Precepts: What You Want, Golden Retriever vs. Wolf & Journey?

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Welcome back to my Precepts series—inspired by meaningful thoughts, insights, and discoveries I have during each week, and intentionally designed to help make your life just a little bit better. Enjoy!

You can find the Precepts series in its entirety here.

Precept 55: What You Want

In the realm of self-improvement and self-optimization, we are often taught to ask ourselves what we truly desire, to seek our souls for what we truly want out of life, or to analyze our life to figure out what is “not serving us.” We are encouraged to create complex vision boards and life plans based on our desires, passions, and goals. We are encouraged to seek out what we truly want in life and to create long-term strategies to help us achieve what we want.

But instead of asking yourself, “What do I want of my life?” what if you instead asked yourself this question: “What does God want of my life?” Instead of asking yourself what your vision board for your life should look like, consider asking yourself what God's vision board for your life looks like. Instead of asking yourself what will make you happy, ask yourself what will make God happy. It turns out that God’s plan for you might not be exactly what you would naturally choose, but if you are truly in union with God, you'll discover the greatest satisfaction and fulfillment by following the path that He has chosen for your life.

So yes, that means that if you are praying and seeking God's counsel each day, you may discover that a high-paying job in a big city makes you happy, but moving closer to your aging parents to care for them in a tiny community with fewer job opportunities might be what makes God happy; a trip to an exotic locale to live on the beach for two weeks might make you happy, but perhaps God would instead will for you to take that vacation time to help build a church or school in an underprivileged locale; or writing a book about health may be a personal career-boosting goal, but perhaps God would will for you to write an encouraging spiritual testimony instead.

It's not as though everything God wills for your life must be frowny-faced, discouraging, or something that feels like a begrudgingly difficult chore. In fact, if you follow God's will for your life, it is on that path that you will ultimately find the greatest joy. But once again, the key is this: for any decision-making process, ask yourself what would make God happy instead of asking yourself what will make you happy, and ask yourself what God wants instead of asking yourself what you want.

Precept 56: Golden Retriever or Wolf?

Not everything is black and white, all or nothing, good or evil. See, the nature of a substance or an activity matters. Think about it this way – a dog is not just a dog. It can be a golden retriever or a wolf. It can help you or harm you. It can be innocent or violent. Plant medicines (a wolf) can expand the mind, but also open you up to dark and dangerous entities, yet synthetic compounds (a golden retriever) can expand the mind, shift the consciousnes, and allow for powerful breakthroughs without involving forbidden pharmakia-like “divination” with God or with gods. A strip club is a dangerous and tempting place to be, yet a neighborhood bar can be a safe place to meet a friend for a cocktail. A grass-fed, grass-finished beef steak can nourish the body, while red meat from a CAFO food source can abuse animals, rape the planet, and introduce toxins into your body. So you can’t just say you will avoid anything that tweaks the brain, never go out to an establishment that serves alcohol, or completely shun red meat. There are many, many other subtle nuances that need to be considered with both wisdom and discernment and seeking God‘s counsel. So ask yourself, what breed of dog is this: a golden retriever or a wolf?

Precept 57: Journey

Speaking of plant medicines, if your experience is anything like mine, you'll find many who embark upon noble “mind expansion journeys” or report that they've experienced a series of meaningful “spiritual awakenings” are just finding an excuse to do drugs. Look, I realize this isn't always the case, but here's the thing: I know very few so-called “plant medicine enthusiasts” who are not engaged on a relatively shocking upper/downer roller coaster ride all day long, all in the name of “biohacking,” “self-experimentation,” or preparing for the next “journey.” Supposedly, the ultimate outcome of spiritual enlightenment should be eventually reaching the end of the road and not needing any of these compounds any longer, correct, or at least, successfully releasing all attachments in life. Yet, if you pay close attention or simply ask, it's hard to hunt down a wanna-be shaman these days who doesn't have some kind of drug in their system. While I realize the same could be said for most of the rest of the earth's population, who at any given minute in the day probably have nicotine, caffeine, kratom, EGCG, or some pharmaceutical in the bloodstream, and the same probably could have been said of our ancestors' use of wild herbs and plants, I do indeed think that the one population that should consider using drugs less is the population who claims to be using these substances to achieve ultimate and eventual freedom from them. After all, if you need to ingest or drink or smoke or vape or inject something to find God, you have a bit of a f*&ked relationship with God, wouldn't you say?

