Spirituality – Creative Mornings Utrecht

We’re taking a look at spirituality. It’s highly personal, & Brian is no expert, so this is an informal discussion in a safe space.

Let’s share the moment together. Isn’t that what life is all about?

Spirituality – Creative Mornings Utrecht

Creative Mornings Utrecht
28 July 2022, Utrecht, NL

We begin with some warming up as a group. Then Brian shares his perspective, along with a few ideas and frameworks. Then, we have a plenary discussion to explore what spirituality means to you.

🙏🏼 Special thanks to Marcel Zwiers & Anouschka Scholten!


👇🏼 Skip to the transcript


I’m going to keep it English, if you don’t mind. For me, English is my first language, so Dutch is a second language and it’s a little bit easier for me to communicate about spirituality in English, but also because we are filming this.

This will help it maybe be accessible for people who don’t speak Dutch in other countries, for example. So that’s why I’m speaking English, even though I know everyone here probably also you speak Dutch as well? Yes. Okay.

So I hope that’s okay for everybody. Anyone have an objection to this? Okay. As I wrote in the description, maybe you read it, maybe didn’t. It’s okay if you didn’t. But basically I’m not coming here necessarily as a speaker.

I will be speaking and sharing my perspective, but I’m no expert on spirituality. Spirituality is a very personal topic and because we will be speaking about very personal things today, and I will be also opening the floor to a plenary discussion so that we can talk with each other.

I do want us to also be mindful of the fact that this is being recorded. So anything you say here, while we are going to create a safe space with each other, it is going to be on tape and probably on the internet somewhere.

So just be mindful of that. So, keep that in the back of your minds. On the other hand, we are here together today and I’m very grateful for that and I’m grateful for you being here. So thank you for being here.

My name is Brian. I work as a UX consultant. I’ve been in the field for about a little over 20 years now, and I have a psychology background academically.

So I do consider myself more of a scientist than a spiritualist. However, as I talk a little bit today, I would be sharing, let’s say, one, two, three, four. What I mean by that is one, why is spirituality important for me? My one reason.

Two, I would be sharing my two experiences, let’s say with God or what I consider to be God. Three, truths that resonate with me very deeply and that I try to live according to. And four, almost a four quadrant framework for how I like to…

It’s a meta framework for how I like to place spiritual frameworks into a kind of framework in itself so that I can understand a bit better. Does that make sense? Any questions on that so far?

I sense a lot of discomfort, which I’m very happy with because today what I’d like us to do together, and I say this together because I’m in this boat with you, is that we are going to be embracing our discomfort a little bit.

We’re going to be exploring some of our boundaries, at least psychologically and spiritually. But don’t worry, I’m not going to make you do anything weird or anything like this.

And of course everything’s voluntary, so if there’s something that you’re not comfortable with or for any health reasons that some warmup that we’re doing isn’t going to be good for your body, it’s fine. Just feel free to ignore and not do it.

So thank you for also watching, if you’re watching this somewhere else, I really appreciate that we have this wonderful setup. But now I’m going to break everything. So I’d like to ask everyone to stand up, grab a chair and bring it over here. Because what I’d like to do is create a circle maybe of chairs.

All right, so because spirituality in our spirit resides in our bodies and our bodies are very important for us and for our brains and for our minds and for how we work, I’d like us to do some life warming.

It’s okay, we’re not going to do anything crazy, nothing special. We don’t have to stand up. But let’s start just by, if you’re comfortable with this, just moving your head to one side as far as you can go.

We’re going to be sitting and passively watching a talk, didn’t you? That’s okay. All right. So this is sort of last warming up exercise that is also functionally a transition point. So what I’d like us to do now is just rub our hands together like this all together.

And while we’re doing this together, we have now done some funny stuff together. We’ve been warming up, looking strange on camera, being embarrassed, but we’re all in it together. And what I’d like us to… I’d like to propose an agreement between all of us. And the agreement is this, that we create today a safe space.

What that means is that this is a judgment free zone. That we are free and safe to explore some uncomfortable topics, to explore some of the things and challenge maybe some of our assumptions about ourselves and the world.

And it would be great if we could do that in something like a safe space with each other. Is everyone okay with that? Do we agree to make this agreement? Is there anyone who does not want to?

It’s fine? Cool. Yeah. Great. I’m glad to hear it. All right, so in a moment we’re all going to end this by clapping together. And once we clap, then the safe space has begun. And we will start talking and you can relax a moment. Is that all right?

