What is LiveReal?
The Director's Cut
"The search for the truth
is the most important work in the whole world,
and the most dangerous."
- James Clavell
Sometimes, after an epic quest and years of searching for real answers,
you still can't remember where you parked your car.
So, what is "LiveReal"?
Well, there's a video below that tries to explain it. (Also here).
You could also see what other folks say about us here.
And you can see kinda what we look like here.
And in a nutshell: modern spirituality, psychology, relationships and self-help...well, all this kind of stuff can sometimes be treacherous terrain. Profound and magical, yes, but also, sometimes, treacherous.
Part of what we try to do is help folks navigate that terrain.
As we navigate it ourselves.
It's an adventure. For all of us.
But you want to dig deeper?
Let's do it.
OK, first of all, there's the issue of pronouncing it: "LiveReal" is "liv" like "give," not "live" like "jive"). So, for example, "Don't just live...live real."
OK, now that's out of the way.“One’s real life is often
"Don't just live."
Let's start with something we can all agree on, hopefully:
We are all alive.
OK, hopefully we can agree on that. We just mean, physically alive. If you're reading this, you must be. I think we're safe on this point.
So from there, we can go a little further: are we really alive?
And then it can go even further off the rails: what does it mean to be "fully alive"?
Another way of asking this: what is the "real business of life"?
"The ways in which most men get their living,
that is, live, are mere makeshifts,
and a shirking of the real business of life."
- Henry David Thoreau
OK, now we've already gone off the rails.
Let's reel it back in. Let's call in someone else that everyone can agree on. Like a guy who paints his face blue.
"Every man dies. Not every man really lives."
- quote from Randall Wallace (writer of Braveheart), or Mel Gibson (actor/director
of Braveheart, or William Wallace (the guy Braveheart was based on), or probably
some other guy William heard it from...what were we talking about again?
What does it mean to "really live"? Not just to survive; not merely to make it from one day to the next without taking a dirt nap...but to really live?
OK, we've stepped in another rabbit hole that we could disappear down for days, weeks, months. Let's back up and try again.
There are plenty of places that are focused on getting your outsides in shape.
You can get your hair poofed, your fingers manied, your toes pedied, your muscles swolled, your tummy tucked, your clothes dapper-ized, your boobs jobbed...
That's not what we do.
Those things are about getting your outsides in shape.
LiveReal is about getting your insides in shape.
Like, personal trainers help you get your body in shape.
We're like personal trainers, but instead of focusing exclusively on the body, we focus on the heart, mind, too.
We're working on getting our insides in shape.
OK, now we're getting warmer.
But not really.
What do we mean by "getting our insides in shape"?
Let's try this:
LiveReal is about one thing: life.
...and at the end of the day,
I think that's what it's about, is...
Are you wasting your life?
Or are you not wasting your life?"
- Hanz Zimmer
But of course, that's a bit, well, broad. It sounds like someone saying, "I like breathing air!" as if that's news. (Gee, thanks, Captain Obvious! Professional conversationalist, you must be! Did you arrive at that penetrating insight all by yourself, or did your mom do it for you?)
Yes. So here's where it gets more specific: body, mind, heart, soul.
- physical health / Body (OK, so we aren't only about the "inside")
- psychology / mental clarity and emotional strength / Mind
- relationships / Heart
- spirituality / Soul
We organize this into four arenas: Physical (body), Psychology (mind), Relationships (heart), and Spiritual (soul).
These aren't Facebook topics where we're trying to sell bumper stickers for, or wrist bands we're trying to sell.
These are areas we explore.
We explore dangerous territories.
So, why do we say these are "dangerous territories"?
Let's face it: these topics - spirituality, psychology, self-help, relationships - are areas that a lot of people avoid talking about. At least with each other. (With ourselves, it's a whole different matter).
It's even, sometimes, taboo.
There are reasons for this.
If you want the truth about this stuff, you're going to have to go deep. But not literally.
We figured that out, eventually.
