Ken Jordan is the host of a new weekly podcast, The Evolver, which features special guests talking candidly about their awakening experiences and how they bring that awareness into what they do in the world. The series launched this week, with guest Aubrey Marcus, author of the bestseller Own Your Day, Own Your Life, and co-founder with Joe Rogan of the biohacking company Onnit. You can subscribe to The Evolver on iTunes and on podcasting apps like ACast, or stream it from here.
This essay is adapted from the introduction to the first episode.
We live in remarkable times. Something extraordinary is happening for more than a few of us, and I’ve had the privilege of a front row seat to observe it, a view that not many have been as lucky as me to see. For the last decade or so, I’ve been working with a company named Evolver, which I co-founded. It’s a consciousness hub for the global transformational community. We publish the consciousness blog, Reality Sandwich. We do online learning through Evolver Learning Lab. We do events in our home base, New York City. We have a space, The Alchemist’s Kitchen, which is a botanical dispensary and tonic bar off the Bowery in Lower Manhattan, that you can find online as well.
These are all outgrowths of a scene that goes from Burning Man to the mindfulness movement, to the expanding interest in deep yogic practices, to the recent mainstream flirtation with shamanism and psychedelics — where people are connecting to spirit, often through unorthodox and anomalous experiences, in a heartfelt and authentic way. For many of us, this sudden crack-in-the-sky moment can be a shock. It may have happened at a rave on ecstasy, where suddenly you’re seeing auras. Or during a company-sponsored meditation when a brilliant light gets switched on inside your head. Or a surprise blast of kundalini energy shoots up your spine during your regular Thursday night ashtanga class.
It can strike like a lightening bolt, and our lives have been rearranged. The old stories no longer fit, and we look for a way to make sense of a world that has suddenly grown so strange — but far more beautiful than we ever imagined possible.
This scene is emerging without the familiar Western cynicism that we know so well. It’s never fully without irony, but the irony quotient has dropped. Most remarkable may be how the typical attitude toward spiritual experiences that discards them as tangential to what “really matters,” what so-called serious people think is important, just isn’t present in the same way.
A lot of people are getting tapped on the shoulder and are having profound visionary experiences. From my particular perch, I have been privy to personal stories like the senior executive of a global financial institution, who met his indigenous shaman teacher one weekend during an ayahuasca ceremony, and walked into his boss’s office the following Monday morning to resign from his 7 figure gig to study with the shaman full time, and eventually become a curandero himself. Or the marketing VP who, after a particularly powerful kundalini yoga experience, realized that she could not continue to sell the bullshit that she had been selling, and had to do something more in alignment with her true values.
I come to this as a committed secular materialist for most of my life, without the least interest in anything spiritual. I didn’t know what the word spiritual meant. I thought it meant something like “compassionate” or “empathetic.” Then I had a tantric awakening experience, totally unexpected, one Spring in Berkeley, California, when I was working on a keynote speech for a technology conference. I walked outside in the afternoon and suddenly found myself completely entranced by the plants on the street, that were somehow talking to me. They didn’t actually use words, but they got my attention. I had not taken any substance, I was not close to a psychological break. I was content with my life and how I understood the world to be — that the brain creates reality, it’s all mechanical and rational, that consciousness emerges like a lucky miracle from the biochemistry of physical matter out of a universe of chaos. That intelligence is a strictly human trait. That what goes on inside the skull is all that can be verified, and possibly all there is.
That’s essentially the secular materialist world view that most of us were raised with. And it’s the world view that our society propagates through all its social and political structures. It’s assumptions form the ground that we walk on, and that we base our practical life decisions on.
I suddenly had a crack in that reality. The plants were talking to me! I was shocked — but the state I was in was beyond shock, because I was also entranced. I was fully absorbed by the active intelligence of nature. It was an extraordinary experience. And it led to powerful dreams, which led to other mystical zaps in a variety of modalities. I had my first trip to Burning Man around that time — that sure helped open things up!
One thing led to another, and I became aware of a reality that is far more nuanced, beautiful and full of potential than anything I had the slightest clue was available to me before.
I also found that my experience was happening in parallel with other people, who were also getting tapped on the shoulder by something powerful, each in their own way. And I’d be having these fascinating personal conversations with truly inspiring people about their own awakening experiences, and how they bring that awakened awareness into what they do in the world. Those conversations would help to fire me up, and keep me dedicated to pursuing my own path.
But I was aware that these were not public conversations. They were not widely shared. It’s always been assumed that the subtleties of your own spiritual experiences are not meant to be talked about in public. They are not meant to be discussed outside of a small, select group, usually your fellow practitioners of Tibetan Buddhist meditation, or Chinese energy healing, or ayahuasca plant spirit medicine — whatever it is that’s calling you. That’s the crew you might talk to about the visions you’ve had, the shadow material that snuck up and whacked you, and your integration process to bring the realizations that have rocked your world into daily life practices that enable you to be your true self at your best. You’d call it there — you wouldn’t talk about this with almost anyone else.
But I was having these conversations with an awful lot of remarkable people. And what has become apparent to me is that there are now so many seekers out there who are experiencing the same thing in their own lives, that there’s a receptive community ready to participate in these conversations. That’s the purpose of this podcast: to bring frank, unfiltered conversation about what it is to connect to spirit to the public.
Subscribe to The Evolver on iTunes, or listen to the stream below.