Transcript: Start-ups, Success, And Spirituality: Lessons From The Grind – Peter Corbett
Please enjoy this transcript of our interview with Peter Corbett.
Peter Corbett, retired founder, and Buddhist practitioner joins Paul Austin to discuss the intersection of start-ups, success, and spirituality.
Peter traversed the start-up road for the past ten years, bootstrapping his digital agency to a multi-million dollar exit. Listen in as Peter explains why his search for money, status, and achievement led to a developmental dead-end – and how his perspectives changed from intentional plant medicine use.
In this episode we talk about:
- With over 150 trips before the age of 20. Learn how psychedelics helped Peter reach epiphanies like the subjectiveness of reality, and the realization that he could make whatever he wanted with it and no one would know what He would make of it.
- How mushrooms helped to show the real nature of things, this oneness that one can never be separate, that this dual world is just an illusion and it’s the nondual unmanifest that is real. That gave him a perspective that there is no killing yourself, there is no living nor dying, let’s go, cool I am kinda free.
- Peter Corbett, retired executive, entrepreneur, and Buddhist practitioner, about his path as a successful company founder who learned, first-hand, the importance of balancing ambition and drive with presence and wellbeing
- How the Meaning of life is just to live it, how we have been conditioned our entire life that we have to do all these things like obtaining a career, marriage house, etc. be the life that you have been incarcerated in.
0:00:00 Paul Austin: Welcome to the Third Wave Podcast. I’m your host, Paul Austin, here to bring you cutting edge interviews with leading scientists, entrepreneurs and medical professionals who are exploring how we can integrate psychedelics in an intentional and responsible way for both healing and transformation. It is my honor and privilege to bring you these episodes as you get deeper and deeper into why these medicines are so critical to the future of humanity. So let’s go, and let’s see what we can explore and learn together in this incredibly important time. The Third Wave Podcast is brought to you by Magic Mind. Do you want more creativity, flow and energy in your day-to-day routine, then then go to magicmind.co and get the two ounce shot that contains 12 magical ingredients scientifically designed to improve your productivity. I’ve been using Magic Mind over the last couple of months, it has replaced my morning coffee, it has matcha, lion’s mane and a number of other nootropics and I can’t say enough about it.
0:01:04 PA: It is so, so useful. So if you’re interested in Magic Mind, go to magicmind.co and enter promo code, “thirdwave” to get 10% off and try it for yourself. As long time listeners know, yoga and meditation have played a huge role as complementary practices to my own responsible psychedelic use. And that’s why we’re excited to be working with Halfmoon yoga as a partner for the podcast. They carry everything from basic yoga supplies to more advanced things like bolsters and sandbags, to meditation cushions that are super comfy to sit on. And right now they’re offering a 15% discount to Third Wave listeners with the promo code “thirdwave”. I’d encourage you to check them out at shophalfmoon.ca if you’re looking for tools to support your yoga or meditation practice.
0:01:50 PA: Thank you all for coming and for being here. How many of you have been to one of the events that we’ve done in the past? So a handful of you. So for all of you who are new welcome. This space, it’s called Future Space, they have some really cool futuristic projects that they run out of here. I found it through a friend of mine who I met in August, and we did a couple of events in October and November. So the first event that we did was with a friend of mine, Will Siu who’s a psychiatrist, who worked on some of the MAPS phase three trials for MDMA, and then also now runs a Ketamine clinic.
0:02:25 PA: So what some of you may not know is that Ketamine is actually legal now for treatment. And what a lot of people don’t know is that Ketamine with psychotherapy is basically just as effective as Psilocybin or MDMA, it’s just that it has a bit of a bad rep. So we had a conversation about that and talked through that, and that was really fun. And then the second event that we did, we brought in two clinical therapists who had worked on the NYU trials, the phase two trials that they were doing with Psilocybin, and they helped with preparation and integration. And that’s at a place called the Center for Optimal Living, I believe. And again, a great event.
0:03:03 PA: So for tonight’s event, we took a few months off, we had some internal changes going on, some organizational changes. We tried to host an event in January, which some of you may have heard about, and unfortunately had to cancel that event because the author who… How many of you know of Daniel Pinchbeck? Or you’ve… Okay, so you’re somewhat familiar with him. He’s somewhat controversial. I got some backlash from my team and we had to go through this whole thing, but now we’re back here, we’re doing another event, and I’m really excited for tonight’s event because it’s something… It’s a topic that’s been really dear to my heart. So back in January, I attended a retreat in Costa Rica with Ayahuasca and more oriented towards transformation or peak states rather than healing oriented. And had an unbelievable experience and connected with a number of people who were interested in the intersection of plant medicine or psychedelics as well as entrepreneurship or leadership, creativity, some of these tech or just business leadership elements.
0:04:08 PA: And I think that intersection for me is what is really interesting about this on a personal level, because I’ve had a lot of interesting experiences with microdosing and Ayahuasca and whatnot. So I thought, “How fun would it be to do an event about that intersection?” And talk about what is that relationship between having some sort of spiritual practice, whether that’s through psychedelics or otherwise, and still being somewhat of a Type A person. Someone who maybe has ambitions or is motivated or driven, because that isn’t as much the cultural norm, what we expect from people who work intentionally with psychedelics. And so we’ll explore that in an hour-long podcast tonight, and we’ll follow that by 30 minutes of Q&A. So before we get started, do any of you have questions or things that you’re wondering about or things that you just wanna discuss in tonight’s event? Anything else? Anything at all? Yeah, Nicole…
0:05:07 Nicole: I’m interested to hear how psychedelics can actually help you in your say type A life.
0:05:16 PA: Okay.
0:05:17 Nicole: And how does that change you? How did that change your perspective on doing that work? If you’re still striving, growing, what is that… How can you better integrate those things?
0:05:32 PA: How many of you are also interested in that intersection between psychedelics and maybe a more type A approach? Many of you. Cool. Any other things that you wanna explore tonight or that’s on your mind or things that you’re interested in?
0:05:45 Nicole: Introducing people who may be type A but have never had any kind of experience with psychedelics or this world. How do you kind of introduce this entire world to them without freaking them out?
0:05:56 PA: Okay, so how many of you are, would you say new to this space? You’ve been working with psychedelics maybe for the past six months or year, you’ve never done like a psychedelic before. How many of you would say… That’s you, that’s the case? Yeah, okay, so a few of you. So we’ll explore that as well tonight. Any other things that you’re interested in or curious about? You’d like to explore? No, nothing, nothing… Okay, so what we’ll start with… Yeah? JT?
0:06:23 JT: Are there any negative effects? Long-term or short-term? Of using plant medicine?
0:06:28 PA: So any negative effects, long-term and short-term, about using plant medicine? What are those possibilities, and I think something we’ll explore within that is, what does dependency look like when it comes to psychedelics? Or what does having an attached relationship look like when it comes to using psychedelics? Yeah?
0:06:47 Deira: I’d like to maybe explore what entrepreneurship looks like, as we have a cultural shift that’s coming. As things are legalized, people are thinking differently about making money, and quitting towers and cities.
0:07:00 PA: Right. It’s like we’re kind of stepping into a post-material culture. When we go post material, when 3D printing for houses becomes more normative, and we have AI, and how does that change the way that we do business? What we’re motivated by? Things like that. Cool. Yeah?
0:07:18 Speaker6: So my question is, I know plant medicine and psychedelics are more used for healing. And that’s the focus that the path of consciousness is on. I would like to know how we can raise the awareness to enrich… To kind of how you view psychedelic wisdom, is through entrepreneurships, success and also [unclear speech].
0:07:42 PA: Yeah. That’s a good… That’s a topic with a lot of depth. And the way that I’ve at least tried to categorize it in my head is like, we have healing, and then we have… And there’s always some aspect of healing going on, right? And then we have stepping in to agency and feeling like, “Okay, now we’re empowered, or now we have the ability, or energy, to really step into what we wanna do with our lives and our energy.” Okay. Anything else? Alright, so yeah… Nicole?
0:08:11 Nicole: No, they’re thinking.
0:08:12 PA: Peter, you’re taking notes on this, right? ‘Cause I’m the one interviewing you.
0:08:15 Peter Corbett: Yes.
0:08:15 PA: So, okay. Good, good.
0:08:16 Nicole: I would love to hear more about how psychedelics affect motivation. Just the relationship between those two.
0:08:24 PA: Okay, so the relationship between psychedelics and motivation. Okay. So, if we don’t cover all of these, which we will try to do, we will have a Q&A at the end. And so we can dig further in from there. So where I’d like to lead us now, is just an invitation to go inwards, an invitation to maybe sit up a little bit, put all two feet on the floor. Kinda find some sort of grounded space, ’cause we brought real grass in here, as you can see.
0:08:49 Nicole: Yes. [chuckle]
0:08:49 PA: Just to help with that process. And what I’ll do is, I will do my best to lead you through just a brief meditation. And that’s just a chance for us to come into this space, to kind of settle in, and then to go into conversation after that. So if you could just close your eyes if you feel like doing that and just take a moment. Take a moment to find that sense of calm. So tonight, I will interview my friend, Peter. Peter is a founder, recently retired founder, and what I like most about Peter’s story was the success, the business element. That’s cool. It’s interesting, but when we sat down, it was like… Especially the first time, at Devoción, and then again, at Caracas for lunch. I heard a lot of my story in what he was saying as well. This idea of coming to psychedelics when you’re 19 or 20, having an experience and then kinda going back into the thick of things.
