My whole life I have been drawn to great people.
Great athletes (Patrick Roy), politicians (Bill Clinton), comedians (Jim Carey), spiritual leaders (Dalai Lama) or writers (Christopher Hitchens). They were each the best in their respective fields. When I was young, I thought these people were demi-gods. I wanted to sculpt myself in their image because deep down I wanted to be happy. I knew then, as everyone does, that happiness only comes from achievement, from conquering the world. Right?
As I aged, this skewed perception began to fade. I realized these men while great, were deeply flawed. Bill Clinton almost threw away his presidency for a blowjob. Patrick Roy nearly ended his career over a fight with his wife. Christopher Hitchens drank and smoked himself into an early grave. They didn’t just make mistakes, they made mistakes that only an unsatisfied person would make. Nothing else could explain their behaviour.
This led me to start trying to understand what makes people happy, how to be successful and how to avoid collapsing in on myself. I wanted to find the people who had achieved it and follow their example. Yet, every time I found a person who had wise words, their actions seemed to not line up. Motivational speakers who flew in helicopters. Spiritual guru’s who were alcoholics. Business moguls who were perverts. If these people had solved the puzzle of life, why were they fucking up so hard? Why do great people do stupid things? If everyone is searching for happiness, why are so few people finding it?This is where I came upon Kailo.
While searching for answers it became clear that there are three major realms of life. Body – Mind – Spirit.
They are all equally important, and infinitely intertwined. To achieve true greatness, and avoid catastrophe along the way, you need to be adept in all these areas. Anyone who has ignored one or two of the realms may have achieved greatness temporarily yet ultimately succumbed.
What is a realm? Is it related to Mordor? These terms seem made up…
These realms may seem confusing at first, its because the areas are not clearly delineated in life. As I previously pointed out, they are inextricably linked. For the purposes of this explanation and your understanding I will outline their basic form. Do not make the mistake of thinking that these areas are ever separate.
This encompasses anything to do with the physical reality, our strength, touch, taste, sight etc. It is highly tangible. If you can describe it with a measurement, it is in the realm of the body. A person who has achieved greatness here will have mastery over their physical form. Think, olympic athletes, circus performers, chefs and singers.
This is the realm of the intellect and creativity. This is somewhat intangible, though we can try to measure intelligence or creativity, they are often crude tools. This is where we reason, decide and act. This is the broadest part of our identity but also is often the most shallow. Greatness here is where Nobel prize winners and political heroes reign.
This is the least tangible of the realms, but the one with the most significant impact in our life. Ironically, it is also the most oft-ignored. This is the realm of true love, compassion, and kindness. Where our morals spring from, where our gut reactions are born. This is where many people feel an empty sinking feeling late at night. Greatness in this realm is usually left to spiritual gurus, religious teachers and wise elders.
Interacting with each of the realms has a different sensation within our reality.
The realm of the body is like hail, it’s loud, it demands attention, and is easy to interact with.
The mind is like rain, still perceptible but harder to grasp and interact with. Once you have the right tools, it is possible to collect, analyze and theorize.
The spirit is like snow, silent, slowly accumulating. It seems to have no shape or weight, but if ignored, it will surround and smother you. By changing your mindset you can begin to interact with this realm, to build and play within it.
It is possible (and almost common) to achieve a very high level in any of the three of the realms. This is because most people aim for only achieving in one realm. We are told that those who conquer an area are happy. Our parents want us to be doctors, commercials tell us to be pro-athletes, your grandma begs you to become a priest. Yet, you don’t have to look hard to find miserable doctors, athletes and priests.
(If you find a miserable doctor who is also a priest and pro-athlete, please email me.)
People who have realized what I have realized, or begun to sense there is more, often push for a second facet. But it is truly a rare quality to strive for all three.
So why then should I aim for three? It is tough enough just trying to do a pull-up…
Francis Bacon the 17th-century philosopher, believed that there were two levels of happiness. The first could be achieved through hedonism, through sensual pleasures. This was a good level of happiness, but this way was prone to errors (see obesity and STD’s). He knew our senses often lead us astray. He believed there was a second level of happiness that could be achieved through rationality. This was a better way. It was less likely to mislead you. He was right.
But he didn’t go far enough. There is a third, higher level of happiness. Where you use all your human faculties to enjoy and experience the world, and when you do this well, you can become (almost) immune to the darkness in life. This is the end goal, to think great, to feel great, to do great and to make full use of your abilities.
Chasing pleasures of the body can lead you astray, so too can chasing pleasures of the mind, or of the spirit. Focus too hard on only one of these areas and eventually, it will bottleneck and it will begin to poison you. Think of the athlete who goes bankrupt, the professor who becomes obese and ill, the priest who abandons his morality for obsessions with pleasure. Each one is ironic, yet commonplace in our world.
These errors are not reserved for those who are at the height of their perspective realm. These same patterns are within each of us. I have seen friends and family who were succeeding in one area of life, but hopelessly running into walls elsewhere. I too have fallen into this trap.
