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DAN KOE

ALEX MATHERS

TAYLIN SIMMONDS

Founder, KorteX
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medium.com top writer
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"If you want practical strategies to maximize your own well-being, then create a profitable internet business around your passions, interests and curiosities – Goldfield is your guy."

DAN KOE

the buddha is the Michael Jordan of wisdom.

i used to wonder why his teaching stood so well after 2551 years.

now i know it’s because it works.

i spent a long time trying to see what the buddha saw—only to discover it was hidden in the plainest view.

i’m going to tell you how seeing what he saw was the pinnacle of my personal growth. i’m going to tell you how it resulted in:

🔹 eradicating anxiety from my life
🔹 marrying the woman of my dreams
🔹 performing 100X better in everything i do
🔹 earning more money than ever
🔹 retiring myself at 36.

but first, i’m going to tell you why it took me so long…

simple truth, complex lies

social conditioning can be thought of as a necessary evil.

as a child you were taught that some things were acceptable and other things weren’t. your parents were taught the same by their parents and so on—all the way back to our ancestors who lived in the jungle.

the things that are deemed acceptable and unacceptable have changed over time, but were never properly examined by regular parents.

psychologists took a good look of course. poets took a crack at it sometimes. but the buddha, as you’ll discover shortly, actually already flipped the whole narrative on its head 2500 years ago. still, most people aren't even trying to catch up.

if you’re on the bell curve of modern culture you sit somewhere between “nervous wreck” and “happy enough”. the latter is the best you’re told to hope for. lofty ideas like “spiritual enlightenment” are reserved for select few immortals.

besides, where would you find the time and energy to even think about the rigorous practice it supposedly takes to realize true happiness? what are you supposed to do—quit your job, divorce your family and become a monk?

that’s a bit much. so if you’re like i used to be you just take what little joy you can get (in the form of cheap pleasures) and keep on trucking. you keep running society’s ​mind viruses​ and never consider the possibility that you—a mere mortal—could live a life of effortless wellbeing.

this all leads to the most profound delusion in collective consciousness: that you must sacrifice wellbeing for productivity. but this is backwards, for how can a sick person be effective?

of course, this isn’t black and white. you’re not either hospitalized or firing on all cylinders. no, there’s a lot of grey; this is a spectrum.

if you feel tired more often than excited; stressed more often than chill; urgent more often than easy then you’re on that spectrum. and you’re stripping days off your life expectancy.

the proposed solution is to run a gauntlet of many levels, which ties to a famous American psychologist’s most famous theory…

Maslow’s hierarchy of needs

imagine you wake up alone in an unfamiliar forest. your toes are numb, you can see your breath in the air and your stomach is making a lot of noise.

what do you do first?

you might have a thought for your safety, but even if you could hide somewhere you’d have to leave your hole to find food and firewood. so these physiological needs come first in Maslow’s hierarchy.

next you would indeed think about safety. assuming you could manage all this, within a matter of hours you’d begin missing family and friends. hell, you’d probably even start missing your coworkers.

so just like Tom Hanks in castaway you’d start thinking about how to reunite with past company (loving/belonging).

only when back in society would you begin thinking about how long you’d been lost and how to regain your place among your peers (esteem).

once you’d proven yourself again, you’d finally turn to the great pursuit of maximizing your potential (self-actualization).

remember when i called social conditioning a “necessary evil”? Maslow’s hierarchy of needs explains why so much of our society is the way it is. throughout history, parents have had to make sure their kids could carry spears, carry wood, carry themselves, carry responsibility, then carry on to hopefully, one day, realize the “best version of themselves”.

this has brought us far as a species. not even rhe richest, most influential emperor of the past could’ve imagine for themselves the comfort and convenience we have today. but we also have a pandemic of anxiety. our material achievements have come at the cost of our mental/emotional wellbeing.

good news: there’s another way to see things, which leads to a better way of doing things.

the pyramid of being

the following is a chapter from my course, ​MINDFUL 24/7​.

consider the chapter a sneak preview. it’s not for the faint of heart, but if you can follow it i think you’ll like where you end up.

if you need clarification on anything you read, feel free to dm me on X or instagram.

The image above may remind you of a famous pyramid from psychology: Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs.

If you’re not familiar with Maslow, don’t worry—all you need to know is that my pyramid is essentially a 180-degree flip on Maslow’s (which places biology at the bottom and “self actualization” at the top).

In my pyramid, biology is at the top. But why?

Placing biology at the base of the pyramid makes the physical organism primary and everything else about your experience (emotions, psychology etc.) dependent on that foundation.

There are two problems with this—

  1. Science has yet to discover a shred of evidence that awareness is generated by your physical organism
  2. There’s no basis for that assumption in your direct experience

And yet we’re all taught to assume that this is so: to believe that the brain generates awareness.

