Andrew:Hey everyone, it’s Andrew Warner, Founder of Mixergy.com, home of the ambitious upstart!
It’s taken me a long time since I did this interview to post it. And the reason that I’ve been waiting so long is because I wanted to sit with the ideas in this interview. It was so moving to me that I wasn’t ready yet to share it with you, and have conversations about it by e-mail and in the comments. I wanted to sit with the ideas myself, and experience them and see how they shaped my thinking going forward. And man, big impact from this interview and I know that you’ll have it too.
This is my interview with Yossi Ginsberg. This is a man who went into the Amazon with three other people. Two of them, as far as we know, never made it out. And for about three weeks, Yossi was in the Amazon by himself dealing with incredible hardships, which we’ll talk a little bit about in this interview. And you can see that it’s painful to even hear the experiences that he went through. But, the positive side of all that is the learning that he got from it; the learning about himself, and the ideas, and the education that can translate into your life and has already in mine. Ideas like the pursuit of happiness.
Listen to his perspective on the pursuit of happiness and notice how different it is from someone who hasn’t gone through the experiences that he has, and hasn’t gone thought them through the way that he has. Listen to how, at his worst moment, he discovered his better self and don’t you find that too in your life? That at your worst moment, you discover something about yourself that you would never have discovered? You tap a hidden force that you never would have even recognized?
Unfortunately, I don’t know what it’s like for you. But, for me, when I’m going through those periods, I don’t appreciate that I will get that, that I will tap into something better, that something good will come of it. So, listen to him and see if you could relate to it the way that I related to it.
There are a couple of other things I want to draw your attention to before we start the interview; the woman that he found and the impact that helping her had on him. Again, ideas that can translate outside of the Amazon into business, but also into our every day lives. And finally, I challenged him a little bit on this because I’m not just here be a receiver of information. I want to check it out because any idea that I learn in my interviews, I use in my life and I know that you use in your life too.
So, I challenged him a little bit and one of the biggest challenges for me was to say, “So, you took all this education. Do you really live up to it every day?” And the answer that he gave me to that about bouncing back was the most significant thing for me in the whole interview.
He said – well, I won’t tell you what he said. I’ll let you listen to it for yourself, and I’ll let you have your own discovery from it. Here’s my interview with Yossi Ginsberg.
Can you tell me about why you took that trip in 1982?
Well, the obvious reason was I finished my military service. I wanted to know that the world exists outside the realm of adventure books. I wanted to experience it myself. Living in Israel is similar to living in an island. It’s a very small and isolated place. It’s a very strong place in terms of the culture and the conditioning that you go through. I wanted, for once in my life, to be free and to experience the world.
There was a sense of adventure and maybe there was a lack of a real initiation. So, it was an urge to go through an experience that, maybe, will be my right of passage. I’m saying that because the type of journey that I took wasn’t a journey just to have fun and go through some sightseeing. I had a purpose. I wanted to go to the extreme in the sense of places that were not explored and meeting people, tribes. I wanted to have an adventure.
I would say the inner drive was big and I really believe that the inner drive is important drive because I think that, in a way, my desire was so big that in the end, the circumstances had to yield and produce that venture I was after. And I think that-
I’m sorry. Could you move the camera down a little bit now? It looks like there’s a lot of space over your head. I want people to really see you and get a sense of you if they’re watching the video.
Alright, you said something that I wrote down here, which is you wanted to be free. Maria, who introduced us to you, also wanted to be free. But, her way of getting that freedom, she told me, was financial freedom. She wanted to make money. She wanted to build a business. That was her way of getting to be free. For you, it seems like the exact opposite.
Why couldn’t you be free by pursuing financial freedom? Or, by pursuing education? By pursuing a career so you didn’t have to depend on family or money from somewhere else? Why this as freedom? Why a trip?
Yossie:?Because I know the answer. Because that’s exactly the places that I needed to visit. You see, this is slavery, what you are describing, not freedom. Because if you have these things, what happen if they’re taken from you?
And so, you have your financial freedom and then there’s some, let’s say for the sake of imaginations, there is some change in the world events. Suddenly, the world goes down, and the financial institutes collapse and you lose your money; just a scenario. So, then what?
But then, the same thing we could say about…
If you find your freedom, if you find something that cannot be taken from you, then you’re free. If your freedom depends on what you have, or you position, or your security, or anything that is just passing, because those are just waves of things.
But then, can we say the same thing about travel? What if you travel, and you hurt yourself and you become paralyzed because of your trip and your freedom’s taken away?
Stuff happens no matter what goal you’re pursuing. Whether you’re pursuing finances, something bad can happen there. Or if you’re pursuing traveling, something bad can happen there.
Yeah, I agree with you. As I said, the obvious was that I wanted to experience something and be free. But, there’s an inner drive. And that inner drive is the important one because what I found is much greater than that. What I have found cannot be taken. Nothing can take that, not even death and that’s the real richness. And when you find that, as I say, when you discover your core by experiencing it, not by starting philosophy, or going to University, or talking about it. But, when you really experience it and then you know it for yourself.
It’s actually, it’s about losing. Not about gaining. When you lose everything, then you have something. It’s exactly the opposite because everything that you have, it’s not really yours. What is yours, you don’t need to earn. It’s yours by right. So, that’s what I found and that’s real freedom because it doesn’t depend on circumstances. As long as it depends on circumstances, you’re at the mercy.
Okay, I just wrote that down. I want to come back to that and dig deeper into it because I’d like to have that feeling where the confidence that comes from knowing that what you have can’t be taken away, that what’s important to you is always there. So I’m going to come back to that. But people who are listening to us are going to kill me if I don’t get into your story .