So yeah, wait, and then now, ah, thank you so much. I appreciate it. Thanks. I understand that it’s weird. So thank you for playing along a bit.

So, one, two, three, four. Actually, let me just go ahead and introduce myself briefly. Oh, I did that already, right? Yeah. Okay, so I don’t have to do it anymore, thank you. One, my reason for why spirituality is important.

I try to live as much as possible according to the idea that every choice that we make, every action that we do can be reduced to either love or fear. And everything that moves us, everything that we do and move in the universe comes either from a place of fear or a place of love, place of destruction, or a place of creation.

And for me, I’ve struggled a lot with anxiety along my life. I’m struggling with this now as well. I’m coping, I’m dealing, It’s okay, I’m living and surviving and having a good time with it, but it’s something that I’m dealing with. And I’ve dealt with addiction problems and some traumatic things in my childhood.

And spirituality for me is a conduit for understanding how I can deal with some of the uncomfortable, unpleasant things and the unpleasant energies that are in my body and what I can do with them to make the world a better place all around me. So that’s my, let’s say, rationale for why I think this topic is important at all or why anyone should think about this. Of course, this is very personal to me.

Each of you might have your own or probably has your own reason for understanding spirituality, and it’ll be wonderful to talk about that in a few moments.

But I just wanted to share that as kind of a, this is where I’m at and this is why I’m here. Two, my two encounters with God let’s say. I was raised Roman Catholic, so my family comes home with…

In Puerto Rico, Catholicism is a big thing. It’s basically the default religion that’s also very social thing. So everyone goes to church on Sundays, and it’s maybe Wednesday too. It’s like a thing. All of the family rituals and things like that are revolving around communion and baptism and all this kind of stuff and confirmations.

And so this is kind of the, let’s say the default for me growing up. I also went to Catholic school when I was a kid. So that was my starting point. And at some point there were two things that happened where I at some point lost my faith in Catholic God.

And the first one was that as I was reading the Bible, I read the Bible almost every night when I was a kid, like four chapters or four verses or whatever you call it, I forget the name, how they’re called, but Psalms or whatever.

And it was two, the Old Testament to the New Testament. And there were things that didn’t match for me. I didn’t understand why, for example, in the Bible there is the commandment, thou shall not kill, but then in a different place in the Bible, there’s instructions to build an altar for sacrificing lambs. I didn’t get that.

So personally, I’m not trying to talk trash about anyone or dis the Bible or anything like this. I’m just saying these are the signals that I saw coming from that. And those are what I interpreted to be like, okay, there’s something off here, let’s say.

And the second thing that happened was that my cousin died. He got ran over by a car in Puerto Rico, and I thought, he’s a kid, he didn’t do anything wrong. He’s not evil. So what kind of a God who is omnipotent and loves us would allow something like that to happen?

Such a senseless sort of thing and suffering in that way. And for me, that was like the drop that let the bucket overflow, that was the last straw kind of thing. That was the thing that made me say, okay, maybe I need to look further than just this Catholic framework, spirituality of God, of religion.

So I started doing that. And we were talking about this last night. I feel like this is potentially a journey that will never end. And I also was listening to some [inaudible] things earlier today, and he also talks about the fact that the destination is the journey.

There’s nowhere that we’re really going. Maybe you believe that there’s somewhere that we’re going, and that’s fine. I don’t want to say that it’s wrong, but for me, I don’t think necessarily that there’s a destination at the end of the road.

I think being on the road in the best way that we can every day, every moment is the destination. We are in heaven right now in that way.

We’re also in hell right now in that way, depends on how we choose to create it and manifest it. This is the moment, this is what life is all about for me.

So that’s a bonus. I said that I was going to give three truths that resonate with me. That’s one that’s not included. So a bonus one. So okay, I consider myself, if I have to put a label, I would say agnostic.

And what I mean by agnostic and not atheist is that, from what I understand, atheists are certain that there is no God. They’re certain that there’s nothing beyond. A lot of atheists are [inaudible], especially fundamentalist, materialists, atheists are very certain. There’s nothing beyond what we can see and perceive and what science gives us. I choose to take more of a path of intellectual and spiritual humility.

And I feel like, I don’t know, and I’m open to learning new things. I think if there is a God, I’d love to understand, I’d love to see some evidence or meet that or experience that. So this is my, let’s say, my own personal level or I guess label you could call it.

