Average NBA Player Victor Oladipo Goes Paleo, Becomes an All-Star

This past summer Victor Oladipo was traded from the OKC Thunder to the Indiana Pacers along with Domantas Sabonis for the Pacers All-Star forward Paul George. The entire world thought this was a horrible,  lopsided trade. NBA writers were proclaiming that Sam Presti, the general manager of the Thunder, had pulled off a coup.

And who could blame them? Paul George was clearly one of the best 15 players in the NBA. Meanwhile, Victor Oladipo had throughout his first four years in the NBA, a very average career.  His numbers last season included a PER of 13.6 (NBA average is 15.0) and  a WS/48 of 0.85 (League average of 0.1).

But Oladipo was determined to reboot boot his career. He hired personnel trainer David Alexander of DBC Fitness, who informed Victor that his nutrition was lacking. Oladipo had been eating a high-carbohydrate diet with lots of processed food.  Alexander told Victor that “If it didn’t come from earth, you can’t eat it. If it didn’t swim, crawl, run, or grow, you can’t eat it.” So Victor cut out flour, gluten,  and refined sugars.

The results came quick. Here are the before and after photos. After only 3 weeks! These aren’t Photoshopped!

The on-court results have been just as impressive. Victor has an RPM of 5.41, that ranks 4th in the entire league behind only Steph Curry, James Harden, and Jimmy Butler.  And now after only a few months of being that laughable joke of “One of the worst trades ever”, Oladipo is outplaying the player he was traded for, and is slated to make his first ever All-Star appearance.

How Pleasurable Can Life Be? The Enigmatic Writings of Omega Point

A few years ago, a poster with the handle “Omega Point” started showing up on meditation forums.  No one knew who he was in real life, but he claimed to be a physicist and an advanced practitioner in Tantric Buddhism, including heat yoga and sexual practices.

He’d often start a post saying things like he just got back from a year – long retreat and had much work to get to, so would only have a brief moment to write his (actually he wouldn’t say “I”, but referred to himself as “this mind” )thoughts and then drop a treatise of text, that was at the same time brilliant , erudite, and inscrutable.

Sentences such as the following were par for the course

“One needs to become absorbed in the chest area heat with non-conceptuality and/or altruism if/when any of the blisses are causing outward emissions, both regular ejaculate and prostate fluid itself..”

He would talk about having such powerful orgasms that it would cause cessations (a state where consciousness shuts off).

“Other phenomena of the many include an energetic orgasm built from the mingling of the blisses (even if not great blisses). Generally from a point behind the testicles, upwards a great orgasmic swooning that upon reaching the head, will cause varying blissful emptinesses. Often becoming extinguished by the gaiety into the emptinesses including the cessation of perception”

He talked about creating blissful pleasure paradises from illusion, that one should have such control over their consciousness that one could look at a cow and turn it into a dog within one’s own mind, of having to be careful while doing certain practices lest you kill yourself changing the flow of your hormonal system.

But it wasn’t all about tantric practices, he once wrote an entire book-length essay on the complete path from beginning to mastering dzogchen (In Tibetan Buddhism, dzogchen is known as  the Great Perfection, and is considered the pinnacle of the Buddhist path).  He would randomly break into a historicity of the early Buddhist texts and their formulations, setting the stage for his criticisms of the famous Burmese Mahasi noting method of meditation.

He lamented the weak shamatha (concentration) of modern practitioners.

“To this mind, it appears that in many instances both a degenerated samatha and an overemphasis on vipassana persists in modern practice. For example, there is a tendency to reinterpret the qualities of jhana in some cases totally leaving out listed qualities and having a “good enough” attitude; an over-willingness to bend the descriptions of the qualities in favor of one’s experience, to exaggerate aspects of one’s experiences of samatha/jhana to fit the listed qualities, even if they are but an extremely weak shadow or imitation of the actual quality in question; and thus to iterate, an overall tendency for complacence, a settling for a weak and generally unstable samatha that one self-soothes oneself, in quite a deceptive and gullible fashion, into thinking that it instead is a strong samatha or at least qualifyingly enough. However, instead it might be considered that the lengths of mastery described in the texts, that of unshakable stability and of such penetrating concentrative absorption that if sitting by a muddy road and having a large assembly of merchant carts and animals loudly stomp and roll by, splashing mud at one, and that one doesn’t notice such a circus in the slightest, is not merely an exaggeration, but an accurate representation of what expected mastery entails; “

He also criticized the pragmatic dharma movement, saying we don’t practice nearly enough, that we engage in behaviors detrimental to meditation a mere hour after meditating and the we had very low bars for our attainments. The guy was hardcore..

