I believe everything happens for a reason. And that on some level we choose our experience in this life. I believe in spirit as well, so material and spirit, earth and sky, that kind of stuff…
Indian culture had some sort of influence on it [interviewee was born in India]. When I was growing up, I was really against the idea of god. Even this [pointing to a Ganesh print on the wall, see picture] I was just like, this is bullshit. Because a lot of the things I saw were idol worship; people stuck in rituals and rites and they forgot the whole idea of spirituality. Some guy once said, ‘religion is like the banana skin, and the spirituality is the banana’. People are just worshipping banana skin. Later, like this winter when I went back, I realised what the role of god actually is in our lives. It came to me like a flash of insight. I was in Rishikesh, and I thought that back in the day when people created idols and gods, they chose superhuman things because they wanted to remind humans of things within themselves. They endowed these images with superhuman abilities, and they were technically just the things that were already present in us. But somewhere along the lines they forgot that idea, and we started worshipping them as something outside us, that sits in the sky or something. But I really believe they are archetypes that act within us.
A lot of things that happened in my life, I was like, why did this happen, or why me. After having these questions so many times I realised things are just the way they are. And then I struggled with the notion, ‘is there free will or is there no free will?’ And I got the answer yes and no. In a sense everything is predetermined, but in another sense, you have the power to do everything you want. I think there are some preconditions, things that you come with in this life, and I believe that before you are born, you sort of choose them. Because I don’t think that nature is a random lottery draw. The purpose of nature, and the eventual purposelessness in a grander scale of nature becomes clear to me in human life.
When I was about 20, I started searching for purpose in life. What’s the point, am I just gonna get a job, have kids, die? I started searching, reading philosophy, spirituality. It started mainly with Alan Watts, a philosopher. He studied Zen Buddhism, Taoism and Hinduism. He really took it as worldviews. For instance, the Hindu worldview is like a drama, all the world is a stage, and everyone is an actor. Everyone has a different worldview in that sense. And then I started seeing the world through that lens. And I started to test what he was saying. Like, set your intention, and then get out of your own way. Just don’t worry about it, just believe what you want, and it will manifest. And also the Secret, the book by the Australian woman [Rhonda Byrne], about the law of attraction. That’s the idea that if you want something you got to really really believe you already have it. And then it comes to you. I was like, ‘what’s this!’ And then the law of attraction started to really work. I thought, alright, I’d like a life where I travel. I started travelling, within a year of something. In 2012 I came to Europe, somewhere in Amsterdam. And I thought, how cool would it be if I were living in Amsterdam? Five years later I was living in Amsterdam. Through a very random series of events. It makes crystal clear sense to me, because if you believe it, your body believes it, and your mind believes it, and your cells believe it, and you’re connected to everything. Our skin doesn’t separate us from the rest of the world, it connects us. We all breath the same air. So if you want something, and if you create that field, then it does come to you, because if everything is connected, you are everything, and everything is you.
So if you want something you just gotta claim it. And it comes from the very fundamental belief that there is abundance. There is enough for everyone. People believe that if everyone went for what they want there would not be enough money, or CEO positions. But not everyone wants that. Some people just like to paint and have a happy life next to farm. I think people want a lot of different things and it is possible for everyone to get what they want. But what people want is not always pleasure. People also want to have experiences that make them learn. There are people who keep going through trauma because they identify with trauma. And you probably need this trauma to teach you something.
I recently had a phase where I reconnected with my Indian roots, and I believe that the Hindu tradition is very rich in its symbols. Before this I was very enamoured by Carl Jung, and his theory of archetypes and stuff. And it just connects so easily. The way he saw it – and he said he was really connected to the collective unconscious and he had all these crazy dreams – but he didn’t get scared of them but went deeper into them and got a wealth of knowledge. And there are so many things that exist in our society, like movies, is because of him. His theory of archetypes has created a character depth that before didn’t exist. It started to help me see that gods are archetypes. The unconscious doesn’t talk to us in words, in talks to us is symbols. That’s why dreams are so fricking weird, so random, but everything has a symbolic meaning. And it’s about abundance, like this guy [pointing at Ganesh on the wall – see picture] look at his hand, it means, everything is gonna be okay. His eyes, the whole demeanour, it just says to you that everything is fine, everything is peaceful, and you have everything you need.
And I also really like Zen Buddhism, because it’s simple yet practical.
I always wanted my work to be an extension of my life, and not the other way around. People usually have jobs and then they build their lives around their jobs. I wanted my job to be built around the life I want to lead. So I just kept doing what I like to do. And from that I went to cooking, and to Conscious Kitchen, and now the projects that I do they all have a sort of spiritual aspect. And the way I go about leading Conscious Kitchen is very much in line with my spiritual principles. With empathy and compassion and understanding. Sure, I have my moments where I also…I am also human [laugs]. I play video games. It’s not the most spiritual thing to do. But I also adjust my beliefs according to my experience, because I do believe that I am connected to Spirit, in some form. And for me, the spirit doesn’t have to be super tough. I don’t have to lead an ascetic life. Maybe when I do have to, it will let me know. But right now, I’m in a phase where I have to be material as well, and to stay connected to my spiritual roots. Because I’ve been only spiritual as well, and that disconnects me from the world, and I’m in this world for a reason. But I think that phase was important to me so that I never forget about my spirituality, and always take it seriously in my life. Because…they even did a study, psychologists traced 70 people throughout their life. And they found out that people living the happiest life did not have the most money or the biggest houses. They had two things: they had a meaningful, purpose-driven life and social connections. And for me that just makes so much sense. A purpose-driven life is a life that is guided by Spirit, and social connections – we are social beings, and that’s a very grounding thing. So that’s the earth and the sky coming together. And it is our world. We sometimes forget that the sky is half of our view.
Some people think, when they hear me talk about stuff like this, ‘it’s probably a hippie, probably gonna be weird’. But then, because now I also leading Conscious Kitchen, they think like, ‘oh he must be a business man’. But I’m not, I also meditate, couple of times a week. It’s like refreshing your awareness, it’s like synchronising with your real eyes. But all my friends know that I’m really deep. One of my friends even has my name saved as ‘the spiritual whisperer’.
I think my life is an inspiration for some people. I don’t want to do the rat race thing, and worry about security. In the hierarchy of needs, I already try to go for self-actualisation. Because thankfully to my parents, they made sure most of my needs were met when I was young. And I think that also helped me to go down this path. But still it confounds my parents why I go down this path, they think ‘why can’t he just get a normal job’. But they see the fruits of it now. There is a gestation period where only you can see the progress. So for me it was a long struggle of keeping my head up and keep believing in what my intuition was saying.
A lot of people see my life as an experiment and if I can make it work, I think it will inspire them to also follow their heart. Because that’s what I’m doing. I heard Steve Jobs’s speech a few years ago, ‘follow your heart, because your heart already knows what you wanna be’. And I just took his words, I was like ‘I’m gonna believe you’. And seven years later they come out to be true.