And so that leads me, let’s say to on this journey, I try to take things from everywhere. I try to take messages and insights and principles from all over the place. This is also how I work.

So I work as a UX consultant, but I take things from psychology and mindfulness and acting and incorporate that into my practice. So I’m trying to take things also from Buddhism and Hinduism and also Christianity and incorporate all these things into my own way of living, my own spirituality, my own path.

And the first thing that I felt like I wanted to share, this was like I iterated in my head a lot of times, okay, I want to say this one, two, through ,four thing because it’s really cool.

So that means I had to pick three insights, but then I had six or seven in my head, okay, which ones are there going to be?

And it kept changing, but one that didn’t change was this one from Mark Manson who wrote that book, The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck.

It’s a beautiful book, if you haven’t read it, I suggest it’s very cool. But basically if you want to distill it into one sentence, it’s basically like, it’s not about not giving a fuck, it’s about giving the right fucks. It’s about figuring out what’s important to you and then caring about that. It’s suffering for that, suffering for the thing that you want to suffer for.

And as long as we suffer for what we want to suffer for, for what we believe in, then we can be happy. Then we can reach what someone might call enlightenment or Nirvana or whatever that might be.

So that’s number one. Number two, I have from Brené Brown, which is I don’t believe that there’s good or evil.

I think that everyone is just doing the best that they can with the circumstances that they are giving. And it sounds very strange in times of war and horrible atrocities committed against people and suffering that’s being caused.

And I abhor all that stuff and I really, really hope that we can move past it as humanity, as a species. But I also want to understand and recognize that people who inflict suffering and pain on others, first of all, often have experienced great pain and suffering in their own lives.

It’s not a justification, but often these things happen to go with each other. I don’t want to talk about any causation, just correlation. And I think all of those people who do evil, despicable things, think they’re doing the right thing.

And it’s interesting sometimes to hear from someone we consider evil, to hear their perspective on why, they’re reasoning, why they think it’s justified, that they are gassing six million Jews or why they are instituting horrible things in Mariupol and Bucha.

And these people, somehow there’s always a rationale. Nobody wakes up and says, I’m going to be evil today, I’m going to be a shitty asshole, and they cause all the suffering. They think they’re doing the right thing.

So, that’s on the, let’s say global level. But if I apply that to my own life, this is also a bit Hanlon’s razor. Is anyone familiar with Hanlon’s razor?

So if you’re familiar with the concept of a razor as a concept, dual thing, a rule of thumb for life to go. Okay, so Hanlon’s razor is basically that we shouldn’t attribute to malice what can adequately be explained by stupidity.

Or I expand it to say also stupidity, negligence and competence. Just something. So I feel like people do terrible things often because I don’t think they understand how terrible the thing is that they’re doing.

So this is my sort of guide for empathy. Let’s have some empathy for each other. Also, the people who are, it’s most difficult to have empathy for, they need it too. Why?

My insight number three. This is the hard one. This is the hard one, but it’s also the most profound one. And I’ll circle back then to my second experience with God because this is the one that’s hard to prove scientifically.

And I believe that science is important. And I believe that the scientific method is also the most effective way for us to learn about the universe and the world around us.

But basically I feel, and every time I behave in accordance with this principle, it helps me immensely. We are all one.

We’re all interconnected. You and me. I am Putin. Putin is me. It feels fucked up to say this. My heart is beating like crazy. I feel like I’m about to start breaking out in sweat because I just said this crazy thing on camera even.

But the dog in the street, you, I, the tree, it’s all connected. It’s all one. We’re all made of the same stuff. This is a scientific fact.

All the heavy metals, we have iron in our body. Iron is a heavy metal. Heavy metals are all made in the compression of neutron stars basically. The big bang crave all the things that make us.

So in a way, that’s one way of looking at it. Quantum physics is also moving around with this idea that we’re all made of the same things and everything is made up of the same elements of particles.

And so again, this is the one thing that I find most difficult, but also somehow the most profound. And I’m looking forward to science somehow proving that as well. Okay, so I’ll circle back to my second moment with God when I found God again.

And then I will talk about this four quadrant framework. But before that I’d like to just briefly open the floor. Are there any questions, thoughts? Would anyone like to share anything? Ask anything as we’re moving forward?

Speaker 2:
Yeah. It was number three. We’re all connected. So that is what you believe, but you didn’t explain how it helps you or what you… Why is it number three? Why didn’t it drop off the list?