Your story is compelling and I’ve seen you now. I’ve seen lots of videos of you up on YouTube in preparation for this. You’re a compelling storyteller. So, let’s go back then to 1982. You decide that you want to go and explore, leave the island, sort of island that is Israel, and go and explore the world. You end up in the Bolivian wilderness. How’d you end up there?
Yossie:?I met an Austrian geologist in the markets of LaPasse, and he told me about an expedition he is organizing deep into the uncharted Amazon of Bolivia in search for gold in a river that is very remote, but on the bank of this river there’s a tribe, the Toro Monos. And he said they are my best strategy to discover the gold. If I find them, they will show me.
So, this was my dream. I wanted to go deep in the jungle midst, the uncharted, the cultures that were never exposed before and then, get the riches of gold. It was the perfect, the perfect adventure and I will tell you, when somebody tells you your own dream, what else can you do? You just have to follow them. So, I followed him not knowing that he actually made up this story. It wasn’t true. He wasn’t a geologist. There were no Indians and there was no gold.
Nevertheless, I followed him. I brought two other friends and for months, we hiked after him deep, deep into the uncharted Amazon. The adventure was immense, but other things happened.
The group couldn’t hold the tension anymore. There was fight over leadership and there was a lot of emotional stuff coming out. I had to face many things on a personal level. I realized what a fool I am driven by a dream that actually I didn’t want to carry. I was afraid. I was weak. I wanted to go back home and keep on dreaming. Why did I have to do it?
But, I didn’t dare. I didn’t dare tell my friends and I didn’t dare turn because of my fear. I kept on walking. But, I discovered even greater – I had to face my own darkness, which is maybe one of the most difficult things because I discovered that there’s malice in me, and I discovered I can take advantage of my friend. I discovered that I’m not always there for the ones that need me and this was very painful.
In a way, it was the most beneficial because the mask of cool was shattered. We all that mask of cool. It was shattered and I saw myself for what I was. It was good because then was no need for denial anymore. Once you see things for what they are, once you meet the darkness, so to speak, you can bring the light.
I discovered other things about myself. I was also strong beyond my image of myself and tragedy came because one of us was too weak to continue and we had to give up our adventure just days before we made contact with these Indian supposed.
On the way back, we built a raft and on the raft, we just couldn’t handle it. The tension was too much, the river was too dangerous and the worst thing we did was after four days on the river, we decided to split.
Before we continue there, you said earlier, you took us through a lot of emotions that you experienced and a lot of personal growth that you experienced up until that point. I want to dig deeper into that. For example, you said that you discovered that you could take advantage of people, you discovered that you had malice in you. Before you guys split up you discovered that. How? Could you give me an example of a situation that made you stop and say, “I’m taking advantage of somebody?”
Yeah. There was one night we were sitting by the fire. Our guide, Austrian, was already asleep and we were three friends, three backpack guides. Marc was the most beautiful person I ever met in my life. But, in the rainforest, he was weak. He was wincing, he was complaining, he was afraid all the time. He was ridiculous.
And that night by the fire, he was asking us why have we removed ourselves from him so much. We’ve alienated him. We stick to each other, Kevin and I, we stick. But, there’s no place for him. And then Kevin said, “Oh, I don’t know what you’re talking about. It’s all in your head. Maybe you feel uncomfortable in nature. That’s real the reason, Marcus.”
And he said, “I’m too tired,” and he left, and he went under his mosquito nets and I remained alone with Marcus and Marcus said, “Yossi, we’ve been best friends. What happened?” I just didn’t know what to say. So I said, “Marcus, probably Kevin is right. Nothing happened. Nothing happened at all. It’s you.” And then I said the same thing, “Look, I’m tired. And I left him there crying alone by the fire.
Then, under my mosquito net, I see my friend and he’s crying by the fire. And I don’t get up and put my hand upon his shoulder and say, “Things will be alright.” And then the flame died and then darkness. It’s very dark and for a second in the darkness, I had a glimpse into something much more dark which is not outside, but is inside. I see my own darkness for what it is. I realize I’m taking advantage of him. I realize that I’m weak and I’m fearful and I’m worried. But, I can pretend that I’m brave and I’m strong because of him. He externalizes all these emotions for me. I don’t have to show. He screams at night when a moth touches his mosquito net. I can keep my cool. He’s behind complaining. If he wasn’t there, I would be behind complaining. So, I saw it. But then, I saw something much worse. He was there alone by the fire crying and I realized that what I experienced is joy. I am enjoying his misery.
And I saw it for what it was.He was the most beautiful person I ever met in my life and in his beauty, I saw all my flaws. I wasn’t as beautiful as he was. I wasn’t as lovable. I wasn’t the saintly being. I wasn’t compassionate, and giving and generous. And he was so beautiful. I only saw how ugly I am.
So now, I wanted to shatter that mirror and when he collapsed he wasn’t so beautiful anymore. This was my petty victory. And it was scary. Suddenly, the jaguar roaring in the dark. I saw a real beast. The jaguar wasn’t what scared me now. What I saw was a real beast. The darkness of the jungle was failed compared to darkness inside my own heart.
But that is my story of transformation because by going that deep, into those places, not by choice, just by being there and experiencing that. I saw that it wasn’t real malice, it was just insecurity. I was just a little child wanted to be loved also. I had self doubt. But, unless I visited those places in such a strong way, I would have never brought them light.
So, my life has changed. The entire focus of my life has changed, and now I know the real work each one of us has to do is go to those place, and touch them in such a genuine, real way. So, you can..
