I Feel Most Truly Myself When I Feel Like No One At All

"Who cares if there is an apocalypse?" and other inquiries...

[Note: This is a written essay, the full text of which is available below. The podcast aspect of this post is for paid subscribers only and is a 15-minute candid commentary in which I reflect on this piece and the process of writing it. Enjoy.]

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Sometimes I get kinda serious and intense about stuff.

I start to feel like there’s a Very Important Mission that I must fulfill.

And who knows, maybe on one level there is…

Yet when I take a little time to look closer at my ‘mission’…

It starts to look like a contrivance or overlay.

Whatever it is, it doesn’t feel completely honest.

Doesn’t feel like my deepest truth.

Feels kinda like a compensatory mechanism designed to give my life some epic meaning.

Whenever I find myself writing intense calls to action—trying to whip people up into some sort of ‘New Earth warrior’ mode—it tends to feel a bit ‘off’ a few days or weeks later…

Don’t get me wrong: In the moment, when I’m writing stuff like this, it can feel very real and alive and powerful and moving…

But it doesn’t stick.

It might be a beautifully archetypal and mythopoetic narrative that speaks to some of our deepest human drives and longings for glory and significance…

Yet it doesn’t quite ring true.

Why?

I guess when I get down to it, when I look at it really closely…

The simple truth is…

What feels most true and real to me in day-to-day life is when I feel like no one at all.

When I feel like nothing.

When I feel like “I” am not even really here.

When it feels like there’s just this completely unsayable, effulgent Mystery blooming out of nothing and shape-shifting in completely unsayable ways…

When it feels like “I” simply am that unsayable Mystery, and so is everything else, and it’s all completely and utterly and unspeakably perfect—just the way it is.

When it feels like nothing needs to be done at all.

No world to save, no planet to heal, no civilization to awaken.

Those are all stories, overlays, interpretations.

They don’t feel as true to me as JUST THIS.

This ____________.

This miraculous now-ness.

Radiance.

Innocence.

Openness.

Weightlessness.

Life in the absence of conceptual interpretation…

Life when I stop believing my thoughts…

Who cares if there is an apocalypse?

“The belief that something is wrong is the fire under the ass of humanity.”

Jed McKenna

I know, I know, such a question sounds horrid, nihilistic, unconscionable…

Yet isn’t this a most essential question to ask right now?

Isn’t the “We must avoid apocalypse at all costs!!” narrative one of the ones ‘hooking’/running our species the most right now?

And what are the assumptions and sub-narratives built into/around this narrative?

“Earth is dying and must be saved.”

“Death is bad and scary and wrong and must be avoided.”

“Mankind is a cancer on this planet and we must atone for our sins and ‘fix’ our issues.”

“The extinction of our species, or of many earthly species, would be the gravest tragedy imaginable.”

“For our children’s children we must get hold of ourselves and discipline ourselves to make the ‘right’ choices.”

“We have control over our civilization and if we really want to, we can grab the reigns and right the course of this ship.”

And so on…

These are compelling, emotionally evocative narratives.

They imbue our lives at this historical moment with a tremendous amount of meaning.

They make us feel a sense of urgency—and often anxiety, worry, or terror—about the future.

They make it feel like the stakes are so, so high.

But… are they?

I’ve seen almost no one pose this question in my lifetime.

It feels taboo to do so.

“Of course the stakes are astronomically high, you nihilistic idiot!!!!”

“I assure you, I’m not a nihilist, good sir… I find sufficient meaningfulness to last me a lifetime in a single bite of a burrito.”

Ahem, um…

What if death is not ‘bad’ at all?

What if extinction is not ‘bad’ at all?

What if the total obliteration of Earth would be akin to one pixel slightly shifting color in an infinite-pixeled, hyper-dimensional movie?

What if nothing is ever truly lost, as it’s all actually occurring simultaneously, stored forever in the All-Mind—the timeless field of pure intelligence; the only non-thing that exists?

What if, indeed…

These are radical statements, I know.

