From a cellular level, that might seem like a foolish decision. But that isn’t the level at which I made the decision. What does a copyright mean to humanity? Of course it’s meaningless. What would you think if one of your cells tried to patent the Krebs Cycle? Silly cells…

Some people are repackaging and selling my work for money. Does that bother me? Of course not. Even though they may be operating at an individual level of consciousness, they’re actually helping. They’re spreading ideas that humanity wants to spread; after all, humanity gave me those ideas to share in the first place. They’re doing exactly what they’re supposed to be doing. I think some of them have been donating back to me as well, since I’ve seen a modest increase in donations lately. But I didn’t do this to get more donations. I did it because it should help the ideas spread and get more people thinking about living consciously. It really doesn’t matter which humans get credit or make money from it.

I think my business actually works better because I don’t manage it with a cellular mindset. Millions of people have been drawn to my work, and it’s been translated into more languages than I can track. People keep sharing it, with or without my permission. New opportunities keep showing up. Money keeps flowing. Everything works. Well, aside from my web server, which I may have to upgrade yet again due to traffic growth. But that’s a good problem to have, isn’t it?

Why does my business work? Because it’s not really a business. It’s a service, not primarily for individual humans, but for humanity itself. The purpose is to help enough people wake up and live more consciously, so that humanity itself may continue to survive and thrive. And by performing this service for humanity, it takes care of all my needs. It’s really good at it too. I barely have to lift a finger to attend to such things. I rather appreciate that.

Individually speaking, there are some humans out there who don’t particularly like my work. But that’s largely irrelevant because humanity as a whole has made it abundantly clear that it appreciates what I’m doing and wants to speed things along with further expansion. These days I largely ignore cellular level feedback because it comes from people at varying levels of wakefulness, so of course they won’t all agree. But I pay close attention to feedback from universal consciousness, such as whether my life is flowing well or not. These days it’s flowing amazingly well, so I figure I’m on the right track.

Is humanity making it abundantly clear that it appreciates what you’re doing? If not, any guesses as to why? Could it be that you’ve been ignoring humanity’s needs, and thus it’s been ignoring your needs? Try doing the opposite and see what happens. I think you’ll like it.

Conscious Business

Recently I’ve been listening to an audiobook about the history of Google. Google began as a fairly idealistic company with the grand mission of organizing and providing access to all the world’s information. Does that sound like an individual level goal or a goal for humanity itself? Of course Google has since become a giant, besting all other search companies. Interestingly, one of the reasons it succeeded is because it attracted some of the brightest minds in the world, people who were inspired by its mission and who would not have worked for the company if it was just about the money. You could say that humanity diverted the best resources to Google because Google’s mission served the best interests of humanity. In fact, Google has helped to create a smarter, more self-aware humanity.

Microsoft used to be a similar purpose-driven company, with the mission of putting “a computer on every desk and in every home.” That was an expansive goal that served humanity. But a lot of people now believe Microsoft has lost its way, and sometimes it acts more like a cancerous tumor than a servant to humanity. Do you believe that Microsoft is here to serve humanity, or mainly itself? Is it working with the expansion and evolution of humanity, or is it working against it? Probably a bit of both. Hence its mixed results and recent stagnation. Microsoft needs a new mission that aligns with humanity’s expansion. So far its current attempts at a new mission have been fluffy and noncommittal. It wastes too much energy on trying to defend its turf, failing to recognize that there’s only one turf, and it belongs to universal consciousness. If you happen to work for Microsoft, do what you can to wake more people up within your company, and eventually the culture will shift, as will the company’s results.

The irony is that companies that care less about quarterly returns and more about service to humanity can often achieve amazing growth. Why? Because humanity wants those companies to succeed. It sends them whatever resources they need to succeed.

Notice which companies appear to be serving the expansion and evolution of humanity and which are only here to serve themselves and their stockholders. If you were a genius, which kind of company would you want to work for? If you were humanity itself, which companies would you support? Which would you ignore? Which would you wish to tear down or transform? Now what kind of company do you currently work for?

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Martin Luther King, Jr. said that we have guided missiles and misguided men. Let’s change that. Guidance is available to you whenever you want. You just have to be reasonably awake to receive it. Then you’ll have all the inspiration you could possibly want.


Why should we bother to care about other people? Is it okay to live just for ourselves? Is it good enough to do no harm? Is there any reason we should go out of our way to help other people?

I used to not care about people. I mean really not care. I know what it’s like to live with that mindset. I lived that way for years.

In my late teens, I’d go out and shoplift on an almost daily basis. While some shoplifters justify their behavior by claiming they only steal from “evil, greedy corporations,” I could steal from individuals as easily as from large companies. I didn’t need to justify it to myself, and I didn’t feel remorse or regret about it afterwards. To me it was just a joke. I knew my actions were probably hurting people on some level, but I simply didn’t care. I could sleep just fine at night. If I had a conscience back then, it was pretty darned quiet.

This apathetic mindset flowed through other parts of my life as well. I used to get drunk at least once or twice a week, mostly at college parties. If it caused consequences for me, I didn’t care. It didn’t bother me that I was poisoning the cells of my own body with every sip. I figured that life was meaningless anyway. There was no greater purpose to it. The only thing worth living for was momentary pleasure. Having fun was reason enough to do anything I wanted.

I also combined alcohol and stealing… just for fun of course. One morning I woke up with a pile of miscellaneous items on my dorm room desk that I barely remembered stealing; I must have broken into at least three cars after downing a bottle of wine one night. I have a vague recollection of laughing uproariously while rummaging through vehicles in some parking lot. When my roommates pointed at my desk with stunned looks, I glanced at the pile of junk, laughing, “Damn… what the hell did I do last night?” I didn’t even want those items, so I just threw them away. Apathy and alcohol can be a rather destructive combination.