I’m sorry. But, I have the curiosity of a child and I’ve got to ask why is that so bad? If that’s what it took for you to be strong, and to get through it, and you’re a strong person, and if you needed that, then isn’t that okay? Isn’t that what it takes to survive? To sometimes be able to look at people who aren’t as strong, and get your strength from comparing yourself to how they’re struggling? Isn’t it what successful business people do? Maybe they’re struggling. But, they read the papers about how others are struggling more and they feel “Okay, I’m not there. I’ve achieved something here.” And they use that to get going, and if that’s what keeps you going, why is that so bad?
It’s not so bad, it’s just not the way. The way, is the opposite way. The real strength is when you give it to another. That’s real strength. You’re much. much, much stronger when you give your strength for the greater good, or for somebody that needs it. Then you’re strong. You never experience strength unless you give your strength away. I tell you that from my own experience. It’s true. We are here for the greater good. If we focus on our own, we never experience our strengths. I can tell you a story about, a personal story. I’ll just tell you the other thing about business.
Actually, no. I’d love that personal story, too, and then the business.
I’ll tell you the personal story
One of the worst moments that I’ve experienced after we split from Marcus, and Carl, Kevin and I, for three hours, were together. Then, I had an accident in the river, we fell down a waterfall, we lost each other and then there was a log.
On the seventeenth day of my solitude, something happened. For seventeen days I was amazingly strong. I was amazingly lucid, my head was clear, I wasn’t worried, I wasn’t afraid. I was just focused. Then, something happened.
An airplane passed in the sky and gave me hope of redemption. I believed that the airplane would see me and I will be saved and all of this ordeal will be over. And I was running, and screaming, and I hear the noise above my head and I raise my head. The airplane is completely oblivious to me. Deep in the clouds, up in the sky and hear the noise dying. The airplane has passed. At that moment, I just couldn’t take it anymore and I collapsed. And with that collapse came a huge release of tears. And from that moment, suddenly something opened inside my heart and I started praying and my prayer was the purest prayer and it was, “Please let me die.” I didn’t want to live anymore. I wanted to die. I gave up on life.
At that very moment, out of the blue, out of context, impossible. A young woman appeared next to me. She was lying in the mud and sobbing. And this was so impossible. But, I heard her, I saw her. So, I jumped on my feet and I started screaming at her, “Get up! Get up!”Because the airplane may come back. We cannot waste time.” So I grab her and I pull her from the mud and I start running. I’m pushing her and I’m screaming at her, whatever it takes, “The airplane may come back. We can still save ourselves.”
For two days, I carried her. For two days, I pushed her. For two days, I encouraged her. For two days, on the second night, I made her a place to sleep next to me. And then, I told her, “Come closer,” so we hugged each other. And then, I saw that I’m hugging nothing. There was nobody there. I got scared. I got scared, I thought, “I must be insane.”
So, I don’t know. But, she wasn’t there anymore. But, I still couldn’t explain what really happened. What was that all about? So, I figured out it must be imagination. It wasn’t real. She was just imaginary. Okay, but whose imagination was that? It wasn’t my imagination. I didn’t make her up. I was laying there in the mud praying to die when suddenly, I hear somebody crying. I didn’t make it up. It wasn’t my imagination. So, I don’t know the answer to this…
Who’s was it?
I don’t know. If she was imaginary, I’m still looking for who. It wasn’t my imagination. But the other thing is the point, I couldn’t help myself anymore. Who came to help me? Not somebody strong that gave me a hand. The one that came to help me was somebody weak that needed me. Then, I discovered the meaning was strength, because I couldn’t help myself anymore. Bu,t the moment I was responsible for somebody else, somebody that was weake, and somebody that needed me, outside of myself, I found the strength to take care of two people. That’s strength. As long as you take care of yourself, you’re limiting your strength. The moment you give it, then you see what strength is.
So, that’s one point about strength. The other point is about what you’d say to business people. Business people better wake up and learn that the crisis we are going through is what I call the “mad cow disease of the economy.” Greed. When you feed cow to themselves, that’s greed. When you feed money to yourself, that’s the same greed. It’s not about competition. It’s not about thriving and seeing somebody else going down.
“Kill the competition” is an old world term. “There’s no competition” is a new world term. There’s cooperation. It’s an eco-system. Competition is based on the false idea that resources are scarce. If there’s not enough, let it be mine and you die. That’s competition. That’s what we are brought up. That’s the cornerstone, the foundation of our society is competition. It’s the wrong value. It’s the wrong value. We praise ourselves for the competitiveness. It’s in the wrong context.
Nature works by relative advantage, not by competition. Nature works by relative advantage. Each specie finds out the relative advantage, “What am I good at? I’ve a home that are [unintelligable] that, develop that, and then what happens? An eco-system is born. When instead of competition, each part contributes the relative advantage, and then there’s symbiosis and then there’s harmony. Nature knows harmony. It’s only one specie that decides that it’s not nature and they know better than nature.
So that’s my answer about those issues and it is wrong. There’s only one way to win and it’s when everybody wins. So, if somebody is weak, I’m weak. If somebody is bleeding, I’m bleeding, because there’s only thing.
If your toe is bleeding, the rest of the body. What do I care? It is the toe. No. What agony you have if your toe is bleeding. There’s no separation. So, if Africa is bleeding that’s your business. You know what I mean? It’s the same
What about this?I’ve got a book here about Rupert Murdock. Rupert Murdock, he has a station called Fox News here in the US. Fox News every night will talk about how they’re competing with CNN, and beating them and beating CNBC. Ted turner of CNN right here, when a competitor came at him from Time Warner, he crushed them or he work hard with his investors to push them aside. So, you see the most successful people act as competitors, act as fierce competitors. How do I reconcile that?