Now, I’m not going to act like some kind of prophet and tell you that the opposite is true. I’m only going to encourage you to look to something else for evidence of how things are: your direct experience.

In your direct experience, does awareness appear within your body? Or does your body appear within awareness?

That question is so important, I’m going to write it again…

In your direct experience, does awareness appear within your body? Or does your body appear within awareness?

Hundreds of millions of practitioners have contemplated questions like this one for years of their lives. But last week I gave you the shortcut in the form of the introduction to natural wellbeing.

A Thought Experiment

Consider your left elbow.

Were you considering it a moment ago? Probably not.

Therefore, in your direct experience, it didn’t exist.

Your left elbow is a phenomenon that comes and goes. It just happens to be one that comes and goes frequently enough that you can trust it’ll be there next time you check.

So when we apply basic discernment to that important question above, we see that—in your direct experience—the body comes and goes… yet awareness remains.

Knowing this, what would you put at the base of the pyramid?

Awareness Is Nondual

Dualism (separation between one thing and another) depends upon the drawing of boundaries. Boundaries are drawn by the thinking mind.

Consider international territories as an example. There’s no actual line drawn around India to separate it from China, Pakistan and Bangladesh. Yet everyone agrees on where those territories begin and end. These boundaries are nothing more than ideas. And as we see every day, ideas can change—there’s no solidity to them whatsoever.

💡 Note: there’s nothing bad about ideas. We get into trouble, though, when we take our ideas to be

absolutely real instead of just relatively real.

Next, consider you and your dinner. You were trained to believe that you are one entity, and your dinner is another.

We all agree that, at some point, at least part of that dinner becomes part of you. If this weren’t the case we couldn’t function.

But when exactly do you and your dinner become one?

Is it when you put it in your mouth?

Is it when you swallow?

Is it at some point in the process of digestion? Which point?

Is it when you’ve expelled the waste from the food?

Could it be when you first decide what you’re going to cook?

This kind of analysis isn’t useful when we’re concerned with worldly life, but in this game of realizing ultimate freedom it’s everything.

So finally, consider awareness and any object in your visual field. The typical assumption is that you’re aware OF that object. But if we could take awareness away, there would be no object. And, of course, if we took the object away, there’d be no awareness of it in that case either.

You might imagine the object to remain even in the absence of awareness. This is an idea. Remember, in the practice of mindfulness we value direct experience. And in your direct experience, if you’re not aware of something it doesn’t exist.

💡 To draw a boundary between awareness and phenomena is the ultimate delusion. This is what generates the dissatisfaction that the Buddha called “the first noble truth”.

The dissolving of this boundary is what the old enlightened masters were referring to when they said things like “all is one” or “I am the universe”.

What’s cool about this oneness is that it isn’t something you must learn or develop. It’s already the case! So all you must do is let go of the delusion of contrived boundaries as being absolutely real.

This doesn’t mean you have to stop using the word “me” or that you forget that you prefer tea to coffee.

It just means you realize the difference between relative truth and absolute truth.

In practical terms this just means your inner child stops crying when it doesn’t get its way.

I hope you see here—at least intellectually if not yet in your gut—that basic discernment reveals nonduality to be the irreducible truth of all experience. This is why it sits at the bottom of the pyramid of being.

The pinnacle wisdom teachings of all cultures knew this and expressed it—in their own way—as ultimate truth. But why is it so important?

Nonduality = Wellbeing

What are the typical causes of difficulty in your life? They likely fit into just a few categories:

  • Psychological (e.g. anxiety, guilt, lack of focus)
  • Emotional (disagreements, desires, mood swings)
  • Biological (health, sex, comfort)

These represent the top 3 layers of the pyramid of being.

It’s wise to solve these problems at their relative levels. For example:

  • Talk therapy for a phobia
  • Family time at bereavement
  • Exercise for maintaining healthy BMI

But the reason billions of people over time have sought wisdom is because they seek a way to deal with another factor of the human experience…

DUKKHA

The Buddha, arguably the greatest wisdom teacher in history, is quoted as saying, “I teach only dukkha and dukkha-nirodha.”

This Pali word dukkha translates—like most Pali words—into many different English words.

Pali is a language rich in allegory, so we must use discernment to figure out what the Buddha most likely meant when he spoke.

“Suffering” is the popular translation, but there’s a problem here. The word “suffering” is close in meaning to the word “pain”. Yet pain is unavoidable. It doesn’t matter how mindful you are—when you stub your toe, it’ll hurt.

My preferred translation of this word dukkha is “dissatisfaction”. A clunky word—hence you won’t find it on my Twitter feed—but it’s the one that’s best for our purpose. Why? Because dissatisfaction is obviously a mental thing and, most importantly, an optional thing.

