The phoenix in Greek mythology is a bird that periodically died and came back to life by rising from the ashes of its predecessor. The symbol of the phoenix is synonymous with personal rebirth and revival. We all go through seasons of change. Either changes pursues us with circumstances, or we pursue change with determination. All change is an opportunity to do better and be better.
This is the time of year when most of us are finalizing our new year’s resolutions. We all have areas we want to improve in. Getting it done in 2020 is going to require letting go of old thoughts, habits, and ways of being that are not resourceful for meeting the challenges of tomorrow. One of my favorite resources to prepare for change is a powerful, wisdom-filled vlog published by Elliott Hulse in 2017 a few days after New Year. Elliott is a famous bodybuilder and life coach, and has amassed ~800,000 followers on YouTube and a massive following on Twitter. Elliott is one of my favorite people to listen to because of the grace, charisma, and insight with which he speaks. I’ve transcribed the entire vlog for you, which he titled “Die before you Die.”
I got a question here from our friend. I can’t pronounce his name, but he says “Elliott, I do not expect you to look at this, but if you read it, what do you think about this quote: ‘The secret of life is to die before you die to find out there’s no death.'” Brother, that has been–I resonate deeply with that. My experience has been over the past several years, I’ve died to myself. And when I speak of dying I’m talking about an ego death. I’m still the same Elliott, but many of you can probably recognize that I’m not the same person. It has been a process of ego deconstruction. When the phoenix burns down or when Jesus says “You have to die to yourself to be accepted into the kingdom. You’ve got to let go of your old self in order to embrace the new.”
One thing he also says is you can’t put new wine in an old wineskin. I think that’s a perfect example of the benefit and the value of getting rid of your old container. Your own way of containing yourself and interfacing with the world. That really requires a throwing away. It requires a breaking down. It requires a dissolving. It requires a dying to an ego construct that is no longer resourceful for who you are to become in the next phase of your life.
This is an area where people get stuck all the time. We develop an ego construct. When I say ego construct, I’m literally talking about the interface by which we work with the world. If you can imagine your self, the outside world, which is really a figment of our imagination, but we work with it. We work with our experiences. We work with our circumstances as well as working with out internal processes. And then the ego being in between it. How do I bring myself to my circumstances? When you’re 14, there’s a way to be that allows you to interface with the world in a resourceful manner. It works for you when you’re 14. The problem is when you’re 21, and you’re still approaching life with the same ego construct that you had when you were 14, you don’t evolve. You remain the same old version of yourself even though you’re being called to change.
This is where you end up with men in their late 30s and 40s who have a mid-life crisis. And we’re lost because we’re still interfacing with the world with an old version of ourselves that’s no longer resourceful for the physiological and biological changes happening in our body. Oftentimes they’ll begin to make decisions that they would have made when they were 21. Because there’s a feeling of unease, right. You become 40, and there’s a feeling of unease. Things are not the way I think they should have been. And then in that anxiety, you go back and you begin bringing up all the old things that are associated with an ego that is no longer resourceful.
For the process of becoming a stronger version of yourself to be allowed, you have to die to those old desires. Die to the old fears, hopes, and dreams such that there is a complete obliteration, right. Old wineskins. If you’re wanting to be new, you can’t pour in new goals in the old you. You can’t pour inspiration into an old you. You can’t pour old wine into an old wineskin because you’ll ruin the wine. The wine won’t stay fresh and the wineskin will disintegrate. It can’t hold it. The container can’t hold it.
So you’re needing to reconstruct yourself in a new way so that you can take on the challenges and approach the truth about who you are in the next phase of your life. What this requires is not only a conscious and deliberate going-down process. A conscious and deliberate catabasis [going-down] period. It also requires that while you’re down there, while you’re in the belly of the beast, while you’re dying to your old self so that you can be reborn again, you begin to look at those things that are actually true. You begin to look at the things that you’ve ignored. You begin to look at the things that are truly resourceful for you and what your legacy will be in your life.
There’s a process of death and dying to those things that are no longer resourceful, and a bringing forward of those things that you’ve either forgotten about, that were in the shadows, that need to be resolved, that need to be brought forward, because they’re gifts. Shedding light on things that have been in the shadow allows you to process them. So that’s that. . . I have more to say about it, but I need a break. . . .
I’ll leave you with this last analogy. By the way, I refer to Biblical stories and what not because a lot of people know them. I don’t refer to it because I’m Bible-thumping or hoping that you’ll become a Christian. I am not a Christian myself. But I am a lover of wisdom. I am a lover of wisdom literature. I am a lover of religion because it is my experience and my belief that the manifestations of God–be it Abraham, Moses, Jesus, Buddha, Muhammad, Krishna, Zoroaster, Bahaullah–come to earth at a particular time. They’re all imbued with the spirit of God to teach us things that we need to know. So I truly believe that the pure essence of these teachers’ teachings are loaded with value. And can bring value into anyone’s life. So I advise you to open yourself up to reading the parables in the Bible and reading other wisdom literature.
That being said, Jonah in the whale is a wonderful story about what happens when it’s time to die to yourself and be born again. Jonah was a blessed dude. Jonah was doing well. He was well-off. He was wealthy. He was well-liked in his city and he was winning. God, your intuition, the universe–however you’d like to relate to the omnipotent, to the unknown, to the ever-present, to the Creator–will tap you on your shoulder. It happens not by a deep voice coming from a cloud. That’s a figment of our imagination, those are vain imaging and idle fancies, as Bahaullah called it. But it comes in the form of a sense within. For me it comes from a sense within.
Why I quit YouTube videos is because God had been kind of asking me to do this thing, and you can watch my videos leading up to my choosing to quit, where I’m like something’s not right. I don’t know what’s going on. Really I was resisting, but essentially God was saying, “Hey E. I need you to give up the things of the world for the moment because I have another job for you.” Jonah was doing well, God tapped him on his shoulder sand said ,”Jonah! I need you to help me out with something. I have another mission for you but you’re going to need to detach yourself from the things of this world. I know you’re a successful guy, I know that you’re doing well–Elliott–I know that you’re doing well. You got a million subscribers on YouTube. But I have greater things for you, I have a need for you.”
Jonah, like all of us, like myself, resists. “Ah, I can’t do that. I can’t give up all of this fame. I can’t give up all of this fortune. I can’t give up everyone loving me.” And so what happens is when you get that tap on the shoulder and if you ignore it, you end up like Jonah. Jonah went out on a boat with his boys not too long thereafter. A storm came, right, and he ended up getting tipped off over the boat into the deep dark watery unconscious. And not only did he dive deep into the waters, right. Into the darkness. Into the shadows because that’s where the work happens. The work always happens down deep below in those watery unconscious areas. But he was swallowed by a f**king whale. In the belly of the whale.
Now what happens in the belly of a whale down deep below in the unconscious. Digestion happens. And what is digestion? Jonah was being worked on in that belly. What is digestion? Digestion breaks things down. And when it breaks it down, it pulls out those things that are most resourceful. It pulls out those things that are needed. It pulls out those things that are nourishing. And it gets rid of the s**t. There are times when you will be digested in order to get rid of the s**t, so that your nourishing self can rise to the top. Done. I think I’m going to finish there.