And I’m totally not expecting a mass movement of people to hop aboard this platform…

Yet, to be honest, in my heart of hearts, this is what feels like truth to me:

Death is not ‘bad.’ Extinction is not ‘bad.’ Apocalypse is not ‘bad.’ It all simply is as it is. It’s all perfect. It’s all God. Nothing is ever truly lost. What looks to us like an ‘apocalypse’ looks to God like one ‘speck’ of infinite spaciousness morphing into a different-yet-equally-valid ‘speck’ of infinite spaciousness. It’s all part of the ‘plan.’ It all serves the highest. It’s all love.

[Giving that one a few moments to land…]

Ironically, if everyone on Earth suddenly realized this deeply within their hearts and bones…

We’d probably avert destruction and manifest something akin to Heaven on Earth.

Our fear would dissipate; universal love would be an obvious reality; and we’d know viscerally that what we do to ‘others’—including plants, animals, etc.—we do to ourselves. Our global civilization would rapidly reformat itself as an expression of unconditional love.

And that’d probably be pretty friggin’ cool and splendid and New-Earth-alicious

But also… who cares?

Who needs a New Earth?

"Here is my secret: I don't mind what happens."

Jiddu Krishnamurti

Even if that happened, wouldn’t it also be akin to one ‘speck’ of infinite spaciousness morphing into a different-yet-equally-valid ‘speck’ of infinite spaciousness?

See, my instinctual orientation as a being on this planet does tend to align with ‘New Earth’ narratives.

Anthropocentrically, as a human, I am inclined to want to heal and liberate Earth’s planetary consciousness and to manifest “the more beautiful world our hearts know is possible” for my daughter and all the other children to inherit…

All my art and writing and projects and so forth tend to focus on moving things in this direction…

BUT…

As soon as I start to make this an uncompromising mission or dogma…

As soon as I start feeling like the New Earth needs to happen…

As soon as I start to develop a shade of missionary zeal or proselytizer’s intensity…

As soon as I find myself telling people ‘we’ ‘must’ do X or Y…

I know on some level that I’ve ‘lost the plot.’

I know I’ve gotten ‘hooked.’

I know I’m taking a mythological *interpretation* of truly indefinable, *uninterpretable* reality too seriously.

Divine Relaxation

"I don't mind what happens. That is the essence of inner freedom. It is a timeless spiritual truth: release attachment to outcomes, deep inside yourself, you'll feel good no matter what."

— Jiddu Krishnamurti

So then I take a cosmic step back…

I zoom out…

I drop it all…

I go for a walk in a forest and sit on a tree stump and stare at the clouds.

And I remember that all my stories are bullshit.

I remember that no human story or map can *ever* come remotely close to containing reality.

Like, not within a trillion light years.

Seriously. Not being hyperbolic. That’s how it actually seems to me.

So I sit on a stump and I become no one again…

I become the non-knowing openness of Now…

I drop the words “trees” and “sky” and “sun” and “clouds”…

And I’m just the indivisible.

The undefined.

And within that space there is an intrinsic peace.

An intrinsic trust.

An intrinsic knowing that nothing needs to happen in any particular way.

An intrinsic knowing that nothing *can* happen that is outside of God’s perfection.

In that space this is self-evident.

In that space the body could burst into flames and it wouldn’t be a ‘problem.’

(Though it would still probably hurt like hell.)

It would just be a ‘speck’ of infinite spaciousness morphing into a different-yet-equally-valid ‘speck’ of infinite spaciousness.

In that space there is Divine Relaxation.

In that space of being no one, I feel most truly myself.

So… Fuck my ‘mission’

A couple weeks ago I wrote:

Knowing that it is my calling to create high-quality initiations, ceremonies, rituals, retreats, and rites of passage…

Knowing that I am meant to create digital & physical spaces and sanctuaries where soul family can do this work…

Knowing that my truest mission is to BE my truth, BE my joy, BE my love, in this lifetime…

To come from and radiate the truth, love, and freedom that I am, on a daily basis…

Knowing that I will not compromise this mission.

On one level these words feel beautiful and true.

On another level: Fuck these words…

And ALL words I ever write.

They’re not IT.

They’re just words.

Burn ‘em all down.

I hereby recant and disavow ‘em all.

All the ones I already wrote, all the ones I will write.

I love ‘em, but they’re not IT.

