Introduction to the book
This book is about a new way of thinking and how to have what we want in life. Think about how we live. Most of us hop from one goal to the next. To what end? Does chasing those goals ever really bring us lasting happiness? Don’t we need to follow ever bigger and higher goals? What’s the alternative? The whole world revolves around this notion of goal achievement, yet the most successful people—as measured by their goal achievements—are never guaranteed happiness. Why do we buy into this? The answer is we don’t know an alternative. We stay busy pursuing goals, so we don’t have to face the things that really scare us, like not being loved or losing the things that matter to us. The secret is that it’s an illusion: No matter what we love, it changes. Our kids, our bodies, our relationships—they all change. Where are we all racing to then? Imagine this headline: Man Dies of Starvation at Buffet because He Couldn’t Decide What to Eat. Obviously, you would think that was some kind of joke. The truth is that— although not literally—it happens every day. There are people dying of loneliness while surrounded by a sea of people. How many people live in poverty in the US, even though it’s the richest country in the world? Why do we starve when we are surrounded by what we want? The answer is that the reason for the starvation is not external, but internal.
Here’s an idea. What if Starvation were a place we could visit? Who would want to go there for their summer vacation? This book explores the idea that there are places where we gather and suffer together. Then we call it reality. The world is divided into six communities. Each one has its own brand of suffering, from the people who have so much they don’t know what to do with it; to the people who have so little, they can barely survive. These collective pockets are places we can visit, or we can move in permanently. Worse, we can have different parts of our lives living in different places. Often, we see examples of very rich people who are starving for love, or people who are rich in loving families and communities but are very poor. This book explores two worlds: one that we can see around us and another that we can’t see. Imagine a virtual world that determines what we experience in the real world; it’s like living in a video game. Imagine belonging to a place called Shortage and Starvation in the virtual world and having that cause Shortage and Starvation in the real world. If that were true, it would mean that getting what we want is just a matter of changing our character’s location! That’s the idea presented in this book: there really is a place of real joy, a place where things don’t change arbitrarily, and we can have whatever we want, for as long as we want. That place is in our higher self. For some, it is our God self… whatever you call it, the idea is that our suffering comes from a separation from ourselves. Instead of reconnecting with our inner selves, we grasp for things like status and safety. The premise of the book is that the world we’ve come to know is a manifestation of that separateness. There are six places of separation (represented by towns). Each place provides refuge from some form of fear but also leaves us stuck. The choice becomes either to confront the fear or to remain stuck. The journeys of the six people in the book are based on composites of real people. I chose each character as representative of a group of people I know who are stuck. The characters begin their journey together with varying levels of apparent success in life, but they all have one thing in common: they are stuck. There is no judgment of any of them, as they each represent a part of each of us. Everyone is stuck in some area of life, be it in relationship, finances, health, etc. As the characters travel through a virtual journey, through the six towns, each town becomes more difficult to leave than the last, and there is no skipping any town. In order to move forward, each person must confront the thing that is most challenging for them. This is why it is so hard for people to progress. Often, moving forward means letting go of things that hold us back, and that can be difficult, especially when we love those things. It’s hard to let go of something bad but familiar in favor of the unknown.
This is the dilemma the characters face. The promise of paradise often isn’t sufficiently compelling to move us forward, especially when things aren’t that bad where we are. The Journey to the Stream is a book about faith. It is the faith that if you surrender to the right journey, then life will get better and better. What’s required is faith that at the Stream, you will have everything you have ever wanted, and more. There are many books that speak of life as an unreal journey. This is not one of them. Rather, this book examines the idea that there are two realities: one above ground and one below. The above-ground reality we can see, taste, and in it we experience every joy and pain. More importantly, however, the ‘below-ground’ reality, unseen, is what is causing everything to happen above ground. As a former therapist, ‘below ground’ meant the subconscious. That fails to capture the essence of this model, though; neurology would be a better model. Imagine physical places in the brain that determine whole clusters of thoughts and feelings. Now imagine that instead of that brain belonging to a single person, that there is just one brain, which we all share. In that model, we would meet each other in those same places and share those thoughts and feelings…. Approached this way, we can try to have what we want by working hard above ground, or we can travel below ground to get it instead, from the source. Ultimately, this book is not about getting or having things, although that happens naturally as a consequence; it is instead about having greater access to our high self. Finally, I say greater access because we each have varying degrees of access to the higher self already. In that sense, there is always a part of us at the Stream, but there is a difference between having access to it and living completely from it. In the end, we can’t take the journey to the Stream alone, for none of us are truly alone. Surrendering is part of the journey to the Stream. We must surrender and realize that we have only one higher self, which is shared by all. The journey to the Stream is, in part, a practice of letting go—letting go of what doesn’t work. It’s practicing faith that life will always get better when we do. Letting go, without support, is hard. We have a growing community of people on this journey.