Friends would try to talk to me about what I was doing, but they couldn’t get through to me. I always jokingly dismissed them.

I truly did not care.

It wasn’t till I finally crashed and ended up being arrested enough times and facing prison that I finally started to care. I graduated from apathy to self-centeredness and began taking responsibility for my life. Soon I transitioned to neutrality and learned to stop harming others, adopting the attitude “live and let live.” And gradually over a period of years, I transitioned to the mindset of oneness, regarding service to the greater good as a higher order of living as opposed to just meeting my own needs.

Let’s explore all three of these mindsets, so you can deepen your understanding of different ways of relating to the larger body of humanity: self-centeredness, neutrality, and oneness.


At the level of self-centeredness, your primary aim in life is to serve your own interests without much regard for anyone else. You may compete against others to get ahead, perhaps lying or “bending the rules” when you feel it’s worthwhile. You probably generate income by mooching off the value created by others as opposed to making a genuine contribution. You live as a parasite, knowing that the world would be slightly better off without your presence. In order for you to continue living as you do, others must endure some sacrifice. The rest of humanity isn’t helped by your presence, and is probably somewhat harmed by it.

Viewed from the perspective of the larger body of humanity, you behave as a disease, an infection, or a cancer cell. When you pursue your own advancement at the expense of others, you damage the other cells, and on some level the larger body suffers for it. However, you remain apathetic to the larger body. You have your own problems to deal with, and the larger body can fend for itself for all you care.

What’s the most sensible way for the larger body to respond to this kind of behavior? Its options include trying to convince you to alter your misguided behavior, attempting to contain the damage you’re able to inflict, or attacking you outright in order to render you inert or wipe you out.

If the larger body fails to respond to your behavior (and collectively, the behavior of others with a similar mindset), it risks its own demise. An unchecked disease may destroy it. If everyone chose to live as you do, humanity would eventually be destroyed, most likely by drowning in its own waste. The larger body has little choice but to respond with some form of resistance.

This is exactly what happens. Persistent self-centeredness creates a long-term defensive reaction from the larger body of humanity, at least to the degree it remains capable of mounting a defense against you. Collectively, humanity considers you a disease and treats you as such. Loving connections with others won’t be a major part of your life; you’ll have to settle for fear-based or dependency connections. Others will only connect with you because they feel they have to or because they can gain something from it. This means your connections with other people are basically reduced to the level of transactions. They are loveless and devoid of deeper meaning.

Life with this attitude can be a struggle on many levels. First, you may find that individuals who serve the good of the body object to what you’re doing, perhaps labeling you as selfish or misguided. If you surround yourself with like-minded cancer cells, you may be able to insulate yourself from most personal attacks, but then you become part of a group that the body treats as a collective form of disease. For example, if you opt to make a living by mooching off the value of others (while creating and sharing no real value of your own), and you mainly choose to associate with like-minded people, you may insulate yourself from most personal attacks, but now you’re subject to collective attacks aimed at those who behave like you. You shift from being an individual disease cell to being part of a larger infection. Join a criminal gang, become a greed-driven stock trader who extracts value while creating nothing, or start spamming people for income, and you’re guilty by association.

The larger body will mount some kind of resistance to your actions, whether you participate in a disease of a million cells or operate as a lone disease cell. So you can expect that your life will be filled with many (seemingly unfair) challenges and obstacles. You’ll always have this unsettling feeling that you’re swimming against the tide instead of going with the flow.

The net effect is that you can never experience genuine oneness with the larger body while you subscribe to self-centeredness. You can never feel truly safe. So you must live your life in such a way that you’re always pushing back against the larger body. You betray the body, the body resists your betrayal, and you resist its resistance. This is a life of perpetual disconnection from the whole. You will often have the feeling that you are unwanted and alone, even in the company of friends and family.

When you disconnect from the larger body, you also disconnect from other cells that serve the larger body. Now those do-gooder cells become a threat to you. Anything that strengthens the body threatens you because as the body grows stronger, so does its ability to resist you. So in order to grow stronger on this path, you actually have to mount more and more resistance to those who are actively doing good. Criminals fight law enforcement. Spammers fight anti-spammers. Polluting businesses fight environmentalists. The stronger you get, the more disconnected you become.

Since a life of committed self-centeredness is a life of perpetual disconnection and resistance, in the long run you’re likely to disconnect from your own heart. You’ll stop caring about the larger body, and you’ll stop caring about other people. You’ll learn to watch the suffering of others with no sense of caring or compassion. You’ll disconnect from your own humanity, becoming something cold and separate from all of us.

But your heart is still there, still waiting for its voice to be heard. You can never turn it off completely. You can only deny its existence and refuse to listen to it.

If everyone adopts this mindset, the human race basically goes to hell. We’d all be living as single-celled organisms, in complete denial of our inherent interconnectedness to each other and to this planet. Sooner or later, this mindset ends in the destruction of the larger body. In order for the body to survive and thrive, the cells must on some level be aware that they’re part of a larger body and work to maintain the health of that body.

If you’ve read my previous articles on polarity and polarization and are wondering if this sounds like the path of the darkworker, you’re right.


The second option is to follow the mantra “live and let live.” In this case you seek to do no harm, but you don’t go out of your way to do intentional good either. For the most part, you fulfill your needs non-destructively but also non-creatively.