I love the game of words, don’t get me wrong.

I love attempting to poetically capture reality within language.

But it can’t ultimately be done.

And furthermore…

Fuck my “truest mission”…

I don’t have a mission. I don’t want one.

A mission implies a need for things to go a certain way.

Or a need to change something into something else.

"Do you want to improve the world?
I don't think it can be done.

The world is sacred.
It can't be improved.
If you tamper with it, you'll ruin it.
If you treat it like an object, you'll lose it."

— Lao Tzu, Tao Te Ching

Good ol’ Lao Tzu, telling it like it is.

His words here have always felt to me like a long drink from a crystal-clear mountain stream.

Lao Tzu was a man who knew he was not really a man.

A man who knew how to be no one.

A man who knew that perfection is now.

A man who knew the world is not an object or collection of objects, but rather an…

Indivisible, indefinable, imperturbable, intelligent mystery.

Being No One

When I’m no one at all, I feel most like myself.

When I’m no one, I feel true.

To be completely relaxed in the eye of a storm…

Completely relaxed even as one’s world appears to be disintegrating all around in a great hurricane of apocalyptic proportions…

Completely relaxed even as dense, gloppy textures of emotion-energy are moving through one’s system and watery tears are erupting…

Allowing it all to be as it is.

That’s freedom.

That’s peace.

That’s love.

Not the oh-so-human-love that chooses this over that…

Nope, not that love, but rather…

The Love that chooses THIS, no matter what it looks like.

The Love that embraces every single appearance as if it were ALL the very Body of God…

Because it is.

In all its tragicomic, gorgeous-terrible, blissful-excruciating, creating-and-destroying glory.

It’s ALL pure, unadulterated God-Mystery.

And Thou Art That.

Fuck!!!

I could rip my hair out with it!!

I could laugh my way to the moon!!

It’s so fucking TRUE!!

Tears well in my eyes now, as ‘Nuvole Bianche’ by Ludovico Einaudi plays in my earbuds…

It’s all so much…

And yet it’s nothing at all.

So extraordinary…

And yet so ordinary.

It’s peace.

Peace beyond description.

Way, way, way beyond description.

And it’s what I always come back to.

The remedy for all confusion.

The peace of being no one.

The peace when there isn’t even any room left to trust or surrender…

Because “trust” and “surrender” imply one entity trusting or surrendering to another entity…

But when you’re no one, there are no entities.

There’s just You.

The only non-thing that’s ever been.

And of course you trust yourself.

You designed the whole shebang.

And it’s all You.

And no matter what it looks like…

You always remain.

Inviolate. Deathless. Forever unstained.

I can’t write words that get closer than this.

Though they remain infinite light years away…

Hah…

What a trip, man.

Why I Wrote This

I knew I had to write this.

Because for a few days there, I was getting intense again.

Emanating a bit of missionary zeal.

Yet the last couple days…

I woke up calm and relaxed.

It didn’t feel like THE WORLD IS BURNING AND WE MUST ACTIVATE AND DO SOMETHING!!

It felt like I didn’t need anything from anything.

It felt like being no one.

And it felt so freaking true, man.

Like, just, self-evident, self-verifying, self-revealing.

When you know, you know.

When you’re no one, you just know.

When you forget all your interpretations, you just know.

“Stop thinking and end your problems,” as our wily friend Lao Tzu put it.

But you don’t even have to stop thinking, you just have to stop believing the thoughts.

They’re not actually what they say they are; they’re just another texture, another mysterious energy-presence appearing in/as mysterious consciousness.

When you stop believing ‘em, there’s just peace. Just trust. Just freedom. Just love. For all of it.

Where Does That Leave Me?

Right here.

Relaxing into what I already am…

Playfully being what I already am…

Which is what I tend to do.

Right here…

Arriving once again at the recognition that I can’t not share about the intrinsic peace of being no one, of being the mystery.

Call it “awakening” if you like—I don’t particularly like that word lately; sounds too lofty when THIS is simple, right here, the birthright of every being.

