“Michael is an angelic trouble maker. His teaching is profoundly unique and will be a blessing to all who find their way to it.”
Do you ever feel like something’s wrong? As you try to push this pain aside, do you experience things like anxiety, depression, despair, guilt, anger, shame and/or embarrassment? Do you feel like no matter what you do, an underlying sense of dis-satisfaction remains? Do you feel uneasy even when you think things in your life should be considered perfectly fine? Does it feel like there’s a splinter in your mind, or a rock in your shoe, that you can never quite get rid of?
If so, there are a lot of people who share these feelings with you. But, why is this the case? Let me offer you 2 reasons – and let’s allow these reasons to function as the central problems addressed in this course, problems that you will need to confront if you want to get to the bottom of why your life always feels a little bit off.
THE BELIEF IN THE STORY OF A SEPARATE SELF
The first reason you feel like something is wrong is because you believe in what we’ll call the story of a separate self. At some point in your early development, a sense of “I-ness,” or of being a separate “me,” happened to you. Notice that I said it happened to you, not that it is you. This story that unnoticeably happened to you (but is not you) is one that you unknowingly embrace and unconsciously consider unquestionably true. The belief in the story of your separate self places a constant gnawing experience of separation at the very foundation of your being. When this belief is not inquired into or challenged, it inevitably remains the core of a false identity you’ve grown so familiar with that you are unwittingly afraid to question it – which guarantees a steady experience of suffering and the underlying feeling that something is wrong.
Suffering is the outcome of an, as yet, unnoticed lie living at the foundation of who you think you are – a lie that, long ago, convinced you that you are the story of an individual. When your life begins with the story of an individual rather than who the story of this individual happened to, the conditions for your personal pain to endlessly linger remain in place. Turning a blind eye to this, or simply having no idea that a lie exists, is more than likely where you find yourself today.
YouTube Guru will help you discover this truth for yourself.
THE BELIEF IN STORIES ATTACHED TO THE STORY OF A SEPARATE SELF
As if believing in the story of your separate self doesn’t contribute to enough suffering, you take it a step further, which is Reason #2 for your mental and emotional discomfort – you attach more stories to the already false story of being a separate self, and believe this collection of stories to be a fool-proof identity that encapsulates the totality of who you are.
When the original story of your separate self is established and unquestioned (Reason #1 for suffering), it becomes perfectly tilled soil for the particulars of your false identity to grow. This false identity amounts to a collection of stories piled on top of the story of your separate self. As this mass of stories continues to grow, particulars are added to the pile of stories that cover the original story of separation that happened to you – leaving you to live a life where all new experiences are happening to an assumption. Do you catch the disconnect where who you truly are is fractured?
Right now, as you read this page, you unknowingly believe that all activity is happening to a story. Ask yourself how all of your life experience can be blindly interpreted as happening to a story of separation and some kind of painful detachment not be the result. Ask yourself how identifying with a trash heap of stories can lead to anything except furthering an illusion that leads to an underlying disillusionment with life?
Let’s go over this one more time. As the number of stories attached to your separate self multiplies, not only have you unknowingly accepted a blind assumption as the foundation of your very being (which was the commencement of your suffering), you’ve actually adhered it to an army of additional stories, each one taking you deeper and deeper into an illusion, a constructed identity built on top of a lie – which guarantees the persistence of your mental and emotional pain.
One false story causes suffering. One false story getting buried in layers of false stories creates chaos and confusion on top of this suffering – expanding and masking the source of your pain.
YouTube Guru is designed to help you break free from your belief in the stories attached to the story of your separate self – it is designed to point you to nothing less than who you truly are.
To do this, we use a self inquiry process called the Path of Non-separation.
THE STORY OF APPLIED AWAKENING
& THE PATH OF NON-SEPARATION
A number of years ago, I noticed that the primary assumption of humanity is the belief in a separate self. I recognized that all of humanity's cultural institutions, philosophies and systems were created with this false assumption as their starting point. I watched as the best of us tried to better ourselves and the world – but no matter how hard we tried, nothing was truly transforming because all of humanity’s purpose and curiosity remained stuck in a culture that believed in the separate self.
From here, I began asking what would happen if this narrow assumption of separation was replaced with an assumption that no longer accepted the separate self as unquestionably true. I turned my life into an experiment, re-interpreting everything I experienced from the usual story of separation into a story with “not separate” as the foundational assumption. Through this investigation of the separate self and through my exploration of the “not separate,” Applied Awakening and the Path of Non-separation were born.
So what is Applied Awakening and the Path of Non-separation? Applied Awakening is the application of the realization of Non-separation. This usually leads to the follow up question, “Well, what is Non-separation?” Non-separation is the impersonal existence of being that includes the personal, a realization that functions as the pre-cursor to Applied Awakening. This is precisely why the focus of Applied Awakening is on teaching the Path of Non-separation – once Non-separation is realized, one is naturally lived as an invitation to awakening and the applications of this invitation effortlessly unfold.
Sound difficult? It’s really not once you understand the basics – something that is covered in a detailed intro to Applied Awakening lecture series included with YouTube Guru. Let’s go over it one more time, just in case it’s useful.