You don’t reconcile.That’s a stage of evolution may have been necessary. There’s a new stage. There’s a new stagewhich is called awareness, oneness, unity, responsibility. Why compete if there’s enough? There’s nothing lacking. That’s a false concept. There’s enough of everything including you energy. Nothing is missing. What are you competing about?
It’s a false concept. It’s an abundant universe and an abundant planet. It is just greed makes its scarce. As I say, the moment somebody is losing, everybody’s losing. It’s only the false idea that there is not enough. Just think about it, if there is enough what are you competing about?
Alright, fair enough. I actually have to tell you that I developed as a business person by reading stories of guys who competed fiercely. But, as I get deeper and deeper into the internet into the business online as it is today, I see what you are talking about.
Yes, there’s some competition. But, it does seem to evolve into a community of people who help each other. Competitors who don’t fight each other, but support each other and sometimes you will see. It freaks me out. Sometimes, I think I am maybe I am being suckered in some kind of world where they are just making me feel comfortable and then they will pounce on me later.
But, I see what you’re saying and I am not disagreeing because I want to be disagreeable. I am disagreeing because internally I have my doubts and I am hoping you can help me understand them
I understand that myself. I have experienced it myself. I am a part of that generation. So, that conditioning is in a core, is in our creed. But, that’s why I like this crisis, I like this economic crisis.
By the way, that is why I didn’t eat beef for ten years because of the mad cow disease. I stopped eating beef because I was disgusted with the industry. I am telling you the industry is disgusted by itself; the monitoring, the financial industry. I think if we don’t learn, and we don’t shift and we don’t change value, what is this crisis all about? This crisis is not real because it is not that something happened.
The system is disgusted with itself. It collapsed. That’s what happened. Think about it. What happened? Bothing happened. There’s nothing. We didn’t exhaust any resource. Nothing happened; just the system is just sick because it’s puking because it’s disgusted with itself because greed is so – let’s speak about that.
Look, greed is another concept that doesn’t make sense. You know why? Because we die. We die. What do you accumulate all that? What for? You die. If you understand that you die and you…
Well let me stop you there then for a second, excuse me. But, I run a marathon. I’ve run several marathons. They start and end at the exact same spot. You can almost at the end of the marathon say, “Why did you do that marathon? You ended in at the exact same spot where you started. What’s the point of the 26.2 miles of agony?”
And the point, of course, is to struggle through it; to discover yourself as you’re in there competing with, not with other runners, but with yourself. Can’t we say the same thing about business? It’s not accumulating it so that we can have it in a tomb like the Pharaohs. It’s accumulating it to make the existence here more fun, and more challenging and give us something to do.
I am all for it. There’s nothing wrong with that. But, it’s not – then, you wouldn’t talk about accumulating, and greed, and more for me and less for you. What I am saying is, again, it’s a very deep realization that I had and it is a very beautiful one because I realized we don’t die. We don’t.
And the moment I realized that, and again, it’s through experience. I am a non-believer. I don’t like to believe. I’d rather know. I use belief just to help me know. So, I go into the unknown using belief. But then, I want to explore, and discover and to find knowledge. Knowledge is something that comes through experience, not something that you learn, ecause learning is somebody else’s knowledge and stories.
But, something that you learn, maybe it’s not the truth, but it’s your own truth. So, I’ll tell you that I died several times and discovered that there is no death. You simply don’t die. Then, you realize that if you don’t die, you should invest in death because, otherwise, you feed everything that dies.
You feed the ego that is not real. I’ll tell you, I have been there for a few decades in the ego land. It’s not real. That’s exactly the part that dies. So. you just think about it. If life is eternal – I’m not a religious person in the sense of going to churches or synagogues. But, something struck me as the truth; that saying, “The last shirt has no pockets.” That’s basically what I’m saying. We die. You don’t take anything that you accumulate. What you do take is something else and that’s also the remedy for happiness now. So, it’s not something delusional, I’ll do these things, I’ll be the righteous o. It’s actually what gives you real balance and real happiness in this life.
What does? Can you be more explicit? What does?
Absolutely. Presence and acceptance of this moment. So, to be present in this very moment, accept it for what it is without too much attachment to it. I think you wanted to talk about that.
I do. In fact, I cut you off earlier as you were telling your story to get into some of these ideas. Let’s continue with the story and then come back to the ideas. You were saying that it was Marcus and Carl split off from you and you and Kevin went off on your own, right? Is that the part where you were in the story?
Yeah. Kevin and I kept on the raft, and then three hours later we went down a waterfall and we lost each other in the river. I haven’t seen Kevin. I didn’t know what happened to him. I was taken by the river very fast. The raft broke to pieces. I lost all of my equipment.
By the time I managed to get out of the river, it was dark outside. I lost everything. I had just the clothes on my body, nothing else. For four days, I had hope. The hope was that Kevin survived and we’ll reunite. And for four days, I was hanging around the cliffs, walking up, screaming, calling him. After four days, I realized that if Kevin didn’t make it until this moment, then it’s over. And I believed he died.
So, that was a very big moment in my life. I call it the dark night of the soul. Can I ask you just, my daughter is on the way here. Sorry, just onen second. She is calling me on the phone.
Olivia, what do you think of the questions I’m asking? I usually am much more open to listening and now I feel like I need to go in deeper.
Okay, we’re cool.
So, that dark night of the soul is, again, very big in my life because I had no hope anymore. I knew that I cannot help myself. There was nobody else to help me and I realized that I’m a loser. I’m stupid, I’m going to die a terrible death and I cannot handle the situation.