After all, anything close to "spirituality" is that has any meat to it is usually pretty controversial.
Outside of a particular tribe, folks can often see things very differently, and feel things strongly. They sets the scene for serious arguments. And people get offended easily. And disagreements in these areas can end relationships. Or worse. People can decide that you aren't just wrong...that your entire understanding of yourself and the universe around you is wrong. Or worse. And, heck - maybe it is.
It's dangerous territory.
Or just take psychology. Outside of college students who don't have good taste in majors, psychology is a topic that is often seen as an area best avoided whenever possible. It's not unlike dentistry, except these dentists drill your "mind." It brings to mind generally unpleasant topics like anxiety, depression, stress, pills, various "disorders" for practically any behavior you can observe and describe, and so on. Actions and people get labeled, categorized and processed like cold cuts in a grocery store. If you aren't anxious, depressed or stressed before psychology gets its mitts on you, you probably will be after. (OK, this isn't totally fair, we admit, but it's also not too far off base.)
And don't even get us started on "self-help." New Years resolutions are usually seen as jokes. We start out trying to improve ourselves and end up making things worse. Self-improvement is usually something we try to do in secret; we usually only want to present to the world the "self" that's already been improved; we don't want to talk about what goes on behind the scenes.
And relationships: our relationships are so personal, so important, so key to our lives that talking about them can feel like a public, open-heart surgery while you're fully awake. And tinkering around with them? Probably best left to the professional heart surgeons of relationships, if they existed, and if we could. But we can't. Yet somehow we're drowning in relationship "advice" these days, and from folks who have definitely been trained much less than heart surgeons.
So yes - all these topics are generally seen as things we'd often like to avoid. For good reason. Often, spirituality, psychology, self-help and so on leave a lot of people burned with bad experiences, and wanting to avoid it.
But enough with all that.
Some folks want mental clarity and emotional strength, physical health, real, valid spirituality, and relationships that are whatever the opposite of "dysfunctional" is. (OK, "functional," but that doesn't quite have much zing to it.)
Some folks don't want to just live. They want to live real.
(OK, now we're devolving into shameless self-promotion.)
(Back on track.)
Because of course, there's another side to it.
In fairy tales, most "dangerous territories" are dangerous because there are usually some kinds of monsters around.
And where there are monsters, there's usually some kind of treasure.
We really do think these can be dangerous territories.
And we really do think there are treasures out there.
Of course, these are fairly tales. And we aren't talking about actual monsters, but metaphors, as Nietzsche might describe as being "torn" by "some minotaur of conscience."
But to push it further, of course, it's not like we have a choice.
Is it even an option to avoid our own body, heart, mind, soul - even if it doesn't make for polite cocktail party conversation?
And does it make any sense for us to be in this paradox that the things most close to us - the most vital parts of our very existence - are also, at least in some situations, taboo?
Seems weird to us.
So that's some of why we're doing what we're doing. Because really, in a way, it seems more weird not to.
But there is still a lot left hanging. For example, in regards to all this stuff, is LiveReal pushing some kind of agenda?
(Translation: are you guys Scientologists? Or even worse: are you guys controlled by Time-Warner cable?)
LiveReal isn't really about any particular belief system, philosophy, perspective, angle, agenda, technique, or school of thought.
It's more about a way of life.
What "way of life" is it about?
We'll answer that, but before getting too deep into that, we're going to attack the problem from the perspective of someone who is hitting this site for the first time and essentially asking, "what's in it for me?"
"What Can LR Do for me?"
Question: I simply want the very best in regards to my spiritual life, my mental and emotional strength, my physical health, and my relationships. Can LiveReal help with that?
Answer: Yes, we think so.
Answer: Let's lay out a few scenarios:
"I’m asking Big Questions."
- I'm curious to know if anyone else out there is doing that too. (Yes. We are.)
- I’m haunted by basic, core questions that I honestly don’t know the answer to.
- "I’m searching for something and I’m not sure what."
