Announcing release of PGS the Movie – 4:44!

I’m thrilled to announce the release date of my movie PGS – Intuition is your Personal Guidance System.

It will be at 4:44pm on the 4th of April next year – 4:44 @ 4/4.

We’re calling it our 444 release!

For those of you familiar with this blog, 444 has been a very powerful number for this film. I had a prophetic dream nearly three years ago now which prompted me to make the film – and I woke up out of that dream at 4:44am.

I thought at the time that this seemed strange, to wake up from such a powerful dream at 4:44, so I Googled: What does 444 mean? Here is what I read:

444 asks that you pay attention to your intuition and inner-wisdom as your connection with your angels and the angelic realm is very strong at this time. You are encouraged to continue on your current path as your drive and determination will lead to success and fulfilment.

Angel Number 444 is a message that the angels and Archangels are with you, encouraging and guiding you. They are offering you positive energies, inner-strength and support to enable you to get the work done that you need to. They know and understand that you have been toiling diligently towards your goals, and encourage you to continue on your current path to achieve the success and results you desire. Use your strong connection with the angelic realm to your benefit and be open to their promptings and messages. Listen to your intuition and follow its guidance.

Basically, at that moment I had to make a decision as to whether I believed this stuff or not – and I decided to believe it, and act. And so that morning I booked flights to go to India to start filming.

In other words, 444 prompted me to make the film.

Here is the original blog that I wrote at the time:
https://pgstheway.com/2014/07/07/today-i-woke-up-at-444/

So we’ll be releasing off our own platform on Video on Demand – and we’ll probably have an “event” red carpet theatrical premiere in San Francisco to coincide with the release.

We’ll follow up with Cinema on Demand screenings in the US, Canada, UK, Australia, and New Zealand. Other territories will follow.

Soon we’ll be launching our marketing campaign – we’re giving ourselves nearly 12 months to market the film.

There will be a book of the film available on release as well.

We’re all very excited. The film is still in post production but looking fantastic. Very powerful, very engaging – the first film to really show you how intuition works, and how you can use it to lead a more fulfilling life.

 

How life lessons work ~

Okay, let’s say that every encounter you have in an opportunity for you to learn something.

Every conversation or meeting you have, whether it’s a chance meeting in the street, or an interchange online, or a board meeting or a business meeting, or a casual meeting in a cafe – any meeting or interchange is an opportunity for you to gain something from that exchange.

I’m talking about gaining a greater understanding of an aspect of yourself. Whether it has to do with your hubris, or anger, or your sense of self-worth, or your need always to dominate, or your need always to be submissive. Whatever it might be, every interchange is an opportunity for you to learn, if you approach it with self-awareness. 

Hence every person you meet, or in some way interact with, is a teacher.

Now, how about we reverse it.

We always tend to look at life, and our role in it, through our own eyes. Everything always revolves around us, our journey, our hopes and dreams and aspirations.

How about we reverse it.

How about we begin to consider our life through the eyes of others. Of those we meet, who meet us.

There’s a belief that when you walk the Camino, at some stage you’ll meet your Camino Angel – someone who will do something, or say something, that will help you in some meaningful way. Whether it’s to carry your backpack, or help you with a blister, or give you much needed advice on something that’s been troubling you.

It occurred to me on my first Camino that could be an angel for someone else. That maybe something I did, without my even being aware of it, could help someone, in some way. That thought kind of freaked me out, because I’d never thought of myself in any way angelic! haha. But you know what I mean. You could be the angel that helps someone else, without you even realising.

Some with life lessons.

Without even realising, you could create a situation that tests and challenges someone else, for them to learn and grow. Not necessarily for you, but for them.

This has just happened with me. I’ve just had a business interchange with a man who was challenged to step up to the next level, spiritually. It occurred to me that this wasn’t about my needs – which are simple: everything happens for my Highest Good. Good or bad. As Caroline Myss says in my PGS film: How do you know what’s bad? How do you know?!