That’s a wonderful question. Okay, I can answer this question on two different levels, like a global scale and the personal scale. Global scale is, if a war happens between Russia and Ukraine, we are affected, interconnection.

It’s very simple. People don’t necessarily see this kind of thing in the spiritual context. But I’m also reading this book by Ray Dalio called Principles of Dealing with the Changing World Order, in which he basically says that the peace and war cycle, it’s cyclical and he is done lots of data and analyzed it with AI computation models and stuff. And it’s look, back like early Chinese dynasties and things.

And basically this whole thing, humanity works on a cycle, basically the way the waves work, the way breathe in and out. Humanity has this. And he also talks about all his data and all the stuff that his…

Basically he runs a hedge fund. So he wants to know where to invest to make money.
But this is another thing though, bonus insight. I look at the message and not the messenger. I don’t want to judge or anything, but it’s good insight. So basically he talks about how indeed everything’s interconnected.

So if one party here is having a conflict and it’s going to have effects over here, or if these people are working together well, then they can create ripple effects that have a positive benevolent effect around.

And so this is, let’s say on a global scale. On a personal scale, it’s funny, I noticed this with myself and I’ve actually seen this with other people in front of my eyes happen.

So if I’m on a bike and someone is very kind and lets me go forward or does something nice where I can easily like, oh yeah, please go ahead, then it changes what some people would call vibration.

It helps me feel better and it helps me get in more of benevolent mood. This act of compassion helps me feel a bit more motivated to give compassion to someone else. So the next time that someone gets in a thing that, oh, please go ahead because I feel like I received this, so I’m going to pay it forward.

And I’ve actually done this in the car once, I let someone else go forward. And then I saw them… We’re all, it’s like a one lane highway. And then I saw them doing the same thing and then at some point they stopped and let someone else forward.

And I don’t want to say that I had that impact on them, but I like to imagine that my little act of compassion letting this person go was a part of the motivation for them to also let that other person go, if that makes sense. Does it answer your question?

Speaker 2:
Yes. No, no, no. Not why it drop off your list.

Why did it drop off the list? That’s a good one. This is a deep subconscious level. Yeah, absolutely. This is good.

If I knew now will let’s say gig around in my subconscious reasoning, I think it’s because it’s so difficult for me to accept and so controversial, especially now that things are starting to get fucked up again in the world that I felt maybe that I had to talk about it in the group and get your perspectives on it.

Does that make sense? Did I answer?

Speaker 2:

Is there anything else?

Speaker 8:
Thanks for sharing?

I will add to that. We call it interdependence, which is the framework that I’ve most recently been involved with for about 15 years.

And what you didn’t say is that if that’s true, you sort of illustrated it, but it’s basically that it means that there’s always a possibility for things to go better, for people to change, for situations to change.

And that change is actually a good thing if you understand that all the choices that you make can actually have a positive impact, not just a negative one.

Beautiful and profound. Thank you. Thank you for filling in that.

Speaker 8:
I don’t remember this. Nine times out of 10 and I spend most my days frustrated also.

But that’s the journey, isn’t it? We remember and then we forget. And I feel like it’s interesting you bring it up like that because…

So first of all, let’s just stand still for one second and understand what you just said is incredibly profound. Every single choice that we make has an effect on the world around us for the better or for worse.

That’s amazing. I don’t feel powerless when I understand this simple, small, profound fact. That’s wonderful. So thank you for that.

But if I may just react quickly also to the other part that you said about you still live sometimes in frustration and I do too.

And I often wonder, would I prefer to have been born enlightened and be born with, I guess Jesus, like the prophets Muhammad, or people who understand the path, or would I prefer to have worked for it? And I think I would prefer to have worked for it, if that makes sense.

Because I feel like the act of forgetting and remembering and forgetting and remembering, forgetting, remembering, and reminding ourselves, I feel like there’s worth in that the transaction, almost the action of going back and forth, the oscillation between let’s say ignorance and enlightenment, if you want to call it that.

I feel like that shift has energy and it gives us some kind of energy. What do you think about that?

Speaker 8:
Yeah, I think that’s true. Because our thoughts actually interplay with our energy all the time. They don’t exist in a separate space or in our brain for that matter.

It’s a good point. You don’t exist in a separate space.

