A couple of weeks ago, a very interesting article came out in Well + Good, a prominent online news wire for all good things health and wellness. Based primarily in New York City but rapidly expanding its influence far and wide, Well + Good is fast becoming the pre-eminent national voice of wellness news and happenings. The featured piece last Wednesday told the story of the original home-delivered juice cleanse company borne in 2006 out of a ‘public religion’ and its fulfillment of the IRS’s 14 or so parameters required to be an official ‘Public Church, Religious Corporation.’ Indeed, this ground-breaking, celebrity-endorsed, original home-delivered juice cleanse was first birthed as a ‘form of worship’ in an incorporated religion!
I nearly shat my pants when I read this article (and I’m not on the cleanse any more so I’m not tawkin about no ‘shart’ action hea!) No, I was aghast because the article about this self-proclaimed California kook was actually about me! My stomach sank. “Uh oh, what had I done?” I had really let the cuckoo bird out of the bag here. I felt an overwhelming sense of dread and insecurity wash over me.
It’s not that I think I’m kooky at all. I feel that I’m actually quite NYC-logical and common sense-minded. I’ve always just been drawn to exploration of the esoteric and Spiritual, concentrating in the Gnostic traditions whose Truths are experiential-based and deeply personal, as compared to the major dogmatic religions whose truths are doctrine-heavy and, at best, symbolic in practice.
And it’s not like the article was factually inaccurate. It was True with a capital ’T’! The iZO Cleanse was indeed borne as a ritual of the Church of iZO, a non-profit Spiritual research foundation incorporated in 2005, dedicated to sponsoring personal cosmological research and Divine experience. The article even accurately described the etymology of the word iZO as an acronym for ‘Interdependent Zeitgeist Ontology’ which eventually grew into a Jungian term to describe the Transcendence of all duality, the ultimate duality being ‘Spirit’ and ‘Matter’.
It was all true what the article said. And for what it’s worth, I contend that the esoteric side of iZO is indeed a very logic-based AND all-encompassing approach to the Cosmos. As in, I believe there are 7+ Billion religions on the planet, rendering the very concept of ‘organized religion’ obsolete. No one ‘SHOULD’ (read: blindly) be following a merely pre-ordained path to Enlightenment. In fact, there is no such thing as ’should’ anymore. Sure, one may draw upon some well-established traditions found in major religions such as Christian, Muslim, Jewish, and Aboriginal traditions; the Truth is contained in core elements of any substantial esoteric tradition.
But there is an arrival at those truths as a reflection of one’s own inner and outer style, a very personalized unique experience that NO ONE will understand quite as much you. Religion should be your unique relationship with the Universe that speaks exactly YOUR language, that makes you be more YOU through increased Self-awareness.
Yet despite being sure within my own Self that I was not some kind of hokey-pokey holy-roller whacko, at least not in any ordinary sense of the words, I simply did not have faith in anyone else being open to this kind of stuff. I really felt that people were just not ready for this kind of radical talk which simultaneously embraced religion and in the same breath completely rebuffed it.
And so I put the tongue-in-cheek, yet very serious Church of iZO on the back burner while I concentrated on building the iZO Cleanse as a legitimate for-profit business. And I looked forward to the day in the future when I would reframe the iZO Cleanse as an all-important first step in a Self-Realization Design program.
Indeed, over the course of the last 8 years, as I learned more and more about the detox cleanse experience, both from administering it on myself for long periods, and even more powerfully sharing it with thousands of others for anywhere from 3 days to 60 days, I observed the tangible proof that detoxification through fasting techniques unquestionably work to heal the body. And I also grew to surmise that detoxification is fundamental to any true Spiritual regimen.
Yet, I remained in the closet about this Spiritual core of iZO. I was stifling the stuff that REALLY motivated me to bring iZO to life. And so I intentionally hid the meaning of the word iZO for fear of alienating potential customers who just wanted to lose weight on a cleanse. And I hid the idea that the word iZO is literally a pictograph of the Tree of Life, and from my perspective, essentially another word for ‘God’ or Universe. Surely this kind of ‘out there’ talk would be bad for business!
