You could drive a car without a fuel gauge, but knowing how much gas you have clearly gives you more control of your vehicle. Using the latest breakthroughs in cosmology, neuroplasticity, superstring theory, and epigenetics, Buddha and Einstein Walk Into a Bar helps you to master your entire system of mind, body, and energy and provides practical tools to help you live your longest and healthiest life.
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About the Author
Read an Excerpt
Buddha and Einstein walk into a bar. They meet inside with Alexander the Great, Darwin, Lincoln, and Nelson Mandela. It's their monthly meeting. In each of these meetings one person suggests a topic of discussion. Everyone orders drinks, and because it's Einstein's turn to introduce a topic, he says, "There's this gentleman in Los Angeles, California, named Guy Joseph Ale, who has been researching since 1992 the proposition that we humans have a latent capacity to sense how long we can live. I would like him today to explain his findings." The others nod in agreement and Einstein says, "Guy, the floor is yours."
Thank you, Albert. Gentlemen. This book would not exist if I hadn't almost died from a lower back emergency in 2007. I explain this in detail later in the book, but for now I'll just say that being that close to death prompted me to ask myself: What is the biggest understanding I have at this point about myself and life? The clear answer that came back was that I'd known since 1992 how long I could live. I've devoted my life since then to researching the scientific, spiritual, behavioral, and evolutionary aspects of this awareness and its myriad implications in everyday life.
The simplest analogy of knowing how long you can live is having a fuel gauge in your vehicle of flesh, blood, and bones. You can go through life without knowing how much energy is in your tank, just like early vehicles could drive without fuel gauges. However, developing fuel gauges in later models clearly gave drivers better control of their cars.
I realize, gentlemen, that you all represent different parts of my own psyche, the dominant instincts driving me through life. Each one of you gave me guidance along the way. The phrases you communicated would vary slightly at different times, but each of you transmitted a clear message according to what your characters and work exemplify.
Buddha spoke of self-knowledge: Understand yourself and trust yourself.
Alexander communicated: You live only this once; you can.
Darwin stressed an intellectual grasp of this awareness, first to understand it on my own, and then to explain it to others.
Lincoln had a singular repeating instruction: How does it benefit others?
Einstein focused on imagination: Anything that is based in reason and facts is possible.
Mandela stressed pragmatism and responsibility, for what this awareness means in my own life, and for seeing it through to a broader communication.
How does this guidance happen? In several ways. For example, I would go to bed, even last night, a fifty-eight-year-old boy dreaming, and would ask for support. The nickname acronym for all your names is BADLEM. Sometimes one of you would speak up, and sometimes I'd hear a group voice.
I would say, "Please help me." And BADLEM would respond: "We are helping you. Breathe. Don't rush. We are guiding you."
Or, BADLEM would ask, "Will you accept this job?" I have no choice. I can't not do it.
Or, during my twice-weekly swims, which are great meditation sessions, we would have a conversation. Here are a few versions of these talks:
Mandela: "It always seems impossible until it's done. If you can maintain your faith in the soundness and viability of this vision, your anxieties and impatience melt away. You gain a larger perspective on your life, and a deeper authority and responsibility to realize this promise of 102 years (the duration that I sense I can live). There is no passion to be found playing small — in settling for a life that is less than the one you are capable of living."
Alexander: "Think outside of the box. Don't follow others' examples but find your own path. Find a way to accomplish what you see fit. You have the license."
BADLEM as a group voice: "Use our wisdom, imagination, and strength. It is possible. Trust yourself."
And Alexander again: "Do what others are unable or unwilling to do. That's what leaders do. This is how you inspire others."
Or: "Dear Albert, I heard that one of your students at Princeton once saw the little pocket notebook you carried around and asked, 'Professor Einstein, is that where you keep all your great ideas?' To which you replied, 'Great ideas? I've only ever had one.'" That is how I feel about sensing how long I can live. It is the deepest insight I've had about myself and life. Everything else is an interpretation of this awareness, and the framework that this perception puts on my life.
With all the intellectual and practical challenges of being alive, I know in my bones that I'm on the right track, living the life that I was meant to live. How do I know this? Because this is the best version of me at the present age of fifty-eight. This is where I'm aligned with health and longevity. If I had done anything differently last year, five years ago, or twenty-five years ago, I would not be at this precise point on my path through life, and would not be as healthy as I am. I'm operating from the premise that I can live another forty-five years, and everything I do fits into this vision. This keeps my anxieties at bay, fills me with hope and purpose, and enables me to find the balance between fun and work.
Darwin: "So you are proposing that once we develop deeper awareness of our mind and body, we can understand the amount of energy in our body?"
Yes. Naturally, this theory will be proven valid or false only when I reach the end of my life and see how long I'd lived. To state the obvious, there's no precedent when we do something completely new. I derived my strength and conviction in this belief by talking with each one of you along the road. Each of you replied to my inquiries: Is it possible? Am I on solid ground? Am I not a fool? But when all is said and done, it boils down to a humble, strong, slap-in-the-butt simple reality; it comes down to the basic formula of life: eat well, sleep well, treat yourself and others well. If you do this, and continue breathing freely at every moment, you are exactly where you need to be, headed precisely where you need to go.
