If we wish to meet the unique challenges of the 21st Century, it’s clear that we must find new ways of seeing. Especially amidst increasing polarization and division, it seems clear that in order to move forward together we must first learn how to see beyond ourselves and beyond tribalism.
This is what The I Model seeks to accomplish.
"Yesterday I was clever, so I wanted to change the world. Today I am wise, so I am changing myself."
The I Model offers a new way to connect the dots between the "false" self actualization advanced by modern consumer culture and true Self Realization explored in humanity's great spiritual and psychological traditions.
Drawing on insights from the world's great wisdom traditions, psychologists, and spiritual teachers, The I Model offers individuals a new map to "make sense of self" amidst the growing complexity of the modern age.
THE I MODEL & CONSUMER TRIBALISM
If you're like most Americans (or Westerners in general), you probably also grew up in close proximity to a television that streamed a whole lot of information. Some of this information came through the news, some came through your favorite shows, and some came through the advertising around those shows.
Basically, modern capitalism runs on consumption. And in a world where consumption patterns that determine where the money in our system flows, pools, and concentrates, human attention is the most valuable thing to acquire.
While our deepest needs can't be fulfilled in this way, the conditioning we receive is so pervasive (thanks in large part to modern media) that it seeps into us without our noticing. Once internalized, it becomes so ingrained in our collective consciousness that we often chase things that we believe we will make us happy or fulfilled; not realizing that what we're after can't be found in this way.
The good news is that the true path to fulfillment, authenticity, and self-realization--has been well explored and chronicled by the world's great teachers, psychologists, and philosophers. And the wisdom they've left behind is unanimous in its insistence that true transformation begins within. It begins when we reclaim our attention from a world of distraction and cultivate a new quality of awareness.
If we desire to see our world restored to sanity, then naturally we must stop giving our attention to self-destructive activities. And you don't have to look long at consumer culture's endless drive to make us consume more and more to see how unsustainable it is both for us as individuals and the planet.
While intellectually we might see that, this doesn't immediately change the fact that we are conditioned from early on to tie consumption to contentment. For this reason, if we wish to stop feeding a system that exhausts us (and our world), then we as individuals must get underneath our conditioned habits.
"self" consciousness -----> Self Awareness
false self -----> True Self
tribal identity ---> spiritual identity
When we feel isolated and alone, our natural human instinct is to seek a sense of belonging. We are born into and seek out tribes of all shapes and sizes. Sometimes they are our families, our companies, our countries, sports teams, the brands we buy, or the political party we support. We identify with sub-groups to define ourselves, but forget that a deeper belonging awaits us.
Explore The Origin of The I Model
Nearly all modern marketing points toward the individual's deep driving desire to free, alive, and fulfilled.
It seeks to resonate with a part of us
Everywhere we look, we are encouragd to realize our greatest potential, our fullest identity. We are even told where to look.
When advertising is at it's best, it's telling the truth in such a way that it stirs something inside us.
The hitch, of course, is that advertisements aren't telling the truth for the heck of it. They're trying to sell us something. In other words, they need something from us. Sometimes it's money, but sometimes it's more than that. A lot more.
On the face theto get us to do something, want something, or become something more.
This sets the whole
Everybody's gotta start somewhere and if you're a human being, your starting point in life begins with separateness. It begins with birth into a distinct body with a specific name and certain surroundings.
After that, it's a whole lot of learning about how this world works.
One of the first things we learn is that the world is dangerous. We learn that to stay alive, we need to listen to our family and other authority figures who wish to keep us safe. And this binds us to our in-group. After all, who is feeding us ? WHo is keeping us safe from danger? It's our family.
As we grow up, our minds become conditioned by our culture and surroundings. This is natural. We must learn learn the rules, and ultimately how to keep our spot in the human tribe. This means that when we're young we often fall into a habit of seeking approval from those who ensure our physical survival (i.e. parents and loved ones) and those who ensure our social survival (i.e. our peers).
Once that core need is met, the individual aspires to set their self apart as valuable members within the tribe.
The wheel of aspiration exhausts us because we cannot be fed by images forever. Even if we keep hunting after more and more authentic images, we are nonetheless aspiring to an image driven by a sense of fear. It takes committing to seeking truth to get out of this spin cycle and on our way to deeper levels of self awareness.
