Philosophers’ Notes from Bali | Robin Sparks

Philosophers’ Notes from Bali

Everyday is an extraordinary day in Bali.

I began at 6AM this morning with a one hour holosync meditation, which is (in a nutshell) stereophonic sound designed to put take one quickly into an alpha state.

I then wrote on the terrace outside my room overlooking rice paddies, palm and mango trees, fountains, lotus flowers, a garden, and a pool. The staff brought me a breakfast of banana pancakes with palm sugar syrup and fresh watermelon, papaya, cantaloupe, and bananas. I put on a blouse I bought in Turkey, a skirt from India that I bought in Argentina, and flip flops from Brazil. Then I drove myself on a Yamaha scooter to see a house for rent in Nyuh Kuning, Bali by a guy from Oakland. I scootered through Monkey Forest past monkeys and temples and over bridges and up and around jungle ridges, past a man balancing a huge bag of who knows what on his head walking through a rice paddy and wound my way around tarp after tarp of rice laid out in the street to dry.

I ended the day at the open-air Yoga Barn in Bali participating a Osho-designed (India) Sufi (sect of Islam in Turkey) dance meditation, guided by Selina who is from the UK and has lived in Asia for 18 years.

Only one month left in Bali! Scary but a necessary part of the journey.

It is so easy to be here.

Philosophers’ Notes Discussion Group

The touchstone of my 3 months in Bali has been a discussion group I attend three times a week called Philosophers’ Notes. Brian Johnson from Los Angeles has been in Bali for six months writing Cliff Notes-ish summaries on 100 self-development books and in our group we discuss the big ideas he extracts from each one. He records our discussions and puts them on his website.

Participants at a Philosophers' Discussion Group in the Yoga Barn - Ubud, Bali

Participants at a Philosophers' Discussion Group in the Yoga Barn - Ubud, Bali

Our Philosophers' Notes discussion group leader, Brian Johnson

Our Philosophers' Notes discussion group leader, Brian Johnson

There was a new guy in our group today, a fan from London who discovered Brian’s Philosophers’ Notes online and came to Bali expressly to meet him. And not a minute too soon because Brian announced today that he’ll return to Los Angeles in two weeks. (Note: Since this blog was posted, Brian has postponed his return to Los Angeles until August. Yay!) He’s been swamped with requests by authors to add their books in his Philosophers Notes selections. And a big name self-help author is advising Brian to expand Philosophers Notes and has hooked him up with the world’s largest spiritual publisher. In partnership, their mission says Brian, “will be to unify the world around a common set of truths.”

It is Brian’s work he says to challenge people to become fully alive. After being in Bali for 10 months “upgrading” his consciousness, he will return home.

All part of the “Hero’s Journey,” a mythical construct that comes up frequently in our discussions. From the intro in The Hero with a Thousand Faces, Joseph Campbell explains the Hero’s Journey like this: “A hero ventures forth from the world of common day into a region of supernatural wonder (Bali in this case): fabulous forces are there encountered and a decisive victory is won: the hero comes back from this mysterious adventure with the power to bestow boons on his fellow man.” I’m not sure what “boons” are, but I’m sure Brian will do a great job bestowing them. (-; To retain the wisdom gained on the quest, to integrate that wisdom into human life, and then share the wisdom with the world is the most challenging part of the Hero’s Journey.

Go Brian!

Today’s Big Ideas

Today’s featured book was “The Other 90%” by Robert Cooper.
First a caveat…I found myself editing the word “God” from the notes that follow and then I stopped and thought, What’s up with this? Why am I comfortable speaking one way here but feel it’s necessary to edit what I say elsewhere? It has occurred to me lately that almost all my friends in San Francisco and Istanbul are avowed atheists. In Turkey secular atheism is understandable as a reflex to the threat of fundamentalist Islam. In San Francisco, I suppose it is a backlash to fundamentalist America.