” In the beginning one should use all of one’s free time for practice, every minute needs to be utilized to its fullest…It is essential to be able to let go of everything, including subtle identifications and concepts of humanity, being human, and social niceties etc. Maintaining awareness and guarding against unawareness must take priority over all else, including the destruction of one’s reputation, disappointing others, and ‘ruining everything’. “

So how advanced was this guy?

Someone once asked if anyone had gotten rid of all negative states of mind and then listed every negative state you could think of from worry, to apprehension to butterflies in the stomach, to disquietude and pain. Here was Omega Point’s response.

To make clear for those who require the most explicit, my direct experience of the “knowledge of destruction” bestows the destruction of above termed experiences at their root. Further, my direct knowledge and experience of the immediately following “knowledge of non-arising” bestows a certainty as to the future persistence of non-arising of the above termed experiences. Beyond merely ending I-making, as recently mentioned, there is no reification of property, sexual territory or social contracts or relationships and no false views or unpleasantness related to death of family etc. The advanced practices have lead this mind to the special extinction via bliss and the resulting perpetual union of liberation and bliss. Further, increasing modification and domestication of bodily pain and fatigue, hot & cold, and even the subtle signs related to effort into bliss or cessation.

What I think he was claiming here, was that even beyond eliminating all negative mental traits, even in the case of a death of a family member, he could even turn even pain/hot/cold/fatigue into bliss.

I can hear your skeptical brain churning. I know mine is. What else do we know about this guy? Unfortunately, not much other then what he told us about his life.

At the age of 11 or 12, he found a book on meditation that claimed it could help one develop psychic powers. This of course, is pretty fascinating to a 12 year old and he began meditating between 30 minutes and four hours a day. Obviously, the psychic power  thing was nonsense, but the meditation practice brought him great joy and exhilaration as well as social benefits and spent his teenage years:

” rather devoid of all but pretty slight arisings (brief and very uncommon uneasiness, nervousness, anxiousness etc; a great much less than what could be observed of others) & felt nearly all social situations were in the palm of my hand (low self-grasping lead to extremely fluid social dynamics; ‘people were easy’). 

To clarify, a ‘young love’ break up of a few years surely had the capacity to influence negatively, as I had rooted a pretty deep attachment and suffered a few weeks before moving on (including the standard sexual territory evolutionary programs males are ‘blessed’ with).

In college he delved into, you guessed it, psychedelics. During one trip, after taking a radical amount of some substance, he saw a wrathful deity, that grew large and consumed his entire vision. The encounter left an indelible mark on him.  

A few years later he became interested in studying Buddhism and meditation, and the relationship between the states he had experienced on psychedelics. It was then that he first saw a Buddhist drawing of a wrathful deity,  similar to the one he saw while on drugs. How to explain the coincidence? He supposed that the deity was some Jungian archetype buried deep in the unconscious human mind. This led him to take his practice more seriously and he travel to Asia to meet and receive instructions from yogis, monks, and hermits. He also searched out and intensely studied rare texts and exotic traditions. He claims that mastering these practices not only leads to the end of all kinds of unpleasant feelings, but that one “can also experience various orders of the supreme all-encompassing primordial orgasm if wished.”

His scholarly essay, “The Art of Nakedness” outlines the path of meditation needed to get there, although it’s not an easy read for those without a strong background in Buddhist philosophy and terminology.

So where is Omega Point now? Who is this guy and how can we verify if his claims are true? Unfortunately, solving this mystery will have to wait, as over a year ago he left for a long retreat, leaving us with this note of advice…

Tomorrow I will leave to visit a spiritual friend for 4-5 days who herself is back from retreat for a month. After which I will resume long retreat.

My central message to fellow practitioners, sincerely from the bottom of my heart, is to stress the importance of retreat. The dharma cannot be rewritten to accommodate one’s great attachment to modern daily life. The only way forward to great realization is to rewrite one’s daily life to accommodate the great dharma.

This stock of fleeting moments we call life can be easily wasted. We should recognize the mistake of conflating the wisdom of working within our circumstances with actions predicated on our great attachment to modern daily life.

This great attachment, with all its sweet sounding rationalizations, is nothing more than a mara. A mara intent on making this blessed life unsuitable for the great dharma, and so transforming it into an obstacle like that of the devas. If you truly seek the flower of Dzogchen this life, then now is the only time to totally abandon this obstacle.

-May all sentient beings be free from suffering, and may all practitioners of Great Compassion be unobstructed on their journey to dharmic omniscience.

 

Tips For Getting Into the First Pleasure Jhana

I just did a 17 day retreat at Bhavana Society in West Virginia, working mostly on the pleasure jhanas. Whether you are a dedicated meditation practioner with enough concentration to reach jhana (and that means a lot!) or simply curious about jhana, you might find these following tips useful.

Glossary:

Pleasure Jhana: An advanced state of meditation where one becomes completely absorbed in the object of meditation. There are 8 levels of jhana, but in this post we will focus only on the first one. In the first pleasure jhana, one becomes so absorbed in pleasure, that pleasure takes up the entire mental bandwith of experience.