0:09:57 PA: And Peter has now come out the other side, he’s still alive, he’s with us, and so I wanted to invite him to share that story of what it meant to go from having these early experiences with psychedelics, into a really intense founder mentality of, “We need to build this shit, and we need to bring this to as many people as possible.” And then retiring from that and coming back to a space of, okay, presence, few attachments. And wrapped within all that is… Peter has been a practicing Buddhist for some time, so he’s also familiar with Zen Buddhism and some of the tenets and principles of Buddhism, so we’ll dig in to all of that as well. And we’ll try to address all the questions, and integrate them in, and they’re kind of here now, in the conscious, subconscious mind. And any questions that come up, like I said, we’ll have the Q&A at the end. So without further ado, if you could just welcome Peter warmly.
0:10:57 Speaker8: Hey everybody.
0:10:57 Speaker7: Hi.
0:11:00 Speaker8: How’re you doing?
0:11:01 Nicole: Great.
0:11:01 PA: Peter, you wanna introduce yourself, just like go into that, and…
0:11:03 PC: Yeah, I could do the old elevator. So my name is Peter Corbett, I’m at Corbett3000 on Twitter. If you wanna love on me or hate on me, I’d encourage stay away from social media because it’s toxic. But anyway, I grew up as a programmer, and a designer, and ended up going to business school, started a company, which I think we’ll talk a little bit about. Grew it, sold it, but all along, I knew that it was all a game and a joke, and it really didn’t matter. I just thought that I needed to do some of these things. So we can talk about that. Coming out the other side, “Of this entrepreneurial journey,” At the ripe old age of 37, I just feel so fortunate that I can actually live as me again. Maybe we’ll talk about that.
0:11:48 PC: For so long, I was living as this role of this globe trotting CEO, speaking at conferences and doing multi-million dollar deals, and somehow that was, “Real,” or, “Good,” or,”Of interest in some way.” And at the time, yeah, my ego loved it. But there was always that thing in the back of my mind, which was like, “How long are you gonna play this game? How long are you gonna pretend that this is who you are, and that this is what’s important?” So that’s my elevator, I’m from New Jersey. My wife Nicole is here in the audience.
0:12:21 Nicole: Woo!
0:12:21 PC: She’s the entrepreneur now. I’m the retiree. She’s growing a company, and I’m gardening, and walking the dog, and cooking dinner. Which I find to be lovely.
0:12:33 PA: How many men in here would be interested in that role? That’s… Yeah. Yeah, okay.
0:12:39 PC: Pretty awesome. I tell yeah.
0:12:39 PA: It’s a pretty awesome role. And his dog. Great dog. A lovely dog.
0:12:44 Nicole: Sweet dog.
0:12:44 PA: Sweet dog. Okay, so let’s just start a little bit… Let’s start in the thick of it. You’re growing a company, it’s intense, you’ve had these early experiences with psychedelics. When you’re in it, in the thick of it, in the grind of it, building, growing, do those early experiences still resonate? Are you still aware of them? Or do they just kind of dissipate and float off?
0:13:09 PC: Yeah, I should probably go to the beginning of sort of a psychedelic journey, experience, in order to give context. I think when I was 15, I started doing acid two or three times a week, so I did about 150 times before I was 20, I think.
0:13:25 PA: Microdoses?
0:13:26 PC: No, full, full-on.
0:13:28 PC: And what was wild about it…
0:13:30 PA: You could have been an early trendsetter…
0:13:31 PC: No, not microdosing. Old-school, old-school style.
0:13:34 PA: Peter’s old-school like that.
0:13:35 PC: And what I didn’t do was tell anyone, so I was always high and no one knew, and I was doing that because I… To be honest, looking back at it now, I was in a lot of pain. I came from some trauma, as almost everybody in this room comes from, and I was trying to figure out, why the hell am I here and should I just die, right? And so I’d better find a reason to live, and therefore everything was on the table. And so that everything was literally consciousness and reality, I was willing to look at any of it to try and figure this out, and what I found was, especially by not telling anyone that I was tripping, was that all of reality was essentially subjective and that I could make of it whatever the hell I wanted and no one would know what I was making of it. That was a pretty big realization for a teenager.
0:14:27 PA: That’s like Nietzsche…
0:14:27 PC: Something like that.
0:14:28 PA: That’s like Nietzsche-level nihilism.
0:14:30 PC: And then mushrooms really were the real eye-opener. That was a plant that helped me see what I believe, to this day, to be the actual nature of things, which is this oneness that I cannot be separate. And that this dual world is really the illusion, and it’s the non-dual un-manifest, that is “real”. And so that gave me a perspective of like, “Oh, there is no killing yourself, there is no living. There is no living, no dying. Okay, let’s go, let’s go. Whoa, cool. I’m kind of free. I can just do as I see fit.” To complicate things a little bit, I decided, literally, consciously decided to sell out. So I had this real big realization, mushrooms aiding that, and I was like, “But shouldn’t I go make a lot of money? Shouldn’t I do that?” And coming from a background with a single mother with three kids who worked at Red Lobster, and I had to hustle if I wanted to buy my own bubble gum from 7/11, my ego won that battle, and the ego went, “Yeah, you better get fucking safe. Get a foundation, get some cash in the bank, and then you can go exploring the cosmic realities again.”
0:15:53 PC: So I did, and the sell-out was so literal, it was… I had hair like this when I was 16, I went to a boarding school, I cut it, I bought the Brooks Brothers shirts and slacks and all of that thing, and I played that game for the next 20 years, and didn’t dabble in psychedelics while I was the CEO of my company. I think I did mushrooms once towards the end, and the reason why was I didn’t wanna knock myself off of this mundane path that I was on that was working. The company I bootstrapped out of my apartment, I had ten grand of savings in the bank, and in a, I guess it was a seven-year period, zero employees to about 100, no investors, and over 20 million in revenue, and sold it to a publicly traded company.
0:16:40 PC: And I didn’t wanna knock myself off that hustle ’cause I had made the conscious decision. I knew I had made that decision, but then I really started feeling the reality itch coming like, “Peter, this isn’t real. This isn’t serving you. Why are you doing this? This is ridiculous. You should stop. Why don’t you stop? You can’t pretend forever,” and so I was fortunate enough to sell it instead of shutting it down. That was literally what was going on in my brain. And when you’ve got 100 employees, shutting down a company ’cause you don’t wanna do it anymore, is kind of not what we do in this society, right? So I was like, “Okay, I’d better get a safe landing of some form or another.” So that’s, I guess, the bigger…
0:17:23 PA: Is there a moment for you? Like you’re sitting in an office, or you’re going for a walk in the park, or you… Was there a moment where it was like, “Okay.”
0:17:33 PC: There’s big and small moments. The big ones, you literally have a burnout or something like that, and you’re like, “I just can’t do this anymore.” I was working… In the first three years, I think I worked 16-18 hours a day, every single day. And I was trained to do that, and I love looking at conditioning now, so I was conditioned to be that kind of achiever, that kind of workhorse. And literally in high school, I pulled an all-nighter every week. The LSD probably helped.
0:18:02 PA: I was gonna say that, that definitely would help.
0:18:03 PC: And the worst part, though, is the death by 1000 cuts. And the death by 1000 cuts is you look in the mirror in the morning and you’re like, “Really? I’m gonna go fucking sell another multi-million dollar campaign for a soda company so I can get kids to drink bubbly sugar water? Like Peter, you’re really… That’s what you’re doing here? That’s what you’re doing?” And you’re like, “Yup.” How many days did I do that? A thousand, whatever it was. And each time, it’s like, “Dude, you can’t. You can’t, you gotta stop.” So there were big moments and small moments. Ultimately what happened was I had to release this perception that the CEO and the founder, that was somehow me, that that was somehow my identity, which… We can talk a lot about identity, I would love to. We get to put these badges on, you get to take them off. I can say, “I’m a CEO, I’m a founder,” or I can say, “I’m Peter, I have been those things.” It can be helpful to put those badges on or not, depending on the context, and then I just said, “You know, I don’t really wanna play this character anymore.”
0:19:13 PC: And it really was a character. I’m getting on stage in front of… I think the biggest audience I spoke with was for a keynote for 3000 people, and you would never know that I had any other idea except for the fact that I’m the shit running a company that’s kicking ass, and who gives a fuck? And I… In the back of my mind, I was like, “I don’t really give a fuck, but I’m here.”
0:19:31 PA: So, how does that process feel for you? Like how does that process feel to transition from being that guy, ’cause you were that guy.
0:19:40 PC: Yeah, oh boy.
0:19:40 PA: To okay, now we’re… You’re not that guy.
0:19:46 PC: So the process is like a dam breaking. Now, I’m not an expert on damiology, that’s probably not a thing. Okay, so I’m not an expert on how dams break, but my intuition is that there’s a small leak first, right? And there’s some cracks forming and you’re like, “What’s going… What’s going on?” And then once enough water starts leaking through, there really could be a flood, a rush. And then it totally fails. So that’s what it was like, it was like, “Oh shit, dam is breaking.” That ego edifice that I built and this identity structure that I built, is falling apart, I better do something before it all falls apart ’cause I’m gonna go… I’m gonna walk in the office one day and be like, “Hey, I’m gonna be a blueberry farmer, ’cause that’s what’s real and people need to eat. So you guys, good luck.” That would have been odd. And to be honest, I had a responsibility, people had spouses and children that relied on the salaries that they had, and I couldn’t just… Couldn’t just close the doors.