Learning from the world around us, we discover what our tribe believes and values. In turn, we learn what we should aspire to if we wish to be embraced by our tribe.
In our modern context, this means we are always scanning the environment unconsciously for cues that will keep us in the good graces of those around us. But once this core need is met, most of our energy goes toward figuring out how to"get ahead". In Western culture, where
Our pursuit of authenticity becomes obsessive because we believe aliveness exists by acquiring the authentic image of the good life.
Born into an environment of fear, judgment, and a focus on "the way things look" we are predisposed to seek out things that will put us on the "right" side of judgment. We wish to be admired, respect, adored, and loved. And so, we set off on our aspirational journey to acquire all the things that we believe will set us apart and make us worthy of approval and acceptance.
Growing from a mindset rooted in separateness, we tend to treat the world as a field of objects waiting to be procured, acquired, or consumed. Whether it's a prestigious education, a powerful job, a sexy spouse, a big house, or children, we are programmed by our society to seek out external things that we believe will produce some combination of internal happiness and external acceptance--or admiration.
In my experience, all transformation shares one common trait: it starts from the inside out. It begins with the individual making a conscious decision to stop reacting and start respond with intention and intelligence.
It's this shift, at the individual level, that moves the world forward. And these days, with challenges growing beyond old boundaries, it's more important than ever that more individuals step into their full capacity and give their gifts. The more aligned we become internally, the more we embody our truth outwardly and the more resonant our message becomes. The greater our impact.
a modern map for psycho-spiritual exploration and development synthesizing the core insights of the world's great wisdom traditions, spiritual teachers, psychologists, and thinkers (false self to true Self in 19 Steps)
Of course, it's not enough just to acquire all the things and hide them away. As social creatures who are always peering outward to understand the hierarchy of our tribe, it's essential to project our acquisitions outwardly. While finding contentment within ourselves would seem to be the more sane path, at this stage of development we often seek approvaltend to still rely on the perceived approval of others to know how good we have it. Social media provides a perfect window into this. It's one thing to live the life, but it's something else to hear from others how wonderful your life is in case you didn't know it already.
This sets in motion a conflict within the psyche that The underlying assumption of projection is that once we get the surface just so that all the things we want in life will come to us.
While suffering exists at all levels of the journey, the suffering one experiences after some life event has been actualized is unique. It's unique because, all along we have held inside our mind the belief that our happiness and fulfillment, which we have sought and has eluded us for so long, will finally arrive when we attain our vision and actualize some facet of our self (i.e. the big job, the special someone, etc.). So, to actualize this image--to make the dream happen--is to confront a fearful proposition: the thing we thought would fill our tank, didn't fill it for very long. Soon, we are unfulfilled and dissatisfied and don't know why. Nothing in our mind prepared us for this possibility, so now we spin. We wonder where we went wrong. We look back on our path for mistakes--as if some individual decision in the past singularly produced this outcome. We look for ways to remedy our discomfort with our fading victory. At this stage, it's very easy to fall back into the spin cycle of culturally conditioned aspiration. But for those who are more discerning, they are likely to notice that the problem is not in seeking the wrong thing. It's that there's a large hole in the bucket which will always empty out. If we wish to plug it, then we must seek TRUTH.
seeking, success, society
To deepen in our search for truth, we must become present. And in becoming present to our current condition and state of mind, we are accruing deeper levels of awareness. Whether practicing mindfulness, meditation, or any other modality, we ultimately are learning compassion for ourselves and creating a healthy relationship toward the egoic voice. Once we find this within ourselves, our relationship to "other" selves fundamentally shifts.
As we turn inward in pursuit of truth, the core task before the individual is to build awareness. Primarily this is harnessed through meditation. It's about getting not just comfortable being alone inside our minds, but curious what's hiding inside them. But rather than letting our thoughts take us on a ride, our goal is to become the observer of our thoughts. Of course, since we've just turned the corner from the "outside" world to the "inside" world, the mind is hardly a hospitable place to be. After all, our mind has been deeply impressed upon and conditioned by our culture and environment; it's full of thoughts, ideas, and all matter of experience. Like a movie theater that runs all night long, there's always a show going on. The challenge before the individual turning within is to learn to sit and watch. This is not to make culture or the world out to be "bad" but if we are seeking to know ourselves more deeply, to uncover the truth of our suffering, and stumble into things like bliss, well, we need to sharpen awareness.