Everything that I had, everything, completely everything, was taken from me. Then came the morning. And it’s strange, but you cannot just lie there, and cry and just die. Life happens to you. You see, you don’t breath. It breathes you. Life is not a choice. As long as it breathes you, you’re alive, so you just feel sorry for yourself and miserable, but life keeps breathing you.
So, I had to get up and start walking and then, there was an amazing transformation. It’s a long story. But the first thing is, there was one moment where there was fruit on the tree, and I’m climbing on the tree, and there was a snake on the branch, and I want the fruit. So, the snake is in trouble. So, I manage to hit the snake off the branch, and it’s a deadly snake. And before I know it, I’m flying off the tree after the snake, grabbing his tail, killing that snake, peeling its skin and chewing it alive. And I feel the best I’ve ever felt in my life. And then I’m coming back to my senses, and I recall that just minutes ago, I was miserable. I cannot handle the situation.
So, wow. And that’s a very important thing that I have realized. There are a few important things. First of all, we don’t need to learn survival. We know it. Nobody needs any course, any kit, any book. It’s completely nonsense. We know survival very well, that’s what we know best.
The other thing I’ve learned is to be a real hero. The real heroes are the day to days, the mundane heroes. To be a hero in extreme circumstances is natural. It’s no big deal. Nature kicks in, all your faculties are at their best, your body, your mind, everything is in that survival. The moment you kick into survival, you become a Superman. No big deal.Iit’s nature acting through you. The big deal is the day to day. Go be a hero on the day to day basi. In the grey, going to the office, doing your job, dealing with the bank, whatever. That’s a reason.
Do you think any of us have that in us? I got to tell you, when I heard you rip apart that snake, I was thinking about how earlier I dropped a slice of cheese on the floor and I said “Oh man, it’s dirty, I’ve got to toss it out.” I don’t know what’s going to happen to me if I eat a slice of cheese that fell on the floor. Now, you’re climbing into trees. Is that in all of us? Is that even in wusses like me?
Yes. I was a bigger wuss than you. Yes, it is. Yes, because as I say, it’s not up to you. It doesn’t ask you. As I said, it breathes you. Life is there, life is your boss. Life wants to be preserve, and you are the vehicle. You’ll become a survivor. Your tusks will grow sharp, your nails will come ou, and you’ll fight.
And you know why you don’t do that? Because life is good. Because life is good, you can complain. When life is tough, nobody complains. They only complain when life is good. When life is tough, there’s no victims. You cannot be a victim, there’s just right action. That’s survival.
Survival is based on right action. You do the most effective, the least consumption of energy, and the most effective. You have to be effective and it’s not contrived. You don’t have to think about it. You know. It’s real wisdom. It’s not knowledge, it’s wisdom. It’s something you have.
You see a kitten, just born, and you see how it handles its own needs. The kitten never learned it. We are so removed from our own nature. We forgot. You allow nature to come back through you. It’s there. Wisdom of millennia, we are products. It’s all in our genes and genes are based on one principle, survival. The whole movement is movement of survival. That’s what moves everything. Eery species is moved by survival of the species. We know that. It’s in our genes.
That’s one of the things I wanted to talk to you about, also. Paralyzed by uncertainty. What about that? Don’t some people get paralyzed by the tough situations? Wouldn’t they get paralyzed if they were out in the jungle in your situation? Or, if they’re in business and it feels like the world is collapsing around them? Instead of finding that fight inside them and leaping up on that tree, they just sit and they obsess about the potential disaster. I know I’ve done that.
Yeah. Well, I understand that. As I say, it’s much tougher in the normal life. In extreme situations, it’s easier and I’ll just give you examples that are not glamorous. You look at people that go through disease and see that they all become heroes. My ex-wife, she was going through breast cancer. The entire family leaned on her, not vice versa.
There’s many stories like that. In real trouble, people become real strong and they don’t pity themselves. So, just to get to that point. But, when you get to that point it happens to all of us because, as I say, it’s life. It’s not attributed to personality and character. It’s life itself. It comes to that moment.
So, Yossi, how do we do that? How do we bring that out of ourselves? If things aren’t going well and we feel paralyzed, how do we get to that superhuman point without tossing ourselves into a dangerous situation?
I’ll tell you how I do it because it’s not easy. As I say, it’s easy in extreme situations. In the normal situation, we tend to forget the essence. So, I just remind myself. I put myself in the right perspective. I give myself right perspective every morning by doing 20 minutes of my own ritual, which you can call yoga, you can call meditation, whatever. It’s what I lace that time with and I lace it with right perspective.
I remember who I am, and I remember what I’m here to do, and I remember what’s going on and then I go out. If I do that, the day is beautiful. If I don’t do that, I can forget. And I tell you it’s like, let’s say it’s a statue, a gold statue that you have on your desk. It’s beautiful, shiny. But, if you don’t take a piece of cloth and clean it every day, then for a few days it looks alright, but then dust. And then, some oil, and suddenly a layer and crust.
But if you do it every day, it just takes a second and it’s shiny. So, it’s about that. Shining that everyday. Small practice to remind. And then I tell you, it’s very simple. I told you before. It’s very – .just be in agreement with the moment. Be present at the moment. Engage at the moment. Then, what I described before, will be your life. Life becomes right action. When you accept the moment, then you take right action about what to do with it.
Only when you don’t accept the moment, you start having emotion, “Why? I don’t want it. I wanted something…” It doesn’t matter. If you accept it for what it is, the next thing that you do is just right action. If you live in the moment, then you become eternal because that’s the only thing that exists and it exists forever. Now, there’s nothing else.