No, this was an opportunity for him.

It’s an interesting way to look at life lessons – not through the lens of how we can learn and grow, but how we can offer opportunities for others to learn and grow.

And in the process, of course, we learn and grow too…

PGS – update

On Friday, after more than a year of editing, I finally locked off the cut of my film, PGS – INTUITION IS YOUR PERSONAL GUIDANCE SYSTEM. 

Rishi Shukla, the editor, has done a terrific job.

It’s now a movie – but more than that, it’s a powerful experience too.

I thank my wife and producing partner Jennifer, who came into the editing room for the last few weeks and really made a big impact – as she has during the whole production – but in those last couple of weeks in the editing room she was truly fearsome!

The film now goes into sound editing. Fortunately, I have the best sound team in the country working on the film – Wayne and Libby Pashley and their team at Big Bang Sound.

After sound editing it goes into picture post production. Again I have the best possible team working on the picture – Spectrum Films, run by Josh Pomeranz.

I thank both Wayne and Lib, and Josh, for being such strong supporters of the film.

The film’s music is being scored out of London by a very talented young composer named James Shuar. I think he’s going to bring something very special and magical to it.

I need completion funds to finish the film, so I might launch a crowd-source funding campaign in the near future. If I do, you’ll hear about it!

As for distribution, we’ll be releasing globally out of the US early next year.

I’m excited. It’s now one step closer to getting out there…
… and it’s looking pretty damn fine.

Rebekah Scott’s views on the Camino ~

I’m posting this on my blog although you might have already seen it on Ivar’s forum, or elsewhere – but it’s such a terrific piece of writing, and her views are so informed and interesting, that I thought it was worth giving it an airing here too as well.

(Thank you Jenny Heesh for passing this on to me!!)

Rebekah Scott featured two weeks back on Dan Mullins’ excellent podcast series, My Camino. If you haven’t checked it out, I recommend you do so because each week he interviews some terrific guests. And, as I say, Rebekah was on two weeks ago.

She’s an American who has an association with the Camino that goes back over twenty years. She and her husband now operate a “House of Welcome” at Moratinos on the Meseta, where each day they welcome pilgrims into their home.