0:20:53 PC: So the dam starts breaking, and I sell the company, fortunately, not letting the acquirer know that this dam was breaking. I mean I’m putting on the face for this full process, anyone ever sold a company before? It’s fucking difficult, right? It’s an emotional roller coaster, and I’m just like, “Yeah, no, it’s gonna be great. We’re gonna fucking do so much together.” And I’m like, “Holy shit, let me get the fuck out of here.”
0:21:14 PC: Oh God. And so getting the deal done ends up being basically the point where my ego died, like for the really non-psychedelic ego death. I mean like other than that, which is we’ll get into that. And I was like, “Oh my god, that guy who was building the company, that character that I conjured and cultivated and watered and whiskied, is dead.” I… Well, let me… How do I deal with that?” I didn’t know, I didn’t really know. And so I actually read an incredible book, I’ve read so many books, but the most helpful book is one called, “The Adult Years” which is adult psychology, we talk a lot about child psychology, and this talks about the cycles that adults go through when this kind of stuff happens. And I saw in me that I was doing the typical like, “Oh, I really don’t wanna do this anymore,” and then I just re-invest and I keep going another two years, another three years, another four years, whatever it was.
0:22:20 PC: And now that I had the off-ramp, I was in a phase of this cocoon and I didn’t know that’s what people would call it or that adult psychology practitioners would call it. And it was like I was so social before this point, and now in the cocoon phase, I didn’t wanna really hang out with anybody. And I wasn’t depressed, and I was like, “What’s going on? Why don’t I really wanna socialize?” I used to throw it… My Halloween party was 1200 people one year. I was the guy that brought everyone together, that was always that role that I played, and I realized that, “Oh, I’m mourning, oh, oh, that’s cool. Let’s Mourn.” How do you mourn? How do you accurately mourn? You accept it. And then also I began to honor that guy, instead of disliking him and thinking, “Oh, Peter, the fucking ad agency guy, what a scumbag, worked for big brands that didn’t give a shit about anybody.”
0:23:15 PC: Instead I was like, “Thank you for sacrificing yourself to get to a state of what you thought you needed, good financial stability, and wow, those gifts are gonna keep giving.” I have bought my parents land and I’m gonna build them a house. I’m taking care of my grandmother who’s 99, that guy enabled me to do that. So I started being grateful for the sell-out instead of being pissed off about the sell-out, and that helped me finish the cocooning phase, and then there’s like a rebirth phase, and that’s basically I think where I am, I’m sort of coming back to life in a lot of ways.
0:23:53 PA: And why were you pissed off about the sell-out? What exactly…
0:23:56 PC: ‘Cause I knew from an early age I was anti-corporate, I was anti- capitalist, I didn’t wanna play this game. I fucking hated company, I hated television. If you met me in college, you’d be like, “Dude, shut up about how TV’s killing society.” Oh, I became a TV producer as my first job out of school. Did I tell you that I sold out. Serious.
0:24:15 PA: Peter’s a sell out, Peter’s a sell out.
0:24:18 PC: I had, that identity didn’t stick anymore, so I’m not a sell out, they just… I had sold out, someone had sold out, I don’t know, we’ll figure out.
0:24:26 PA: Who? Who? So now Ayahuasca comes into the story. So tell us a little bit about… This was about a year ago or so. How does that come into the story? What sparks your interest in going down to Costa Rica to drink Ayahuasca. How many of you have drank Ayahuasca before? Okay, so a good chunk of you, okay. ‘Cause that’s kind of the re… This is getting into the rebirth.
0:24:49 PC: I wanted to die. You know not in an actual physical death. I wanted… I was working for two years on just crushing down this ego structure that I had built over time, I had it down to a little crumble of stuff, and I just wanted to get it totally done with. So I viewed that trip as the way to put the nail on the coffin of this prior persona and identity that I had manufactured in order to achieve the stuff that I felt that I need to achieve. And so out of thin air comes an email inviting me to this trip, and I probably would have said, “No” if not for the fact that it was with 22 other entrepreneurs. And so that had been my tribe, it was a tribe that I had always felt comfortable with, it’s a tribe that I’ve convened all over the world, so I felt like, in the least, I’ll meet some entrepreneurs that I can hang out with and I can share my experience and maybe they’ll learn something and maybe I’ll invest in them, or who knows. But all along it was, I want this true deep ego death to occur so that I can finish the cocooning piece and move into the rebirth piece and use that retreat as the springboard of rebirth.
0:26:10 PA: And what was the experience like then? Was it… Did it deliver? Did your ego…
0:26:13 PC: Yeah, I should say…
0:26:16 PA: Die?
0:26:18 PC: I am… I think that I am sort of an expert with regard to how to manage psychedelics and my own mind. I can’t manage your mind, so my own. So coming into it, it was like I was… The starting gun fired and I sprinted and got a gold medal at the Olympics. Here’s my achievement orientation as related to plant medicine. And so in the four night in a row ceremony, and I’m bolt upright meditating for eight hours at a time, breath like a master, and no purging, right? All of the things people tell you, like, “Oh… ” And I was like, “Why isn’t… Why am I not having a rough go?” And it’s like, “Oh, you’re prepared. You’re prepared as fuck. You’ve been on the right diet for a long time, you’re coming into this, like you’ve been meditating, you’ve been studying, you got it.” So it was like, I got the rocket ship ride without the painful part. And again, still sort of achievement-oriented, like I had 50 questions still swirling in my mind about a lot of, sort of, the true nature of things. And just got them knocked out, one after another to the point where like…
0:27:27 PA: All 50.
0:27:28 PC: More. More than that. I think at night three I was like, “Well, what should I do now?” Uh.
0:27:35 PA: [chuckle] Just be with it, right?
0:27:36 PC: Well no, what I did was my intention coming… I just said like, “Shit, show me the stars. Let’s just do that.” And that was awesome. And when I say, “Show me the stars,” It’s really like, “Let me leave this body entirely, let me leave this ego and this mind entirely, let me experience the scale of the universe so that I can be in it.” ‘Cause if you ever look up there, you’re like, “Fuck, I can never go there.” Right? And so I got to go there, and I’ve been back there, and with Ayahuasca or not. And that relieves this… It always as… Going all the way back, this sadness of like, “I’m never gonna be able to experience that cosmos.” But you can. So.
0:28:20 PA: Through Ayahuasca. That’s the… Is that the…
0:28:22 PC: Or breathwork.
0:28:23 PA: Or breathwork.
0:28:24 PC: You… Holotropic breathwork can blow your mind. And I encourage you to.
0:28:29 PA: I love that. Breathwork is great.
0:28:29 PC: Yeah. It is.
0:28:30 PA: How many of you have done breathwork? Breathwork, anyone? Breathwork is great. You can get high on your own…
0:28:35 PC: Supply?
0:28:35 PA: High on your own supply!
0:28:36 PC: As our friend Wim Hof will say.
0:28:37 PA: It’s better than… Oh, talk about that! So you… He climbed a mountain in Poland for, what? Five hours?
0:28:45 PC: Oh sure. With my wife, in bathing suits. In -15 celsius.
0:28:48 PA: With your wife? You did that? Wow. She must love you. She must really love you.
0:28:50 PC: Oh, she does. -15 celsius, -30 wind chills, and that’s about conquering fear. And I won’t go too long into the cold exposure stuff. I love it, I do a lot of it. I have an ice bath.
0:29:04 PA: Wim Hof, cold exposure. Yeah.
0:29:05 PC: Anyone? Yeah. I do that on my roof here in Brooklyn. I have an ice bath on the roof, the ice is free in the winter. Costs you money in the summer.
0:29:15 PC: And that’s about conquering fear, and realizing that this human form, this biological machine that we’ve been gifted with is so fucking impressive. And can do so much more than we think it can, and so you climb… You’re at five hours in those temperatures, and you come down and you’re like, “Why don’t I have wind burn even? Like why… I don’t… Everyone told me you’ll get frostbite. Like, I can… Oh, my ancestors walked across the Bering Strait, probably with thin leather moccasins and endured that for years? Oh. Oh, I can do it for five hours and my body is able to do these things. Oh, cool. Oh, why do I think I can’t?”
0:29:58 PA: What’s this fear piece? Right? And it’s a similar thing to what you talked about when you’re 15 or 16, ’cause I think a lot of us go through this experience where we have a deep-seeded fear of death. And it’s like when that gets removed through altered experiences, altered states, then it just… It’s like you’re free.
0:30:16 PC: You really are.
0:30:18 PA: In a way.
0:30:18 PC: You wanna talk about death?
0:30:19 PA: We can talk about death.
0:30:20 PC: Okay. Who wants to talk about death? Anybody? Everybody?
0:30:23 PA: Yeah, okay.
0:30:23 PC: Who doesn’t wanna talk about death?
0:30:26 PC: Okay.
0:30:26 PA: Let’s talk about death!