Access Concentration: A state of meditation where you have sufficient concentration to access the first jhana.

Recognizing when you are ready:

My concentration on the breath at the nostrils gets very good, no subtle distractions and I’m fully concentrated on the breath. The sensations of the in and out flow of the breath get finer and finer until the breath disappears altogether and is replaced, usually, by intense electrical pulses. Like dit-a-dit-a-dit-dit..just popping off around where my nostrils would be. Now this might not happen to you, you might not feel anything at all (in that case make sure you aren’t in dullness!) or still have feelings of the breath, but they’ll be so sharp as to be painful, or have some other weird thing going on.

I also start experiencing illumination phenomenon. It is as if you looked a bright LED light on the ceiling and then closed your eyes. And it begins to blanket your vision (in the suttas they describe it like being covered by a white blanket). When I can maintain this state for 5-10 minutes I know I am in access concentration.

The goal now is to focus on a feeling of pleasure somewhere in the body. If at this point I’m not already smiling, I will intentionally smile to generate a pleasant feeling. If smiling isn’t sufficient, I will do a bit of metta practice.  I imagine people with down syndrome filled with joy. When I am no longer able to generate this image, meaning when I try to visualize a person with down syndrome leaping into the air with joy,  my brain won’t produce the image. Instead, all of my attention remains focused on the feeling of electrical pulses pounding around my nostrils. Now I am I ready for jhana.

I start focusing on the pleasure. The pleasurable sensation will usually be around my mouth where I am smiling, or down in my hands. As I focus on the pleasure it begins to grow in waves. Now, this is very important, do not try and make it grow. Do no think “hey I’m getting jhana”, do not even have desire to reach jhana. All of that will kill it. Instead just focus on the pleasure. Just that.

Jhana is a state of not wanting. If you want it to happen, it won’t. Eventually, if you just focus on the pleasure and nothing else, the pleasure will fill your entire body, and your conscious experience becomes totally absorbed in this pleasure. Other thoughts, sounds, and feelings rarely intrude. It’s just pleasure. You have reached the first jhana.

If you have never experienced jhana before, this will be most joyous experience of your life.  You will be saturated with joy and happiness. In fact, it’s almost too intense, like a “I did way too many drugs and I better go lie down” kind of intense. But don’t worry, jhana practice is perfectly safe. Still, the first jhana has a very strong bodily feeling. It feels like you are trembling. It’s kind of overwhelming, to the point where eventually you have enough of it and want to move on to the later more peaceful jhanas.

How do you know it’s jhana and not simply joy? In jhana you are not in control and you can’t do anything. It’s a bit like being in a trance. If you tried to think a thought, the first word or two might come up and then the jhana would shut it down. Any intention that comes up, gets shot down. You are consumed in the pleasure. You are just along for the ride. Generally, the only thoughts that you can think and stick are related to the current experience of jhana, such “Now I want to move on to second jhana” or “It’s time to get out of this.”  When you do get out of it, you will kind of pop out and back into reality.

Lastly, don’t do the jhanas late at night. The jhanas, especially when you first start doing them, are so intense in the body that energy remnants will keep you up most of the night. During the retreat their was no way I was falling asleep within 4 hours of doing a jhana. Although this does get better over time and with more practice your body gets a bit more accustomed to it.

Fun Conversation on the Vivo Training Systems Podcast

I had a great time talking with Mike De Vivo of the Vivo Training Systems Podcasts. He’s a personal trainer with a natural lifestyle bent. We talk about my background, how I came to eating Paleo, visiting an Amazon tribe and tips on meditation and living naturally. Check out the conversation here..

Listen to “The Awakened Ape: Jevan Pradas” on Spreaker.
 

 

Were Cavemen Sexist? Not According to Researchers

If you believe that the feminists of the 1900’s introduced sexual equality you are not alone. You would also – according to several scientists – be mistaken.  Anthropologists claim that women and men were treated equally in hunter-gatherer societies, and it wasn’t until the neo-lithic period and the dawn of agriculture, that society became sexist.  If this is true, then men and women were considered equal for most of the history of mankind.

Much of the research into sexual equality was done by observing modern-day hunter-gatherers.  Anthropologists Mark Dyble and Andrea Migliano added some computer modeling and genealogical data to prove a very clever hypothesis.  The inspiration for their research seems to have sprung from the main-stay of stand-up comedians  –   in-law jokes.   

Did the anthropologists imagine the following conversations?

Him – “I think we should live with my family.”

Her – “Are you kidding? Your mother always criticizes the way I cook.  We should live with my family.”

Him – “Hah!  Your brother has a really annoying laugh.  He even laughs when he eats and his food sprays out of his mouth. It’s disgusting.”