Her views on the Camino – past, present, and future – make for fascinating reading.

~~~~~~~~~~

The Future of Hospitality on the Camino –

An Address by Rebekah Scott delivered in Atlanta at the 2017 gathering of the American Pilgrims on the Camino

I am not a prophet. I can’t tell you what the future holds, and anyone who says he can has pants on fire.

I can tell you, though, about trends, and about what I’ve seen on the ground on the Way over a period of more than 20 years. I am as trustworthy a guide as anybody. So,

We stand here together in the present, at a crossroads.

We all have come here from a vast and varied place called the Past, a country that for most of us included at least one long, hard voyage along the Camino de Santiago.

Most of us are weathered veterans. Out there you walked until you were ready to drop. When you needed it most, you found a place with a bed and maybe a beer and maybe a smiling face: a welcome. A Camino Welcome. Stop there. Look around at the place your mind has chosen to illustrate “Camino Hospitality.” Where are you? Your subconscious chose this particular place, of all the many places you stopped and stayed along the Way. So set down a marker here.

Continue on with me.

Into the here and now. We are gathered here today in Atlanta, far away from the physical Camino, but immersed in a virtual Way that’s made up of people much like us.

From our comfortable chairs we look today into an entirely new country, an unexplored territory, wild and woolly and probably scary. We’re looking at The Future.

My name is Rebekah Scott, an American pilgrim from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. My Camino Past goes back to 1993, when I first stepped onto the Camino de Santiago. I went there as a travel journalist, an honored guest of the Tourist Office of Spain – it was a marketing ploy on their part. They wanted our articles in North American newspapers and magazines to lure well-heeled tourists to this “adventure destination.” There wasn’t a whole lot to see on the Camino in those days, hospitality and accommodation-wise. We visited “refugios,” – abandoned schools, convent dorms, and remodeled garages where pilgrims could stay for little or nothing.

They were usually rather dirty and cold — the refugios as well as the people inside. Pilgrims cooked their own meals, or ate from cans and packages they bought at supermarkets and carried with them. Menu del Dias were only on offer in big towns. Pilgrims walked in huge mountain-hiking boots, or sneakers and jeans and t-shirts. They carried their things in school bags and Army backpacks. There was no wifi. No one even had a mobile phone. It was 24 years ago, but it was the Stone Age of the modern camino. About 26,000 people made the trip, and that was a special holy year.

It was scruffy and ancient and full of character. I fell in love.

When I think of that first taste of the Camino, and I think of hospitality, I think of a stranger who stepped out onto the road as we passed through a little Leonese village. He greeted us, offered us a glass of his home-made wine. There was no price tag. He did it just because.

I met Jesus Jato, a mad man with a ramshackle albergue growing up inside his burned-out greenhouse in Villafranca de Bierzo. He needed a haircut. My coffee mug was unwashed. The showers were garden hoses stapled to the wall, with cold water only. The place was more like a refugee camp than an albergue, but the hollow-eyed young Spanish pilgrims bunking there did not complain. This was a pilgrimage, they told me. It was all about roughing it, doing without, crucifying the flesh.

I stayed and talked – as much as I could – to the pilgrims and Jato and Jato’s wife. I took tons of notes, and photos. They invited me to stay for dinner – lentils and bread, wine and cheese. There were six of us there that night. When I asked what I owed, Jato pointed at the donation box. “Whatever you want to pay,” he said.

I said goodbye. “We’re just getting started, you know,” he told me. “I’ll see you again.”

I am not a prophet, but Jesus Jato is. He could see the future. He saw mine.

I came back alright. In 2001 I finally walked the whole thing. I knew then I needed to change my life, become a part of this phenomenon.

I became a volunteer hospitalero in 2003, trained at an APOC/Canadian Company joint gathering in Toronto. I went back to the Camino time after time and served two-week stints at pilgrim shelters all over the caminos. I learned the caminos from the other side of the desk.

In 2006 I emigrated altogether. My husband and I bought an old farm in the middle of the camino, and opened the doors to pilgrims who need a place to stay – a little like mad old Jato, but on a much smaller and more private scale. In the years since I’ve written guides to alternative trails, trained new volunteers for the Spanish hospitalero voluntario program, wrote a training program now in use in Australia, New Zealand and South Africa. I wrote a camino novel, even.