In the larger body of humanity, you might consider your attitude to be about average (maybe a little above average). You try to take care of your needs without harming your neighbors. You certainly don’t live as a disease cell, but you don’t go all out to serve the larger body either. You simply do what you feel is necessary to get by. You may assist other cells from time to time as the need arises, but you mainly do this reactively as opposed to proactively. You don’t actively seek out new ways to serve others, but if someone directly asks you for a favor, you may be inclined to say yes if you can assist.

In this case it’s reasonable to expect the larger body to treat you with indifference. As a non-essential cell, your life is of no great concern to it. The larger body won’t directly attack you, but it certainly won’t go out of its way to help you either. It isn’t too burdened by your presence, but it doesn’t really need you either.

If you hold the intention to receive more resources or more assistance, your request will most likely fall on deaf ears. The larger body will likely view your requests as trivial or irrelevant, so it will respond with little or no assistance. That is in fact the most sensible response.

The problem is that if there are other self-centered people at large in the body of humanity, then your attitude of neutrality actually contributes to the problem. In your day-to-day life, you’ll be walking past cells that are suffering and will basically do nothing to help them. Your attitude will likely be, “Not my problem. Someone else will take care of it.” Then you’ll go home and watch your favorite TV shows.

If everyone lived like this AND the larger body had no self-centered, darkworker cells present, the larger body would probably be in a state of slow decline (such as your own cells experience through the process of aging). However, if there are darkworkers present, then the decline accelerates. You do nothing while more Hitler-types gain increasing power. Eventually your neutrality doesn’t look so good. The most likely outcome is that you’ll end up being an unwitting pawn of a darkworker. In fact, there’s a good chance you already are. If you have a job, for instance, do you know what kind of person or people you’re ultimately working for? Are you basically working to fulfill the desires of people who have little concern for the greater good? Do you invest your money in people and companies who maintain such an attitude?

Even though most people on earth fall into this category, neutrality is a highly unstable state. Real life will constantly bring you experiences to knock you off this equilibrium, pushing you toward self-centeredness and then oneness in a yo-yo-like fashion. However, you’ll never fully cross the border on either side unless you make the choice consciously. It won’t happen by accident.

With respect to polarity and polarization, the neutral path is the unpolarized (or pre-polarized) path. It’s actually the least powerful path of all. Although it may seem better than the self-centered darkworker path, neutrality is actually weaker in practice. The reason is that on the darkworker path, you’re going to meet with a lot of resistance, and pushing against that resistance makes you stronger, much like weight training strengthens your muscles. Since the neutral path offers less resistance, you don’t have as many opportunities to grow your power. Even the lightworker/oneness path offers plenty of resistance training, in the form of working against self-centeredness, apathy, and even neutrality. So while lightworkers and darkworkers grow stronger, neutral people remain very weak by comparison. Historically speaking, the lightworkers and darkworkers are the movers and shakers on earth, while the neutral people are subjected to what the lightworkers and darkworkers are doing.

If you’re neutral, it’s a safe bet that much of your life is controlled by others. This is the place of living reactively instead of proactively. Even when you set goals, they’re likely to be socially conditioned ones, and most likely you won’t feel strongly empowered by them.


The third option is to live with the attitude of oneness. These cells recognize the larger body of humanity, and they devote their lives to serving the good of the body. This means taking care of individual needs as necessary, but the motivation for meeting one’s needs comes from being a better vehicle for service.

Oneness is the logical and emotional recognition that we’re all part of the same whole and that we aren’t separate from each other. We’re all cells in the larger body of humanity. Its fate is our fate. If the body suffers, we all suffer for it. If the body thrives, we all benefit from it.

When you fully internalize this mindset and commit yourself to it, something rather magical happens. The larger body recognizes your commitment to service, and it actively seeks to assist you. By helping you, the body is simply helping itself.

Imagine that someone else has pledged herself to meet your needs as best she can. Would you want to fight against her, or would you want to help and support her? Of course you’d want to help her because by helping her, you’re helping yourself. This is how the larger body of humanity responds to those who pledge themselves to serving its needs. If you say aloud, “I dedicate my life to serving the greater good,” and you feel that statement resonating with you on a deep emotional level, do not be surprised if new resources start flowing into your life to assist you.

Now this is a cute little theory, so it’s reasonable that you’ll be skeptical about this if you’ve never experienced the mindset of oneness for an extended period of time. I can’t convince you of this by merely writing about it. This is something that must be experienced first-hand to be believed. I can tell you what lies beyond this door, but that isn’t remotely the same thing as experiencing it for yourself. The way to walk through this door is to polarize as a lightworker.

What does the larger body of humanity actually want? Basically it wants the same things you do. It wants to survive and thrive, to be healthy, to learn and grow, to become stronger, and to creatively express itself. If you’re familiar with fractal geometry, the larger body is basically a zoomed-out version of you, and you are one of its cells.

Since a fractal is self-similar at all levels of magnification, if the larger body of humanity is sick and unhealthy, that doesn’t bode well for its individual cells. However, by healing ourselves and by adopting the mindset of oneness, we work to create a strong and healthy humanity.

In Chapter 4 of my book, there’s an exercise called Oneness World. Let me share this exercise with you here because I think it will help you understand what the mindset of oneness can help us collectively create for the larger body of humanity:

Oneness World

Set aside ten minutes to sit quietly, relax, and just imagine what it would be like to live in a world where everyone lives in alignment with oneness. Picture a world where all people feel joyful and connected with everyone else. Imagine a place where cooperation replaces competition. What would it be like to walk down the street past throngs of strangers and feel as if they’re all close family members? How would people behave in a world where “we” thinking replaces “me” thinking, where profiting at someone else’s expense never happens, and where everyone assumes personal responsibility for the well-being of everyone else?