So, if you remind yourself that’s the only thing there is, then there’s no tomorrow, there’s no yesterday. Life is now. You live fully engaged. You live as accepted and your not attached, because that’s the enemy. That’s where heartbreak comes because it’s just a movement. You cannot get attached to anything, you’re just moving through it.
The moment you hold something, it will break apart from you because that’s the nature of the movement. So, if you know that, if that’s your experience, you reach, because you’re balanced. You’re in agreement with life. How can you live any other way?
So, and if you know one more thing, that you know it’s not about something greater than you. What I mean by that, you know, another experience of mine. I don’t hold back anymore. I think I’m beautiful. I think I’m amazing and I give it all to everybody without unabashed, unashamed.
You know why? Because I know it’s not mine. Everything that I have is not mine. So, if it’s not mine, why should I be shy? Why would I hold back? Those gifts are coming through me, but they’re not mine nd that’s the beauty of it. Once you know that, then you’re not feeling the ego anymore. You’re just serving.
So, everything that is good about you, don’t be shy, just be the main stage. Be eccentric, be outrageous. It’s the moment that you say, “Oh, it’s me me me,” then you lose your power. So it’s a bit dialectic. Once you know it’s not yours, you become very powerful.
And the other way around, that’s why I say, accumulating financial freedom is nonsense. There’s no financial security. Look what happened now. What is financial? My next door neighbors are 70, they lost their house, their life savings. What does financial security mean? It doesn’t exist.
So, going back to what we said at the beginning, the way to not have anyone take away from you is to just be in the moment and not care about it?
It’s not “not care.” I wouldn’t use that expression. Be fully engaged and care, but not attached. Attached means that when it’s taken, you’re a victim, saying “It was mine!”?No. Enjoy it and care. Experience everything.
It’s not about something naive, “I’m happy.” I’m telling you, it’s not about happiness. The pursuit of happiness is actually a delusion because the pursuit of happiness is exactly the opposite. The pursuit of happiness means it will be okay later. That’s the pursuit of happiness. Think about it.
I’m not happy, that’s what I pursue happiness. And when will I be happy? When I get this and that! When everything works my way, I’ll be happy! It’s a delusion, the pursuit of happiness, and it’s the creed of our society. Each one is entitled to the pursuit of happiness. What does it mean? It means later it will be okay, now it’s not. That’s why I’m saying the pursuit of happiness is the way. Not happiness. Happiness means engaged, present and alive in this very moment. That’s my pursuit.
The pursuit of happiness versus happiness.
Okay, let’s just go back to the story and finish it off. You said that you and Kevin lost touch with each other. You went through all kinds of experiences, you’ve shared some of them. I’d like to read a few that I read in the Washington Post. They summed up some of the experiences that you went through.
Here are the days; the day you woke up with leeches attached to much of your body; the day you slipped down a slope deeply impaling your rectum on a broken stick. Just reading this, Olivia saw me reading this earlier. It hurt. You’re smiling, I’m in pain here.
The day the search planes passed overhead, deaf and blind to your frantic calls beneath the forest canop, the day you sank to your chest in quicksand and the next day you sank to your chest in quicksand again. he night you urinated on yourself out of exhaustion only to wake up with a swarm of termites devouring your salty clothes and huge patches of your skin.
The night you woke up with a jaguar breathing on your face, the day the red skin, rotting fungus on your feet finally made walking just agonizing and impossible. And then finally, the day that it wasn’t a hallucination, that you saw the boat guided by the burly river man named Tiko, and leaning over the bow calling your name was your friend, Kevin, who you lost touch with, and you were rescued.
Wow. There was one moment that is not mentioned there. And that’s after I came out of the second swamp, this was the 19th day. Five days before, on the 14th day, there was a huge flood, which meant that there was nothing on the forest floor; there was no eggs, there was no fruit falling from the tree.
So for five days, I didn’t eat anything. And then, I come out of the second swamp and I’m completely exhausted. I don’t have feet because I have chunks that don’t look like feet. There’s no skin on them, just pus and blood and I cannot carry myself anymore. I’m completely exhausted. So, I’m laying there and from the corner of my eyes, I see a tree moving. And I look up. The tree is moving because this tree is covered with fire ants, completely. And it’s a tree that lives symbiotically with the fire ants.
They call it the “paolo santo.” The holy tree. Why? Because the missionaries knew about it, and any Indians that wouldn’t convert, they would tie to the tree and they would! So, it was the holy tree. So, when I saw that tree, not even thinking about it, I crawled, and pulled myself against this tree, and I shook the tree and I am showered with fire ants. I covered myself from head to toes with fire ants and I became a human torch. I was burning. I was burning so much. There was so much pain. Each bite of this ant is like a blazing rod like somebody extinguishing a cigarette on your body.
There was thousands of them on me and the pain was big that I couldn’t feel my feet anymore. I was just floating. There was so much pain, the pain in the feet was nothing. So, I kept floating and that’s what saved my life. Pain saved my life. And that’s another important point because the pain is why we feel victims. There’s different pains in lif and that’s what we don’t like.
We cannot leave this present moment because there is pain in it. So, we live with disagreement with it. I learned something about pain from this experience. It’s not pain that hurts. he hurt, the real hurt comes from the scream in the mind, that screams, “I don’t deserve it, why me?”
If that screams stops you remain with the pain. The pain doesn’t hurt much. It’s the scream that hurts. So, the moment you give up the victim, the pain is no big deal. It’s another movement.
But, can you do that? In the moment when you’re feeling the pain when your head is screaming, how do you stop yourself? I know that I’ve tried at times and it’s not as easy as it seems when you’re not feeling the pain. Do you have a way of stopping yourself, of getting your mind off it?
