* Maz Keshavarzi is a poker player, coach, actor, and activist-blogger. His personal blog can be found @ http://janice7776.blogspot.com/ . We came into contact recently and engaged in an interesting dialogue via Skype that I would like to share. It covers alot of ground that includes commentary on culture, society, ecology, conspiracy, science, and a lot more. I hope you find some of it interesting:
Maz: I had posted a question earlier: are we going through an enlightenment stage?
John: I would argue mostly yes. In many ways people are devolving, but I think alternative ideas within the industrialized populations of the world (the 20% causing all the issues) are as widespread as they have ever been. Therefore there is a tremendous window for change. It’s still seeking coherence, kind of like occupy Wall Street, but I think the old ways of thinking people don’t really believe in them anymore. I like Terence McKenna’s comparison [of our current story] mirroring human birth. It is a destructive looking process in which the end product is quite beautiful.
JM: [We are going through] something like a shamanic awakening on a global scale, that is far from instantaneous, and goes through a lot of growing pains. But it is growing nonetheless. There is a concept in non-linear dynamics that demonstrates chaotic systems are able to move towards higher states of self-order. I tend to believe that human societies follow this rule as well…If that makes any sense.
MK: Yes…You’re on a pretty radical [side] of the “truth movement”.
JM: Yeah I think “Truthers” in general still have a lot left to learn. But I’m enthusiastic there are so many open minded and questioning people like that; they just need to embrace some different concepts to move things forward in the right direction.
MK: The majority of people are somewhat in on the corruption. For example, I would say 25-35% people under 30 believe 911 was an inside job….But the percentages of people that believe in UFOs, etc, are like 2% I would guess.
JM: Well I think anyone who just dismisses the truth-perspective without investigating it fully themselves, A) don’t really have ownership of their own beliefs, and B) are complicit in the cycle of destruction/human suffering. Yea UFO’s are interesting. I think they are not what we think they are. They’re more likely to be extra-dimensional vs. extra-terrestrial if you ask me. And as for their existence, there is this thing called the Disclosure Project that had over 200 military personnel sign affidavits and each swore to testify in front of congress. They recounted experiences ranging from spotting UFOs, to clean up operations, to viewing moon bases, and so on. I think anyone who just instantly dismisses anecdotal, sworn evidence like that from professional military observers might have some deep seeded mistrust issues that are a bit misguided.
MZ: I watched the disclosure project after reading your blog yesterday, as well as the other links.
JM: Whistleblowers and Insiders have so little to gain and so much to lose in a society that views those types of far-out claims as insane; the percentage of people who actually profit from making stuff up is so insanely miniscule as to be a disincentive.
JM: Oh did you like it?
MZ: I liked it a lot; it made a lot of sense
MZ: And there was a part that really hit me…about being weak and committing suicide… the world just gets darker, and the evil disgusts me. The idiocy of society, the pain of ignorant family, and having played poker you can relate to not being respected. But after reading your blog it was good for me, so thanks!
JM: I think if suicide in such a world doesn’t cross your mind at least once, even in a passing or non-committal fashion, you’re not really feeling at a deep enough level. With that said, there is a lot of amazing stuff to live for, amazing amounts of knowledge to be gained, relationships to enjoy, experiences to be had. We’re all part of that story because the world operates like a large hologram where the part is inseparable from the whole; we are all constantly co-creating. I appreciate that you liked it, and it encourages me that there are people such as yourself that are searching for this kind of material.
JM: Like I am pretty obsessed with gaining knowledge, gnosis, and freeing myself psychologically. If you study the near death experiences, mystic religions, etc, most articulate that the entire point of life is to learn and grow emotionally as well as intellectually. This world is only a stop along the way, and if you don’t take a Gnostic approach you’re just going to come back and relive similar challenges until you “get it”….nothing else really matters as far as I’m concerned. Obviously helping and supporting people in the world goes along with that, but that action flows from a matured mind.
MZ: What do you think is going to happen?