But after having gone through the death cycle of life and being currently in a rebirth phase, I decided to go for it and tell Alexia Brue, the editor-in-chief of Well+Good about the eclectic origins of what is in her words, “the best cleanse you’ve never heard of.” And still when I said it, I was very unsure if this was the right thing to do. In fact, I framed the Church of iZO angle to Alexia as ‘off the record’ for the article. But then at the end of the interview, Alexia expressed that she really wanted to include it in the story I hesitantly agreed to let her run with it.
When I read the article the next morning, I was an insecure writhing mess of Self-Judgment. How ironic given that the article mentions that I am trying to spread Self-forgiveness. Wow, good one. I had to laugh a little at the perfection of that. But it was not funny to me. Really. I felt so judged and insecure in that moment, I wanted to disappear. In response to her enthusiastic email telling me that the article came out great. I expressed my regret in having mentioned all the Church stuff to Alexia. “This isn’t gonna be good for sales.”
Alexia snapped me right out of it: “Are you kidding?”, she exclaimed, going on to tell me how appealing that kind of passion is to their readers. I was like, “Really, even to New Yorkers?” And here I am a New Yorker myself, yet not having faith in my own people’s ability to appreciate my thoughts on Spirituality. I now realize I was clearly projecting my own insecurity on everyone else, and it was high time that I got out of my own way and start expressing the deeper Truths that I have been exploring with iZO.
Then an amazing thing happened which was perfectly illustrative of the poetic nature of the Universe and confirmation that I had done the ‘right thing’ in letting the Truth out of the bag. On something of a ‘whim’, I decided to watch the documentary Martin Scorcese directed about George Harrison called ‘Living in the Material World’. I had been itching to watch it for a long time and I suddenly hit the tipping point came where i just went for it.
The documentary was every bit as satisfying as I was hoping it would be. But besides covering the sweet and honest George Harrison who is most certainly my favorite Beatle who in my not-so-humble opinion wrote the 3 BEST Beatles songs (‘Here Comes the Sun’, ‘Something’, and ‘I Me Mine’), my experience of watching the film was unusually profound because of how it spoke directly to my struggle related to the Well+Good article.
The first moment of serendipity hit me when Phil Spector was talking about what single was going to lead off of GH’s masterpiece album ‘All Things Must Pass’. Specter said clearly it had to be ‘My Sweet Lord’, but George was really reluctant to go with such an overtly Spiritual topic. Here was GH struggling with the exact issue I was struggling with that night. Wow.
Then the second moment of Truth hit me in the great Terry Gilliam’s interview. Describing his time with Monty Python and George’s undying commitment to their sur-thrival, Terry Gilliam goes on to say this:
“You’re not out there to want to be loved so desperately that you’ll do anything. It’s about maintaining your own integrity and your own view of the world, and trying to be truthful about it.”
In that moment, I realized that I have been playing it safe and holding back on the goods, waiting for some vague time in the future where I would feel free to really say what I feel on the more provocative topics of life. Sure, I have been rather diligent on showing you my warts and the gritty details of my own personal struggle/quest for i-don’t-know-what, and yes, that takes a certain amount of bravery. But I feel I have been holding back on talking about the more controversial topics in the esoteric realms.
And yet still, I am going to hold back on some stuff. For instance, I am not going to venture for the foreseeable future into commenting on the affairs of corporations, nations and politics. For now I will blanket that whole world of inquiry with a big fat: “I DON’T KNOW!” As in, while I have my strong suspicions, I don’t know the exact details of what’s going on in that world. And what’s the point of trying to change something you can’t even say for sure what it is?
More importantly though, right now, you’re not coming to me for political ideas. And I don’t want to distract from the more important message at hand…
What is Ardor? According to http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/ardor:
ar·dor [ahr-der] noun
1. great warmth of feeling; fervor; passion: She spoke persuasively and with ardor.
2. intense devotion, eagerness, or enthusiasm; zeal: his well-known ardor for Chinese art.
3. burning heat.
I am hereby announcing the iZO dedication to a New World Ardor, where Love rules the planet and Truth is Love’s foundation. Truth + Love = Spirituality. This is not a lofty, haughty, holier-than-thou Spirituality. Ardor is a Loving perspective that is fueled by passionate honesty and Self-awareness. There are no trappings as to what things are supposed to be like. Rather this is an investigation into the way things truly are, and acceptance of these things as reality, with forgiveness and gratitude for the lesson opportunities to grow in wisdom.
The iZO Cleanse is an initiation point for the start of that investigation. Here we go!