The Path of Non-separation is a contemporary self inquiry process for people passionate about taking a real world journey to remembering the pre-existing unity of who you truly are. It begins by grasping that the primary assumption of humanity is the belief in a separate self, an understanding that means the formerly unquestioned belief in separation is, in fact, questionable. This understanding launches a self inquiry process that can move one from living a life based on an assumption of a separate self to being lived as the authentic existence of Non-separation – graduating one from being fully embedded in (and creating from) a personal context to being a new set of outcomes as a conduit of the impersonal. This new set of outcomes is the impersonal action of Applied Awakening.
Applied Awakening is the solution for Reasons #1 and #2 that are causing your pain and dis-satisfaction.
THE PATH OF NON-SEPARATION
So how does YouTube Guru actually go about addressing the two reasons you are stuck?
In the Path of Non-separation, you begin by identifying the primary assumption of humanity – which is the belief in the story of a separate self. Understanding the gravity of this assumption opens a context that is very different from the personal growth processes and therapies offered today. Whereas mainstream self-help, life coaching and therapy assume you are a separate self and work to make this separate self better, the Path of Non-separation points to how the separate self is an object in awareness (rather than the totality of your experience that needs to be improved) and works to help you situate the separate self and all its stories into their proper place within awareness.
Here’s an analogy. With mainstream self-help and therapy, you are taken back against the river's current into the stories of your past in order to eventually return upstream with a slightly greater ease. In the Path of Non-separation, you are taken back against the current until you locate the source of the river and rest in its calm waters without the pressure of needing to push your way back through the endless rapids. And if you happen to be lived back into the upstream current, there is no resistance to where the current is taking you. You simply observe the beauty of the ride.
But in order to get to this beauty, you must recognize that the separate self is the primary assumption of humanity, an assumption that lives at the base of your challenges, and seek a solution to this by asking, “What is the separate self?” To answer this, YouTube Guru invites you to dig into the nature of personal experience and inquire into how you currently view, relate to and relate with your separate self. It invites you to explore the belief system of this self and to inquire into how this self is living as a separate individual functioning in a world outside of a personal consciousness. By asking this question, we will walk back through your personal story until you land on the original story that makes all other stories possible. Rather than a collage of stories being attached to the story of a separate self, you will recognize that all of the collage (including the story of a separate self) is lived by something else. And then it becomes possible to ask, “What is this something else?” YouTube Guru will point you to the answer.
WHY IS SELF INQUIRY RELEVANT TO YOUR LIFE?
What we explore in YouTube Guru, what I call the Path of Non-separation, applies to you because it reveals the unseen belief in a separate self and the separative culture you live in – a culture you vote for with your every breath, not knowing the pain you’re causing yourself or those you care for. Everything you know and hold dear is built on a false assumption that you haven’t quite figured out – your kid’s educational system, all political figures and their decisions, your personal identity, your valued relationships, your economic system and every bit of the infrastructure you see when you walk out of your home into the street – all built with the assumption of a separate self at their core.
And yet we claim self inquiry isn’t for the average person with kids and a mortgage and other responsibilities in “the real world.” We comfort ourselves by dismissing self inquiry as something for mystical religious figures of the past, or Indian gurus, Zen priests or hippies – people presented by the culture of separation as something of a novelty item or joke, which spins sincere self inquiry into something unpalatable to both conservative and progressive worldviews.
I created YouTube Guru to show you that self inquiry couldn’t apply any more directly to what you think of as your individual existence. It’s an inquiry that has the grounded realness of kicking a rock, no more or less spiritual than the things you do on a daily basis – brush your teeth, walk, eat, sleep. So I ask you this – does the assumption that controls every aspect of your current life have anything to do with you? Does locating the source of your personal pain have anything to do with you?
If your answer is yes, I recommend questioning the separate self – it’s the only question you can ask that truly applies to life in the “real world.” So, whether you’re a seasoned seeker ready for a new path to explore or a curious “spiritual, but not religious” person interested in a deeper offering than the usual personal growth programs you find online, YouTube Guru is for you.
“Michael is an angelic trouble maker. His teaching is profoundly unique and will be a blessing to all who find their way to it.”
“One of the most creative forces on the planet.”
“Michael is a natural born teacher. He makes a difficult subject very easy to grasp.”
“Startlingly original work of sheer genius. Highly recommended.”
YouTube Guru is composed of 20 lessons, each with 3 teaching modules. The course contains over 60 video lectures, hours of bonus commentary, and over 20 hours of total video content. YouTube Guru is designed like a university course – a combination of written lessons, recorded lectures, extra support materials and lesson reviews. Click the play button to see the intro video from YouTube Guru.
Michael Richardson-Borne is a transpersonal psychologist as well as the creator of Applied Awakening and the Path of Non-separation. He has supported the launch of multiple successful startup companies in the field of transformational education and, most recently, worked for five years as the CEO of Globalish Institute, a privately owned think tank in Los Angeles – an organization that globally recognized philosopher Ken Wilber called “startlingly original work of sheer genius.” In 2016, Michael left his CEO position to create Richardson-Borne Institute, a think tank with degree programs that focus on advancing the field of Applied Awakening.
Michael studied philosophy on special student status at Oxford University and holds degrees in Biology and English Literature. His primary spiritual support came from Alan Shelton, a retired CPA who spent a decade in India where he studied with Advaita teacher Ramesh Balsekar, the translator for renowned teacher Nisargadatta Maharaj.
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