Speaker 3:
Also, I think that Jesus worked for it. And put it into, [inaudible] this point of view must have left many times before he became Christ.

Speaker 9:
Also, if you haven’t been to the dark side, let’s say, it’s very hard to empathize with someone, to empathize with Satan for instance.

So I think, it’s good that we shift instantly from one to another if we are constantly enlightened and it’s very hard to analyze where people can. So I think it’s very good.

That’s also a great point. So does this mean that we need that darkness?

Speaker 10:
I think so too, I think so. But yeah, I really think so. Also from a creative perspective, when I look at your tattoo art, I think if you don’t have that darkness in art, then personally, I don’t feel it.

So I have the feeling that you need it. But, it’s a personal thing. I think also in literature, films.

That’s profound. Batman needs a joker, otherwise Batman would still be meaningless.

Speaker 3:

Right? The [inaudible] one with… Yeah, for sure. So, the federation needs to cling on you. It’s a yes. And does anyone disagree with that?

Speaker 4:
I think when you were talking that, I’m a long distance runner, and at one point with friends, we were having a beer downstairs somewhere here, and somebody asked, what do you think about when you run?

And I didn’t have an answer. And that was the most frustrating part of it all. I just didn’t, I just somehow wasn’t aware of what was going on. And it’s not the dark side, but it’s stupidity in the sense of stupidity and the complex, the extra elements you put into that.

I mean, why can’t I answer that question? I can now, but not aware of what I was doing.

Did the question make you aware?

Speaker 4:
No, I just went running again and just tried to figure out.

But you never would’ve done that if someone wouldn’t have challenged it.

Speaker 4:


Speaker 4:
I mean it was how she said it asking, so I can complement her to that.

Now I’m dying to know what do you think about when you’re running?

Speaker 4:
Well, your mental state changes. So there’s two things. One, your perception is less. While I did once run around Amsterdam, and I can remember the whole track for years, not anymore, but I can [inaudible] everything.

I could do it blindfold, sort of. Now you get one. And secondly, I used to listen to music, which sometimes, hip-hop or whatever. And I stand somewhere in nature with Jay, another guy and he’s a musician just called Genius.

What the fuck is, I mean, me here with the music, things like that. So you’re really, really, really aware of what’s going on. So that’s the, I don’t know, just my thought.

Thank you for that.

Speaker 4:
I was not having the answer on me. Yeah, it was frustrating.

Yeah. But thank you for this because this is actually, if it’s all right, it’s a perfect segue for me to talk about my second experience when I found God again.

Thank you. I didn’t find God in the sense of a Caucasian guy with a beard living in a cloud touching Adam. I was just at home in Cedar Dale. We do have a beautiful house, so I can’t complain about that.

And my office is located in the back sunroom. So it’s basically the wall. So the backyard is just completely a glass door so I can see outside. And the ceiling is also glass, but it’s like frosted glass.

Otherwise it would be way too sunny. But basically I have…

In any case, I’m very close to green and nature when I’m sitting to work and when I’m finished. So I think I was working late one night and then I vaped some weed.

I was listening to some very calm, sort of mindful, almost meditation music, the kind of stuff they would put on when you’re getting a massage or when they have a yoga class, you know what I mean?

And at some point I was looking outside and the moon was right in front of me and somehow I could see the moon. And I felt, the moon in the background to the layer of the trees right in front of me and the dike here and everything that was around, there were some birds flying around and stuff. And at that moment, I couldn’t really see it.

It wasn’t visual hallucination or anything, but I felt this resonant, I want to say fabric of energy, space, time that holds us all together. That oneness that we talked about a moment ago, the interdependence, I felt that and I thought this must be God.

And I wept, literally I wept. I was on the thing, sliding down, sobbing, sobbing. But happy as though this ecstatic joy just, I couldn’t contain it anymore.

It was amazing. And it was one of the most profound experiences of my life. And that was the moment where I thought, okay, there is God. Maybe I define my God a different way than other people do, but I experienced it.

So thanks. What triggered me on your story was you being in nature, listening to music, this connection, it felt like maybe somehow sometimes when I’m running or when I’m on stage, I’m also an actor.

So I perform on stage every now and then when I’m on stage or when I’m playing music or sometimes when I’m in the flow of state, I feel connected with something infinite. That movie Soul from Pixar when there’s playing piano and part of the soul gets transported to this special place where the creativity happens, it wasn’t exactly like that.