Her – “Better than your stone-faced sister. She has no sense of humor t all.”

Him – “Well, your sister….”  And on and on, until finally one of them says,

Her – “Okay, fine. We won’t live with either of our families. We’ll live with people who aren’t related to us.”

Perhaps, perhaps not. But they did work on the assumption based on the research, that individuals want to live with their own families and not with their in-laws. In male-dominated societies, people tend to live with their male relatives and vice versa in matriarchal ones. They found that when both partners had the same influence in making decisions, the groups consisted of more unrelated people than when only one partner was responsible for making decisions. Based on this finding, the anthropologists extrapolated that since hunter-gatherer groups live with mostly un-related individuals their societies were egalitarian in regard to gender and both men and woman had input when deciding with whom they would live.

According to Dylbe and Migliano this ‘no-win’ result led to cooperating with others, less inbreeding, and fostered wide-ranging social networks.  Then, when agriculture came along, men starting saving resources, and eventually the egalitarian hunter-gatherer society broke-down, along with sexual equality.

Funny Buddha Discourses: The Wilderness Dweller

Have you ever wondered whether you have what it takes to go on retreat in the wilderness? Well the Buddha has some advice for you, which description do you match?

“Endowed with (any of) four qualities, a monk isn’t fit to stay in isolated forest and wilderness lodgings. Which four? He is endowed with thoughts of sensuality, with thoughts of ill will, with thoughts of harmfulness, and he is a person of weak discernment, dull, a drooling idiot. Endowed with any of these four qualities, a monk isn’t fit to stay in isolated forest and wilderness dwellings.”

“Endowed with (any of) four qualities, a monk is fit to stay in isolated forest and wilderness lodgings. Which four? He is endowed with thoughts of renunciation, with thoughts of non-ill will, with thoughts of harmlessness, and he is a discerning person, not dull, not a drooling idiot. Endowed with any of these four qualities, a monk is fit to stay in isolated forest and wilderness dwellings.”

Russell Westbrook’s Paleo Diet

Russell Westbrook is having an historic NBA season.  The Oklahoma City point guard is averaging 31.8 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists per game. That’s right, he is averaging a triple-double. A stat line that was thought to be impossible in the modern NBA. The high flying guard also eats a clean diet that is almost completely paleo. His only vice..cheese. But hey, if you can handle dairy, full fat cheese is one of the most nutritious foods out there. Here is Russell’s daily diet, which was outlined here.

 

Breakfast:

  • Omelette, full fat cheese and spinach and kale

Snacks:

  • Almonds and cashews or kale chips

Lunch and Dinner

  • Lean meat
  • Wild-caught fish
  • Vegetables
  • Nuts and seeds
  • Fruit

 

And here are some highlights from the most athletic point guard to every play in the NBA.

 

Tsimane Tribe of Amazon Have World’s Healthiest Hearts

 

The Tsimane tribe, natives of the Bolivian Amazon have the healthiest hearts ever to be extensively examined by researchers, according to a new study published in The Lancet. The Tsimane have lower rates of blood pressure, lower heart rates, lower cholesterol, and lower blood sugar than the rest of the world.

The researchers traveled to Bolivia to study this tribe and found that 85% of them had no arterial plague, and hence, no risk of heart disease.  A further 12% had low risk, and only 3% of the tribe had moderate or high risk. Even those over the age of 75 were mostly risk free. How does that compare to people in the United States? 50% of us are in the moderate to high risk category.

The Tsimane eat a natural diet of whole foods that they hunt and gather themselves with some farming. Their diet consists of rice, manioc, plantains, corn, nuts, fruits and wild fish and game.

The Tsimane are also very physically active. The men are hunters and are physically active for six to seven hours a day, averaging 17,000 steps. Women are physically active for five hours a day and take 16,000 steps.

Eat natural whole foods and exercise!

 

 

UN – World’s Happiest Countries 2017

The United Nations came out with its annual report on the world’s happiest countries. There is a new number one, with Norway upsetting the defending champion Denmark.

 

The rankings are based on survey participants answering a simple question: “Please imagine a ladder, with steps numbered from 0 at the bottom to 10 at the top. The top of the ladder represents the best possible life for you and the bottom of the ladder represents the worst possible life for you. On which step of the ladder would you say you personally feel you stand at this time?”

The average score around the world is a 5.3, right in the middle of the happiness ladder. Norway is at the top with a 7.5. So what makes these Nordic countries so happy?

The factors the researchers found to influence happiness were GDP per capita, social support, healthy life expectancy, freedom to make life choices, generosity, and freedom from corruption. The Nordic countries excel in these qualities, while American happiness has dropped in recent years due to decreased social support and increased corruption.

Within countries, much of the happiness between people can be explained by physical and mental health and social relationships.