Authors: Yossi Ghinsberg
Through my humble role in this project, I had the opportunity to experience moments of grace in the mightiest of all forests. I shared unforgettable times with exceptional people, some of whom became the best of friends. I served a purpose that was bigger than I, and together with a few others, I made a small difference. I feel fortunate, blessed, and grateful for that experience.
The nomadic life that I had adopted kept me constantly on the move. For a while, I settled in California until I was approached by an international company that was implementing a new technology they had developed for curing opiate addiction. They recruited me to help expand their role in the international marketplace. So I had to become an expert in a new, exciting field, learning everything I could about addictions to heroin and methadone.
Through my work I met thousands of people who were living in hell and desperate for help. I named my vocation ‘the field of agony.’ Like an emissary I kept travelling the world lecturing about opiate dependency. I helped in establishing seven treatment centres, moving from Mexico to Europe and back to the United States. I worked in Thailand and China, finally settling in Australia, where I established my own clinic of treatment and research of addiction. In Australia I also initiated the Alma Libre Foundation, which promotes abstinence-based treatment for opiate-dependent individuals and invites society as a whole to revisit the unjust prejudice and discrimination toward thousands of people suffering from a disease that is a sign of our times.
In the last few years I have changed my work and moved to ‘the field of joy,’ working in the capacity of inspirational keynote speaker and seminar leader. I have also developed a training program called The Manifestation of Vision.
I speak mainly in corporate environments, travelling the world as a guest of companies and organisations to support their conferences with an opening or closing keynote presentation. This has been an amazing personal growth opportunity for me, for I am challenged to keep a tight tension between my talk and my walk.
Having lived a rich life since my adventure in the Amazon, I feel it is time to share my experiences and insights in a humble effort to contribute to the spread of harmony on this planet. The release of my upcoming books,
Laws of the Jungle
, will mark the beginning of this new endeavour.
I now live with my family in the depths of the Australian rainforest where I am surrounded by the purity and lushness of the natural world. The remoteness from civilisation, complete immersion in natural surroundings, breathtaking mountains covered with forest, fresh water springs, and rich flora and fauna inspire me every moment I am there. I feel part of it; moreover, when I step out of my house at night I clearly discern that I am standing on a living planet, turning and moving in its course under the brilliance of the Milky Way. I realise just by looking up to the sky that I am part of something infinite, and I feel infinitely grateful for life.
Since my experience in the jungle, I’ve discovered that sometimes the extraordinary can be seen by the naked eye, allowing a quick glimpse into the miraculous. When this happens, the world as we thought we knew it ceases to exist; it is uncharted from that point forward. Overwhelmed and puzzled, the mind rushes in like a fool, desperately trying to make sense of it all. But how can we understand what cannot be grasped by the senses?
I lived through my jungle adventure at a young age many years ago. And though I had encountered the forces of creation, felt the hand of providence caressing my skin, and seen the work of miracles, I was too young to comprehend it all.
And when we cannot fully understand the significance of something, when we cannot validate the total experience with the senses – can’t see, can’t taste, can’t smell, can’t touch, can’t hear, and cannot conceive – we are left with a choice: to deny or to believe.
I have experienced miracles first-hand, and tried time and again to use reasonable explanations to deny or believe until my mind tired. Now, no explanations are needed. I do not deny and I do not believe; I simply know miracles to be part of the world I live in.
There’s an old myth about a young king lost in a forest for days. He finally finds a camp, but to his dismay, it is deserted. In the remains of a campfire, on the shimmering coals, he finds a piece of salmon. Famished, he quickly shoves it in his mouth only to find that it is scalding hot. He burns himself so badly, in fact, that he is too wounded to live – but not wounded enough to die. He becomes the Fisher King, and, tortured, he awaits redemption in his castle.
The legend continues and tells about a young knight who ventures out into the world aspiring to be its saviour. He rides like all other knights: to defend good values while searching for the king and his castle. But this young knight is particularly naive – in fact, most think he is a fool. On his first venture he finds the Fisher King, but young and innocent as the knight is, he fails to bring redemption or an end to suffering. Instead, his visit brings only heartbreak and strife; he is simply too young to carry such responsibility. It takes decades for the castle to appear again, but by then he is mature and ready.
I have identified myself as a dreamer fool just like the knight in the legend. If you are just a dreamer without being a fool, you will never leave home and risk losing everything you own – your assets, your ideals, your image. And what if it is all in vain and there is nothing to find? Only the fool can take such risk. I was that fool, for the dream was bigger than everything I risked. And I’ve lost it all time and again, and through those experiences, I have found what I truly own, for all that can be taken from me is not mine to begin with. I have found home now; there is no longer a need to search.
May you find the courage to walk your own path. May you dare to venture into the uncharted domains of your own heart. Here is my advice to you, the adventurers – fear will show you the way; walk steadily toward it, for otherwise you will always be running. Have trust and faith to guide you like a torch piercing darkness. Do not believe and do not deny, but find out for yourself – for there is no truth but the one you have earned in your own experience.
Mount Jerusalem National Park