0:30:27 PC: That was my first… That was my request. The first ceremony. I said, “Show me my own death” And I got to experience my own death, it wasn’t show… I thought… I said, “Show me.” It was not shown. It was. That’s one thing. Anyone here experienced their own death? Yeah. A few of you. That’s awesome. So I’ll just give you a quick story, ’cause it literally was hours, the experience, but my wife and I had been in Nicaragua for vacation, and when we were there, my uncle, who I was very close to, passed away. And at the time, I was reading another wonderful book called, “A Year Left to Live” written by a Buddhist monk, who did this practice of a year, basically preparing everything for his death, he wasn’t dying, but he was like, “But why don’t I… Not pretend, but let me go through the practice and the exercise, of I’m gonna die in a year.” And I didn’t know that I was reading that book in order to be prepared for my uncle’s death. And so we flew back to the funeral, I do the eulogy, I’m sort of the eulogizer, I really enjoy doing it, and I can really get those tears flowing.
0:31:43 PC: I can. Land back in Costa Rica, ’cause I was gonna go just from Nicaragua to Costa Rica, obviously. Land back in Coast Rica, show up at the place where we’re doing this Ayahuasca trip, and my grandmother dies. [chuckle] So I’m like “Okay, clearly, I really am wanting to experience death. That’s interesting.” And so the first night, I become a poor Nicaraguan farmer. That was my life in this experience. You call it a hallucination, call it a journey, call it whatever you want. To the point of literally the dust is crusting in my nose, and I am thirsty. Like that’s the level of experience. I was not seeing myself as, I was not watching, I was. And so my death in that context was just small little procession into a very small Church. I was raised Catholic, I don’t really affiliate with the Catholic Church much at all.
0:32:46 PA: You don’t go to Church?
0:32:47 PC: Well, we’ll get into that. I don’t.
0:32:49 PA: Okay. I’m thinking of going back to Church.
0:32:50 PC: Only if it really, really, really would help mom. We can talk about Christianity at some point if you like.
0:32:55 PA: Okay, alright, alright. Okay, probably not.
0:32:57 PC: So small procession and just this sweet, sweet flowers on top of that coffin and the candle light but no one there. And I was like, “Oh, wow, this is incredible.” I thought, oh doesn’t everyone want like a, “I wonder who’ll be at my funeral and I hope that lots of people will come.” And not only now do I not worry about that, but the peace and serenity of dying alone and quiet is like… I hope…
0:33:34 PA: With a little acid, maybe.
0:33:35 PC: I don’t know. No actually we’ll get into that.
0:33:36 PA: No acid. Okay, okay.
0:33:40 PC: So, I asked that, now I’m coming out of this death experience, little bit, I’m like, “Why wasn’t anyone there?” And I don’t know who answers. It’s probably my deep unconscious and was like, “Well, we know you. If we threw you a party, your ego will get all riled up and you wouldn’t get, where you’re supposed to be going. So we wanna keep that ego nice and quiet.” I was like, “Oh cool. Thank you,” so it was a lot more around death, but we’ll come back to it.
0:34:08 PA: Let’s go back to Buddhism a little bit just because you…
0:34:11 PC: Sure.
0:34:11 PA: We’ve talked about this a little bit and there’s this concept which I think is probably the best known concept in Buddhism, which is this idea of suffering.
0:34:19 PC: Sure.
0:34:20 PA: And how we suffer and how life really is suffer. But a big part of Nirvana, reaching enlightenment is being able to kind of overcome suffering to be able to ascend. What role does suffering play?
0:34:35 PC: Yeah. Wow. What role does suffering play?
0:34:40 PA: Yeah, how do you think about it in that context of you being someone who you’re not? That is in itself a process of suffering.
0:34:47 PC: Okay. So, it’s important for me personally to truly understand and embody the fact that there is nothing in this dual world, this physical world that we have… And this is a real thing, this room is real. It’s not just an imagination, we probably all see it differently, subjectively, so what is real is a question. Suffering is something that is present in every single moment even the joys. The things that you get, you eventually don’t have, they eventually wither, they eventually die. The things that you don’t get obviously easy for that to cause suffering. So I won’t get into the, like all of the ways that suffering is relevant from a Buddhist standpoint except to say that I’m no longer endeavoring to escape from it, that’s the like the 301 advanced class part. So when you start out most of us like, “I wanna to meditate so that I can not suffer as much…
0:35:43 PA: You not be so miserable.
0:35:44 PC: Be happier,” whatever and then over the years and I’ve been meditating for 20 years and I started studying Buddhism when I was 18 or 19 formally and…
0:35:57 PA: What does that mean? Formally.
0:36:00 PC: Like reading the scriptures, practicing, having a teacher. In my context, it wasn’t a like a Buddhist monk as a teacher, this was literally a university professor, who is a professor of Buddhist studies. Tara Doyle, who I’m so grateful that she introduced me to the nucleus of a philosophy that has helped me in so many ways and so now I don’t think, “Oh, let me escape the suffering,” it’s more, “It is all suffering. It is all joy. It is all whatever it is and I don’t need to do anything about it.” And any time I start to think that I can or that I should I immediately embody ego and now I’m separate from the flow of all the things and then I actually in fact suffer more and well who cares if I’m suffering more anyway. It just seems to be an easier ride if you go with the flow. So suffering is a super advanced topic that we could probably talk all night about. My current mode is to not worry about it.
0:37:04 PA: Not worry about it.
0:37:05 PC: And I’ll tell you there’s plenty of suffering even in my charmed life and when it happens I’m like, “Oh, okay. Yeah, there’s more, there’s more, there’s always gonna be more, there’s more.”
0:37:19 PA: And remaining mindful, remaining present. This is why these practices are so helpful because they allow us to observe, but not attach.
0:37:28 PC: Yeah, for sure.
0:37:29 PA: And to understand this level of impermanence that permeates everything and at the same time, that’s kind of the non-dual, no ego. Like let’s be completely present in the moment, but I think another question and this is a question that I struggle with is like, “I have an ego, we all have egos. Egos play a role, identity is important, to some degree, to have structure, to have relationships, to be in relationship to others.” I just like to hear your thoughts on that coming back now from this rebirth into like what do you like…
0:38:05 PC: Yeah. Yeah. It’s good.
0:38:06 PA: What can we dig our teeth into now, you know?
0:38:08 PC: So I used to make ego my enemy. I used to really make it my enemy. It was the thing I wanted to stab in the heart and twist the dagger and eviscerate and I did, and that’s the painful thing to do and maybe harder to do than to honestly just accept the fact that yes, you have an ego. And yes, you have an identity and no matter where you are, people are gonna put labels on you in some way, shape or form. You can’t control them. I think the fact of the matter is to come to the point of deciding to have flexible identity and a non-rigid ego. So if you have an inflexible identity, as soon as someone says like, “You’re the founder of what, you don’t even have any employees.” That hurts, real bad. But as soon as you’re kind of not so rigid about it like “Yeah, yeah, I can see how they’re right about that. I don’t really care. I don’t really care what they think it doesn’t matter because it’s all fluid anyway, and I’ll have 20 employees next year or 0 or its just all gonna be what it is.” So I think the rigidity and flexibility piece is crucial.
0:39:17 PC: From an identity standpoint for me, the flexibility is truly where I can find ease in the world. So I have a network that’s composed of very, very wealthy CEO types, and in those meetings, I can be flexible and I can play the game still, and I do, because I think it makes them more comfortable and then I pick my spots to make them uncomfortable, ’cause I think that’s sort of my job in that room. And then I can go home and be with my family and they know the success I’ve seen, but I’m still the same exact guy that they’ve known as their loving son and brother, or I can… God, we’ve had a lot of contractors at our house working on stuff, and I hold the trash bag up for the guy doing dry wall as he’s pulling insulation out.
0:40:08 PA: So that’s my apprentice identity, right? So in any given moment, I am so flexible in that identity and my ego is so non-rigid that I can just fit the moment and that is I think the fruit that is now blossoming after my call it 20 years of Buddhist practice. It’s easy enough to say, but it seems to have been hard to get to the point of doing it because you keep going, “No, but I’m more important than holding the trash bag for the person that I’m paying $10 an hour to pull insulation out of the wall, why would I do that?” That’s an idea I wouldn’t even think of anymore, and if I thought of it, I’d be like, “Who said that? That’s fucked up.” Really, I’m like, “Where did that come from?” [chuckle]
0:40:56 PA: Well, it’s humility, in some ways, and this is what comes up for me…
0:41:00 PC: I think it’s beyond humility, it’s not even… ’cause that would be like, “Oh, I’m being so humble.” It’s like, it’s not even considering it, it’s just doing the thing that needs to be done.
0:41:10 PA: But maybe that’s humility embodied, so obviously, we’re not patting ourself on the backs…
0:41:13 PC: Maybe, yeah, sure.
0:41:15 PA: That we’re being humble.
0:41:16 PC: And also, I’ll introduce a term that’s very important to me, that took me 37 years of my life to get to know, which is Karma Yoga, so it’s two words that you both all know, but you don’t probably know what the lock up of those things are. So karma yoga, it turns out very much from a Vedic tradition, any people studying the Vedic traditions of the world? So the British made up this word Hinduism, right? [chuckle] And as if that was one thing, but it’s really like a 1000 things all mashed up into what a white guy could understand and what Karma Yoga is in the Vedic tradition, karma is just work, this isn’t cause and effect, that’s a misperception of what karma is even in the Buddhist tradition and then yoga being the union, right? So many of you who are yogis know yoga’s union, like yoke, right?