But there is something special that happens when we’re creative, when we’re creative, like you’re saying, we use that darkness to create something new, to break something so that we can heal it again.

It’s almost like the way that we work out when we lift weights, well we’re tearing our muscles apart so that when they heal, they become stronger. And I feel like creativity and art and creation is almost like spiritual or even mental weightlifting or something. So that’s number two.

And I’m really, really happy that we have divergent perspectives, different people, different religions, different frameworks. And so I’ll close, let’s say my talk part of this thing before I reopen up again to more discussion with a framework that I use to think about different religions. And I say religions and spiritual frameworks in the sense that I don’t think religion is the only framework for spirituality.

There are lots of different ones, but the way that I try to order them, because I’m also an information architect. So house like taxonomy and putting things in boxes or whatever, categorizing, not in boxes necessarily, but this will be boxes.

So I think of stuff in terms of two axes. So if we imagine one axis here, this would be the axis between if we are more on this end, it’s like total faith based, the spiritual framework’s totally based on believing some kind of mythology or some kind of story.

And on the other end of the spectrum, it’s about no story, but practice. This is what you do, the rituals, the stuff, the cleansing, the meetings, the going to church every week, whatever.

This is one spectrum. And I will say that this works on two levels in the sense that… There are frameworks that lend themselves by default towards one of these, an area on that spectrum.

But I think it really only comes to fruition in the way that people practice it, if that makes sense. So different people can practice Buddhism in different ways.

Yeah, no, it’s fine. Doesn’t even hurt. It’s totally natural. No worries. I should have been more careful. It’s what I get for wearing shorts.

So in that sense it can be the framework itself, but it can also be the way that people practice the framework. So that interaction between the framework and the people that are practicing, it falls somewhere on the spectrum.

But then if we plot it on a chart, let’s say we add another axis. So this axis here would be let’s say inclusion or openness to other frameworks. So for example, totally open, totally not open.

We would have, let’s say Bahá’í faith incorporates all other religions into itself by saying that every prophet, Jesus, Mohamed, Buddha, they were all prophets that came to deliver the message humanity needed at any given time, at the time that they appeared.

So basically Bahá’í says, we believe in all of them. So that for me is a good example of total inclusion. And then total exclusion would be something like Richard Dawkins for example, who says, oh, if you believe in religion, you’re an idiot.

Science is the only thing. That’s it. Or these fundamentalist, materialist, atheist people, which is fine. I don’t want to be judgy about it or anything, but that would be for me.

Sorry, sorry, sorry Richard. No, that’s just an extreme example of some religion or way of practicing spirituality that says, my way is the right way and everything else is wrong. So everywhere everyone, every kind of framework, every one of us that practices somehow falls somewhere on this chart.

It’s like two-axis chart thing and we can plot different things. So I guess to open our plenary discussion. So thank you very much for listening to my ranting here, to open our plenary discussion.

I would like to first just start by saying, or I feel like I fall on this and if someone would like to share where they feel like they fall on and then why? Then that would be wonderful.

Speaker 11:
Can I ask you something?


Speaker 11:
I would’ve expected that right there, that extreme would’ve… You would’ve said more fundamentalism would be the thing there.

Any kind of fundamentalism.

Speaker 11:
Not just scientific fundamentalism, but any kind.

It’s true. And I purposely said that one instead of something like fundamental Christians or fundamental Islam or whatever. Because I wanted to be a bit provocative here today. But I’m also curious as to why the expectation?

Why did it surprise you that I mentioned fundamental materialists atheists, for example, instead of folk?

Speaker 11:
To me that seemed logical because you’re talking about inclusion or exclusion. So exclusion does not only apply to scientists.

Agreed. And to be clear, I don’t mean all scientists, I only mean certain fundamental atheists who say this is one way and that’s it. But, I agree those… I grew up in the South, in the United States.

And so Bible Belt, the place where my family lives now, there are more churches than there are schools. It was a dry county for decades until recently. So religion there is quite a big thing. And there’s a lot of those.

Speaker 11:
Well, I could even imagine atheists along there.

Certain ones. Yeah, I mean, that’s it. So for example, I have a friend, Chiara who’s on my podcast, she talks about being atheist as well, but she’s not one of those atheists who is evangelical about it.

She doesn’t go around saying, oh you’re stupid for believing in something. She’s more like, okay, this is what I believe. She has strong feelings about it. She grew up in Italy. So that’s another place we get Catholicism crammed down your throat from childhood.