At the compassion phase, we bring our growing awareness to all the negativity within our mind. We pay close attention to all the voices and do our best not to get carried away by them. We anchor Awareness and hold space for all our thoughts to arise and pass away. Instead, we pay especially close attention to every time our mind tells us that we "should" do or be something. Should is a dead give away that we are operating out of cultural conditioning and societal programming. In essence, our mind is trying to push us back between the lines of learned acceptability. While this is not to trample on morality (i.e don't kill people) concern for the well-being of others should never be overlooked, it serves no one to hide our true nature. The insidious side of these kinds of "shoulds" is that they threaten to make us into perfect societal drones! After all, if we're always doing what we've been told we should do, it's going to be mighty hard to get beneath this noise and discover what we must do at the level of our soul. So at this stage of the process, the goal is to bring compassion to all our inner tormenters.
Spiritual bypassing occurs when we skip past the integration phase (i.e. Awareness and Compassion) which would
As we deepen in awareness and bring greater compassion to ourselves, inevitably we must confront those sides of ourselves that we would rather ignore. Perhaps there are parts of our life we feel guilt or shame about. Perhaps we are still processing deep grief from losses endured or anger towards others who mistreated us in our lives. At the intregration phase, we are turning our awareness onto our unresolved feelings--to all those things from our past (and our life's story) that have refused to release (or we have unconsciously avoided out of fear). There are a variety of modalities that are available to us to integrate our past traumas and unresolved emotions. These can include therapy, counseling, meditaiton, shamanic healing, or a variety of other modalities. Regardless of which path speaks to us, it's essential that we process what we have been unable to confront. Like a clogged filter, we must seek to tap into these energetic blockages which inhibit our full expression.
As we come to integrate more of our unresolved emotions and find peace with our life's story, we step into Embodiment. Because we have found new levels of peace with ourselves and processed the stuck energy past, our presence enlivens the world. In direct contrast to egoic projection which seeks to put up a facade or front, the embodied individual has less and less interest in putting up any kind of facade as it's much easier and more joyful to simple be who we are. Showing up 100% the world can receive us 100%. Everybody wins.
“A human being is a part of the whole called by us universe, a part limited in time and space. He experiences himself, his thoughts and feeling as something separated from the rest, a kind of optical delusion of his consciousness. This delusion is a kind of prison for us, restricting us to our personal desires and to affection for a few persons nearest to us. Our task must be to free ourselves from this prison by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty." - Albert Einstein
To serve others fully, we must become coherent in who we are. That's why integration and embodiment precede service. While this isn't to say we can't serve the world before we've fully integrated and embodied our deepest truth, it does mean that serving at our deepest and truest level hinges on how well we know ourselves. And that's because we can only give to others what we have within ourselves. Or, said another way, the best way to support others is from a strong foundation and a coherent, integrated knowledge of who we are and how we came to be. Uncovering who we are, the good and the bad, authetnically has shaped uIt's important to note that this is the opposite of how Western culture, the term "authenticity"
Back when we were aspiring to the societal program, we were driven by fear of being cast out of the tribe. So, we chose to aspire to what the authorities in our culture told us was acceptable and desirable. But as we aspired, acquired, and ultimately actualized ourselves according to that plan, we discovered that it exhausted us or exposed us to the emptiness of success. But once we turned the corner to deepen in awareness, we came to understand that conditioning and fear were unavoidable. We learned to have compassion for ourselves and reclaimed those facets of ourselves that we were taught were unacceptable. We began integrating these lost parts and embodying ourselves more fully in the world. And in doing this, we began to serve the world by embodying a greater level of authenticity and truth within ourselves. But now we come up against a confusing proposition--and that is that the story of our "self"--even integrated is, still another conceptual container inhibiting us from acting freely. After all, if we always have to live through the lens of the life we already lived, then we're perpetually living in the past. Creatively speaking, this confines life and us (aka life itself). Instead, we must learn to de-couple from our story and allow for spontaneity. Rather than destroy our self--which does not serve life--we must de-story our self and so create more space for life's expression to flow through us. This is true freedom. It's also one of the greatest gifts we can give to the world. After all our very being is now unconfined by the past and so can be completely present. No longer are we talking the talk of freedom and authenticty, but instead walking the walk and showing others how it's "done". (tired of our story / ever wonder why spiritual teachers leave their old names behind, or speak in the third person (K). They know not to give the false self too much credit
As it regards our individual fulfillment and realization of our dreams....