We have been hosting pilgrims on the Camino for more than a decade now, and are as integrated into the Spanish pilgrimage infrastructure as two foreign hermits can be.

SO… Now that we have my past out of the way, We all can move forward.

Which requires a quick look at the Present.

Nowadays I am hospitality coordinator for the Fraternidad Internacional del Camino de Santiago, a camino activist group founded two years ago by some of the latter-day camino founders, including Jesus Jato and George Greenia.

I oversee the volunteers at two pilgrim albergues still dedicated to donations-based accommodation. We do good, on a donation basis, because that’s our franchise. Free-will accommodation is a major part of what makes the Camino unique. We have an overwhelmingly international group of volunteers…

Every single year is a record-breaker on the camino de Santiago, pilgrim-numbers wise. More than 270,000 people walked the camino last year, people from 160 countries. They walk all the year around, right through December and January – months when we used to rarely see anyone on the Road. The makeup the of pilgrims has changed greatly too. There are just as many women walking as men. Spaniards are now only 47% of the pilgrims. It’s not just a European phenomenon, either: the numbers of Americans, Russians, Chinese, and Korean pilgrims have increased more than 200 percent since 2011. In the summertime we open the church in Moratinos, our little town on the Meseta. Last year we saw our first pilgrims from Burundi, Mauritania, and Cabo Verde. People who can afford to fly from around the world are not poor.

The number of Camino routes has increased greatly as old routes are rediscovered and new routes are invented. Ten years ago, the paint was just drying on the Camino Portuguese waymarkers – now it’s the second-most traveled trail to Santiago. Another interesting change is the drop in the number of cyclists on the Camino. In the 1990’s, 21 percent of pilgrims rode bikes. In 2015, only 10 percent did it that way.

On the Camino Frances alone, there are now more than 400 places for pilgrims to spend a night. There are 1,200 places to stop and eat. I am not a statistician, but I can blithely say the number of pilgrim-targeted businesses on the camino Frances has quadrupled in the ten years I have lived on the trail. The increasing number of pilgrims has attracted the attention of the marketers, the entrepreneurs, the Capitalists.

And hereby hangs a conflict.

I will try to give a nice, value-free, balanced view, but I will warn you going into this Future that I am an idealist, and a Christian. I am judgmental. I consider the Camino de Santiago a sacred place, a monument that merits our respect and preservation.

You can travel the Camino de Santiago without being a pilgrim. It’s a beautiful place with a bargain-priced infrastructure and 3G and a fun vibe. You might have a great time, but you won’t have the same deep experience as many of the people you see out the bus window. You might have to come back again. “Today’s tourist is tomorrow’s pilgrim,” after all.

But this is a pilgrimage trail. If you are not a pilgrim, you are not fully invested in this experience. You should not expect to be treated as a pilgrim.

Pilgrimage is a spiritual journey, a discipline, a process of stripping away everything unneeded for basic survival. The person who seriously wants a pilgrim experience will go as minimalist as he can. He’ll leave behind technology and comforts and distractions. He’ll throw himself onto the mercy of the trail itself, just as pilgrims have done for a thousand years. He’ll depend on the kindness of others to provide him with a place to sleep, something to eat and drink, without presumption or entitlement. Pilgrims who take that kind of risk find themselves borne on a wave of providence. It’s a radical thing to do. It’s crazy, it’s scary. It’s kinda miraculous. And it still works.

This radical minimalism flies right into the face of our ingrained consumerism, and the travel industry — the people who are selling a safe, clean, dreamy Camino. Check out any FaceBook Camino page. There you’ll see the hotel and transport and “adventure destination” marketers; the folks who say that “real pilgrims” buy this or wear that or stay at this place, who tell you this trail, soap, backpack, sock, scarf, diary, app, bandage, credential, or guidebook may lead to a blister-free, painless, Camino Nirvana.

We Americans eat it up. We are born and raised to get and spend. We are born Consumers. “Value for Money” is the prime objective, “convenience” is ours by birthright. We live by “the customer is always right,” as well as “I spent good money on this, and I expect a return on my investment…” In recent years entrepreneurs along the trail have jumped up to meet our demands for clean, charming, and predictable accommodation, offered at a price we well-funded Westerners are prepared to pay.

So…