0:42:11 PC: Where you put over an ox and put two of them together to do some work. So Karma Yoga for me is any given day that which I find I’m in union with, it could be a contractor in my house or a person on the street, or you guys right here right now, or a bird or a plant or whatever. That is the work that I am to do right now. And if I’ve done a good job of clearing out the bullshit through meditation and mindfulness practice and maybe some psychedelics or otherwise, and stay as blank a canvas as I can, that moment will come and I will act without thought. I will just act appropriately, true right action from a kinda eight-fold-path Buddhist perspective. And so my daily practice, when some one says, “Oh, Peter, what are your practices?” And I’ll say the normal thing first, and I’ll say, “Well, it’s, meditation is my daily practice or maybe cold exposure, but truly my daily practice is Karma Yoga.” So if you’re interested in that kind of thing, you could read about it. It’s pretty fantastic.
0:43:17 PA: How would one make that, how would one make that a daily practice? Like how do you make Karma Yoga…
0:43:22 PC: Accept everything that comes at you every single moment of the day and be present every single moment of the day, and act such that it’s not for the benefit of your ego accruing something or act such that you would act in violence or harm to someone else, and when I’m really on it with that it’s like, it’s just magic. The city is magic. I used to be like, “I need to get the fuck out of New York and I wanna be in a farm or I wanna be this, this and that.” And now I’m like, “Woah, there is so much work in New York just interacting with the humans, love seeing the humans.”
0:44:00 PA: There’s a lot of humans here.
0:44:01 PC: There are a lot of humans.
0:44:01 PA: A lot of humans, yeah, like 14 million or something crazy?
0:44:05 PC: Something like that.
0:44:08 PA: So ego, Karma Yoga, business. Let’s go, let’s maybe do something a little abstract and then let’s break it down, so not too abstract, but a little abstract. You’ve been what I would consider, you’ve figured out how to run a business, which is…
0:44:27 PC: I did, I sure did.
0:44:27 PA: Which is something that, it’s something I’m still trying to figure out. It’s not easy, it’s not easy. So you figured out how to run a business. You did that well, in many ways.
0:44:39 PC: Yes, I did.
0:44:41 PA: And you’ve also worked extensively with psychedelics, with plant medicine, from your perspective, what are the intersection of those going forward? So in other words, as with the work that you’ve done in the agency world, with the conferences that you’ve attended, with now some of these entrepreneurs, even meeting who are interested in plant medicine.
0:45:02 PC: So I will just edit your question in one way, which is to remove the going forward part, so I’m pretty good at it, but I try not to be so focused on the future. I endeavor not to be so focused on the past, I don’t know, my wife may disagree, I don’t know, I think I spend about 90% in the now, which is about 80% more than I used to. So it’s not about what is the integration of all this moving forward, it’s literally what is the integration of it right now. And so what the integration of it is right now, going back to staying sort of a blank canvas wherever possible, I find that in my daily life as a retired founder, you’d think I was not busy or that I cared about being busy or not, or whatever, I’d literally just have so many people coming to me for help, and I’d just say yes every single time. And these are friends with businesses or these are friends with personal problems, or these are friends grappling with the death of a pet or a loved one or… And they’d know that I have this perspective on death that seems to make me smile every time I talk about it.
0:46:15 PC: And so being available in every moment to what needs to be done, that’s Karma Yoga. Again is the integration, that’s what it is. That’s what the culmination of all of this is. So it just so happens that because the business background, you might go, “Well, how does the business thing fit in there?” It’s like I’ve got people that have companies that are worth 30, 60, 80 million calling me and be like, “Dude, please just tell me, what should I do?” I’m like, “Oh, this… ” I’m like, “Oh my God, that’s amazing.” I’m like, “Okay, I’m just sitting in my roof, petting my dog as the sun is going down, do you need anything else?” They’re like, “No, no. That’s all I need. Okay, bye.” Okay, cool. And I don’t go, “Oh, look you helped some… ” In the beginning, I was like, “Oh, you’re helping.” And now part of my practice is releasing that attachment to being a helper and somehow thinking I’m accruing some kind of credits.
0:47:07 PC: For those of you who are students of Buddhism, there are certain schools of Buddhism that are very focused on merit, like the Thai Forest Tradition. This real accruing merit thing and I can’t get into it. And I’m not into it and I don’t wanna accumulate a pile of merit, actually, I think that the masters of that tradition would probably tell you like, “Yeah, it’s actually just a whole fuss, we’re just trying to see, who wants to accumulate merit or not.”
0:47:37 PC: I want to reach enlightenment and be like, “Oh yeah. That wasn’t necessary anyway.”
0:47:41 PA: What else do you wanna explore?
0:47:42 PC: We could talk about Nirvana, we could talk about enlightenment, we could talk about the meaning of life. What do you wanna talk about? What do you guys wanna know about?
0:47:50 PA: What do you wanna talk about? What else? Deira?
0:47:53 Speaker9: The meaning of life.
0:47:54 PA: The meaning of life.
0:47:55 PC: That’s an easy one.
0:47:57 PC: I’m serious, it’s easy. Do you wanna know… It’s not gonna be satisfying. I’m sorry.
0:48:02 PC: It’s not. I mean, for some of you, it may be. The meaning of life is to live it.
0:48:08 PC: It’s not even… I’m not even joking. I know it’s funny. ‘Cause it literally is that simple, we go running around like, “What’s the meaning of life? And oh my God,” and meanwhile you’re not seeing the fucking butterflies and the flowers and the sunshine and the people that love you, and you’re like, “What’s the meaning of life?” “What is the mean… Where am I gonna find it?” Take your fucking hand off your face, and you’ll see that the meaning of it is to be it, to do it, to not… To not not do it. I don’t know when I finally got that, but it’s been a year or two. So it’s been a recent. And I was like, “Oh. Oh, so there’s nothing to do. Oh, but I’ve been conditioned my entire life that I am supposed to be doing something, so I’m supposed to study and then I was supposed to get a job and I’m supposed to build a company or join a company and save money and buy a house and have a marriage and have some kids and do all these things,” When in fact, there literally isn’t anything to do except for be the life that you have been incarnated in. Oh, shit. Okay.
0:49:15 PA: But there’s so many things to do, right?
0:49:17 PC: Okay. And how many of these things will cause you suffering?
0:49:19 PA: Isn’t there? Isn’t there, [unclear speech], right?
0:49:20 PC: Every single… No, every single one of them. We’re attached to experiencing. And so I’ve come to find that I am still attached to experiencing, I still like to go to new countries on vacation. I barely like to watch a new movie, you’re not gonna see me going and watching X-Men.
0:49:42 PA: Game of Thrones though? You’re attached to Game of Thrones, it’s a thing.
0:49:44 PC: Yeah, okay, I’m attached to watching Game of Thrones. Yes, yes, good.
0:49:48 PA: It’s a thing, yeah.
0:49:49 PC: Right? Eventually, if you really wanna go real, real deep on this track of non-dual un-manifest, sort of that whole big Vedic and Buddhist thread, eventually you’ll go, “Oh, I already have had all of the experiences and all of the lives and all the incarnations, ’cause I’m you and you’re me and there’s no separation anyway. So you’re living as the entrepreneur who’s got a moving company and you’re living as the entrepreneur with the microdosing company, and you’ve got a jet, we all have a jet, I have the jet.” The great oneness, is having all of the experiences simultaneously, I don’t need to have any anymore. Doesn’t mean you kill yourself. It literally just means it doesn’t matter if you see a new thing. And that’s like a super, super monk style…
0:50:35 PA: It’s super monk style…
0:50:37 PC: Sitting under the Body Tree going, “Finally got it.” So I’m not suggesting at all that I’m not attached to experiences, I certainly am.
0:50:45 PA: That intersection is with some of the work that’s even been going on here with what we’ve been doing with the Third Wave and what MAPS is doing and what these new companies and the psychedelics, many of us have had these experiences and we understand that concept, but there’s still, “Okay, we can have one foot in the non-dual somewhat, I don’t wanna say nihilism, but somewhat just, it doesn’t matter.”
0:51:12 PC: Yeah.
0:51:12 PA: And then one foot in the world of like, okay we observe all the suffering, what’s in our agency to build a better society and world around us. ‘Cause that’s… What I struggle with it’s, yeah we can retire.
0:51:25 PC: Yeah.
0:51:26 PA: But what happens from when we’re really living in the world?
0:51:29 PC: Yeah, so I truly truly, believe that we live in a… This is a dualistic plane. If you wanna use woo-woo new age term, which many of us here probably would like to use. And so, a dual plane means that which arises has an equal and opposite arising. So you could say… I have these friends who are like, “Oh, there’s this big shift going on and people are waking up,” I’m like, “And they’re going to sleep. As many people are fucking waking up, there are same amount going to sleep.” More people are watching Fox News. And I can go down the path of how falling sleep is happening, same amount. So the non-dual is not a nihilistic perspective, the non-dual is the place from which all things arise, right?
0:52:20 PA: Right.
0:52:21 PC: O So it’s actually everything. So it’s not nothing. It’s also to be everything else, can also be nothing. It’s always so, to be everything after all is to be nothing. That’s where it gets really, really confusing and I’m sure a Buddhist practitioners have spent many lifetimes just going like, “Wait, is everything and nothing, the void. Oh, shit. Okay, I don’t know.” Right? So it’s really tough, the non-dual, anyone study non-dual stuff? Yeah. It is the thing. And the no thing, at the same time. That’s a whole another ball game.
0:52:56 PA: Okay.
0:52:56 PC: Where did we go? I think I went on a tangent.
0:52:58 PA: We could come back to Ayahuasca.
0:53:02 PA: We were at the meaning of life as I grew up.