So I can understand why she has so much resistance to it. But she’s also open to [inaudible], if you believe what you believe it’s okay, I’m not going to bother you. Which I feel like isn’t that end on the spectrum, but more somewhere in the middle maybe, or even more to that side.

Because you is quite inclusive in other ways. So I don’t know. For me-

Speaker 5:
… in an article about atheists in Los Angeles meeting every Sunday at 10. [inaudible] There, right. It’s not science just-

Speaker 12:
Could be.

No, that’s funny. That’s a good example because this one, if you think about in terms of faith versus practice or ritual, then they are more towards the faith or the practice bit. Because they do the ritual still.

They just don’t incorporate the mythology, the story in it. And I feel like that’s where I sit.

I don’t think I’m on any of the extremes, but I’m very inclusive in the sense that believe what you want to believe it’s fine, as long as you’re not hurting anyone do your thing. And I feel like I’m also quite here in the sense that I believe what we do is more important than what we believe.

And I will also say this as a scientist myself, I, with this intellectual and spiritual humility, if you now give me some kind of proof of something or some kind of proof that disproves something that I believe I’m open to changing my mind.

And this is one of the things that I think is important about, let’s say faith or what I don’t like about faith in terms of people not having an open mind. But that’s just my personal thing. So for me, I’m somewhere over here I guess.

Speaker 13:
But how do you explain, for instance, we perceive things the way we perceive them because of a background or upbringing, religious background.

So what we perceive as truth depends on what we think, what we feel, what we are. It might be totally different from the way you perceive them. Same thing. Totally perceived differently because we are different.

Absolutely. If you eat a piece of drop right now, you’d be maybe, I’m assuming just sorry, I hope that’s okay. Just because you’re a Dutch, you probably grew up here. So you may think and I think, wow, it’s the same thing but we have a completely different direction to it. Yeah, absolutely.

Speaker 13:
So how do you incorporate that in your-

Yeah. So my answer I guess to that would be that this is why I’m more towards the inclusive side of the spectrum in the sense that I understand that my perspective isn’t the only one.

Speaker 13:
It’s limited.

It’s limited. I’m looking at the world through a keyhole. I think we all are, we all hold pieces of the puzzle. And by coming together and discussing things with each other, sharing our love, sharing our knowledge, we share these pieces together, we can make our puzzle pieces a little bit bigger.

So that’s my answer to that. Does that make sense? Does that answer your question?

Speaker 13:
No, well I do believe that. Because I know that I don’t know everything. So that’s very reassuring.

It’s very Socratic of you. Indeed.

Speaker 13:
Yeah. And that’s why, like you I’m open to whatever happens if I can feel it resonates with me I’m open to it. But maybe we’re old, I don’t know. But I know I don’t know everything. So hey, who am I?

It’s an interesting question. Okay. So let’s take what you just said and expand the scope. Can humanity ever understand what happens when we die? Can humanity ever understand the truth about everything in the universe?

Speaker 13:
I don’t know. I don’t think so.

Speaker 14:
Off course not. We’re not squatting. [inaudible]

Speaker 13:
We are more like ants with a independent knowledge system. Maybe we can.

Speaker 4:
I think the challenge is that humanity wants to know everything. I mean sometimes I think that we want to understand whether it’s, I mean it’s either the big bang or God created here. I think that 10, 20 other scenarios are possible. And go on with your life.

If you look at the ancient Babylonians, they believe the race of aliens came from another planet. A planet that orbits us I think once every few thousand years. And they’re coming back to.

But they created humans as their slaves. They were big and they made us as genetic experiments. And that a lot of the Egyptian art we see with hybrid human animal heads and stuff were genetic experiments by these aliens.

I want to believe it. Or at least that’s the stories that mythology. Who’s to say we can’t know if that’s right or wrong. Maybe you’re right.

Speaker 4:
And you could go on with your life doesn’t mean you don’t give a fuck, but absorb as much as possible and then go on with your life.

But I mean we were talking yesterday about if your pallet of taste is little, for example, my mom, she don’t care much about food. She’s healthy and everything like that, but she doesn’t care much about that.

But if you do, then you need to taste everything and you create a better understanding of, I don’t know, like [foreign language] is where it comes from and how it works, et cetera, et cetera. And the same is I think with a topic like this, as Peter was saying, whatever resonates then you take it with you.