JM: That is hard to say. I don’t like to play the prediction game that often because I think a lot of smart people play that game too much. They end up saying stuff like “X is going to happen on X date or by X date” and look bad. No one can predict the specifics like that. Occasionally people get predictions right with stuff like 9/11, but most of the time specific predictions never happen. I can say that what I know from systems theory, dynamics, physics, evolutionary biology, etc, is that crazy chaotic systems, like the one we inhabit, will self-order into a coherent state. Translated on a societal level, that means we won’t necessarily be living in a Utopia, but rather a more just, fair, equitable, happier world for people. I’m pretty convinced of that.
JM: Like obviously the conspiracy power brokers will create a certain amount of disorder in the world, but they are not truly in control like most conspiracy people conceive of it. If you study synchronicity much at all, there seems to be a deeper more benevolent guiding force to the universe underneath it all leading us to where we need to go. In other words, a deeper conspiracy exists for the betterment of mankind.
JM: I don’t think atomic bombs are going to be set off or anything. I think a lot of that is fear mongering. And even if they were to be set off, what is the point of living your life in fear? If you’re spiritually grounded and have some trust in what the point of life is, and what might come after, what’s to be afraid of?
JM: Live in the present and ditch what fear and worry you can, that’s one of the critical lessons. Not just go live in a cave somewhere or just join hands and hope, there is still room for people to make a difference in tangible ways once you accept this.
MZ: What do you think people could be doing…I know you said we got to truly look in ourselves… most people are only concerned with their money, and their time is money in their eyes, so they don’t want to actually put anything into something that doesn’t show them instant gratification…also I know that you believe knowledge is something that gives people a reason to live, and is an obvious answer to what we could be doing, but some would argue that the more they know the sadder things are…..I’ve had a lot of people tell me “they don’t want to know, they would prefer to stay in their fantasy land Matrix”.
JM: Yeah. Inner-shifts and outer-shifts go hand in hand. I think we need to demand a certain mastery of ourselves before we can demand that the world and others be more perfect. Take for instance our attitudes toward money. A lot of us strongly identify with the current monetary system and the prejudices it embodies. Money has become a kind of operating system for our day to day lives. This program was not a co-created process with our input: it is usury-based, debt-based economics that issues money from a centralized source that’s in the hands of a small cadre of people. In that sense it is thrust upon us, and we are forced to take it on as a part of our personality if we are to function in society at large.
I think we have to adopt a long view. The monetary system as we know it is breaking down with every new crisis. I heard it put best by a soviet ex-patriot who said that we are in fact all poor; the only difference is that some of us have more pieces of paper than the others. Most of us are dirt poor in terms of relationships with neighbors, practical self-reliance skills (food growing, home building, etc). So when the system comes down, where does that leave us? The situation at the moment is temporary, all empires crumble. The question really is: do you care about the future or not? So with that said I think we should be spending time learning about the plethora of alternatives out there in terms of localized agriculture, monetary systems, and demanding more from ourselves. It’s easy for you to stall in your identity, but if you think you “have it figured out” at any juncture in your life, you’re a bit delusional. This is one truth we have to begin to accept in moving forward.
MZ: Thanks for taken the time to write that… long term thinking isn’t something that people are taught, we understand it because we play poker.
JM: If anyone chooses to live in the matrix that is their prerogative. I don’t think it is a sane choice because the illusion of separate people leading their separate lives is destroying us. We take for granted the depth of interdependence in the world. For example, we depend on Mexico to be a dumping ground for all the waste us Americans produce (30% of the garbage is produced by U.S.). If the garbage was forcefully piled up in your own backyard, would you still make the same choices when it came to consumption?
JM: And yes poker is an amazing tool when it comes to avoiding the psychological pitfalls other people suffer from….but a lot of us don’t apply the poker mindset to day to day life.
MZ: John, there are also a lot of Euros in this group.
JM: Euros are much more responsible and their systems much more sane, but their economies still mostly revolve around consumption and growth, and that is an unsustainable path no matter how you cut it. So the US can learn a lot from Europe, but European society has room to evolve as well…As far as I can tell “growth economics” (based on central banking and debt-based transactions) is still what reigns supreme. So as long as that exists we are heading for a cliff.
MZ: I read all the scripts and watched all the videos and I liked them a lot. You have a lot of interest in Open-Source, are you working on any projects for Open-Source?