In this world of oneness, you can always expect fair treatment, regardless of race, gender, or sexual preference. If you need help with anything, you can approach anyone at any time, and you’ll be treated like family. The very notion of individual advancement at the expense of others is completely alien. This world’s mantra is, “We’re all in this together.”

This new world has no weapons, no prisons, and no national borders. There’s no violence or war. People still have differences of opinion, but they settle them by cooperating to discover the truth while treating every individual with compassion and fairness.

Allow your mind and emotions to roam freely through Oneness World. Think about what it would be like to actually live there. Pay attention to how it makes you feel.

Although this is a fantasy world exercise, it will deepen your understanding of oneness. Even in the real world, you’ll experience some of these benefits as you begin to align yourself with oneness. When you interact with others from a place of cooperation, fairness, and compassion, you’ll tend to receive similar treatment in return. When you treat everyone as a friend or family member, you’ll often find them responding in kind. Over time, you’ll attract others who resonate with oneness, which will enable you to create a microcosm of the larger ideal within your own life.

from Personal Development for Smart People, Chapter 4

This is the short version of the ultimate vision that lightworkers aim to collectively create. Obviously it’s an ideal, but the more people who embrace this attitude, the better life becomes for all of us, even in the presence of darkworkers.

Lightworkers, incidentally, seek to render darkworkers inert and eventually convert them to lightworkers. This is a path of healing the larger body of humanity and bringing all of us together in a spirit of cooperation and compassion. Lightworkers believe that no one is undeserving of love, including darkworkers.

Given the current state of the larger body of humanity, it isn’t enough to do no harm. You must proactively commit yourself to doing good. Allowing harm to be done is just as irresponsible as causing direct harm. Our inherent interconnectedness is undeniable. We sink or swim together.

On the whole, committed lightworkers receive an incredible level of support from the larger body of humanity. This enables them to take on bigger and bigger challenges. Instead of worrying about survival, genuine lightworkers are given assistance to help them focus their energies on the larger mission of service. Others will come to their aid to help them meet their needs if necessary. From the larger body’s perspective, the important thing is that the lightworker keeps working to shift humanity toward that vision of Oneness World.

Discovering Oneness

If I went back in time and introduced my age 37 self to my age 18 self, I seriously doubt my 18 year-old self would believe we’re the same person. If he asked about my life, his main concern would be about how much power I had and how brave I was. He’d want me to share stories of grander crimes I got away with and the greater thrills ahead of him.

Although on the surface we might seem to be two totally different people, my past self is still inside me. He’s my shadow.

For a time I tried to disconnect from him, to put him in a memory box and do my best to forget he ever existed. But my life didn’t go so well without him. I became a nicer person, but I lacked the strength, courage, and passion I had during my teenage years. I matured into a largely powerless adult.

Years ago I began to dialog with that part of myself to discover what he wanted and to understand him more deeply. I had to acknowledge that he is still with me. He had something that was lacking in my life when I turned my back on him. I had to understand his powerful drive and especially his courage. I needed to harness his energy and find a way to re-channel it through the mindset of oneness. That’s when I realized that power and oneness are not in conflict; in fact, they amplify each other. I can do more good from a position of strength than of weakness.

I gradually came to understand that I needed to feel strong and powerful and that this is a universal need we all share, but too often it gets squelched. As human beings we need to express our power, which is our ability to create the reality we want to experience. We need to feel strong. Weakness does not become us.

We are here to shine, not to cower in fear. If we are to achieve greatness, we must abandon the wimpy goal of security. Courage, not security, must be our friend and guide on this human journey.

Expressing our power isn’t a bad thing. It only becomes harmful when we fall out of alignment with truth and love. Then our power becomes destructive and wicked.

But the good news is that we can have our cake and eat it too. We can align our power with truth and love. We can learn to care deeply about each other. We can express our full creative energies and let our passion burn for the sake of the greater good. We can use our power to create and build instead of to conquer and destroy. When we align ourselves with truth and love, we amplify our power. Our desire for power needn’t lead us into darkness; it can take us further into the light.

When we act as separate individuals, our power is limited. We can only do so much on our own. But when we turn our power in the direction of the greater good, we align ourselves with the much more powerful body of humanity, and our results are magnified a hundredfold.

The body recognizes and acknowledges us when we adopt the mindset of oneness; in fact, it actively supports us. When we need help, there’s a knock on the door with an offer of assistance. When we need resources, they freely flow to us. When we need ideas, they come to us. But when we lose this mindset, we experience either indifference or resistance.

If you want the world to care about you, you must care about the world. The first move is yours. If your first move is to wait and see what happens, the world will respond in kind. If your first move is to give freely to the best of your ability, the world will also respond in kind.

I could not be doing what I’m doing if I was going it alone, fueled only by my own selfish desires. I know what it’s like to live that way, and I can’t imagine going back. It’s boring at best, frustrating and demoralizing at worst.

When I hold the mindset of oneness (which I freely admit isn’t always easy), I’m uplifted and encouraged by daily assistance and support. I have more resources flowing into my life than I need, more opportunities than I can possibly follow. To me this represents a powerful “yes” from the larger body of humanity. Meeting my needs has become almost trivially easy. This allows me to focus my time and energy on doing what I can to create a more conscious humanity, one that is able to shift from self-centeredness and neutrality to oneness.

As an individual, my life doesn’t seem particularly important. A self-centered purpose would bore me to tears and leave me feeling empty inside. But as an instrument for serving the good of humanity, I feel so much power and energy coursing through my life, many times more than what I felt when I lived only for myself.