0:53:04 Nicole: Can we talk a little bit about the fear? I think that’s an important one.
0:53:06 PC: Sure. What do you wanna know?
0:53:08 Nicole: You know, just your perspective on how we can deal with it in our lives, and maybe how you tend to deal with it.
0:53:17 PC: I feel like having come to, not only a comfort with death, but in fact a joy, and I can’t wait. I don’t wanna die necessarily, but it will be incredible, and I’m excited for that moment, and I plan to die as eyes wide open and conscious as possible, so that I can keep going. And what I mean by that, in my sort of framework, I guess, if I’m hopped up on morphine and knocked out, I’m not gonna make the best decision. [chuckle] I believe that I get to… My consciousness gets to go some way and one way might go right back into birth. Or, ’cause I’m grasping on that human experience. “I didn’t get it all done, I didn’t have all the experiences yet. Still want one more slice of pizza,” right? Or, it’s like, “No. No, we’re good. We don’t need the meat vehicle floating around on a blue ball spinning through the universe anymore. We can just be the universe. Okay, let’s do that. That’s cool.” And maybe we always do that. Maybe do that every time. I don’t know. So…
0:54:27 Nicole: Maybe there’s things that people are scared of besides death.
0:54:30 PC: Sure. Having a comfort with death has given me the ability to not let the every day be so visceral. We subconsciously, when we are scared by somebody walking down the street, or you might get fired, or you might… Someone might break up with you, it actually attaches to this fear of death right away. It’s sort of a death, and you’re like, “Oh, if I lose my job.” It’s that like clenching up moment. So if you work on the fear of death, when that firing moment may happen, it’s no longer attaching to the death fear. It’s merely like, “Oh. Well, I’m being fired. Again.” No. “I’m being fired.” Actually, I got fired, that’s how I started my company. I got laid off on a Friday, and then I started my company on a Monday.
0:55:23 PC: So I think they’re working on the fear piece literally translates to every given moment in your life, because there’s less of that clenching, less of that anxiety pang. And I know it personally so well, ’cause I have so few fear pangs now, and therefore, I really notice them. It’s like, boom! Like, “Whoa! That’s fear. I don’t usually feel that. What is that? Oh.”
0:55:48 PC: And then I… I don’t know. Then I go after that, that thing that’s pulling my attention. So yeah, I think that working on death helps you work on fear, and then just tactically, forget the death part for a second, if that’s not something that you wanna work on. And you might not be ready for it, that’s fine. I think that just doing the things that you know aren’t gonna kill you is good. I know that sounds ridiculous, and I’ll just use an example of cold exposure. Three years ago, I did an ice bath for the first time. And looking back on it now, I remember I was afraid. I was like, “I can’t do that, I don’t wanna do that.” And I was like, “Really? I can do that.” And so I get in the thing. I have a great picture of it. I’m just like for two minutes and I was like, “Oh, that wasn’t so bad. Actually, I really liked that. Why was I so afraid of that? Oh.” I went to Iceland this February for another cold exposure trip. We’re swimming in frozen waterfalls and lakes and stuff. And I was afraid to go on the trip. So it was one of the time, I could really identify it.
0:57:04 PC: I was like, “Oh,” I got the invitation and immediately I was afraid, and I was like, “What is that?” And I was afraid because these were advanced Wim Hof practitioners, and I was like, “Shit, if this is gonna be harder than hiking the mountain. Like the mountain was real. Five hours in the cold like that. I don’t know that I’m ready for this.” [chuckle] And I said, “Okay, when you’re afraid and you know it’s not gonna kill you, just go,” so I went. I show up, and it was absolutely nothing like what I was afraid of, and it was one of the best trips I’ve ever been on. So I really think that when you feel that fear pang, you gotta just look at it. Don’t let it run you, right? ‘Cause usually it just runs us. So you gotta look at it, you gotta grab it. That’s where the meditation and sort of Buddhism practitioner thing helps me. I can now capture these things, these emotions that arise and look at them and go, “Oh yeah. Okay, no problem.”
0:57:57 PA: I wanna dig into somebody a little more concrete. So we’ve been philosophizing. Philosophizing…
0:58:04 PC: Sure.
0:58:04 PA: Is fun. Ayahuasca, ’cause I do wanna come back to your relationship to that. Or the experience you had with it.
0:58:10 PC: It seems to be more important to you than it is to me.
0:58:13 PC: Honestly, let me explain that. I really enjoyed the retreat that I went on, and I feel like Ayahuasca is an incredible plant medicine. It’s just not the foundation of my universe. It’s a wonderfully colorful drop in the bucket. And I meet a lot of people that it becomes like the thing. It’s not even the foundation of my tribe in the world. I have a tribe of people that that literally is how we came together, but my extended tribe is not that at all.
0:58:49 PA: Okay. So we’ll move past that and to hear…
0:58:51 PC: Sure.
0:58:52 PA: We talked a little bit about what you’re doing now. Any other concrete things that you wanna get involved? Or are you just totally like chilling at the moment?
0:59:02 PC: So I…
0:59:04 PA: Like investing, or…
0:59:04 PC: A friend… Yeah, I do a lot of that.
0:59:05 PA: Consulting, or…
0:59:06 PC: If you guys wanna hear about… I don’t know, I did $15 million worth of deals last year. I got great returns. Who cares? I don’t. We can talk about that, if you wanna talk about it.
0:59:17 PA: What companies would you like to see come to life?
0:59:20 PC: I’ll tell you what I’m excited about from an investor standpoint.
0:59:22 PA: Okay, let’s do that.
0:59:23 PC: Is that an interesting thing?
0:59:24 PA: Yeah, yeah, yeah.
0:59:25 PC: Anything AgTech is so interesting to me right now. And it’s because…
0:59:30 PA: What’s AgTech?
0:59:31 PC: AgTech, Agricultural Technology.
0:59:33 PA: What would that be? What would be an example?
0:59:35 PC: You guys ever heard of vertical farming, like indoor growing of leafy greens and veggies using lower carbon footprints and lower water footprints? I love all that. I grew up helping my mom in the garden, forced labor, but I really enjoyed it. And I have a small garden here, with my wife, in Brooklyn. I feel like we have such a special opportunity to change the food ecosystem. I think that we’re gonna stop killing the animals as much. I think we’re gonna grow protein in a lab more. I mean, all this stuff you can read about all day, every day. And that’s great. I’m generally a vegetarian. I go on and off the meat wagon, it’s just sort of how it works. And so I think the lab grown meat stuff is incredible. I’ve been looking at a couple of companies here in Brooklyn to invest in that are growing vegetables in new and different and exciting ways.
1:00:36 PC: I don’t think we’re ever gonna not eat, so it’s a pretty good industry, I think, to be in. And it really makes me upset with regard to all of the crap that gets pumped into our bellies, consciously or unconsciously. So if we can cut it off at the root, it’ll be helpful, so people who aren’t able to make as many choices as we are fortunate enough to just automatically have good food, instead of automatically have bad food. So when you go to the non-dual perspective, it’s like, “Why am I feeding myself shit in the form of millions of people eating crappy stuff?” That’s me. That’s not people over there. That’s me in a food desert, right?
1:01:16 PC: So all that gets driven, for me, this underlying non-dual thing. And that’s the reason to do anything. You might ask, “Don’t you have a nihilistic perspective now?” I’m like, “No. It’s me that’s suffering.” The collective me, this one me. So why would I want myself to suffer more? Wouldn’t I want to try to have better food for all of us so that it’s this oneness has a better experience? Still attached to the experience?
1:01:44 PA: So agriculture tech, and… I mean, I think…
1:01:48 PC: Agetch, and there’s a lot of it in New York, it’s unbelievable. Anyone in the ag-tech space in New York? Little bit?
1:01:53 PA: What’s going… Tell us a little bit. I know there’s stuff at the Brooklyn Navy Yard.
1:01:56 PC: Yeah, so Newlab is a big incubator, and I’m an investor at Newlab and an entrepreneur and resident there. And I don’t know that this is public, but I guess I’ll just say it. There’s gonna be something called New Farm that launches this fall that will sort of be, just a focal point, a facility at Newlab and a series of programming. You can think demo days and conferences all around AgTech. Visited a small operation over near there last week called Small Hold, which is growing mushrooms, not the magical kind, that you basically deliver this awesome grow cabinet to the retailer and those mushrooms are grown on site at Whole Foods. So if you go to the… Anyone go to Whole Foods Gowanus? You’ve probably seen it there.
1:02:50 PC: Love what they’re doing, love what they’re doing. It could be an incredible business. So there’s a lot of that. And then I love even just the super small scale stuff. Part of shedding the prior identity and ego structure around CEO is to appreciate the smaller things. If you knew me four or five years ago, I’d be like, “Well, that can’t scale.” I didn’t really wanna talk about it. And that’s so stupid. So like… Oh, I always mess up the name. Brooklyn Rot? They do composting and they sell Brooklyn-made compost at your garden centers. And it’s never gonna be a billion dollar business, but it’s awesome. Right?
1:03:35 PC: So really appreciating the small and the bespoke over the scale. And maybe part of that is an unconscious reaction that I’ll start to dig into around who has committed violence against us at scale, like Facebook and Google and Twitter. So I kinda feel like I don’t really want big things in my life controlling my stuff. So how can we get back to being together in a new way? And I know that sounds so dual to say it that way.