JM: Thanks. As of now I’m not developing anything beyond my videos and essays. I’m really just focusing on educating and developing critical thinking in people, even if it only reaches a few dozen here and there. Even if only one or two people take what I say to heart, and they are able to reach a couple more people themselves, etc, etc, the growth potential of ideas even from a small beginning is huge, so that encourages me. I’m not savvy enough to develop any other project of a definitive nature at this juncture.
I started getting into Open-Source because of an Ex-Marine/CIA-Officer named Robert Steele, who believes a lot of our issues stem from what he calls a lack of decision-support. So I’m trying to just put out good info and let people do with it what they wish. The world needs more integrity, truth, and trust amongst people, and Open-Source approaches can help bring that kind of world into being. The world is so monetized at the moment; we literally have a market place for professional-friends and “Life Coaches”. We need to regain some community, a spirit of sharing, and some self-respect.
JM: Getting back to the point that “knowledge just makes me more depressed.” If this is your perspective, I’d have to then ask you “what exactly are you studying/focusing your energy on?” There are so many amazing alternatives that exist out there that can fix basically every problem we have. The only thing missing is awareness and individual willpower/drive to institute those potentialities on a mass scale. We don’t need the industrialized food system, because a loose confederacy of small farms has been demonstrated to produce as much/more on a local scale. The fact petroleum is the only fuel that can meet our needs is a total lie. Local monetary systems that compliment Federal Reserve notes thrive in places like Ithaca NY, Colorado State, etc. There are companies like Open Source Ecology that are constructing durable/affordable machinery/hardware that people can use to farm, build homes, drill wells, everything.
This greatly encourages me. And on another level I don’t think people should be so cynical in their approach to spirituality and philosophy. Spirituality is not the exclusive domain of organized religion, which is dogmatic, egomaniacal, and dehumanizing. Some kind of personal spirituality/philosophy is what gives you the fuel you need when other support systems in your life fail or are hard to come by. And I’m not saying engage in magical thinking like “Oh the Messiah will suddenly come and save us all.” That abdicates your personal responsibility to the world, and is therefore an extremely dangerous belief if you ask me. Material culture simply lampoons spirituality and the idea of questioning the meaning of life as stupid and pointless. Why? Because then you are ripe for the picking. People without strong philosophical grounding in values, principles, and so on, are easy to sell things to, to manipulate for another’s ends. Ultimately breaking free of all this rubbish is a personal-dignity kind of thing. Are you truly an individual, or do you prefer being part of the corporate herd?
MZ: At a basic level of some of these concepts, I for one have tried to help a lot of people. And I know a lot of people in this group have as well, Zazo for example helped a lot of us. I’ve assisted a lot of people here in the US, and many times I end up feeling ripped off. I end up going back into my hole for a week or so, or just wanting to be self indulgent…some people are so ignorant—they would bite the hand that feeds them, so to speak. You’re obviously not making any profit from your videos and essays…
MZ: I guess the pain of your heart sinking into your stomach, when you think to yourself “how could someone be such a fucking parasite?” That pain for me is what makes it not worth it at times, but I would also say that helping others leads to a life of meaning.
JM: Well self-indulgence is not inherently evil or anything, but I think most of us as Westerners habitually engage in it way too much and don’t consider the global ramifications of our actions. Again our garbage becomes another man’s burden in the globalized world we ignorantly prop up. Balancing forces in your life is the key, but self-indulgence has become a day to day operating system for most people. And I think the whole notion of “feeling ripped off” or something is again a byproduct of the conditioning of our egos. We’re often taught how to exist in networks of monetary exchange, the idea of gift exchange and giving for the sake of giving is actually quite foreign to our culture and to us on a sub conscious level. We have to realize we’re not inherently this way (greedy, ego-centric, etc.), but rather we have been conditioned to be this way. And on an individual level we all have the power to shift that. I mean look at Native American/Indigenous cultures of old. They were premised on gift economies and people lived more free and self-deterministic lives largely free of war (i.e. total destructive warfare pioneered by Europeans), chronic disease, and depression.
Certainly egoistic, material concerns are inherent to the human experience. But their importance has been overblown and drilled into us; where as the more holistic, nature-minded, spiritual, philosophical side of life has been thrown away for the most part. It’s kind of an Animal Farm, Matrix scenario for sure. It is a funny, bizarre, tragic, and amazing experience all at the same time.