We find the camino. We hear the call. We being born consumers, our first impulse is to Shop.

Second impulse? Find out everything possible in advance, read books and websites, and plot our course down to the last scripture verse and well-rated coffee bar.

We want it all, on our own terms.

We want an adventure, but we don’t like surprises.

We want all the enlightenment and excitement of a tough hike across a new land, but we want it safe, hygienic, and predictable, served with a smile at less than 20 Euros.

We want to stay at the albergue everyone else rated best, take the best photos of the local food and wine, write the blog everyone will read. And dammit, We want to look pretty and put-together at the end of the day!

Comfortable consumer Capitalism, and the primal simplicity of the Camino, (and pilgrimage,) are deeply at odds with one another.

And this is why the Camino de Santiago, when we finally get it, blows our American minds.

We are consumers, walking into a world where Less is More.

Where everyone is just as good or important or respectable as everyone else on the trail.

Where uncertainty and risk and flexibility… and even sacrifice and suffering (O my!) are built-in parts of the experience, maybe even requirements for a truly successful outcome.

In my opinion, North Americans are perfect pilgrim material. We are full of demands, expectations, dreams and plans and fears and derring-do. We carry hundreds of dollars’ worth of new equipment, as well as other great burdens. We have a lot to lose, bringing our complicated selves to such a simple, demanding place.

And on the Camino we find out quickly that our Stuff won’t save us. It only makes us suffer.

We find a place to sleep, with or without reservations. We find out how little stuff we need to get by. We find that no one cares what our hair looks like. We find people who care for us, no matter how we look or feel or act or even smell.

We find places to stay where we’re not viewed as walking wallets, where we are treated as friends, made welcome, offered comfort and simple food and care by people who volunteer to come and do this work.

Camino magic happens to us. It’s another world, another economy. An economy based on giving, not getting.

Remember that place that stands out in your mind, that albergue where you felt so welcome? Bring that back to your mind. Think about what it was that made it so special.

What made them stand out? Was it value for money? The number of power outlets? The swimming pool? The sparkling clean showers? The dinner, wine, laundry service? The massage?

Or was it the welcome? The hospitaleros?

These are small, often volunteer-run places. Often they are donativos, or they recently were.

Of more than 400 places to stay on the Camino Frances, 30 are still donativo. Many that once were donation-based still charge 6 euro or less, just to keep themselves alive on a trail plagued by freeloaders who won’t pay anything unless it is required.

Pilgrims traveling without resources, the people who albergues were originally aimed-at, are now back to sleeping in the street, as the low-cost beds are now full of, well… who are these pilgrims?

The donativo ideal is almost dead on the Camino Frances. Beloved, old-school albergues like Santo Domingo de la Calzada, Las Carbajales in Leon, and the Benedictinas in Sahagun all have given up on the donativo/volunteer model in the past few years, simply overwhelmed by the demand of something-for-nothing accommodation.

If pilgrim numbers continue to grow, or if they even level off at current levels, donativos will disappear, victims of high overhead costs, pilgrims who leave nothing in the box, as well as new provincial laws written to favor hoteliers. Plenty of people will continue to walk, but the Camino gold rush may really succeed in killing the goose that lays the golden eggs.

Last summer, up at Foncebadon, I heard some handsome American pilgrims discussing that former ghost town brought back to life in the past 20 years.

“This place is great! We did this. It’s our pilgrim money that brought this here,” one of them said. “Someone ought to invest in some nice paving, signage, marketing. Some safety measures, maybe. Imagine what some decent branding could do up here.”

“Yeah, clean this place up and you could make some good money. This could be really cute.”

Yeah, just imagine. Scruffy Foncebadon, and Tosantos, and Calzadilla de los Hermanillos… scrubbed down and paved and Disney-fied and cute.

I almost went Full Prophet on those guys, but I contained myself. They are consumers. They obviously had not walked up that mountain. They don’t know anything different. Unfortunately, many of the people who want to plasticize the Camino are thinking the very same way. People who see beautiful, unique things as opportunities to make money… or even well-meaning people who see something scruffy or rural or strange and feel compelled to “improve” it.

