Edition 002 - Aaron Does Ayahuasca
Over the last few months, Greenbay Packers superstar quarterback, Aaron Rodgers seemingly became the overnight ambassador of plant medicine to the mainstream world.
First stop, Aubrey Marcus.
Next stop, Rogan.
And beyond the plant medicine pontifications and post-trip bro downs (yea, I’ve been there too), you glimpse some genuine heart-soaked wisdom slinging off the guy’s mic.
I’m all for it.
And I’m all for demonstrating the courage to fully express in a digital world often hellbent on tearing you apart. He does so articulately, with the poise and confidence of someone who’s stood tall in the literal and metaphorical “pocket” for the better part of two decades, performing at an elite level -- all while seemingly dodging and detaching from the darting opinions of the masses.
In a world where many of us feel the absolute terror over betraying the expectations our parents, partners or peers -- or even still, what Jimmy from high-school, who we haven’t spoken to in 20 years, will think about your raw Instagram share -- to share your truth with hundreds of millions knowing of an inevitable counter-punch is brave work.
Tune in less to the words, and more to the power and courage that precedes them; and I think the A-Rodge dharma will slow-drip to whatever part of you is most ready to slip through the shadows and fully express what’s most true and authentic to you at this time.
That’s the main wisdom I’ve pulled from those interviews.
The topic of plant medicine itself (and its merits as an effective ally in expanding consciousness, deep healing, and transformative insight) is far more nuanced to unpack -- and beyond what I’ll endeavour to accomplish in a single article.
Tim Ferris has a world-class repository on his blog.
And Michael Pollan continues to be a credible (and compassionate) voice on the topic.
Both are perfectly valid and balanced starting points for the plant-curious -- which are exceedingly rare amidst a psychedelic-revival that’s spawned fanaticism on both ends of the spectrum. A spectrum dotted with suburban shamans and the religious fervor often reserved for your favorite football club.
For with the explosion in popularity comes an almost unavoidable shadow side.
One where it’s gone from rite of passage to badge of honor.
Trip-sharing for sport with the same enthusiasm as a D-1 college linebacker talking about how he broke through a double team to get the sack. Followed by post-trip prophesizing, before self-anointing as a guru to the uninitiated "common folk" back home.
What’s traditionally been intimate, initiatory, and personal has become a currency for social credit; taking a break from your mid-trip purge to jot some “wisdom downloads” in your iPhone notes to share late on instagram lest you forget to cash in on your well-earned hearts and thumbs.
It’s the psychedelic version of kiss-and-tell. A social media koan daring to ask; "if the toad venom had me kissing God whilst surfing the cosmic riptide; and I don’t do a facebook live about it; did it even happen?"
The transpersonal and transcendent are slowly being commoditized and traded in an egoic game. Essentially, the spiritual materialism that Chogyam Trungpa warned the west about nearly 50 years ago.
A “vision”, “download”, or psycho-spiritual “breakthrough” becomes an accolade. A notch in your fifth-dimensional bedpost, feeding the spiritual ego, and reinforcing the very thing you were proclaiming to have dissolved.
Like all things; truth (even the personal kind) lies within layers of nuance. Nuance that we’ve mostly lost the faculties to fully explore in a trigger happy and hyper-polarized world.
Effectiveness (or appropriateness) of plant medicine is largely contextual. And third-party advocacy or condemnation is inherently flawed. But that hasn’t stopped many from trying.
In July, legendary health/fitness author, Ben Greenfield expressed his personal gnosis in the opposite direction. A long-time advocate, he published a 2,500 word essay extolling why he’s “stopped using, endorsing, praising or recommending plant medicines in any way”. He knew what was coming, pre-emptively using disclaimers such as “I beg of you, please stick with me here”, and… “please, hear me out”.
By every measure, he was sincere. Brave, vulnerable, and heart-on-fucking-sleeve, trying to self-correct for what he perceived to be a massive misstep in his past. Whereas Rodgers was light on the unbridled advocacy, and heavy on personal experience; Greenfield was seemingly determined to demonstrate a more universal thesis, condemning its use for all (or at least, most).
An argument he has every right to try to make, particularly on his own platform -- and clearly has full-bodied conviction in. You can sense through reading that he felt a certain duty or moral obligation to do so; and knew full well there'd be a backlash of digital venom being slung his way.
While their approaches differed, like Aaron, Ben was courageous. Speaking unpopular beliefs (ever notice how polarization can make opposite beliefs both unpopular simultaneously. hmmm.). Predictably, the wolves came in the comments section; tearing him down for his “moral high ground” and “religious fanaticism”.
There are no victors in a polarized court of public opinion.
The answer, if there’s one at all, is in humility. In favouring the deepening of personal insight and revelation over a public coronation. The latter, would at best, be premature. At worst, a self-imposed artificial ceiling, prohibiting any further ascent.