- I see myself as a little perplexed by life, and I’m looking for "A guide for the perplexed."
- I’m interested in those thoughts and half-articulated questions in the back corner of my mind, the ones we rarely talk about.
- People tell me “you think too much” and I want to hang out every so often with people who don’t say that, and might actually be the same way.
- I’m tired of small talk, and would rather talk about things that actually matter.
- I sometimes wonder, "does any of this really matter?”
- I don’t know what I want to do with my life.
- I’m trying to figure out “who I am."
- I see the universe as a huge, vast mystery, with several key, basic questions unsolved. It makes sense to me to try to solve them and to explore these questions with other people who are doing the same thing.
I want to learn how to deal with specific topics. Has anybody figured out anything more about these than the typical fluff you find, well, everywhere these days?
I want to become mentally and emotionally stronger.
People focus a lot on working out their body, but what about the mind and emotions? And aren't these as, or even more, important in the long run?
I want to understand relationships.
I want to understand how relationships work
I want to prepare myself to have a successful and happy marriage/avoid divorce
I want to learn why I’m attracted to the wrong kind of guy/girl
I want to understand why my relationship isn’t working / make my current relationship work
I feel like I’m “looking for love in all the wrong places, and want to start looking in the "right" places.
I want to explore spirituality.
I'm interested in what real spirituality is. I sense there's something more than a lot of the typical BS I see out there.
Mainstream spirituality isn’t really doing it for me. But a complete and total lack of any kind of spirituality doesn’t seem all that great either.
I'm looking for meaning in (what seems to be) a meaningless world.
Mainstream church/temple on the corner aren’t doing it for me. I'm curious about what else is out there. But I'm not interested in any crazy cults.
I'm asking serious questions about the religion I grew up with. "Struggling," even.
Maybe I’m not affiliated with any particular religion, but I’m interested in all of them.
I’m asking - is this all there is? Is there more to life than sleep, work, bills and bad tv?
I’m interested in checking out (what may or may not be) some heavy-duty modern-day "spiritual giants."
I’m interested in exploring spirituality, scientifically.
I’m interested in exploring meditation.
I want to learn about "happiness" in all dimensions
- for example, 1) External factors; 2) Physical factors; Psychological factors; Spiritual factors. Something roughly along those lines. Not to get too spreadsheet about it or anything.
I want to learn how to deal with stress
- and not just “deal" with it, but how I can use it to make me stronger
I’m in therapy
- and it seems to be causing more problems than it’s solving.
- I want to figure that out.
I want to learn how people manipulate each other
- and learn how to become immune to being manipulated by others.
I want to understanding what really makes people tick
I'm interested in real psychology. Beyond the basic Freudian and the white-rat variety.
- but not hokey, bumper-sticker platitude self-help fluff.
I’m interested in preventing problems instead of merely trying to solve them after they’re here.
I’m interested in actually preventing or solving problems, and not just explaining how and why I have them
I want to know why I do what I do.
I want to study some of the greatest thinkers, wisest people, etc who have ever lived, and figure out how I can apply what they've learned to my own life.
I’ve learned a few reall important things about life the hard way, and I honestly want to share my experiences & stories in case other people might learn from them.
I want to mix it up a little with people who are interested in all this stuff & think the way I do.
I want to live life to the fullest, but I’m not sure exactly how to do that. Or what that really means.
Overall: I'm tired of all the bull, and really want to “know myself."
OK - back to our earlier discussion:
So, when we mentioned earlier that LiveReal is really about a certain "way of life" - what is that "way of life" about?
Well, if we had to use just two words, we'd keep it pretty simple: “Know Yourself.”
If we had a few more words, and were allowed to let some other folks do the fancy talking for us, it'd be something roughly along these lines:
"I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived."
- Henry David Theoreau
"To live is the rarest thing in the world. Most people exist, that is all."