Einstein speaks: "Trust your intuition. The only source of knowledge is experience. I never made one of my discoveries through the process of rational thinking."
Buddha, the elder statesman of the group, looks at the others and says, "We want this awareness brought forward. We have given you this job because we know that you can do it. The path exists, and you are on it. Trust yourself and trust your mind and body, so you can benefit from this awareness and explain it to others." He brings the meeting to an end: "This is your journey through life. This is your path through existence. You will live 102 years, balancing the world inside you with the world outside. You will enjoy life as much as possible, making the biggest contribution in the world through what you think and how you act. You'll arrive at your deathbed a wise old man, and then the door will open and you will pass through."
Dear reader, the purpose of this book is to present the clearest, most comprehensive current record of the spiritual and scientific discoveries that enable us to sense how long we can live, and to give you practical tools to live your longest and healthiest life.
To help you achieve this higher mastery of your mind, body, and energy, we will go on a grand spiritual and mental adventure of cosmic dimensions while keeping your feet firmly on the ground. We will first go out into the universe at large and then bring that large universe back into your body.
We will describe the latest discoveries in new cosmology, neuroplasticity, superstring theory, and epigenetics to show that the consciousness animating the cosmos informs every cell in the human body. Simply put, when we access our innate intuition, we access universal intelligence.
Once the theory has been clearly explained we will move into practice, because understanding how long we can live is only the first part of the equation. The other crucial part is acquiring the self-management skills that enable us to realize that potential. I will provide step-by-step descriptions of my organization's (Lifespan Seminar) multiple-award-winning techniques, including stress management, good nutrition, sufficient rest, and active lifestyle that will help you to live your best life.
I am now a proud American citizen, but I was born in Georgia, which at the time was part of the Soviet Union, and although I spent only eight of my fifty-eight years in that country, I still carry a clear Georgian identity inside. Georgians are reputed to be fiercely independent, and that trait appeals to my own sense of individuality and freedom. The folk tales tell of people in the Caucasus Mountains living well past one hundred years. But current studies do not support those legends. There are in the world Blue Zones, areas where there is documented evidence of high percentages of living centenarians (persons one hundred years and older), and super-centenarians (persons 110 and over), and Georgia is not one of them. These Blue Zones are Icaria, Greece; Loma Linda, California; Nicoya Peninsula, Costa Rica; Okinawa, Japan; and Sardinia, Italy.
Nonetheless, because of Georgia's pleasant climate and history, being at the crossroads of religions and civilizations that have passed through and influenced its ways of life, it was regarded as the breadbasket of the entire region, and its bountiful cuisine and joyous food culture are well-known and widely appreciated. I gained from this healthy eating habits for a lifetime: a love of fruits and vegetables, and an instinctive understanding of what makes for good nutrition — to begin with, the opposite of fast food.
When I was four, our family moved to Uzbekistan, in Central Asia, and I lived there until the age of eight. Uzbekistan has a desert climate, and temperatures can reach triple digits in the summer. When I was eight we went back to Georgia for another four years. My parents divorced, and when I was twelve years old, our family, which consisted of my mother, sister, grandmother, and me, moved to Israel. Looking back, it is clear that my parents' divorce was a big factor in my rebelliousness and experimentation in the years following. I didn't have a father figure in my life, someone to set clear boundaries, and there were basic things I had to figure out on my own, which on the one hand creates a sense of uncertainty, but on the other a sense of liberation.
These early experiences in diverse countries and cultures ingrained in me the awareness that there is no one "correct" way of doing things. People in Georgia, Uzbekistan, Israel, and other places I've lived and visited go about their lives in different ways — and all of these ways work. This realization gives our psyche a sense of flexibility and of limitless possibilities, and the license to think outside of boundaries. We humans set designations on ourselves, define ourselves as an American, an executive, a blonde, a poor athlete, not good at math, and so forth — and through these descriptions we put borders on our minds and lives.
Question everything, even the need for questioning. Nothing is right for you but what your own heart says.
I was born into a Jewish family, lived in a Muslim country as a child, and have lived in predominantly Christian societies as an adult. I have never felt a part of any one religion, and have always felt at one with God.
I have only two recollections of my father from my entire life before he left our family for good.
Mental snapshot: I'm about six years old. We are living in Samarkand, Uzbekistan. I am awoken in the middle of the night. There are strangers in our house (KGB men, I later found out) searching our home — for what? They're silent and efficient, routinely going from room to room, flinging open cupboards, drawers, closets. They turn our home upside down, take Father with them, and leave. What were they looking for? I've never found out.