FICS is dedicated to exploring and dealing with this phenomenon. We have our work cut out for us. We work hard and make lots of noise, but we don’t have a lot of illusions.

Eventually, large parts of the camino will be as Disney-fied as the final 100 kilometers from Sarria, and the overbuilding and paving and improvements will render the Camino accessible and do-able to anyone with money. Families who open spare rooms to pilgrims will be outlawed, minimum charges will be levied on all accommodations, and Compostela certificates will be issued by vending machines or print-your-own apps.

Once the Camino is fully commodified, numbers will peak even higher than we see now. People in search of easy grace and instant karma will flood in and have a whale of a time. Prices will rise, accommodations will become more private and luxurious as the low-cost/bunkhouse aesthetic is swept away in a flood of profit-making tourism. Groups like APOC will close down their hospitalero training programs, because hospitality will be turned over to the professionals. The crazy old prophets and healers will be distant memories – cardboard cutouts standing outside souvenir shops.

The camino as it is today is not sustainable. A corporate camino, with all its good-will hospitality stripped away, will be even less so. We will eliminate the ver simplicity that make the camino unique.

Maybe the great blow will come in a flash. Tourists are notoriously fickle and fearful. A single serious terror attack would strip out a good 50 percent of that year’s pilgrim numbers, and continue to affect the phenomenon for years after.

Maybe it will be a slow slide. Eventually, everyone who is anyone will have done the camino. It will fall out of fashion, and numbers will slowly drop off. Like Yogi Berra said, “Nobody goes there anymore, it’s too crowded.” The expensive hotels will die first, and slowly the rest will fall away, too, over many years. The pavement will crumble. Trees will grow tall and drop their leaves on the path, year after year. What’s cool today will be history in just a few years. Our grandchildren will look at our pilgrimages, and maybe they’ll laugh a little at our silly trendy-ness, and wonder why we bothered fighting so hard for a nasty old footpath. The plastic camino will die, yet again the victim of changing times. I believe that within 70 years of today, the camino will go back to sleep.

But it will not die.

Farther, deeper into the future, a few people will read our old accounts, and feel the pull of that old road. A few of them will put on what passes for a pack in those future days. They’ll find a handy starting-place, and they’ll start walking.

Somewhere along the Way, a resident will meet the traveler, and invite him in for a glass of wine, or a meal. He’ll offer a bed in the spare room, or the barn. He won’t ask for money. The pilgrim won’t offer to pay. Once again, as through the ages, the pilgrimage will not be a transaction. It will be a work of grace.

The bartender will give the rain-soaked wanderer an extra cup of broth, because his grandma used to do that for pilgrims, back in the day. There won’t be a hundred other pilgrims pushing in the door, so he’ll be able to talk to the stranger, hear his story.

On Sunday morning, if he’s lucky, the pilgrim can follow the church bell into a parish church, and be welcomed as a special, lucky guest at the neighborhood Mass.

He’ll sleep wherever he can find a bed. He’ll probably pay, and probably be ripped-off now and then. He’ll sleep outdoors some times. He’ll be rained-on, sunburned, bed-bugged, and blistered. He will sing out loud, and laugh at his own jokes, and learn difficult truths about himself.

And eventually he will reach Santiago de Compostela, where the cathedral will, perhaps, award him with a Compostela certificate. Or maybe they’ll have gotten out of the souvenir business by then.

This is my prophecy:

The camino has survived all kinds of abuses over hundreds of years – plagues, wars, famines, Renaissances, Reformations, Fascists and Republics, even the Spanish Inquisition! It will survive Consumerism, too. We humans crucify the very thing that makes us most alive. It dies, and is buried. But on the third day, it rises again.

The Camino will survive us. The pilgrims will not stop walking, and the trail will not fail to rise up and welcome them, until we utterly destroy the Way. Or we destroy our selves.

A new website ~

I have a new website.

It’s www.billbennett.com.au

It’s been designed and constructed by my wonderful webmeister Natacha, who does all my online stuff. She has a great clarity of design, and user friendliness.

The new website reflects my expansion from film into books – with the first of the young adult trilogy Palace of Fires – Initiate to be published by Penguin Random House in February of next year.

It also lists my upcoming projects, which include my feature length theatrical documentary PGS – Intuition is your Personal Guidance System. 

The website will be updated regularly with news of what’s happening…