I have tried to use my mind to get my body out of a rut. No matter what that motivational speaker tells you, it doesn’t work. You can’t will yourself healthy. I tried to use my mind to get my spirit out of a rut. It didn’t work, you can’t rationalize yourself to be moral. In fact, trying to solve your problems by using only one of the realms (which is what most people do) compounds the issue. In the same way, growing in each of the realms builds on each other, and multiplies your results. (See pro-athletes studying philosophy and hiring mindfulness coaches)
While I continued my search, I found that there was an extreme amount of similarity between all the approaches of great people. Across the different realms, eras and cultures, the same patterns emerged. As I began to recognize these principles I saw that not only were they common among great thinkers, they were common among ordinary people. These principles of living are self-evident and are everywhere. They apply to everything and everyone. They are unavoidable. They are true within and between each realm of body, mind and spirit.
I have attempted to summarize these principles so that they can easily be expressed and understood, but remember, “The finger pointing at the moon, is not the moon” (These were not etched in marble for a reason)
- Everything is Connected
- You have to take care of yourself
- There are no right answers, but there are better ones
- The Teacher/student relationship is integral
- There are three levels of learning
- Life is simple, not easy
- When you are sick, what is wrong can seem right
- Everything is either growing or dying
- Creativity needs boundaries
- Everyone is unique yet similar
- Life happens from the inside out
- There is always feedback and it is instant
1. Everything is Connected
If you didn’t know this one you are probably not alive. Everyone has heard this, felt it or realized it at some level by now. When you pick on that kid and feel a little sick,when someone says ‘I love you’ and your heart flutters. When you eat doritos smothered in fake chili cheese and get diarrhoea. Let me repeat incase you are trying to speed read this.
**Everything is connected!**
Every, single, god, damn, thing. I hope you don’t miss that point, it is essential to understanding anything. Go deeper than the surface connections and realize that how you treat your dog, and how your dinner tastes are connected. How you walk and why your spouse is cheating on you is related. It is all connected and the sooner you accept this, the sooner you will start to make breakthroughs.
2. You have to take care of yourself
‘Selflessness is the new selfishness’, as I like to say. Our culture has gone to the far end of narcissism, only to realize that it is a dead end. The more you fill your ego, the emptier you feel. You have probably already realized this on some level, but pushed it away because it interferes with how much you want those new shoes. The secret to living is giving. This principle builds off #1 and once you realize that other people’s quality of life is tied to yours, you will start to realize the importance of empathy. An important caveat here: you cannot give love if you don’t have love. This means for some, to help others, first you have to help yourself. This is why some things which I used to see as narcissistic I now see as vital because if you can’t hold yourself up, you will never be able to support others. And no those shoes aren’t vital.
3. There are no right answers, but there are better ones
Sorry to tell you, but there is no magic potion, no silver bullet, no secret pill. That being said, there are healthy potions, deadly bullets and useful pills. So many skeptics get sucked into this vortex of questioning everything (which can be good) but they go to a depth where they trust nothing and no one. I promise you, there are better ways of doing things. The average person’s life is far from optimal. Better foods, better exercises, better attitudes, better morals and better habits.
4. The teacher/student relationship is integral
This method of learning is indispensable. The era of the ethernet has created an abundance of impersonal self-learning. Which, don’t get me wrong, is amazing and I encourage it, but it will never replace the connection between teacher and student. Between Master and apprentice, sensei and grasshopper. You should always be teaching and should always be learning from a teacher(if not many). Use the internet as a tool to seek out great teachers and listen to everything they say. Then run what they say through the next step.
5. There are three levels of learning: acceptance/intelligence/experience
There are three levels of learning. You need to pass through all three before you can truly understand something.
The first level is acceptance, which is where many people start and stop. This is listening to someone who knows what they are talking about and taking it to heart. “Bodybuilder has big arms, he says do curls for big arms, therefore curls = big arms.”
Next is the level of intelligence. This is using reason and experience to weigh the idea and see if it holds water. “I know about anatomy and when you do a curl it involves the bicep muscle. Heavy weights cause adaptation in the body which often leads to muscle growth. Therefore doing curls with weight will cause an increase in muscle mass.” This is where most successful people get to, but then stop.
The final step is where very successful people go, this is the realm of experiential learning. “I am going to do curls every day for 1 month and watch my arms explode…. Oh look its been a month and my sleeves are ruined.” This is where it all comes full circle, and we put into action that which we have heard and processed. Experiencing causes the learning process to compound. While experientially learning you will incidentally learn other things. In doing that month of curls every day you probably learned discipline, you learned about soreness, you learned about stretching, you learned about scheduling, you learnt about dieting etc, etc. It is no coincidence that universities often teach through this style.
First a lecture where someone who knows more, tells you something and you trust them. Next you attend a seminar where you test their theory using your intellect and your experiences. Lastly you attend a lab where you use the theory to interact or create. You experience the theory.
6. Life is simple, not easy
I stole this from Dan John (who probably stole it from someone else) but, damn, it is eloquent. Ask someone who wants to lose weight what they need to do. “Eat less?” You are right. Ask someone what they need to do to get better grades. “Ugh, like, study more?” Wow, another right answer. For almost every situation we know what we need to do and the answer is simple, but it’s not easy. Eating less and studying more are hard. That being said, if you refer back to number three, there are better ways to do things and these will make it less hard but **spoiler alert** You still need to do them.