Mental snapshot: I'm eight years old at my grandma's home in Kutaisi, Georgia. Father is being abusive toward my mom, not physically but mentally, berating her at length, and Mom is crying. I feel helpless. I go over and put my arms around Mom. We are family: mom, grandma, sister, and me; and he, Father, is a harmful presence who doesn't fit in this unit.
These are the two memories that Father left behind. But we never talked about him much. The unspoken sense was "good riddance."
Grandma's house is worth mentioning for several reasons. This was our extended family's headquarters, where all my cousins, our own little family, and everyone else who was drawn into Grandma's generous orbit willingly gravitated. We kids considered this home the most wonderful place in the world, filled with comfort, safety, treats, and warmth, all of which left us with a sense of belonging and unconditional love for our entire life.
Our stay in this home is notable for one other unforgettable occurrence: The house stood on a hill overlooking a river named Rioni, which literally translates to "river." When the river was at an ebb, which was most of the time, you could cross to the other bank with water reaching only up to your knees. Then, with what seemed to my young mind as no prior notice, the water would surge. A dam upriver would open, the river would swell, and you'd see a drowning person carried downstream. Imagine witnessing on a regular basis the horrifying sight of a person's head bobbing in and out of the water as they're being washed in the current. Grandma's living room windows overlooked the river, and once every few months we would hear loud shrieks, rush to the window, and watch another man (these were all men's voices) drowning. We would see a head dipping in the water, rise out with choking cries, and disappear back in. This spectacle lasted approximately thirty seconds to a minute at a time before the victim was overpowered by the current. And then silence. The river kept flowing. Life went on.
I was nearly killed riding a motorcycle when I was seventeen. I was knocked off my bike from behind by a speeding car on a highway. Commonly in situations like this, certain images crystallize in our minds and stay there forever. I have a clear recollection of lying on my back in the middle of the four-lane highway, my helmeted head facing the oncoming traffic. Instinctively, I rolled to the left and off the road and was saved. When an incident like this happens, there naturally is a humble recognition of the precarious nature of existence. In a very real sense, you've gained a whole new appreciation for life, because you have seen what it would be like to almost lose it.
My second brush with physical death happened in 2007 when I underwent back surgery. As the surgeon explained, a disk fragment in my lower back broke off the edge of a vertebra and lodged itself in the nerve canal. As I attempted to move my limbs, this bone chip in the spinal canal touched on the nerve endings and sent piercing signals to the brain. I could not walk, stand, sit, or move my body while lying without debilitating pain. I understood at this time what it meant to be totally incapacitated.
Following an ordeal that lasted several weeks, while the true nature of my situation was being diagnosed and the appropriate treatment determined, I went into surgery and then physical rehabilitation, and came out whole as ever, now with an exceptional perspective on the tenuous character of the human body.
If health is not there, nothing is there.
Your life can be at the best circumstances imaginable: You can have someone you love who loves you back; you can have a happy family; you can have wealth and success at work and in society. All this abundance notwithstanding, an incident like this strips your existence down to its essence. Can I move my left leg, can I lift the comforter off my body, can I get off the bed, will I be able to stand? The simple act of relieving yourself, which your mind remembers having done many times effortlessly and routinely, becomes a series of small but enormous challenges, each suffused with excruciating pain.
Will I be able to take care of myself? Will I be able to maintain my dignity, to not be a burden to others? When the entire experience was over, it seemed that I'd lost my life and gained it back.
To revisit my teenage years, the first place we lived upon arrival in Israel was Nazareth, and then I lived three years on a kibbutz (communal farm) near the Jordanian border. Later I joined my mother when she moved to Tel Aviv, and at eighteen I enlisted into military service alongside all my peers. Things came to a head when I inadvertently nearly killed three people in two separate traffic incidents.
Hell came calling on me at age twenty-five. It first knocked on my door four years earlier, knocked me off my feet for several months, but I regained balance and kept walking, oblivious to the full severity of the blow. From that close distance, how could I have known otherwise? But first things first.
Excerpted from "Buddha and Einstein Walk Into a Bar"
Copyright © 2018 Guy Joseph Ale.
Excerpted by permission of Red Wheel/Weiser, LLC.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Table of Contents
Part I Personal Background
Chapter 1 Badlem 11
Chapter 2 Formative Years 17
Chapter 3 Inception of the Insight 29
Part II Scientific and Spiritual Foundations
Chapter 4 New Cosmology and Superstring Theory 41
Chapter 5 Neuroplasticity and Epigenetics 53
Chapter 6 Optimal Duration of Existence 65
Chapter 7 Evolution of the Mind 69
Chapter 8 Wisdom of the Body 79
Part III Mastering the Mind and Body
Chapter 9 Body Consciousness Techniques 87
Chapter 10 Self-Management Skills 109
Chapter 11 Mental Imagery Tools 129
Chapter 12 Sensing Your Duration 163
Chapter 13 Framework of Your Life 175
Chapter 14 Changing Bad Habits to Good Ones 187
Chapter 15 Creating Happiness 197
About the Author 219