My “Front Door” walk / next year?

I have set a date for the start of my “Front Door” walk – walking out my front door, in Mudgee, and walking to Santiago.

This is what pilgrims did in times past – they walked out their front doors and they walked to Santiago de Compostela. And they walked back again too, but I’m not doing that!

I want to leave home on August 11th next year, on my 65th birthday.

By that time I will have completed my obligations to Penguin Random House on delivery of the three books in the Palace of Fires trilogy. I will also hopefully have my PGS Intuition film in release – and so I should have a free four months to do the walk.

I want to arrive in Santiago around Christmas.

I’ll walk from Mudgee to Mascot airport – approximately 300kms – then I’ll catch a flight to Heathrow. I’ll then walk to my birthplace, which is Wimbledon, in London. From my birthplace I’ll then walk down to the coast, most probably to Newhaven, where I’ll catch a ferry to Dieppe on the French coast. From there I’ll make my way down through France to the Le Puy Camino, and walk to Santiago from there.

All up I estimate the walk to be in excess of 2,500kms.

I’ll write a book too about my journey.

Why would I want to do this?

I really don’t know, other than it’s a compulsion which I’ve felt building for a long time, and I’ve been frustrated that I couldn’t leave earlier, because of work commitments.

The only thing which would stop me doing the walk next year is if I am filming either Defiant or my Camino movie. And I hope I am!! But I also hope that this Front Door walk happens sometime next year.

So I have set the intention – and we’ll now see how my path unfolds…

The nature of consciousness – a perspective ~

My eldest son Henry has been listening to Jordan Peterson, a brilliant Canadian academic who has caused a furore on the internet by challenging the far left on gender issues.

He’s a highly erudite clinical psychologist who’s been dubbed by some the new Joseph Campbell. That’s a big call – but there’s no doubt this man is very very bright. And articulate.

Henry put me onto a podcast by Sam Harris – another brilliant mind – called Waking up with Sam Harris. 

https://www.samharris.org/podcast

In this particular podcast Sam Harris interviews Jordan Peterson, wanting to discuss mythology, religion, spirituality, and other weighty matters.

However, these two brilliant minds can’t get past the definition of what is truth. And what unfolds over two hours – yes, two hours – is this fascinating interchange between these two intellectual heavyweights over the nature of truth.

In amongst this complex to-and-fro is an exchange on consciousness, and its basis in religion. Here is an interesting excerpt from that two hour discussion:

SH: I think there is a subjective dimension of reality that is undeniable – and consciousness is the one thing in this universe that can’t be an illusion. It’s the only thing that you can be absolutely sure exists at this moment.

JP: I think part of your fundamental ethical metaphysics and it’s a point on which we agree is that you are very concerned with pain, for lack of a better word, and one of the conclusions that I’ve reached – and let’s call consciousness a reality – I would say that the most undeniable form of consciousness is acute agony, because no-one doubts that, not if you watch them act, and that’s one of the criteria by which I judge whether someone believes something. If people act out something uncontrollably then I’m convinced that they believe it, regardless of what they think they believe. And I think it’s for that reason that so many religious systems start with the same metaphysic, which is that life is suffering, that’s the ultimate reality. And that’s associated with consciousness, certainly, but it’s more precise than that, because maybe you can doubt whether you’re happy, but it’s very difficult to doubt that you are in agony and have that actually work, and so people act as if that’s the most real thing..   

I don’t know about you but when I heard that and I thought about religion, it struck me as true that most religions have as their basis the notion of suffering. Christianity generally – look at Christ on the Cross. And Catholicism has taken that notion of suffering and honed it into a belief system. So too Buddhism – of course.

I’m not an intellectual – haha, not by any stretch of the imagination – nor am I a scholar. But I can’t quite grasp this notion that life, reality, consciousness, is rooted in suffering. I don’t believe we were born to suffer.

I believe we were born to experience joy, and love, and fulfilment. And that as we awaken our consciousness, the pain and the suffering disappear. Because we step out of the illusion of life, of who we think we are – and we awaken to the possibility of who we really are… which is divine beings.

All of us.

Even Donald Trump.

Jordan Peterson – Professor of Psychology Toronto University