7. When you are sick, what is wrong can seem right
This principle is extremely important, it answers roughly 90% of issues people run into.
- “Why does running hurt so much?”
- “Why can’t I focus on my homework?”
- “Why do healthy foods taste bad?”
- “Why is meditation so boring?”
- “Why should I leave my house, it is terrifying?”
For the same reason that when you have a fever your body is hot but you feel cold. Sickness can make the wrong things seem right and the right things seem wrong. This isn’t limited to pathology (though it also often applies there) but sick – as in, there is an issue with that area of your life. This is where learning by acceptance, and having teachers you can trust becomes indispensable. You need to understand that; Even though at first it may feel wrong, it eventually will be right.
8. Everything is either growing or dying
You are always either growing or dying. On a cellular level, you are either catabolic or anabolic. You can never stand still and pause the processes of life (unless you are maybe cryogenically frozen, but even that just slows it down. It doesn’t avoid it and you will probably get freezer burn). The key takeaway is that we want to always be net growth. Otherwise, you will slowly break down your body, mind and spirit until you fade away (which is inevitable, but we’d like to enjoy our time here as much as possible).
**Note: ‘avoid dying’ does not mean trying to live forever, death is inevitable, try to make it your friend**
9. Creativity needs boundaries
Ever met a kid whose parents set no limits, ‘yikes’. This principle is the basis for why there are rules, rituals and even these principles. Life needs structure. A tree needs roots, your body needs bones. Too many rules can create a prison. Remember these are principles, not edicts.
Yet, only when we set boundaries are we able to focus and create.
- Why did Shakespeare write in iambic pentameter?
- Why do professional sports have rigid rules, enforced by paid officials?
- Why do monks follow such a strict regimen?
A life without limits is like a shower head with too many holes, no power, no direction, no point (and really shitty at washing off your shame). When we set up a defined area for our mind-body-spirit to focus, they can become powerful like a magnifying glass on a sunny day. For example, if you set out by saying, ‘I want to create food that is tasty but is also healthy and ethical’ you will end up with some 5 star cuisine that leaves you satisfied and the world a better place. If instead you just say ‘I want something that tastes good’, you end up with processed garbage that destroys your body and the environment. Don’t be afraid to set limits they are important but don’t swing too far or you can end up imprisoned by them.
10. Everyone is unique yet similar
These rules apply equally to everyone and everything but their specific embodiment is different for each person and situation. This is why there are no right answers, only better answers. Each of us will have a diet that works best, each of us will have a routine that fits best, and each of us will have a moral compass that guides best. That being said, these things will be largely similar with only slight differences from person to person.
11. Life happens from the inside out
The outside-in myth is dangerous, and it has been pushed on us for decades. This is the theory that things from the external world are the cause of our internal situation. It’s the bacteria on your food that makes you sick. It’s the watch on your wrist that makes you happy. Your friend being shitty is what ruined your day. This is entirely wrong. This outside-in paradigm has permeated all areas of our lives (largely because it is really good for selling shit). Here is the quote I have pinned on my wall;
“I am the only problem. I am the only solution”. Repeat that quote for any issue in your life.
- Why aren’t I making any friends? Because you’re doing something wrong.
- Why aren’t I losing weight? Because you are doing something wrong!
- Why do I hate my job? Because Walmart is fucking you over, and you are doing something wrong!
Who they are, what you are eating, and what your job is – these things do matter. But they are only a part of the equation, and a minor part at that. Trying to control the external world will kill you quickly. Instead focus on your reaction to the external world, stay in your sphere of influence, and make the best choices possible.
12. There is always feedback and it is instant
“Every action has an equal and opposite reaction”, except opposite does not mean if you do something good a bad thing happens. It means if you send hate outwards, you equally send hate inwards. Everything you do has an immediate reaction or consequence. Often times we are unaware because it occurs on a level we are not in touch with. When you punch someone in the face, immediately on a deep level, you punch yourself. You get a bloody nose, deep down in your spirit. Years later, when the blood from that spiritual wound finally drips down to your level of awareness, you will feel an awful pain, but you will have no idea what caused it.
This constant feedback also occurs with things you don’t even realize you are sending out into the world. For example, if you are saying awful things about someone in your head, that negativity is still going into the world and it is still causing an equally negative reaction within yourself. This is why you can’t hide negative traits and actions. If you try to bury these negative features, you end up unknowingly poisoning everyone you come into contact with.
I did not create these principles (My last name is not Christ) and I am far from the first to identify them. My aim is to help spread their message and to help people achieve the results that they offer. These truths have brought so much light and possibility to my life that not sharing them would be a selfish waste. Kailo comes from the word Whole. What I hope to do is help you realize the potential of living a whole life, and that it is necessary if you want to experience the full spectrum of life. Dying without touching all these realms is a missed opportunity. I hope that some of this resonates with you and that I can continue to help you in the future. If I am not the one to help you then I hope you find a teacher who guides you to see the beauty in life and to experience the possibilities of a holistic life, a Kailo life.