1:04:07 PA: But that’s… Now I’m excited ’cause like, okay, we can go into this. We talk about AgTech, you talk about mushrooms, love mushrooms, composting. It’s kind of like this idea of getting back to a local element of the economy. How do you see that playing out? Like what other companies? What other ways…
1:04:24 PC: Well, what’s interesting is it’s sort of like a hobby and a small economy right now, but if shit hits the fan, it will be the economy.
1:04:32 PA: And shit will hit the fan, I would assume, at some point.
1:04:34 PC: Oh, yeah. Well, everything changes so… Well, eventually shit will hit the fan. [chuckle] Right?
1:04:39 PA: Right.
1:04:39 PC: So I think sometimes my wife thinks I’m like a potential prepper, but I’m definitely not. I’m not a prepper. They wouldn’t jive with the like no fear of death thing, right? So at the same time… I will tie this back to an Ayahuasca ceremony. I was deep, deep, deep in third night of that four-night experience, and I said, “Well, okay. I’ve got all these answers, and that’s great. So what should I do? I wanna help. I just wanna help. I love helping, I just wanna help people.” And the answer that came back was, “Well, you don’t have any skills really that are helpful to normal people.” I was like, “Oh, fuck. What do you mean?” Like, “Well, you know how to scale tech companies and marketing companies, all their stuff, but what about the person that’s hungry?” Like, “Oh, shit.” And so the answers were like learn how to grow food, learn how to cook food better, learn how to fix stuff like physical walls… So the DIY going on in my life right now is insane, so that you can be prepared to help people at the smallest of scales.
1:05:44 PC: And so when you’re an entrepreneur and you’re stuck in this echo chamber of scale, and you’re reading TechCrunch every day and Hacker News, and you’re looking at all the money people are raising, you’re thinking scale, scale, scale, scale, scale, you then automatically begin to devalue helping one person one-on-one with holding the trash bag while they’re fixing your ceiling and pulling insulation out of it.
1:06:05 PA: Because you kinda have this perception that you’re above it or it’s…
1:06:08 PC: Above it or like it impacts a lot of humans that it’s not worth doing. And so I’ve been removing that conditioning through Karma Yoga, frankly, which is like no, every single interaction is just as valuable as any other. It doesn’t matter if it’s at scale or what… Doesn’t matter what the scale is. Then I’ll just say selfishly, having spent 20 years on a computer, just working with atoms is just such a delight. The bits are boring to me now. Maybe I’ve burned out the experiences.
1:06:47 PA: Want it to be more real, more… Something you could put your hands on.
1:06:49 PC: Yeah. Do you guys feel that way? Do you feel like things that are tangible are calling you more than the virtual? I have a friend and I wonder what your perspective is on this. Very successful entrepreneur. And he’s ready, willing and able to upload himself to this cloud one day. It’s like, “Oh yeah, when we’re able to upload my consciousness… ” And I was like, “No fucking way.”
1:07:12 PA: Like Black Mirror.
1:07:13 PC: Yes.
1:07:13 PA: Like Black Mirror.
1:07:13 PC: I was like, “Absolutely not. No, thank you.” And so I’m wondering why you’d want to turn yourself into bits when you could be not.
1:07:24 PA: Right. Well, let’s open it up now. We’ve been talking for about an hour, so any questions that we wanna dig into from what Peter has talked about, about this relationship between what non-dual and duality?
1:07:37 PC: Whatever you want.
1:07:41 PA: Whatever you want. So let’s jump into that.
1:07:43 Speaker9: So if… Let me see if I got this straight. If the point of life is to enjoy it, which I’m totally down for…
1:07:50 PC: No, live it.
1:07:51 Speaker9: To live it, okay, live it. And what’s the point of detaching from life then? Or if detaching…
1:07:57 PC: Do you think I’ve been detached from life?
1:08:00 Speaker9: Well, detachment. Sense of detachment from life so…
1:08:04 PC: I would suggest…
1:08:04 Speaker9: [unclear speech].
1:08:05 PC: Okay, no you can, and you should. I don’t perceive the opposite of attachment to be detachment. I perceive it to merely be… It’s like, “Did the octopus grab your arm or not? And if it did, that’s attachment, but if it didn’t, that’s not detachment.” It merely didn’t stick to you and cause you to get little suck-hold wounds. So it’s not about detachment. It is merely a matter of not getting wrapped up in the stuff. Which is different, it’s very different. Which is also very different to the purpose of life to be to live it, rather than the purpose of life is to enjoy it. I don’t actually believe the purpose of life is to enjoy life, ’cause that would be to say, “I rejected all that is not enjoyment.” It’s to accept what comes.
1:08:54 Speaker10: So when I say I enjoy, I mean enjoy the suffering also…
1:08:56 PC: Sure, accept. I would say accept is a better word than enjoy. ‘Cause we have such perceptions of what enjoy means.
1:09:04 PA: Hedonism. Hedonism?
1:09:10 PC: Hey, if that’s your bag, do it. Really, no, for some people, that is a crucial phase or a thing that they need to engage in in order to work through the pile of karma they’ve got. There’s work that they need to do, and that might be in a hedonistic context. And one man’s or woman’s hedonism is another man’s Catholic priest. I don’t know, I just made that up. It doesn’t make any sense. Sorry for all my Catholic friends in the room. Really not so happy with that. [chuckle]
1:09:40 Speaker11: Is there is a divine purpose in your life and you feel that you’ve reached it, or do you feel like [unclear speech].
1:09:45 PC: I love the fact that you asked this question. No. I don’t actually believe that we have a purpose whatsoever. I believe that we are a blank canvas upon which the universe paints purpose. And some of us grab a purpose and stick it on that blank canvas and say, “My purpose is to bake muffins every day for the world. Or my purpose is to be a firefighter. Or my purpose is to, whatever.” That’s fine. But then it’s not your purpose, you change it. It’s fluid in fact. And we all think that… And some people you’ll meet, they’ll have had the same purpose for 80 years of their life or whatever. That’s great, if that’s what they wanna do. And so in a meta way, if you ask me, “Peter, what is your purpose?” I’d say, “Okay, fine, I’ll tell you. My purpose is to stay a blank canvas so that I can remain a canvas upon which purpose can be painted at any given moment.”
1:10:36 PC: And that is back to Karma Yoga. So my purpose sometimes is to walk the dog. My purpose is to help my wife. My purpose is to help friends with their businesses. My purpose is to keep studying, keep working on these… Through the practices that I have. And for some people, that’s okay… For some people, it seems scary not to have a purpose or wrong in some way. I find that most people spend their whole life searching for purpose. And it’s not necessary to search for it. It will come to you no matter what, in dribs and drabs.
1:11:12 Speaker12: If the purpose of life is to live, let’s say, Carl Young was living his life, but he didn’t wanna have accept his divine purpose in terms of working for his capacity of [unclear speech] others. So in other words if you wanna work at Home Depot, [unclear speech]?
1:11:26 PC: Sure.
1:11:26 Speaker12: But in my [unclear speech] I feel like this is almost is he doesn’t have a say on what [unclear speech].
1:11:34 PC: Sure.
1:11:36 Speaker12: He owes it to the consciousness to give us some more.
1:11:42 PC: I would argue that Carl Young isn’t the only one that would have been able to deliver those insights. That could have been any given being that would arise in that moment, that was able to be clear enough that that was the understanding they captured, and could spit it back out on the page for us. So I don’t go, “Oh my God, thank God Carl Young decided that was his purpose.” I go, “Okay, I have to do the work at home depot, great. I need a hammer. Who’s gonna give me the hammer? Who’s gonna give me the book on consciousness and archetypes?”
1:12:06 Speaker12: If Carl Young is living his life, if he didn’t… If his spirit wasn’t free enough to go down that path? If you let fear get in the way of trying to… He didn’t want his ego to [unclear speech].
1:12:18 PC: He’s got an infinite number of lives to come back to to figure it out next time. Or someone else is going to. So the question you’re asking comes from a… It really comes from a dual place. It’s to assume that Carl Young is separate from all the other people that could come or have come previously. If you think of it as it’s all one blob of mass consciousness expressing itself as a multitude of humans, it’s gonna… That consciousness is gonna figure it out. And I don’t worry about it being an Austrian psychologist.
1:12:49 Speaker12: But I’m more worried about the person, if they had a God given gift, and they don’t get the chance to express it, to live that gift, what happens to [unclear speech], what [unclear speech] depressed actions, suicidal.
1:13:00 PC: So that, instead of thinking of it as, “This is a unique soul that has an imprint on it from the beginning that has to be expressed, and if it’s not expressed, then there’s torment and trauma or otherwise.” Instead, the way that I think of it is that person merely needs to remain clear and blank and try to remove as much ego as possible and have flexibility in their identity so that that which the universe requires just comes through them. That’s gonna come through somebody, if it doesn’t come through you, it’s gonna come through him or her, and the universe doesn’t give a fuck who it’s gonna come through, it’s just gonna come through. So was it sad that it didn’t come through you? That’s a judgement, doesn’t matter to me, I don’t care if it came through you or not…
1:13:45 Speaker12: Learning to resist success during the suffering.
1:13:50 PC: Yeah, exactly. So, not resisting is a crucial life skill, and we all remain to need to practice that, including myself. That’s an awesome thing to keep catching. I catch it every day, I’m like, “Oh, why am I resisting this?”
1:14:04 PA: Just live it.
1:14:04 PC: Yeah.