Now, nirodha simply means “cessation”.

So it’s written that the Buddha declared—to a huge assembly of monks—that he taught only dissatisfaction and the cessation of dissatisfaction.

It doesn’t get much clearer than that, Friend.

But how does this benefit you?

Well, that word “cessation” points to something I’ll teach later: the subtractive model of wisdom practice.

What the Buddha is telling us is that the path of the truth-seeker is a path of removing something as opposed to gaining something.

So how do we remove a mental process like dissatisfaction?

Simple: we learn to inhibit our conditioned tendency to carry out that mental process.

This is what is meant by that most profound spiritual instruction I shared in the Introduction to Natural Wellbeing—

Rest naturally, without seeking or describing anything.

This is the key to abiding recognition of nondual awareness, in which there can be no dissatisfaction; no resistance; no stress.

Rest as awareness, in which things are just as they are. Drop your labels, descriptions and interpretations. Then watch your complaints, your grievances, your worries become no problem at all.

Animals don’t have problems; only humans have problems. But don’t worry—this course won’t turn you into a dribbling monkey. Quite the opposite.

When you relax out of your conditioned dissatisfaction—your tendency to see things as problems that must be solved—you free up infinite capacity for wholesome, mutually beneficial acts. This capacity can be dedicated to pursuits at the various levels of the pyramid of being.

But what does this look like?

My Own Transformation

I started this journey in utter despair.

I was hopelessly stressed, struggling to maintain my career and watching my relationship with my girlfriend of 7 years disintegrate.

In my desperation I eventually looked to the wisdom teachings of the East and began to find relief.

It was when I met my first teacher—and he explained how to relax out of dissatisfaction—that things really started to change for the better.

The “how” is mindfulness—as you’ve been doing it in the last week’s guided practice—and the extension of it into daily life.

The more I applied the practice, the more I saw that all of my dissatisfaction, stress and problems were created by interpretation. And I saw that when I let go of my interpretations, my dissatisfaction, stress and problems dissolved.

My mother’s suicide attempt was my call to teach this stuff.

Seeing it work not just for me but for someone I loved was incredibly powerful.

If you’ve ever taught something yourself, you know that the process of teaching deepens your own understanding.

The more people I taught, the easier my own life became.

Since 2017, I’ve—

  • Married a neuropsychologist
  • Enabled students to overcome depression, social anxiety, stage-fright, codependency, miscarriage and failing work performance
  • Been featured 7 times on one of the world’s largest meditation apps, Insight Timer
  • Built a growing, engaged audience on Twitter
  • Maintained a successful music tuition business
  • Broadcast a £15,000 personal development course
  • Developed, promoted and launched this course
  • Eaten well, stayed in shape and kept my immune system at full power

All while remaining peaceful and happy. See how these achievements cover the whole pyramid of being?

It was all made easy because I realized the bottom layer of the pyramid—nonduality—first.

Cause & Effect

We don’t need to spend long on cause & effect—this section is dense enough already.

You’re probably familiar with the concept of cause and effect.

That’s one part of interdependence.

The other part is mutual benefit, which your actions will naturally tend toward as you move through this course and beyond.

if you made it through all that, well done.

what i described above is what the buddha saw when he sat under that famous tree and “got enlightened”.

in truth, no-one “gets enlightened”. they just stop being an ego.

the buddha didn’t call himself buddha. he called himself “tathagata”, which means “one who is thus” or “one who is just this”.

spirituality is a lot simpler than it’s made out to be.

if you understood even 10% of what’s written above you’re doing great.

but what’s all this for? how does understanding this stuff help you?

how to get, have and be anything you want without trying

from the level of awareness, cause & effect, psychology, emotion and biology are unimportant. from the level of awareness you can take on any challenge, see the connections between things and master your mind, body and feelings.

how could you not get anything you want from this vantage point?

Ram Dass said “the thinking mind is a wonderful servant but a lousy master.”

since i demoted my thinking mind to servant i’ve handled vastly more workload and yet remained perfectly calm. i’ve earned more money than ever and retired myself at 36. i’ve experienced perfect clarity in all circumstances, which has opened up endless energy (i’m 12 hours into my day as i write this to you with no sign of stopping). i’m happier, friendlier, and married to my perfect partner.

i’ve achieved what’s called “self-actualization” in Maslow’s model, but not by following the typical sweaty climb up his pyramid. instead, i went to the root of my direct experience and aligned with irreducible truth.

but how?

guided meditation

i hope you enjoyed that.

return to it anytime you need a reminder of the beautiful irreducible truth of your true nature; anytime you need a boost in your worldly endeavours.

and if you want individual guidance on all this, click here.

with love from my desk,
dg 💙

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