Yes. Of course, those things are not techniques. I’m definately not one of those that says, “I’ll give you the three steps.” There’s not hree steps to nothing as far as I’m concerned. That’s why in my work I don’t teach anything. I tell stories because stories evoke emotions and emotion is an experience and experience is something you learn from because you have experienced it. So that’s so.
I cannot give you anything. I can tell you what I do. For me, one amazing tool is the breath itself. t’s the most classic and most simple technique. If you just can bring yourself just to the breath and focus on it for a while, then you know you are really experiencing what is going on.
The mind is very tricky. The mind is very tricky. I cannot give you any formula. The only thing that I can tell you is that there is a certain desire within certain people and that desire, by itself, creates circumstances for growth. I believe, as humanity, we’re going through that.?I believe as humanity we are growing tremendously.
What do you mean the desire within us? You’re saying it’s innate. In all of us, we’re here with an inner desire.
I personally believe so. I’m the apocalyptic type. I believe that there is a purpose in time. So I feel that the world is becoming more aware, more evolved, that things that were a decade ago, just some new age talk, becames suddenly mainstream, i.e, the secret.
The secret is no secret. Napoleon Hill wrote a book ten times better in the fifties. It was a silly title maybe, but still ten times more deeper and more substantial than the secret. But, the time wasn’t right for the masses to get the idea.
Now, it’s mainstream. Everybody knows the power of the mind. That’s what I mean. As humanity, we have shifted and you look at the world. It is a better world and it’s become a better place and better people.
Technology is not something that is disconnected from that. Technology is part of that. It’s part of our evolution, which is amazing. I am like you. I am a technology freak, or at least web freak.
I believe that the digital thing is more alive than the real thing. So, I’m completely. This is all going on. We’re less racist and we’re less afraid of the difference because you know we know the difference intimately. All these technologies open the world. So, the world is becoming a better place and part of it is that spirituality. I don’t believe in this world, “Oh, I’m spiritual, he’s not spiritual.” For me, it’s all nonsense because all there is, is spirit. How can one be less spiritual and one more spiritual when there’s nothing but spirit?
With all of this work, you’ve clearly spent a lot of time thinking about this. You’ve had experiences that have connected you with who you really are and what’s important in this world. Do you still feel uncertain at times? Do you still feel afraid? Do you still get worried? Or, are you now able to, “That’s it.” Have you gotten past it completely? That’s the worst phrased question ever. But, I think you understand what I’m going for.
No, no. I understand perfectly. I would say that I believe that I am enlightened just because I don’t think that anybody is not. I think we are, all of us, enlightened. The only disenlightenment, is the delusion, we think that we’re not. But, I think that basically we are all here as beings of light. Having said that, I’m not different than anybody else. I don’t see myself any different. I feel that when there are times where I can fall.
Give an example of that, of a time recently. Maybe you were driving to a meeting and you were running late and finding yourself getting caught up in worry or something mundane like that. Do you have an example?
Yeah. The day before yesterday, I had to go and deal with some bureaucracy and I got caught up in that story. The day started really not fun. My wife wasn’t in the best conducive energy. I got into that a little bit. We’re [unintelligible] So, I had a bad, tough start of the day.
A couple of hours in the ministry of interior. But, it doesn’t last long and it doesn’t stay. I wake up from that two hours later and there’s nothing. Before, I would have a fight with my partner, wife, whatever. Sometimes, it would take days to heal. I would keep regurgitating it. I would bring up the images and “She said that, and that, and I’m right!” Now. it doesn’t happen anymore.
So, it’s not that I don’t fall. But,I get up much quicker and I’ m not attached anymore. I let go so quickly and I move on because the secret is, again, living the present. So, the moment it’s passed, it’s passed. I don’t torture myself. It’s over. I’m now here.
So, life is constantly an adventure and it’s just so easy. Just keep with the moment, with the present, just let go and I’m much better than that. I’m much, much better and it’s really fun and exciting. You cannot be a victim anymore. It’s constant movement and you with it because you’re moving with it.
It’s the art of living, it’s the art of living. I think that we all want it. We want it more than we want money. We have to let go of that greed we have because it’s very strong conditioning. And when we look what we really want, we want to be happy and happy means now. Happy means now, we have to accept that, that happy means now. It’s not that “one day.”
I have rich people, really rich people, that come to me for help. They’re lonely, they don’t feel good. The remedy is not any financial security. The only remedy is balance, feeling good. It’s all about feeling good. If you don’t feel good, you have nothing.
Alright. Finally, I met you because Maria introduced me to you when I asked her who else I should interview for this project. You mentioned Napoleon Hill. That’s who I’m modeling a lot of my work after. He went out and he interviewed some of the most accomplished people of his day, and he put together their ideas in books, including “Think and Grow Rich,” which you mentioned.
So, let me ask you the question that I asked Maria that led me to you. Who else should I be interviewing? Who else can you introduce me to that will open my ideas to an idea that I may not have otherwise? Who else do you know who you think the world needs to hear from and learn from him too, or from her?
Okay. The first one that came to my mind is my very good, beautiful friend. His name is Bharat Mitra. I can spell it for you. Bharat Mitra. He’s got a Skype account and I will do what Maria did. Write an email to him and introduce you as well. I can tell you a little bit about this man.
This man is truly, truly, truly unique and amazing. He, at a very young age, decided he’s not going to live the life that was prepared for him. He was born in Jerusalem under a different name. He decided he was going to be a follower of Raghanish Aushwa. And he went to India, and he spent a couple of years in the Ashram of Aushwa until Aushwa died. And then he went to Amsterdam for a few years, and then he came back to India and he met a teacher name Papaghi.