Of the seven principles I wrote about in Personal Development for Smart People, oneness will probably seem the most “airy fairy” and perhaps the least grounded and practical. However, the exact opposite is true. As a guiding principle, it’s incredibly practical. Your degree of alignment (or misalignment) with oneness is a statement of your basic approach to living as a human being. It’s your answer to the question, “Why am I here?” Aligning yourself with oneness makes life easier on so many levels. It transforms resistance into acceptance, competition into cooperation, and sorrow into joy.

Even when I have a difficult or painful experience, I can see the joy behind it. Every difficulty I face becomes a lesson I can share with other people, so there’s always the opportunity to feel grateful for the opportunity to contribute.

Helping each other doesn’t mean going out of our way. Helping each other is our way.

Do You Owe the World Anything?

The standard economic narrative as applied to human history tells us that barter came first, then money, and then credit and debt. In actuality we know that these concepts developed in the opposite order. Debt and credit pre-date the use of money by thousands of years. Money, in the form of early coins, came into usage largely as a way of keeping track of debts. And finally, the human use of barter systems actually arose after money, not before. Barter is employed by people who’ve already learned about money, and barter systems often use an equivalent of money to manage trades, such as how cigarettes are used as a medium of exchange in prisons.

With the publication of Wealth of Nations in 1776, Adam Smith helped to popularize the notion that money was invented to be a superior replacement for barter. But anthropologists and historians found that no such barter-based cultures actually existed before money; barter came after money. Before money there were some simple forms of trade, often combined with complex social rituals, but they were extremely limited and normally used for trading between tribes on special occasions, not within existing groups and not on a daily basis.

Apparently humans didn’t have barter systems until after money came into play. One reason is that without money, a barter system would be way too complicated and unwieldy. Barter is typically used as a fallback system when formal currency isn’t available, and even then barter tends to be transacted with respect to a previously used currency. For hundreds of years after the Roman Empire fell, for instance, people engaged in barter exchanges, the value of which was translated into Roman currency. This was done even in areas that weren’t originally part of the Roman Empire. It was actually the concept of money that popularized barter.

So if people didn’t have barter until money came onto the scene, what did they do if they hadn’t been exposed to money? How did they exchange goods and services? They typically just shared freely with each other, or they gave each other gifts, sometimes upon request and often using rituals to do so. The notion of debt was only loosely and informally recorded in people’s minds, such as you might do today if you felt that a friend owed you a favor. This system worked quite well, and it still works well today. If you mooch off your friends or family too much, you may start noticing some resistance in their willingness to do future favors for you, along with some mounting pressure for you to start giving back now and then. If, on the other hand, you behaved generously with others, you might find that they’re fairly generous with you as well.

In truth there were lots of different cultures with different ways of trading. Some were quite imaginative in their rituals of exchange, such as having the equivalent of an inter-tribe swingers party that involved the exchange of goods as well as bodily fluids.

Born Into Debt

You could say that we’re are all born into debt. We depend on others for our survival, especially in our early years. We also benefit from all the knowledge and skills that were taught to us by others. When we come into this world, we receive value from others. Do we have an obligation to repay that value in some fashion, perhaps later in life when we’re capable of doing so?

How much did it cost your parents to raise you? Is that a debt you must repay, either to them or to society as a whole?

Look around you at all the things you’re able to use today that someone else created. Do you owe anyone anything for these gifts?

Do you owe the world anything at all for your existence? If you live strictly for yourself and choose not to contribute to others in any meaningful way, are you shirking your responsibilities?

These are interesting questions for you to explore on your path of growth. I encourage you to seek your own answers to them. I’ll share some thoughts about how I’ve explored them thus far.

Owing God

In my earlier years, I was taught to believe in a God who seemed to feel I owed him something. I was supposed to worship him for my entire life. I was born a flawed human, and I would always be a flawed human. My very existence was a stain on God’s otherwise perfect world.

I learned from a young age that I was born into perpetual debt. I owed God my very existence, and thus I incurred a debt so great that I could never hope to repay it no matter what I did, but I still had to try. I was created in God’s image, but even though he was all powerful, he still wanted me to worship him and to glorify him for being so wonderful, and he’d be offended if I didn’t obey.

In my teenage years I began to slough off much of what I’d been taught growing up, mainly because it didn’t make much sense. I became an atheist. Without the burdensome notion of original sin on my back, I began thinking more objectively and open-mindedly about the idea of service to others.

After this shift the experience of helping people changed for me. I enjoyed it much more. It felt good to be able to choose to contribute as opposed to feeling that I had to do so in order to repay a debt or to glorify some petulant deity.

I had been taught that without God, I’d automatically become a deeply selfish person, but I found that I actually enjoyed giving a lot more when I felt free to choose it, not obligated to do so under threat.

The World Owes Me

And then, about a year later, I opted to push this exploration far to the other side. Shortly after I got to college, I tried out the philosophy of living mainly for myself. That led to lots of criminal behavior, drinking, gambling, and several arrests. I eventually straightened out and realized that wasn’t how I wanted to live. Looking back, I still appreciate that I explored that path, although I’m glad I didn’t do too much damage along the way.

My attitude during that time shifted from thinking that I owed my life to God and to society, to thinking that the world owed me and that I could take whatever I wanted to the extent that I was capable of doing so. I reveled in outsmarting systems to prevent theft. Anti-theft sensors were easy to overcome. Security cameras could be fooled via misdirection. I especially loved using social engineering tactics to steal things right under clerks’ noses. My gains were someone else’s loss. It was a competitive way of living.