Speaker 5:
To expand, if trying to figure everything out, paralyzation doing that, you should be doing it hurts you.

Speaker 4:
It’s the pleasure of finding things out. But that’s also a book.

But what should we be doing?

Speaker 5:
Go on with our lives and enjoy it. I think that would, well I just come back from holidays obviously. And what do I always like about going on holiday, going to places I’ve never been and seeing things for the first time.

The wow factor. And if you doing the things over and over again, the same way you always done it’s like the food thing. Tasting something for the first time and sometimes thinking, wow, this is nice. And sometimes think, yuck. These extremes make you alive.

So we were saying earlier, right, that’s the oscillation. There’s energy in that the thing. What are the thoughts on the side of the room? I’m curious to hear perspectives here. Will we ever be able to know everything? What should we be doing? Is the meaning of life indeed about enjoying moments as they come?

Speaker 15:
I think what we might want to focus a bit more on is the highline. So the fact that together we know much more. And I don’t think that we do that enough.

So I was in this interesting experiment from Unanimous AI. I don’t if you know it’s completely fascinating. So I study artificial intelligence a bit and I was in this experiment where they created this artificial intelligence where we need to make decisions and then big decisions.

So for instance, United Nations, what shall we do first? Feed the hungry or protect them from fire? You have to make a decision. And then together, worldwide people took a decision and then you can see on the screen.

So there was one option here, one option there, one option, it was like diamond more or less. And then you needed to bring the point to the place where you wanted it to be. And then you saw people pulling it and then another people pulling it the other way.
And then you would think that it would remain in the middle because no one would make a scene in the end.

And this is true. So actually people then decided to bring it all together to one point. And afterwards people were so happy about that choice because we did it all together. So while they were doing it, people were thinking, ah, it’s bringing it to feeding the children first.

That makes sense. Of course. Yeah. Because it starts with. So they started here in a completely different zone and this sort of half mind approach, this is what they’re experimenting with right now.

But also in science, for instance, in health to find the right treatment for certain diseases and stuff like that. And it really works.

So not just in politics, not just, but also in betting for instance, you can bet with horses literally. And the journalist who was part of that, she made a lot of money because all these experts were in the room and they were bringing it to a certain horse.

And then she met on the horse and she could have won a lot of money. They took for Oscars prediction as well. So it was a bit of the mundane things. But yeah, so I think the higher approach is super interesting.

That’s extremely interesting. So I think there are two interesting maybe insights in that or lessons or I don’t know, spiritual type of things in that. I think one is that we work better together if we understand that we are parts of one organism, I guess humanity as a global entity, as one organism.

You’re the kidneys and I’m the finger, I don’t know, whatever. I think that’s an interesting kind of thing. Your virtual ouija board sounds very cool actually. And the other, I think it’s also quite interesting that there’s magic in the interaction.

Speaker 3:
And the empathy that you bring for, oh, okay. So this wasn’t possible.

Yeah, it’s like one plus one is three kind of thing. There’s more in the working together. Does that make sense? Is it-

Speaker 16:
Yeah. Reassuring that also there’s the technology can bring high mind more.

Speaker 15:
I have the same. And to be part of that is so magical that you sit with people on level world and that of course we didn’t make a decision now where, but just to feel that power a little bit somewhere in Austin and then the rest is somewhere else. Was very much-

Speaker 17:
Also a bit paralyzing. Because I think if you are so much part of the bigger hole, well let me just flow, go with flow or I’m just not capable of imagining that. The thing I’m thinking is really changing it because there are so many people.

Speaker 3:
Well I think there were only a few who were all alone in a corner somewhere. But when there were, more people were joining, this is also so funny how that works. You would be there. People don’t want you to be lonely in that corner.

Speaker 17:
That’s great. Because I think it’s something very individual, its a visual thing, but it’s also a part of a group thing. Okay.

Speaker 3:
I thought it was magic. Right?

But did you talk as a group?

Speaker 3:
No. That’s because you shouldn’t talk. So you should really do it all alone.

It’s alone. Together. Alone. So I just want to stop here because this is fantastic. I want to keep this positive energy because this gives me hope for humanity. So, we only have a few minutes left.

So what I would say, or what I would propose is that we close our session today and just, let’s take just one moment to look around, make eye contact with some folks.

Make a new connection maybe. Just feel the energy and when it feels right, I’m not going to give a signal, but whenever it feels right, we’ll just clap altogether.