In Bali, the people I’ve been hanging with openly refer to God, Jesus consciousness, Buddha, Abraham…all the big names in religious history. People here exist on a level that I can’t quite put words to. It’s a polyglot belief system, beyond Christianity, while oddly similar. The words you hear Bali-ed about are energy, vibration, polarity, consciousness, prayer, Goddess…I’m a kindergartner in this language and “way of being”, but I like it. And actually I think I’ve been an accidental practitioner most of my life.

Two years ago I wrote on my Facebook profile that my religious beliefs are: “spiritual, not religious”. I dislike (I was going to write “I hate” but that sounds decidedly unspiritual) dogma and exclusivity, whether it is in the form of fundamentalist Christianity, New Ageism (I received a reprimand from a friend via text message when he heard I was eating at Naughty Nuri’s, a restaurant that specializes in barbequed ribs) or I’m-gonna-convince-you-or-else atheism. Yes, atheism is a belief too. When you believe that your beliefs are the only right ones, you are practicing dogma and fundamentalism. My opinion of course. (-;

Rice paddies south of Ubud, Bali

Rice paddies south of Ubud, Bali

Quickly a little about my beliefs, I have always known that there is more than I can see. Since I can remember I have been able to sense things outside the physical plane. I am highly intuitive. I know in some indefinable way that there is a supra-loving, all knowing power both out there and in here, and well, everywhere, because I have experienced it. Repeatedly. And I believe that this super consciousness has manifested on earth a number of times to different ethnic groups as Jesus Christ, Buddha, Abraham, Mohammad…. and all the other “Greats”…If I had to pick one religion that resonates with me most, it would be Sufiism. Followed closely by Tantra.

Anyway, the word God as used in the notes that follow, means something bigger than yourself, which is in you when you are in tune with it. A something more than we can conceive of at our present level of consciousness that exists in every molecule in the universe. A universal intelligence if you will.

There! That said, let’s go…

The “Notes”:

Syntropy – The innate drive to perfect oneself.

Gradualness kills. If you want to make a change, Do it!

A good question to ask yourself is, are you closer to who you want to be and where you want to go than you were 30 minutes ago?

Winners are superior not to other people but to their former selves.

Your dharma, your highest calling, your raison d’etre is the divine expression of your unique truth. Everyone has it. It is when we shrink from expressing it in our lives, work and play, that we become depressed and frustrated. Most people numb the pain of non-expression through television, alcohol, food, drugs, gratuitous sex… fill in the blank here with your favorite numbing substance or activity.

When you take on the challenge to be and give your highest self to the world, you’ll be enthused, inspired, and happy.

You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.

What are you five signature strengths? Write them down and then make sure that what you do employs these strengths.

In every moment, we have the choice to step forward into growth or back into fear.

Pain is God’s gift – a challenge that helps us to grow as we reach towards becoming our higher selves, or as Brian puts it, “the unfolding of our awesomeness”.

When we get out of our minds and let the thing that is bigger than us, come through us authentically and truthfully, we are at our most powerful.He tells the story of a piano player who announced to his audience, “I am just a piano player, but tonight God is in the house”… Musicians know about channeling. Writers understand. Painters absolutely know. When you are “in the zone”, something bigger than yourself flows through you and the result is magnificence. By the way, it takes 10,000 hours of practice to master a skill. And it is through letting that bigger thing flow through you that leads to excellence.

Go away for one week of complete silence, just you and your journal, and when you get back into the real world the ideas you wrote in your journal will seem insane. Do them anyway. Those ideas were divinely inspired.

Whenever you feel stressed, ask yourself, “How can I best let God flow through me?”

EGO = Edging God Out

Brian says that personal development guru Gay Hendricks’s affirmation is “I expand in success, abundance, and love as I inspire others to do the same.” Hmm, I wonder, is it ok to steal someone else’s affirmation?

Which leads to this one: If there is a path, know that it is not your path.