- Oscar Wilde
"I would rather be ashes than dust! I would rather that my spark should burn out in a brilliant blaze than it should be stifled by dry-rot. I would rather be a superb meteo, every atom of me in magnificent glow, than a sleepy and permanent planet. The proper function of man is to live, not to exist. I shall not waste my days in trying to prolong them. I shall use my time."
- Jack London
"The tragedy is not to die, but to be wasted."
- William Blake
We could keep going, but you probably get basic idea: life can be a grand, romantic, daring adventure, or it can be a painful, pointless, exercise in drudgery; the idea is to get as much of the "romantic adventure" and as little of the "pointless drudgery" as possible.
Well, that's a good question, and the kind of question we explore. But for starters, we break it down something like this:
At the most basic level, there's the physical body. If you want physical health (aka what we'd call "vitality," that's what we explore in The Physical Arena: The Pursuit of Vitality.
Then there's the "mind," or the areas of mental and emotional strength - which is (or should be) the realm of, for lack of a better word, "psychology." So if you want this, that's what we explore in The Psychology Arena: The Fight for Sanity.
Then of course, a big aspect of the good life is relationships. This is what we explore in The Relationships Arena: The Search for Intimacy.
And finally, there's the Big Enchilada, the Grand Burrito, the Nacho Ultimo: "spirituality," for lack of a better word, or the realm of the soul. This is what we explore in The Spiritual Arena: The Quest for Reality.
"...since everyone is carrying on
as though the vital truths about man
did not exist..."
- Ernest Becker
So here's how we'd say it in a nutshell: here at LiveReal, we're working to help folks navigate the treacherous worlds of modern spirituality, relationships, and physical, mental and emotional heath.
In other words, we're working to help folks in the areas of the "soul" (The Spiritual Arena: The Quest for Reality), the "heart" (The Relationships Arena: The Search for Intimacy), the "mind" (The Psychology Arena: The Fight for Sanity), and the body (The Physical Arena: The Pursuit of Vitality).
So these are four broad categories (body, mind, heart, soul) of the realms we investigate. But of course, the reality of it all is actually messier than this, as it usually is. These neat categories actually wind up overlapping, intersecting, tangling, intermingling, interpenetrating, and just flat don't stay in their neat little categories in the actual rough-and-tumble of the day-to-day.
...just like the way it works for every individual in "real life." And that - the single individual - is who we're working to help.
Because what good are massive buildings filled with books, hoards of experiments being run, billions of hours of focused and intensive study being conducted, trillions of individual insights being discovered, if none of this knowledge reaches the single individual person who needs it?
So all this is directed towards getting down to the nub of the matter: trying to get down to the heart of the heart of things - the reality behind appearances - about life itself.
That, roughly, is what we're working to find out.
...umm, that's what "who" is working to find out?
Who, exactly, is behind this mad quest? An elite squad of world-renowned superscientist--playboys-and-girls? A faceless multi-national corporate conglomerate? A cadre of international-billionaire-men-and-women-of-mystery? A secret conspiratorial order of all-powerful elites intent on ruling the world? A group of rejects from the human version of The Island of Misfit Toys? Seal Team Seven? Tony Stark's 2nd cousin, RibEye?
Well, that would be a "no" to most of the above.
For practical purposes, we'll keep it to this: we aren't an elite squad of world-renowned scientists-slash-playboys-and-girls, or a faceless multi-national corporate conglomerate, or a cadre of international-men-and-women-of-mystery, or a secret conspiratorial order of all-powerful elites intent on ruling the world, or a group of rejects from the human version of The Island of Misfit Toys (although if that existed, we might be), and we aren't Seal Team Seven, and we aren't RibEye Stark.
What does that leave?
Just us. Nothing special. Just a small group of misfits trying to figure out the meaning of life.
Some nuggets of wisdom are a little
easier to carry than others.
We are a team of agents. And we are on a mission - a quest, really - to run across the fields and valleys of all the deepest corners of the world with our intellectual butterfly nets, trying to capture whatever useful nuggets of wisdom are out there, and collect those nuggets here, condense them into bite-sized, digestible pieces, and present them in a way that they can serve...well, you, the individual human who is trying to make it through the crazy world today.