JM: Our emotions and the forces in our life are teaching mechanisms, plain and simple. You can ignore them and continue to embrace an inauthentic life, or you can confront them honestly, be open to change, and evolve yourself. People like Neil Kramer or Gerald Celente might refer to this as the Individual Solution. By doing that you are contributing to the evolution of the entire species when you view the system holistically and acknowledge the interdependent web of the world. There is a theory of evolution that I subscribe to, known as Morphic Resonance. Each of us contributes to a subtle information field with our thoughts, emotions, and actions that help define/refine habits that later incarnations will adopt. A Biologist named Rupert Sheldrake came up with it, but other analogies for it have been spearheaded by others such as Ervin Laszlo and David Bohm.
MZ: I was talking to this rich guy about some of these concepts, and his response with a chuckle was something to the effect of “you got so much more to learn kid, you’re just naive, it’s such an uphill battle that you may as well just exploit the idiocy and live rich like me with my nice view, and my nice meals…everyone else has failed…this is the way it’s always been.” And it was how genuine he said it, he 100% believed it!
JM: The self-deception can run quite deep in the minority of people that the system ends up making super wealthy. They are too cowardly to confront their personal shortcomings. Obviously he has a certain amount of bravado, and this is cheap theater is what usually wins people over in our society. But there are tons of rich guys like him who do exactly what he’s doing and lead lives full of broken relationships, fractured psychologies, and mid life crises. If you could actually look below the surface of that guy’s life, see what’s really going on, you’d realize how pathetic and barren his inner landscape probably is. This catches up to everyone. Depression is statistically higher in the rich than the poor. Figure that one out. But like any other inoculating drug, money can help you stave off the pain of a pointless life almost better than anything; for quite a while if you have enough of it. But really what is the value of that life? Beyond a healthy account statement it is a total shell, a façade.
Obviously we all need a certain amount of money to get by considering the current state of the world, so I’m not saying living a dirt poor life is desirable. But wealth accumulation’s diminishing returns are astounding once you can meet you are able to meet basic needs. What people are really seeking is an enriching experience, and they think money can buy that. But money only buys you monetized experiences, which are inherently cheap doppelgangers of what you’re looking to get.
I would suggest anyone who wants to read up a bit on what I’d term ‘the economics of life satisfaction’ should check out a book by Bill McKibben called Deep Economy. Also, Charles Eisenstein is a tremendous philosophical activist who has written two really good books on Civilization + Economics that echo similar sentiments. Neil Kramer only has one book out, but he has a lot of podcast interviews that are really inspirational and put a lot of this stuff in perspective. Too many authors to really list but those are good touchstones.
Something more Science-centric like Sheldrake or Laszlo’s work can communicate how individuals contribute to evolution on a deep level. The world isn’t some random incoherent pitiless machine, so we have to ditch that idea quick. The idea that “this is how it’s always been” is a totally ignorant statement that ignores huge swaths of time and geography that totally contradict the supremacy of “our way of life”.
We have to come to terms with the critical idea that “we don’t know what we don’t know”. The world, humanity, and how each functions is so much different from what we’ve been taught. It’s each person’s personal responsibility to overcome their own ignorance first and foremost. So anyway I’ve rambled too much I think. My GF is just about to come home so let me take off for now. I think I have time for one more.
MZ: Obviously humanity is destroying the earth and the true repercussions can snowball. So it’s hard to predict, but do you think global warming is real?
JM: I love that question, because it’s such a sensitive subject for people. It’s put on a pedestal as this “either you’re with us or against us” type of question. The answer is both yes and no. Obviously humans are polluting the planet and burning through natural resources at an unnatural rate, so the environmental movement doesn’t need global warming as its poster child. Whether CO2 is the driving force of warming or not is inconclusive if you ask me. But I do think warming is happening, and CO2 is at least contributing factor. There is also good evidence that A) fluctuations in solar activity and B) possible conglomerations of cosmic dust being blown around the perimeter of the planet are also likely factors. So the earth is warming and it poses dangers, but we’re getting distracted by CO2 emission nonsense that avoids all other discussion.