Are you a weathervane blown every which direction by circumstance? When everyone is freaking out about the economy are you stressed about it too? Or are you a lighthouse, rock solid beaming your light steadily no matter how hard or from which direction the wind blows?

Two of Brian’s top values he says are authenticity and full expression. Beautiful. I may have to borrow these too. (-;

You can gauge a person’s character by how easily annoyed they are by other people and events. Picture a “character meter” with a 10 at one end representing someone unaffected by anyone or anything, and the number 1 on the other, representing someone who is bothered by everyone and everything.

What is your highest ideal for yourself? In every moment how can you demonstrate this by integrating it into your actions?

Embrace your biggest expressions, surrender to the power that is bigger than you.

Aspire to be a 2,000 watt light bulb that can sustain more of God’s flow without blowing.

Adversity – when overwhelmed, ask yourself, what is one thing I can do to gain some control over this situation? Action kills fear. Postponement feeds fear.

That’s a taste of life in Bali and a nibble on the Big Ideas from one “Philosophy Notes” discussion. More soon!

Over and out, Robin Sparks – Ubud, Bali. March 6, 2009, where everyday is an extraordinary one.

Robin reporting from her cubicle in Ubud, Bali

Robin reporting from her cubicle in Ubud, Bali

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9 Responses to Philosophers’ Notes from Bali

  1. Brian Johnson March 6, 2009 at 6:56 pm #

    Amazing. You rock. and thx for your support!!!


  2. Stan Schultz March 6, 2009 at 10:45 pm #

    Hi Robin, Thanks for a lovely peek at what sounds like a very juicy, rich, and excellent life. Your translation of Brian’s translations has lost nothing in the translation:) I got a kick out of your posting the date as May instead of March. No marching here, but lots of Maying!

  3. Jennifer maher March 7, 2009 at 3:37 am #

    I really enoyed this! I am glad you crossed paths with Brian! He is amazing. I can relate to the accidential practicioner! I felt that way when I wa introduced to Buddhist practice. And…. The more I practice The more open I am to all versions of spirituality and even religion!

  4. anthony March 11, 2009 at 6:38 pm #

    Great to see this Robin, I love your writing and you inspire me!

    Much love


  5. Mishel Austin March 11, 2009 at 7:01 pm #


    I loved you written reflection on what you are learning. I especially enjoyed the side commentary =). Your struggle with the G-O-D word is common for a lot of the religious wounded ( I am one of them). That is why I most commonly say “The intelligence that created us” and really all things. It is only by a divine mind that there is a material world at all, but I am sure you know this.

    I can’t wait to hear more. Wish I was in Bali!



  6. Maria DeGracia (Strybos) March 14, 2009 at 8:11 am #

    Once again, Robin! Thank you for the mirror! Such deep reminders and timely inspirations. How wonderful that you are living breathing spirit in every moment of every day. AND sharing it . . . Yes, the true heroes journey. I read your words and I am honored to know you and experience your enchantment as I create my own. Even in Woodland, California! In Love and Light, Maria <3

  7. Vishen November 29, 2009 at 4:17 am #

    Hey Robin, great article. Loved it. I met Brian in Ubud in May this year. I’m now his partner on the new website. Send me an email and I’ll send you free access. I loved your blog post.

  8. Robin Sparks December 22, 2009 at 6:25 pm #

    Dear Vishen, I forgot all comments and such here in Paradise! Thank you for writing. I already receive Philosphers notes newsletters and do follow Brian’s updates on Facebook, but yes, please, do grant me free access to his site! I love it. P notes were the centerpoint of my experience in Bali last year. Brian is a light worker and so are you. Raise the torch!

  9. Robin Sparks February 3, 2010 at 11:05 pm #

    Do I have free access? I’m not sure. But I sat down this morning with some handwritten notes from Brian’s group here in Bali last year and they were like plugging me in and recharging my battery. I’ll take you up on your offer if it’s still good.

    Robin Sparks

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