So, The LiveReal Agents: trusty, fearless, daring, overly-caffienated, and reporting for duty.
We aren't experts. We don't flash fancy badges. We don't wave around long list of credentials to try to dazzle you. We don't use ten-dollar words to try to prove we're smart. We don't use incomprensible jargon to try to give the impression that we're deep. We aren't pretending to have this all figured out. (That one's pretty important).
We don't claim that "I'm enlightened and you're not." We aren't enlightened. We aren't a secret cabal of elitist Harvard snobs pretending to have all the answers to everything (and are wrong).
We don't know. Unlike a lot of other folks out there, who think, imply, or actually believe that they really know everything, we aren't pretending to have all this figured out. And we're proud of that, because we've spent a lot of time looking into what we really know, and what we don't; and we'd much rather be in the small category of those who don't know (and know it) than those who think they know (but don't).
In other words...we're seekers.
While we unavoidably wind up presenting our findings ourselves, as flawed, very human, sometimes biased individuals, our goal is to at least be as transparent and forthright about that as we can, so our arguments, statements and bits of evidence can speak for themselves. We aren't trying to push a particular angle.
We want experiences where you see the truth so clearly and unimstakably that you don't have to think about it. Our goal is for stuff to be self-evident to you. Our primary job is just to collect evidence, and lay it all out there. From that point, there's a matter of examining evidence, which you're free to accept or reject. But collecting the right evidence can be a big chore.
That said, we also know that because of the personal, subjective nature of all this stuff, we had to be up-front about flawed, fragile, hearty-yet-overmatched human beings behind all this, working through the nights to "figure it out."
OK, but how are you working to "figure it out"?
"It then occurred to me
that this was not the first time
I had been given a map
which failed to show many things
I could see right in front of my eyes.
All through school and university
I had been given maps of life and knowledge
on which there was hardly a trace
of many of the things that I most cared about
and that seemed to me to be of the greatest possible importance
to the conduct of my life."
- E. F. Schumacher,
A Guide for the Perplexed
This brings up "Our Approach."
Our approach can be described in handful of phrases: it's a “no-nonsense,” “see-for-yourself,” “skeptical yet open-minded,” "open-minded-yet-not-s0-open-that-your-brain-falls-out" kind of approach where you can "take what you like and leave the rest."
We first look into something as openly and fairly as possible. It's a basic data-gathering stage; we want to explore every worthwhile thing that has ever been said about a topic throughout history, in any field. Everyone and everything is welcome.
Sometimes we have to put on
our thinking caps.
Then we work to summarize, condense, and consolidate this into some kind of digestible format. Ideally, hopefully this is presenting in some kind of non-overwhelming way, where the information architecture of it all is designed to fit the individual human mind.
Implicit and concurrent with this in this process is our next step, where we work to painfully strip, peel, scratch and scrape away every shade of B.S., spin, skew and hype until we arrive at that juicy center of something real. (Or sometimes, nothing; in which case there was nothing but B.S. and hype and etc.)
We're "scientific" insofar as we can be; we take science as far as it will go. But we explore many realms that the long, thin, probing finger of science just doesn't reach yet. So at times, to answer the questions we need to answer, we have no choice but to go beyond science.
At these times, we are working to truly find the frontiers of our knowedge, explore those frontiers, and eventually, when necessary, go beyond them. This makes us part lighthouse-keepers on lonely shores of understanding, part Star Trek-wannabe space pirates, where the final frontier isn't really outer space, which is much less interesting to us than the real final frontier, which understanding what is really going on in the space between our ears. The human mind, the soul, The Big Questions, whatever you want to call it.
Some LiveReal Agents after a mission.
Nobody said this was going to be easy.