I could have kept going down that path and often fantasized about escalating it in various ways, some of which I implemented. But eventually the world taught me that it didn’t agree with my thinking. I realized that if I kept living like that, I’d be in a perpetual state of conflict with the world, always wondering if and when I’d get caught again. A felony grand theft arrest finally convinced me to explore alternative ways of living.

Being Debt-Free

My next phase was to progress to living with the mindset that I was debt-free. My philosophy during that time was live and let live.

I didn’t owe the world anything. The world didn’t owe me anything. You don’t mess with me, and I won’t mess with you. Let’s just keep to ourselves as best we can. That was my level of thinking during my early 20s.

This was a step up from a life of constant conflict, but I also endured a lot of hardship during this time, especially in the first few years of running my own business. My goals were largely for myself, not to substantially benefit the world. I found it very difficult to make my first business successful. It seemed like everything I did would backfire on me.

This was highly frustrating because I was better off financially when I was a criminal. During those years I had no financial debt, plenty of cash in the bank (usually around $10-20K, which was plenty for a 19-year old), and it was easy to cover my bills by selling stolen goods as needed.

When I tried to do what I felt was honest work, I sank into debt and went bankrupt. And it took six years to reach that point.

During that time I read books about making money, such as Think and Grow Rich. I may as well have read Think and Go Broke. The advice often sounded good — set clear goals, visualize having more wealth and abundance, make a plan, work the plan each day — but in practice my results at this level of thinking were dismal.

How come when I was just trying to maintain a neutral relationship with the world, did it seem like the world was constantly harshing on me and making my life a lot more difficult than it should have been? I felt there had to be an easier way to live.

Doing the Opposite

There’s a Seinfeld episode where George Costanza concludes that his default way of thinking never leads to good results, so he decides to try doing the opposite for a while. Whatever his natural instincts guide him to do, he commits to doing the exact opposite. While he tries this way of living, everything works out beautifully for him. Suddenly he starts getting terrific results across the board.

After having my fill of frustrating years, I decided to try something similar with my own version of the do the opposite philosophy. I would explore new options I hadn’t tried before, even if I couldn’t see how they would help. I could hardly do worse since my previous best thinking had led to bankruptcy. Since I was already broke, I didn’t have much to lose by experimenting.

Some of those do the opposite ideas didn’t pan out. But some absolutely did. One thing I tried during that time was to volunteer to serve in a software industry trade association. I had no idea where that would lead, but at least it would be something different than what I’d done in the past. It turned out to be one of the best decisions I’d ever made. Within a month or two of getting involved, I was Vice President of the organization, then President the following year. And my income from selling my computer games went from $300 per month to $20,000 per month in a few years.

As a consequence of volunteering, I got to spend a lot of time interacting with other independent software developers, many of whom were quite successful. I also made contacts in the industry press. I learned how to improve my sales, and I learned how to get some free press coverage for my games as well. But when I volunteered, I did my best to focus on contributing to the association and its members. The benefits largely came about as side effects of volunteering.

This is also what got me started writing articles. I wrote my first article in 1999 for that trade association’s newsletter. For the next five years, I averaged about five articles per year. When I started blogging in 2004, it was a way to expand the occasional article writing I’d been doing since 1999. And it all started with a decision to trying doing the opposite of what I’d previously been doing.

I don’t think it was really the do the opposite philosophy that made the difference by itself. Sometimes doing the same worked just fine. I think what mattered most was that the energy signature I brought to my work after 1999 was totally different. I gave up on trying to succeed just for myself. I became more social within my industry and spent a lot of time helping others achieve their goals. I started thinking of my own success as being part of a larger social landscape.

I began speaking at industry conferences during that time. I hosted a roundtable for indie game developers at the annual Game Developers’ Conference. I launched an online discussion forum for indie game developers, kept it free of ads, and made sure it was intelligently moderated, so as to provide a valuable service to the community. I put in hundreds of hours per year on these types of service projects for others. All of this was unpaid.

During the years prior to 1999, my attention was focused mainly on my own goals. I wanted to become successful, grow my business, create hit computer games, and make lots of money. I also wanted to get out of debt. I really thought those were decent and intelligent goals.

I also figured that once I became rich, then I could focus on doing more to give back to the world if I wanted to, and I’d be in a better position to do so. What could I give to the world while I was broke and in debt? Surely I should focus on my own goals and get something going there first, right? Shouldn’t I create my own private victory before thinking about how to contribute to the world?

This strategy of working strictly on my own goals didn’t work out for me when I applied it to business and income generation. It had worked well for me in other areas of life though, such as school, which was probably why I stubbornly stuck with it for so long afterwards.

Paying the Debt

I discovered that I really liked doing acts of service for the community around me, especially writing articles. The feedback I received was encouraging because it told me that what I shared actually made a difference in people’s lives. My early articles for the trade association, which were printed in paper newsletters and mailed to about 1000 members, included a byline with my email address, so readers could send me feedback. I usually received a few emails for each article, including suggestions for new articles and some republishing requests.

I remember when one software developer wrote to me after I’d been writing for several years, thanking me that my ideas helped him build a business with more than $1 million in annual sales. That really got me thinking. I had never built my own business to that level, yet I was somehow able to help someone achieve even better financial results.

Some people might feel jealous upon receiving that kind of feedback, but I felt inspired and uplifted by it. I thought to myself… This is really cool. If I hadn’t written those articles, that guy’s business might not have done so well. I felt proud of his accomplishments, knowing that I played a role in helping him achieve his goals. I liked the idea that my lessons might actually be more valuable to other people than they were to me.

