Friday, February 19, 2016

"...people are very threatened by a free lifestyle in the United States. They want to bring everyone into the fold, and they don’t like the idea of people living in a free type of manner."

"KB: On your blog, you talk about living a minimalist lifestyle. Would you care to describe this lifestyle and how you got into it?  
 SM: Divorce does that to a man [laughs].  I grew up in a typical American home. My parents were simple people. They didn’t have big material needs. My fondest memories were of camping outside in a little tent. As a kid growing up I had two pairs of shoes, one for the gym and one for school. I had one little suit that I was wore to Church. It was simple. There was never a question of what I was going to wear.  But when I got married, I got into some mass accumulation. 

After the divorce I just wanted a simple life. So I got rid of everything I owned and moved into an Indian teepee in rural Pennsylvania. It was fantastic. I had one trunk with some clothes and a ten speed bike.  After many years of travelling, I had a rule where if I couldn’t fit it into the trunk of my car, then I wouldn’t own it. I never liked to be tied down. I can basically be anywhere, at anytime, in about fifteen minutes. I lived very simply for many years.  

Once I got married in Philadelphia, I opened up a gym, bought my first house, and started accumulating stuff again. It was this constant worry about upkeep. Even though I loved working with people and loved owning my own gym, a lot of the time that I’d be at the gym, I’d just want to get home. Then I’d be at home, and I’d want to get back to the gym.  There was this chronic sense of dissatisfaction. Despite the fact that I had every type of material possession you could possibly imagine.  

 My wife and I ran the gym together. It was pretty tough on our relationship. We eventually broke up, and I moved out of her place. I've always had a dream of living in a small RV. ..

I lived in that van for basically three years. I can’t tell you how happy I was moving around in that RV. I drove across the United States, coast to coast, eight times. A lot of the time I basically lived in it in different towns. There are stringent laws about living in your vehicle. I used to hide out from local authorities [laughs]. It was really interesting because people are very threatened by a free lifestyle in the United States. They want to bring everyone into the fold, and they don’t like the idea of people living in a free type of manner. It threatens them. The norm is for everyone basically to work some job that they don’t really like and to buy stuff that they don’t really need. Eventually I started travelling more and more. I got to the point where the van became more of a nuisance. Right now it’s actually sitting in storage, and I haven’t seen it for two years....  

I have my life’s possessions down to a 90 liter bag.  When you carry your life’s possessions on your back, it's pretty easy to live a minimalist lifestyle...

I don’t really have any aspirations because there’s nothing on this Earth that I want. I want to have enough money to live the free lifestyle that I have...

Every animal on the planet trains and works out when they’re living a natural lifestyle. Only animals that are kept indoors and overfed lose that desire to play.   I had a cat that lived to eighteen years old, and she was still playful even up to the end. I think there’s an instinct in people to play. I think when you’re living a natural lifestyle and eating properly, then it doesn't even really require discipline. The days where I don’t feel like working out, I rest. The days I feel like working out, I I do. So to me, motivation is all part of being the human animal.  

KB: So you live day-by-day, just listening to your body. 
SM: Yup. It just always feels so good to move and to train. It’s just a joy. It’s not a chore...

It’s a little bit trickier because a lot of people aren’t built like me. So I do work on very specific goals. It helps the average person stuck in the material world, working at material jobs. I have to come up with goals that are realistic and attainable, and I try to put a timeline on achieving it. Most people are goal motivated. People want something to work towards. They need an endpoint. With myself, I don’t need that endpoint anymore.  Everybody on the planet shares one thing in common: we’re all going to die, some sooner, some later, some in the next minute or the next hour. As you get a little bit older, you realize that the end is near. And you start to prepare yourself for that. You start to become at peace with that. You just realize that all this human suffering and human striving is basically pretty meaningless.  The true goal should be elevated spiritual consciousness, the part of you that never dies...

Everyone has a higher self. Some people refer to it as the Great Within. Even in AA, they refer to your higher power. But your higher power is not some celestial being sitting on a throne in heaven. It’s all within you.  This was a key point in all the great religious texts. Guru is spelt Gee-You-Are-You. You are your own teacher. Everything you need to know is within. It’s just a matter of unlocking it, and it’s a matter of accepting that. You need to realize that you are God. Every person has the power to be whatever it is that they want to be. The catch is that you have to have the faith of a child. If you have fears or doubts, then you cannot receive it.  

KB: How do you dispel those fears and doubts? 
SM: That’s not to say I don’t have my fears and doubts occasionally. But over the years you just realize that fear is a fraud. There really isn’t anything to fear at all. Once you become aware of these thoughts, you start to awaken to the fact that you were taught to think like this at a very early age. Most people are completely sleep walking. They're not even aware of what they’re telling themselves. 

Once you’re aware, you can cleanse them from your mind. Some people refer to it as enlightenment. You don’t need to live in a cave in the Himalayas to achieve it. Every person is capable of doing it. It’s just about constantly monitoring your thoughts and realizing that they create your reality. 

What you believe is exactly what you’ll get. If you believe in scarcity, then that’s what you’ll experience. If you believe that you’re destined to have a shitty job, a crappy personal life, and a toxic relationship, well, that’s what you’re going to get. If you believe in abundance and in an unlimited universe like I do, then you experience more and more good.  Just realize that any setback you have in your life is the result of your own negative thoughts, fears, and feelings. You need to get control of that and reverse it...  

Life was never meant to be a struggle. So if things are effortful and are a real drag, you know that you’re headed in the wrong direction. Just stop and change directions. Or sometimes just stop and do nothing for a while. Sometimes the best course of action is no action.’s all about self-awareness. I still go through my stuff like everybody does. I’ll still run into human conflicts and fears, but at least I’m aware what needs to be done. Even awareness at a basic level changes everything. It’s amazing what happens. You just start to see more and more goodness in life and things start to get better and better.  It’s a practice—it’s just like working out. When you first start, you can’t run very far without going to mouth breathing. Maybe you can’t do any pushups in the beginning. But when you constantly practice, you get better and better. As you get better, things in your life just fall into the place. It’s almost like a miracle, but the miracle is self-created.

The person who learns to be satisfied with little, will always have enough. That’s an important concept for people. People don’t need a lot of stuff to be happy. You cannot find happiness outside yourself. I don’t care how many cars, how many houses, how much power you have, none of it means a wit. When you’re on your deathbed, it’s not going to matter one bit. It’s what you do with this spiritual life that you’ve been given that’s going to be the key. People just completely lose sight of that sometimes, and they have these really just sad, miserable lives. Everybody has the ability to be very happy, healthy, and prosperous. If they just realize that you don’t get those things from seeking outside yourself, you have to go within.  That’s what Christ meant when he said ‘the kingdom of God is within.'"

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