Pursue the most effective path based on your own current capacities; and keep its revelations as deeply personal as the process that preceded it. Self-canonizing rarely goes well. Over-sharing doesn’t reinforce or integrate the wisdom; it often muddies it, and cements a temporary truth into place, impeding your process of further refinement.
The king is neither too proud nor too humble. He is as he is. Letting momentary insight fade back into the nothingness from which it came; and making himself completely available for deeper layers of truth to pass through him.
Whether that path includes plants, piousness, or the revelatory rapture of your first born drawing his first breath; awakening is inherently so -- and its access points, infinite to any with the eyes to see and the courage to allow.
Journey on; for you can do no more, and no less.
And it’s in that spirit, I say…
I see you, king.
Chief Editor, I see you, King
Author, The 7 Initiatory Fires of Modern Manhood (2023)
@hendrixjblack / Instagram
Along with the explosion in popularity with plant medicines has come a “breathwork revival”. Pioneers like Stanislav Grof have been exploring the intersection between them both for nearly 50 years; while yogis like Wim Hof have professed that the body is its own pharmacy -- requiring no additional entheogenic substances to achieve altered states of reality.
Debate needn’t rage on. Experience shall be your most reliable teacher.
In that vein, one of my favorite modern instructors is Dan Vadanis, founder and creator of the Breathwork Beats youtube channel.
He blends multiple breathing styles and layers in exquisite instrumentals and pithy wisdom to make it one of the more “complete” 15 minute breath practices you can do from your own home. His channel is loaded with options.
Here's a recent version I've been benefitting from.
For Your Relationship
Your relationship is one of the most potent “ceremonial grounds” available to you (and I’m not talking about Sting-level tantric lovemaking either -- although that surely may have you surfing the planes).
For a more PG practice (and sober ceremony), I recommend our very own 5-Phase King’s Gaze practice.
For Your Business / Career
“I think the most incredible thing you can do is break a pattern that didn’t serve your family or yourself, from being propagated forward” - Dan Martell, The Integrated Life Micro-Doc.
Dan Martell is a serial entrepreneur, having founded/exited multiple SaaS companies. He’s also one of the world’s most respected coaches and mentors for software entrepreneurs.
That’s what his official Linkedin bio might read as.
But anyone who knows him will also know that he’s setting new athletic peaks (in his 40’s), completing marathons, raising two boys, contributing to his community, and being a devoted husband.
I’ve never been “wow’d” by the entrepreneur who ascends through sheer hustle alone. An unsustainable fuel source for anyone seeking an integrated life.
Is it really worth building anything if you see your family, your kids, and your community as an unholy obstacle or burden to it? It’s a crazy question to ask; yet one that will sadly ring true for many young father, entrepreneurs.
Even if you have no interest in building software companies; this micro-doc from Dan is well-worth the 8-minute watch
“It’s a miracle I l love myself enough to share myself, in a world so full of haters”
Nahko Bear is a treasure trove of lyrical dharma. Whereas his past work was intensely poetic and anchored in rich (and sometimes esoteric) symbolism, his latest solo work is stripped down and unapolgetically literal.
Sometimes as you pull back the poetry, you’re left with bare, raw truth; carrying no less beauty in its simpler form.
The direct path isn’t always the cleanest. But it’s often the most brave
ISYK: Who We're Honoring
A heartfelt congrats to Chris Dufey, an icon in the online coaching space, for having officially sold and exited his company.
"Exits" also serve as entry points into deeper alignment and the fullest expression of what's most potent and true for us at our current stage of maturity. Personally excited to see Chris' deeper gifts and well-earned wisdom come online in his personal authorship and podcast.
Here's a taste of a piece that really hit (and a fitting capstone to this conversation on planet medicine)
Beyond that, let's honor all those with big truths and bigger hearts.
Who speak not for the glory of the soapbox; but for the sheer necessity of living and expressing one’s sacred truth.
Personal truth is fluid. Finding greater depth and clarity as we grow in wisdom. To express, knowing that it’s inherently flawed or incomplete is a brave act. Yet a necessary one if we’re to invite relationship between our most realized version of self -- and the world “out there”.
Living authentically is not synonymous with living impeccably. We seek not to be stewards of perfection -- but ambassadors of our highest wisdom and skillfulness in each passing moment.
Like Aaron, Ben, Aubrey, Chris and Nahko; the arrows may come. But they are utterly errant and irrelevant once you’ve devoted yourself exclusively to the sacredness of your expression; and the will to see it through.
I see you, king by Hendrix Black Newsletter
“If Marc Manson, David Deida and Jordan Peterson had a three-way creative lovechild, the ISYK newsletter would be it”.