Our dreams become reality through exertion of the will.
But in a dose of cosmic humor, the will exerts itself most effectively (and resonates most powerfully in our world) when we take our "self" out of it. So far as I can tell, it works this way because, with no ego fighting for validation through the dream, there's less creative resistance for the dream to bust through on its wild ride from our individual imagination into our shared Reality.
This is a paradox that's hard to wrap our minds around at first. Because how else can I exert my will to realize my dreams unless "I" am doing it? After all, isn't it MY dream?
Think of it this way. You're not here to realize YOUR dream. The Universe is realizing its Dream through You.
If that's still not clicking, consider for a second any moment in your life where you truly acted selflessly. And I mean REALLY acted selflessly with no expectation of getting something back. Think about how it felt. Think about how it impacted others. Even better, think about how effortless "the doing" of it was. Did you have to consciously muster up your will to do the right thing? Or was the right thing so damn obvious that it felt easy and effortless?
Now consider every time you've tried to steer a situation to your personal advantage (i.e. toward your "self" interest). Think about how you felt as you did it. Think about how others received it. Think about how you felt after "the doing" of it.
If you look closely, I suspect you'll find that the selfless acts are the ones that have enriched your life and someone else's life the most. These are the moments that brought you the most peace of mind and joy and made you feel the most centered. Perhaps they even gave you that profound sense of connection to life that showed you we're really not so separate after all. ;)
By contrast, I suspect you'll find that all those times you tried to engineer some desired outcome, it left you and the others impacted feeling a little icky. Even if you got what you think you wanted at the time, I'll bet that any pleasure it gave you was fleeting and likely followed by regret.
As it relates to turning dreams into realities, the task before each of us is to take our individual selves out of it as much as possible. It's to become more mindful about our motivations and to remove the gap in our intention. This isn't easy work, but I believe it's the work each of us here to do (and do together).
Of course, don't take my word for it. Look into it your Self.
Of course, freedom isn't done. Freedom is. We can fight for our freedom, but to be free is itself not a doing. It's a state of being. It's an undivided state. (arise and passing away)
When we fear something, we assume it is something other than us. And when we fight against that other, we reinforce the perceived division between us. But if we have found our way to the state of pure consciousness and being, then we know that consciousness is fundamental to our humanity. We know it fundmantal to the humanity of all "others". . against something, we give it more power. We confirm that the world is perpetually in opposition and that we must resist if we wish to exist. And yet the highest expression of humanity is our decision to drop our walls and truly be our fullest selves, and embrace the other as our self and without condition.
When we fear something, we assume it is something other than us. And when we fight against that other, we reinforce the perceived division between us. But as we step into experiences of pure consciousness and being, we come to understand that consciousness is fundamental to our humanity. It is the great unifier beneath all our conditioned beliefs and thoughts. We recognize it as fundmental to the humanity of all "others". Seeing that LOVE is our.... And yet the highest expression of humanity is our decision to drop our walls and truly be our fullest selves, and embrace the other as our self and without condition.
The I Model & Non-Duality
Unlike many maps and models that drop us off at a final destination, The I Model acknowledges that life is a cycle and that we are constantly moving in and out of these states of being. In this sense, there is no "goal" or destination unless that destination is here and now (aka Presence).
Amidst all the conflict we perceive in our outer world, many of us often wonder if there's any way through all this tension and conflict.
Surely with so many big problems to solve, we feel a greater urgency than usual to do our part, to contribute, and to do our part to evolve this civilzation of ours.
And here it is very helpful to look at the body of work left behind by our ancestors. Human beings who human'd before we did.
Across cultures and across time, our species' greatest wisdom has been constant throughout time. And it's that wisdom I believe
we must now re-discover
And what do they all point toward?
They are unanimously point toward a psychological transformation happening within individuals