1:14:05 Speaker13: Embracing the pain.
1:14:06 PC: Yeah.
1:14:06 PA: Embrace the pain.
1:14:07 PC: Yeah. Yeah, for sure.
1:14:09 Nicole: I’m curious as tho how you find that balance between being and doing? You’ve done a lot of stuff and it seems like a lot of the lessons and whatever are in the doing, but there’s also that… I’ll give you a concrete example, I quit my job in search of doing something with more meaning, alignment, purpose. Now I’m theoretically looking for a job, and it’s like, “Do I have as may coffee chats, and interviews, and explore as many possibilities? Or do I kind of just be?” Or like, could you give me an example?
1:14:46 PC: Sure. I always go back to this analogy of the stream and floating downstream. Not only floating downstream, you can chose the speed, so you could swim downstream if you like. And so I try to, in any given moment think… If I need to make decisions that I’m not really honed in and clear enough that it just… I’m being taken away in flow, ’cause I’m not in-flow all the time. Today if I’m in-flow for, like, a few hours I feel great. I get some days where it’s, like, all-day flow, and that’s incredible. And so when I’m not purely in-flow I go, “Okay, at least what’s swimming downstream here?” So for you, it would be, “You know, I had those three interviews. That one job isn’t perfect, but I can see how it would be swimming downstream ’cause it gives me that income stream that I need and I could see it as a stepping stone to the next thing. So I’m gonna stop resisting taking on the new gig and I’m just gonna take it and know that it’s impermanent anyway, so what’s the big deal?
1:15:46 PC: Why am I wrapping myself around a tree over this, like, very temporary thing?” It could be five years, very temporary. That’s still very temporary. So I’ve always looked for the downstream wherever possible. And then you decide, “Can I swim faster if I really feel that this current is there to take me further somewhere else?”, and it always is. And that’s why we meditate, that’s why we study. We’re literally wanting to go down the stream of enlightenment faster, call it whatever you want. And that’s something baked into this being that we are. There is something there related to a, I don’t even want to use the word “improvement”; there’s no words, really, to describe this urge. Urge is not even the right… It’s just a… There’s a force pushing through all of us that has made us from a little… A bang in the universe to a complex living thing, and we sometimes forget that we’re the end-point. We’re like the tip of the comet of all of that.
1:16:43 Nicole: So can we accelerate our swimming downstream?
1:16:48 PC: Oh God, that’s a Zen koan if I’ve ever heard one. Actually, technically I don’t think so. I really think that it all unfolds according to the way that it’s supposed to anyway, so no. It may have given me some comfort to think that I had control over the speed, I guess that’s what I would say. Now I actually don’t worry at all about the speed of any unfolding whatsoever, ’cause in order to worry about speed you have to have, relativity and everything about past and future and distances, and you don’t need to worry about any of that. So no, in fact you can’t go faster, you just are going.
1:17:29 Speaker13: Can you just talk about, working on that you know and, like [unclear speech] work on that [unclear speech], but…
1:17:38 PC: Well, I’ll tell you what I’m doing. First was through the use of plant medicine experiencing it, that’s a big one, that’s a very big one. The next is reading about it. The next is, on a daily basis, a Memento Mori, so remember you’re gonna die. You should be remembering that every day, every moment ideally, and that will put things in perspective. You’ll interact with people more, you’ll love people more, you’ll kiss more passionately, you’ll be a better friend, all those things. And then… You don’t have to do this… This is what I’ve been doing is studying how to do contemplative care, you know, hospice work essentially. So there’s some really cool courses you can take. There’s a death doula course you could take, Zen Care here in Manhattan has a nine-month program, which I believe I am going to apply to. I need to go to a session next week to see if it’s a right fit, it’s quite a commitment. And then that next thing would be just sitting with the dying.
1:18:41 PC: So I realize that this is a life skill that most people don’t have, and that my parents are gonna die, my brother and sister are gonna die, my friends are all gonna die. There’s no one that I know that’s not gonna die, but no one that I know is preparing to be present for them, so why don’t I be the guy, ’cause I’ve got the freedom to do it, to learn how to be there for people? There’s a lot to learn, I’ll put it that way. And none of this is new, this has been… If you just want to talk about an American spiritual phasing. I mean, Ram Dass and that crew in the ’60s were creating dying centers that you could go to, and they were infusing Hindu and Buddhist tradition into being… Care for people. So I think it remains to be important, and I think it remains to be an underserved area that our culture hasn’t been focused on. We’re scared of it, we like to hide it; we like to put our old people in places we don’t see them so that they die in the night and we don’t have to deal with it.
1:19:43 Speaker14: [unclear speech] from old people or [unclear speech].
1:19:47 PC: Primarily to alleviate the suffering of the people that are dying. I don’t think I need to learn that much more about death personally. I’m sure that I will learn more about the people and the idea is that when you walk in the room, you leave yourself at the door. It’s not Peter’s death doula show, it’s that dying person’s death show. So, you gotta be as blank as possible and I don’t mean zoned out, I mean, literally like, “How can I just be there?” And I think what we’ll see, at least I know that I will see in what people have seen you do this work, is call it 95% of people that walk in that room were like, “Oh no, it’ll be fine and they’ll figure something out and don’t worry about it” or small talk. I’d prefer to be like, “So you’re ready to die? What are we doing? You ask for a hospice person to come in or what do we do? We’re dying, right? So what’s going on? Do you wanna talk about it? You don’t. Okay, what do you wanna do? You wanna make paper airplanes? Let’s make paper airplanes. Okay, I could do that.”
1:20:48 Speaker15: Have you done a Boga?
1:20:51 PC: I have never done a Boga. I don’t have the desire to. I guess I may, I don’t know. Actually, after the Ayahuasca ceremonies last year, I didn’t come out of it going like, “I can’t wait to do this again.” It was just like, “I don’t know if I will ever need to. I really feel like I got it.” There’s an old saying that like, “If you pick up the phone and get the message, you hang up, you don’t need to stay on the line.” I feel like I got the message. It doesn’t mean I won’t want, as they say, go back for a dusting, stoke the flame again. The analogy is like you can’t burn hot like a bonfire all the time, and then you just gotta maintain those coals. Sometimes it’s nice to let those coals flare up a little bit. Still an attachment to experience, like a Buddhist monk would be like, plant medicine, just sit in the forest for 24 hours meditating. I’ll be in a different much more far out place than you, right?
1:21:43 Speaker13: Related to the debt question, I’m wondering, how you dealt with debt in your life, specifically interest it seems like, [unclear speech].
1:21:53 PC: Yeah, so interesting. If you were in debt 5000 years.
1:21:58 Speaker13: Yeah, I heard that.
1:22:00 PC: Yeah. So, wow! Debt is like the original slavery. It is. It’s the thing that got us bound to the Lords and we had to work off that debt by giving our wheat and corn and all this other stuff, and those who are more savvy could get back more than they were borrowed from in the first place, and that was interest. I am guilty of usury, I guess you could say. I’ve made a lot of money loaning people, a lot of money. I don’t feel bad about it. I’m not sure if I’m supposed to. These are wealthy people that are borrowing money from me. I would honestly never… I could never imagine being involved in some kind of payday loan style thing, doing harm to people through interest would be wild. It’s hard to know if am I doing harm by loaning people money that wanna build companies or buildings. I don’t know.
1:23:01 PC: Interest is, I think it’s fascinating you ask that question. It’s something that governs our lives that we don’t really think about as much. I have, I guess, a special level of freedom that it doesn’t govern mind, it sort of feeds it instead, and I guess a lot of us, we really want that if we feel like financial security is a crucial thing. Not all of us do, not everyone thinks that financial security is crucial. It’s a very sort of Western concept, and I guess you’d include Europe in that, in certain societies called Native American societies. People weren’t trying to get a stack of beads, that’s not what it was about, so that’s a good book for anyone interested in this interest question or debt question.
1:23:52 PA: Are we moving back to that, economy?
1:23:54 PC: I think there are some places that are if you are interested in this kind of stuff. I’d read about intentional communities. This is not a new thing. This has been happening for a long time. These are essentially communes, micro-communities that gets set up that can escape the bounds of interest in debt and governance in certain ways, shapes and forms. “The Unsettlers” is a great book on that and so you see these intentional communities popping up in a lot of places. The problem with them, for the most part, is that it’s like most things, the wealthy are the ones that get to play first and the apologists or the right thing is the apologists would say, “Well, it’s the kings that had toilets first.” Okay, “Well, how long does it take for everyone else to get plumbing?” I don’t spend a lot of time trying to figure out how to change the system, so to speak, and then we talked about Agtech.
1:24:45 PC: Instead, I think I choose to accept that the world is as it is, and that if I can show up and be helpful in some way, shape or form, great, and that usually results in a daily practice of being with people in service, and that feels really good, and it’s less about me trying to make another dollar or build another company. I have to suppress those urges. It’s like a habit that I have. Making money is literally a habit that, I have that have been trying to figure out how not to make it and that’s a weird thing to say. It’s kind of hard, maybe I’ll stop.
1:25:21 PA: Keep going.
1:25:21 PC: Careful what you wish for.
1:25:23 PA: Yeah. Be careful what you wish for.
1:25:25 PC: Alright.
1:25:25 PA: Thank you, Peter.
1:25:26 PC: My Pleasure.
1:25:27 PA: If you could all give Peter a round of applause.
1:25:27 PC: Thanks, guys.