Anyway, when we explore then known and find it wanting, we must move on from from lighthouse keepers and space pirates to then becoming more like a team of criminal detectives on the hunt for a killer. We work to keep the scientific rigor as much as possible, but we have no choice but to rely more on clues, evidence, theories, as well as speculations, hypothesis, dubious experts, shady characters, and "hunches" - essentially, whatever we can - to find the killer. (The "killer" in this sense being the "answer" we're looking for).
We don't really care how we find the killer. The only thing that matters is finding them before they strike again.
And that's the kind of urgency we approach all this with.
Because for us, these issues we explore aren't intellectual, sophomoric, college-professor-a-hole pedantic speculation B.S. There's some stuff we can maybe prove; other stuff we can argue for; other stuff we can present basic evidence for; other stuff (that we suspect) where we can't even do that. The way we see it, these are issues that lie at the root foundation of our lives and our happiness, each of us, whether we're aware of it or not. If we are mistaken about fundamental things about life - about love, God, sex, faith, happiness, suffering, morality, who we are, why we're here and so on - the consequences for our lives can be pretty serious. Seriously serious. Grave, even. Seriously.
These "issues" we're talking about - the ones "at the root foundation of our lives and our happiness" - are ones we all confront, either consciously or unconsciously:
What’s it all about? Who am I? Where did I come from? Where am I going? What should I do with my life? And who says? And why? Why are we here, anyway? What the heck is going on?
...and so on.
We call these "The Big Questions."
And of course, there are plenty of "answers" to "The Big Questions" out there.
Plenty of answers. Maybe even too many.
After all, "answers" these days are everywhere - thousands, millions of them, overflowing from billboards, radios, televisions, books, infommercials, preachers, politicians, celebrities, gurus, and yes, even Oprah.
The problem today, the way we see it, isn't that there are too many unanswered questions (even "The Big Questions"). The problem is that there are too many answers. The hard part is sorting through them all.
In this sense, we serve to come capacity as "information brokers." We aren't interested in reinventing the wheel; if somebody's already invented a good wheel - or in this case, a good answer to the best diet, or a good way out of depression - we see no reason to re-invent it. In this sense, we're "meta" - we aren't trying to add to the pile of current answers; we try to help sort through the piles and piles of answers, to help find the good ones and make sure they don't get lost in the torrent of information overload. (We only add to the pile when none of the ones we've found seem to cut it).
So the problem these days is more about sorting through all the "answers" and pseudo-answers that are being tossed around...and figuring out the crucial piece: which one is the real one? Or rather, which one - or ones - will work for me?
Because of course, the most important answers of all...ultimately, nobody else can tell you. You have to find them for yourself. Whatever anyone else says, nobody else can do this part for you. You have to.
After all, even if somebody else knows exactly what you're looking for, and knows exactly how to help you get it, and is able to tell you very clearly what that is...you have to be the one to hear them, understand them, and live them. (Case study: the good witch in the Wizard of Oz: "She wouldn't have believed me! She had to learn it for herself!")
In this sense, all we're trying to do is help folks to find their own real answers, any way we can.
In all this clatter and confusion, we wanted some kind of single, independent, unaffiliated “Consumer’s Reports” type of perspective that is trying, at least a little bit, to be “above the fray” in important matters and can help individuals navigate through these mind-fields safely.
Because we're all navigating through the mind-fields nowadays.
After all, everyone is trying to figure this stuff out. Some people are just more conscious and deliberate about it than others. (And most of the rest are just pretending.)
So if you're interested in this stuff...then that means that at least on some level, you're a seeker.
LiveReal is a headquarters for seekers.
So if this sounds like you...welcome to LiveReal.
If you have any questions, comments, adoration, glowing praise, etc, email us at info@LiveReal.com.
Your dutiful and cuddly
"I have written this book fundamentally
as a study in harmonization of the Babel of views on man
and on the human condition,
in the belief that the time is ripe
for a synthesis that covers the best thought in many fields,
from the human sciences to religion . . ."
- Ernest Becker
"...you don't know anything
until you know Everything."
- Richard Rose