That's it for this week! If you have questions, comments, or feedback, please leave your thoughts below. I read them all!

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7 thoughts on “Precepts: What You Want, Golden Retriever vs. Wolf & Journey?

  1. Juliya says:

    The Russian tracker, ancestor to the golden retriever, was one of those informal regional breeds, developed by farmers in the Caucasus. It was further refined into a specialized retriever breed by Scottish hunters, which is the golden retriever we know and love today. So it was hardly a straightforward process.

    1. Robert says:

      So yes, this means that if you pray and seek God’s counsel every day, you may find that a high-paying job in a big city makes you happy, but moving closer to your elderly parents to care for them in a small community with fewer opportunities employment may be what makes God happy; traveling to an exotic location to spend two weeks on the beach might make you happy, but maybe God wants you to take that vacation to help build a church or school in an underprivileged place instead; or writing a health book may be a personal career-enhancing goal, but perhaps God wants you to write an encouraging spiritual testimony instead.

  2. Martin says:

    It took thousands of years to get from wolves to golden retrievers. That’s no exaggeration — there’s evidence of dogs living with humans at least twelve thousand years ago. We didn’t go straight from wolves to all of the dog breeds we have today; it’s more like we went from wolves to very primitive dogs which probably looked something like dingos or Canaan dogs, to a few bloodlines of dogs that were more specialized for hunting or herding or whatever, and so on, and eventually to a number of distinct regional types.

  3. Nathan Kay says:

    It seems that Ben is making the point that intention and moderation is key. The idea that naturals are always proper or man made is always not proper seems quite true. Perhaps an elaboration & emphasis on neurogenesis could be workable.

    If a man made compound can give you some mental/physical elbow room and utilized within the context of a solid routine that results in biological & neurological growth then this really seems a beneficial or commendable action.

    Similarly though plant medicines microdosed in such ways to also facilitate clarity and elbow room to enact an action of learning, skill building, gentle biohack activity, or to assist a deep stated of parasympathetic restoration then also this can be commendable.

    Ultimately though I can agree that taking large amounts of compounds or intending to space out or disembody to me do not seem practical or commendable.
    And many go on a merry go round of seeking peak experiences in all areas of life instead of valuing true absorption and flow with creation.
    Also building your perceptual neurology and biological resilience through an emphasis on the helpful actions first, then perhaps considering a lite nudge of assistance with a medicine later.

    Then eventually one can develop a quite established foundation from which their everyday experience has more clarity, peace, flow, synchronization with the most optimal environment, relationships, and alignment with the space of divine presence that is there in everything & everyone

    1. Nathan Kay says:

      The idea that naturals are always proper or man made is always not proper “does not” seem quite true:)

  4. Amy says:

    Hi Ben. I’ve followed your plant medicine views (initial enthusiasm and now disapproval) with interest. I find it curious that you are currently ok with synthetic compounds yet at the same time have written that evil is powerful and we are vulnerable in a journeying state. Do you really think that man’s little tweak of a natural molecule renders it safe and somehow off limits from powerful dark forces? And does this same tweak take the substance out of the pharmakiea category? Idk, but I think you might be splitting hairs and I would not be surprised to see your opinion change here as well. I look forward to your answer.

    1. Nathan Kay says:

      Pardon meant to reply to you yet and make a reflection on the article. Response is written above. Ben can maybe share some response if able. Either way the article is awesome

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