For years I had met with frustration after frustration and setback after setback while trying to achieve my goals for myself. Yet somehow I was able to help inspire others to do things that I’d never done. I have stacks of CDs that I’ve received in the mail from musicians that told me I inspired them to create a new album or song, some of which have lyrics inspired by my articles, but I’ve never composed an album myself. This encouraged me to keep discovering new lessons I could share. Even if a lesson only helped one person, I felt it justified taking the time to share it.

As people continued to share how I helped them in various ways, I began to revisit the idea of social debt again. At some point I realized that if I ever did have a debt to pay to the world for my existence, then surely I’ve long since repaid it by now. Even accounting for the criminal stuff I did during my late teens, I must be well past any reasonable standard of restitution that may be owed to society for my carelessness and my existence combined.

Consequently, I live each day with the feeling that I am officially out of existential debt. I can see that my existence is a net positive for the world with the various ripples I’ve created, not by my own accounting but by the sum of all the accounting that’s been reported to me by others. This includes the books people have written, the music that has been composed, the relationships that have formed, and the businesses and nonprofits that have been started that people have thanked me for helping them achieve.

Moreover, since I wrote most of my articles to be timeless, and since I’ve uncopyrighted them as well, and since they’ve been translated into many languages and republished in a variety of forms, I can reasonably expect that the ideas I’ve shared will continue to create positive ripples for many years to come. This gives me the sense that I’ve not only paid my existential debt for my life thus far, but I feel I’ve also paid more than enough for all my remaining years on earth as well.

So now I’ve come full circle in a way. I’m back to feeling that I don’t owe the world anything for my existence. But this time it’s not because I don’t acknowledge the existence of the debt; it’s because I feel that if there ever was such a debt, then surely I’ve more than paid it off.

Overpaying the Debt

The feeling that I’ve overpaid the debt gives me a sense that I deserve to be supported by life. This doesn’t feel like entitlement but rather a natural reward that I’ve earned. I feel that I’ve contributed more than enough value to the world to cover the cost of my existence.

Sometimes I would think to myself, Hey, you’ve contributed so much already. Why not take it easy for a while? People can always read your older articles. Why keep writing so much? Surely you don’t have to. You have plenty of money. Go travel for a while. Take some time off. If anyone has earned some slack, surely you have.

But when I actually try to live that way, something feels off to me. I don’t feel as happy. I feel like I’ve lost the flow. The passive income keeps flowing, and my bills are still paid, but I feel out of sync with my path with a heart. Instead of enjoying more time off, I feel like my life fills up with trivialities and minor problems.

Taking some time off when I need a break feels good to me. But when I stop contributing or try to work strictly on my own personal goals for a while, I can tell that I’m not in the flow.

Simple Acts of Realignment

When I feel I’ve fallen out of sync with my path with a heart, I often remind myself to perform a simple act of realignment. This is a task I can do that I can reliably expect will bring me back in sync with the feeling of flow that I love so much.

My favorite act of realignment is to write and publish a new article. And I must write that article with the purest of intentions. I can’t be writing for selfish reasons or thinking about people’s reactions or web traffic effects or anything like that. My intention must be to write from inspiration and to help people grow.

Whenever I do that, I easily sync back up with my path with a heart.

This is a very empowering practice for me since I know that no matter how confused I get, how far off track I get, or how badly I screw up, I can always return to this simple act of realignment. I can always set a pure intention and write and publish a new article. It’s beautiful knowing that for the rest of my life, I’ll always have this simple practice that I can return to again and again to get back in tune with my flow.

Whenever I write a lot, which is my primary form of contribution, my life seems to flow with effortless ease.

Alignment vs. Debt

I think the idea of existential debt is a bit misguided. It’s a stab at understanding how to sync up with your path with a heart and to immerse yourself in that delightful feeling of flow, but the notion has been corrupted and turned into something that’s more likely to take you out of alignment.

Wrestling with the concept of whether or not I owe the world something for my existence was an important part of my path of growth. But these days I see contribution as an invitation, not an obligation.

I don’t feel obligated to pay back the world for anything, and I have good logical reasons for not feeling so obligated, if only because I feel I’ve already paid more than my fair share. But if I used this line of thinking to justify non-contribution henceforth, I’d still be missing the flow.

My path with a heart isn’t to pay off a debt from a place of duty or obligation. My path with a heart is to accept the invitation to create, to contribute, and to share. I don’t do this because I owe anyone anything. I don’t do this because I need money. I do it because I love being in the flow of inspiration. Writing, speaking, and other forms of sharing make me happy. When I write, I’m at peace.

Overcoming Neediness

People email me every week with message like, “I need money. Just tell me how I can make a lot of money quickly.” What can I say to someone who’s struggling with the type of mindset I succumbed to in my early 20s?

I can tell them how I solved similar money problems, which was basically to stop being needy, but they don’t like that answer at all. They want me to tell them how to solve those problems from their current level of thinking. That isn’t something I can tell them because I experienced only failure using that approach. I was never able to do it.

How do you tell someone that the solution is to stop being needy when they’re so addicted to feelings of neediness, debt, and obligation?

And how does one stop being needy anyway? Neediness is what you experience when you’ve fallen out of sync with your path with a heart. So to stop being needy, start doing something that’s incompatible with feeling needy. Start giving. Start contributing. Volunteer. Set a pure intention, listen to your inspiration, and act on your inspiration immediately.

Do the opposite of what needy people do. Do what you’d be doing if you were already in a place of abundance.

Purity of Intention

If you were to design your own simple act of realignment, what would it look like? When you fall off your path with a heart, what’s the quickest way to get back onto it?