He sat under the feet of Papaghi for ten years, became the right hand of Papaghi, which was an enlightened being. He sat there for and years, completely devoted, had no other life but serving this holy person. And he was there, by his side, when this person died. When this person died, the Papaghi told him, “Bharat, your work in the world will be different than mine. You’re not going to sit and talk to people. You have to get into business. Go and be a businessman. Your work is through business.”
The poor thing. What to do? Papaghi, the guru, said, “You have to get involved in business.” So, he got involved in business. Amazing. The guru died and he found himself with not such good business because he tried this, tried that, nothing worked.
A few months later, a young woman appeared on the scene and she told him, “I’m also a follower of Papaghi and I know that he told you that you need to be involved in business. I want to help you.” And he said, “Look, the only help I need is money. Do you have any money?” She said “Yes, I do.” She is from one of the richest families on the planet.
My friend suddenly, overnight, became basically connected to the real world. People that own banks, old money and big money. His brother-in-law, just to give you a hint what the family is, owns Time Warner Music. It’s the Broffman family. So, the transformation he went through, the amazing thing about him, he didn’t change at all. I’m telling you something, this is just background for you.
Something that I’ve never mentioned to him, but he’s got a tooth that’s crooked. He didn’t fix it. He doesn’t care. Now, he flies in private jets. It’s not about the perfect smile. He dresses in Indian clothes, in khortha bijhaba, when he meets Obama.
So, he goes to a meeting with Obama before, while his campaigning, and he’s still dressed like an Indian from India. He’s got a sense of who he is and the money that he has is only to help and serve. It’s not his money.
Part of the health and serving, he took 50,000 households in India and transformed them into organic agriculture, from agriculture that is dependent on pesticides and fertilizers, and created the company called Organic India. Thousands of people make a living and he takes that to the world, the products that are organic products. He’s involved in business now, in big business. But, his real business is spreading consciousness, unity consciousness.
I have the privilege of knowing this man. As I said, he has a big, big money. But, big, big spirit and it’s not about money and it’s a very good example of how you can be a business man and very, very different.
So, I was a small preparation for Barack Mitra. Barack Mitra is a real bigger than life character.
Actually, you are, too.
I’ve heard a lot about you before this interview,and I can see why so many people were excited that I was going to be interviewing you.
And there it is. Before I ask you for feedback and comments, so that we can continue, you and I, the conversation that Yossi and I began, I want to go back to something I said in the introduction, which is that the most meaningful thing for me in this interview was when I pushed him, and I said “Do you live up to everything that you’ve learned over the years, and in your experience in the Amazon? Do you always live up to it?” And he said “No,” but he snaps back faster.
So, why was that so significant for me? Because there are a lot of things that I learn in these interviews, and then I don’t use them right away. Have you had that experience, too? Maybe you’ve listened to a past Mixergy interview and you’ve said “This is something that’s going to change my life, I’m determined to use it.” And then maybe you’re like me, you go through life and you don’t use it, and you say “I didn’t use it, it doesn’t work!” or maybe “It doesn’t work for me, or maybe there’s a problem with me!”
What’s interesting is that Josi goes through that, too, but he bounces back faster. Instead of saying “I should’ve used what Yossi said”, or “I should’ve used what was said in a previous Mixergy interview. Forget it, it doesn’t work.” I hope you do and, man, I’m working on it myself, too. I hope that we both say “Alright, it didn’t work, but let’s snap back faster.”
Let’s not obsess about how it didn’t work, let’s see if we can snap back faster and find a way to get those ideas that we learned from Mixergy, or from books, or from anywhere else. Let’s see if we can get those ideas implemented faster than we would have last week and faster than we would have yesterday. And maybe tomorrow we’ll be able to implement these ideas faster still. So, that’s the most impactful piece of this interview and as I said, this was an interview that had a lot of meaning for me.
Alright. But, I want to know what you thought of it! What did you think of the ideas here? What did you pick up n this interview that other people should be aware of? Tell us in the comments. Continue the conversation that we started here, help other people learn from you the way that, hopefully, you’ve learned from Yossi and the way that I keep learning from you when you send me emails.
So, in the comments, tell us what you thought. If you need to email me something privately, I’m always open to hear it from you directly. There’s a contact button on Mixergy. I hope you use it to give me feedback. Number two, Yossi Ghinsberg has a website where you can find out more about him, or you can connect with him, or you can connect with him on different social networks. I will link you to it on Mixergy.com.
I hope, as always, that you go beyond this interview, beyond just passively listening to this interview, and taking in the ideas. I hope you take the next step, and the easiest next step to take is to e-mail, or to get in touch with, or to connect, somehow, with the people who I’ve interviewed and Yossi is a great person.
If you haven’t started it yet, Yossi is a great person to connect with. Find a way on a social network, or find a way on his website. Just connect with him and stay in touch with the ideas and with the person.
Finally, I do tons of interviews with people who I hope you get to know more, whose ideas I hope you learn from, whose experiences sometimes they come here and they share with blunt honestly. I hope you go back, and you listen to them and click around Mixergy and download and listen to as many of them as possible. Don’t wait for a road trip to listen to them back to back. Go out for a run tomorrow and listen to some.
Or, better yet, go out for a run today and download one of my mp3 interviews and listen to it on your run and see if it will power you up. See if you will learn something. See if at the end of that run you don’t become a better person for the experiences that were shared here on Mixergy.
And I know a lot of you have listened to some of my interviews over and over. This might be a good one to go back and listen to again. I know I will. My name is Andrew and I’ll see you in the comments.