I don’t need to be some revered guru or teacher or something…

I ain’t perfect or fearless or ‘fully enlightened’ and I lose touch with this and get ‘hooked’ by mind/ego too…

Yet I don’t experience my ‘hooks’ and fears in the same way anymore. It’s like there’s vastly more space around them, and it’s relatively easy to ‘see through’ them, hold them lovingly in awareness, and notice that they’re empty. They’re not what they claim to be; they’re indefinable textures of indefinable Radiance.

So… damn, man, I gotta share about this.

Gotta attempt to communicate it.

Because that is where the real juice is for me.

That’s what’s alive and exciting.

That’s what’s been most liberating for me.

Seeing / knowing / being the astonishing miracle of Now.

:’)

Feels good to recognize this.

That that’s where it’s really at for me.

It supersedes and encompasses everything else.

All questions and problems dissolve in its presence.

You know it’s the truth because it’s such an enormous relief.

The actual truth of what you are feels good.

It feels like remembering the greatest, most reassuring, most uplifting, yet ridiculously simple, ordinary, and in-plain-sight secret imaginable.

Contrast that with how you feel when you believe all your mind-stories about “human extinction” and “the end of the world”…

Night and day, huh?

This remembrance is what we’re all seeking, deep down.

We chase all the shiny and dopamine-spiking pleasures of this world as a proxy for what our hearts truly yearn for…

God.

Home.

Now.

____________.

Yep, so that’s something I’m likely gonna find myself doing a lot in this lifetime:

Creatively, playfully, lovingly pointing at the One Mystery.

Yay!! This excites me!!

If all of us were to realize THAT, we probably would ‘save the world’…

But that’s not why I wanna do it.

I wanna do it as an end in itself.

I wanna do it because I love it and it’s fun and it brings me joy.

I wanna do it because it’s who I am.

One who playfully melts cages.

I’m not meant to go meditate in a cave in this lifetime…

I’m meant to be a father and husband and son and brother and to create things in this world…

And I love all of that so much that it brings tears to my eyes now.

And yet…

What contains all of that…

What I feel so warm to remember and share…

Is God.

All-Mystery.

That which is discovered through the art of being no one.

Being no-thing, yet everything.

Seeing that Home is always, already the case.

Seeing God in All.

You are the One Divine Miracle, my friend.

And you can entirely trust.

I love you.

Peace,
JB


Afterword

I just finished editing this post to prepare to publish it. I originally wrote it a couple weeks ago. I find myself chuckling now at my own process and my intensity. 😅 My funny pendulum swings between form and formlessness—my ongoing process of attempting to synthesize and seamlessly merge the two in my work. Attempting to hold the “both / neither / far beyond either” of everything.

It’s tricky, man—this balancing of the Perfection of All with the sense of a calling to help birth a New Earth. I was probably too hard on missions and words in this post (lol). I love words and I love the projects/missions that come and go in my life. Yet I’ll have these periods of sorta melting back into pure Being and my mission-driven parts/words don’t ring as true.

It’s an ongoing dance. Years ago I tattooed Nietzsche’s maxim “become what you are” on my left shoulder. I’d now shorten it to “be what you are.” Interestingly, this maxim of “be what you are” continues to feel like my ‘truest mission’ or calling, if I have one. I like how it can be read through both a ‘form’ or ‘formlessness’ lens:

Formlessness: Rest/relax as that which you already are.

Form: Embody and express your soul’s truth in this lifetime.

That seems to be pretty much what ‘I’ keep on a’doin’… Playfully being what I am. Playfully relaxing into the perfect love that I already am—that we all already are—while also coming to more fully, purely, unconditionally embody / express / be / live / radiate this love, without attaching to outcomes. If your mission is about where you’re coming from / what you are *being*, there is no neediness for particular outcomes.

Again, it’s a beautiful dance. And I keep getting better at lovingly holding space for all of it.

— JB


P.S. What are your thoughts on this post and my post from two days ago on suffering as the greatest koan? Or my recent post on ‘the answer to every question’? Your feedback is really valuable for me. Thanks for taking the time to send me notes or click the ‘heart’ button on Substack so that I know the words are ‘landing.’


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Jordan Bates is a wizard, wisdom synthesizer, writer, artist, trickster, rapper, lover of Tao, and founder of Ouroboros. Find him on social media and view his latest books/albums/offerings here.

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