Start with a pure intention. Set an intention to perform a selfless act of contribution and giving. Invite inspiration to come to you and to flow through you, like you’re tuning in to a radio station. Decide that you’ll act on inspiration without hesitation. Do your best to release any sense of neediness or expectation. Clear a few hours for this act, during which time you commit to rising above pettiness, selfishness, neediness, and fear. Let this be a time of elevation for you. You can always go back to feeling needy later.

Let your mind wander for a while. Don’t force or push yourself into action. When you feel ready, let the flow of inspiration energize and animate you. Allow it to speak through you, write through you, move through you.

Notice how good it feels to act from such a purity of intention. There is no neediness here, no debt, no obligation, no worry. Notice that you can always come back to this pure act of realignment again and again. Whatever form it takes, it’s yours to summon whenever you desire. No matter how far you stray from your path with a heart, you can always come back to it.

Alignment Is the Solution

You don’t have an existential debt to pay, but you do have an existence to experience. You can spend that experience wallowing in neediness, fear, and worry, or you can elevate that experience to a place of flow and alignment.

I think you’ll discover as I have that this experience of alignment is also a beautiful path out of debt, obligation, and scarcity.

You do not have to pay your existential debt or your financial debt first before you can start contributing. Your path with a heart is not something to be entertained at some future date when you’re finally in a place to do so. Your path with a heart is the ideal solution to your current problems. It is the very path that will lead you out of debt and into a place of contribution to the world.

There is nothing you need to do first before you can contribute. You can make a positive difference in people’s lives right where you are. I wrote my first article when I was going bankrupt. Living with lack seems like a distant memory now, and my path out of scarcity began with a purity of intention, combined with the seemingly silly decision to do the opposite of wallowing in neediness.

Is wallowing in neediness working for you anyway? Is it giving you the results you desire? Has it blessed you with a life of joy and abundance? If not, then maybe it’s time to try doing the opposite for a while.

If that answer doesn’t sit well with you, then my second best answer is to become a criminal. But having tried both myself, I think the path with a heart is easier. :)

  • * *

My intention for this book is that it help you and others. If you know a friend who could use it, feel free to share it with them.

If you have a moment to leave a comment about this book, please do. I really do appreciate it, and I read all my reader’s comments.

Every month, I make one of my books available free. If you want me to tell you the next time I make a book free, you can add yourself to my book list at www.stevepavlina.co/free-book.

And as always: thank you for reading :)


Waking Up: Becoming a Conscious Human

What Does Consciousness Want? What do you want as a human being? Think about your goals, dreams, and aspirations for a moment. Now consider what an individual cell in your body would want. It wants oxygen and sugar. It wants to eliminate waste. Is this on the same level as your goals? Do you aspire to breathe, eat, and take dumps as your primary goals for the year? Hopefully not. Now look at this from the other side. From the perspective of the consciousness itself, your human-level dreams and goals seem petty. It’s important to keep people happy to an extent, but the fate of any one human is largely insignificant. Universal consciousness really doesn’t care if you have a job or an income, if you get the house you want, if you have a good relationship or not. It doesn’t care if you get laid or remain a virgin. Well, it cares a little, but it’s not a major concern, just as you aren’t overly concerned about the fate of any individual cells in your body. It’s the body’s overall status that matters. And you probably identify more with your mind (your collective cellular intelligence) as opposed to your physical body anyway. Similarly, universal consciousness is more concerned with the evolution of consciousness itself (our collective consciousness) as opposed to the fate of any individual human or even of humanity itself. Now the loss of humanity would probably be a setback, but consciousness may eventually recover in other forms. What does consciousness really want? Like you and like your individual cells, it wants to get its needs met, and it wants to grow and evolve. But the level on which it’s capable of doing this goes way beyond what you’re capable of as an individual. Look around at all the amazing — and accelerating — achievements of consciousness. It’s expanding in many directions simultaneously. Consider what’s evolving on earth. Humanity itself is becoming smarter and faster and more connected. And it’s having some health issues to deal with as well. And consciousness wants to keep going. Living Small or Living Large You can spend your life fussing over your own piddly cellular needs, but in the grand scheme of things, it won’t be anything to write home about. No matter what you do or don’t do as an individual, it’s just not going to matter that much. The same can be said of any cell in your body. At the individual level, a single cell isn’t particularly important. Imagine asking a cell in your body what he’s doing with his life, and he talks about the Bloodstream Marketing course he’s taking and how excited he is about all the extra sugar he’ll earn from his efforts. Oh boy! But will his efforts pay off? Probably not. If he isn’t getting his needs met, there’s probably a good reason for it. The larger body will see that his needs are well met if there’s a good reason to do so. Otherwise it will divert resources where they’re needed. This is how silly we humans appear to universal consciousness. It still cares about us and wants to see us happy for the most part, but it finds our cellular perspective to be rather limiting. If you push to get your individual needs met, but you do so in ways that the larger body doesn’t care about or which may interfere with its bigger plans, it will either ignore you, or it will swat you down like a mosquito. Imagine if a cell in your body said, I just want to eat food and reproduce like crazy. That might seem fun from his perspective, but then the larger body has a tumor to deal with. Send in the white blood cells. If you feel like some greater force keeps knocking you back down every time you try to get ahead, you’re not imagining it. It really is knocking you back down, and it will continue to do so until you stop trying to get ahead like a cancer cell would. Have you ever noticed, for instance, that as soon as you try to make progress on cancer-like projects, you keep getting distracted, so your attention has to turn somewhere else?

  • ISBN: 9781311367143
  • Author: Steve Pavlina
  • Published: 2015-10-04 05:05:06
  • Words: 15606
Waking Up: Becoming a Conscious Human Waking Up: Becoming a Conscious Human