Question: After the ridiculously long wait, Frank Ocean’s new album finally came out last week. The debut track was called “Nikes,” and the accompanying video is gorgeous. The lyrics, although a little scattered are beautiful in their own way. My favorite part is when he says: We’ll let you guys prophesy/ we gon’ see the future first .
This sounds like something you would say. What do you think he’s talking about here?
Michael Richardson-Borne: He seems to be pointing to the creativity and confidence that comes when you’re being lived in the moment.
He’s saying, “While you guys talk about it, we’re going to be about it.” You may be able to predict we’re going to fly to Mars one day, but we’re going to dance on that motherfucker. And not just dance on it, we’re going to build a fucking house on it. You may be able to write words about where you think the world is going creatively– but we’re the ones living it. He’s highlighting the difference between being locked in the mind and actually living life– the difference between describing what sex might feel like and actually getting laid.
The problem is you can realize this distinction, be living in the moment, and still be under the influence of your belief in being an autonomous decision making entity– you can be living in the moment and still not have a “right view.” Living “in the moment,” in this way, will still be a source of suffering and separation. It creates a roller coaster ride, one minute in flow, the next minute trying to get back to the state that felt so good. You’re still in a position where you’re the one figuring things out, proud, giving yourself more credit than is actually yours to take. It’s a life dependent on what spiritual teacher Ramesh Balsekar called “free samples.” The transformation isn’t final. Non-separation doesn’t hold.
The reason this sounds like something I would say is b/c I talk a lot about being a trailblazer living at the intersection of spiritual awakening and American culture. Rarely, if ever, have these two worlds come together. There are many people stuck in the past and many more predicting where the future of spirituality lives– and while the spiritual fishbowl continues its typical movement addicted to the same motifs and rituals, I sit back and let the future be created through me. It’s lonely, exciting, and annoying all at the same time– just as it should be.
But, before we move on to another topic, one thing to take notice of is where the separation creeps into the lyrics you quoted. Both the person supplying the prophecy and the creatives living it are part of all that is. They are two sides of the same coin, maybe even the same side of the same coin. They actually need one another to exist– there is no separation.
A Ramana Maharshi quote is coming to mind that describes a sequence of steps as it pertains to maturing spiritually. It goes like this:
The world is illusory. God alone is real. God is the world.
In realizing the final sentence, the lyrics from “Nikes” would possibly lose the tone of rubbing something in someone’s face and move into more of a space of non-separation. By the time you get to the third stage, God is the world, there is genuine appreciation for all roles, “great” and “small.” None of it, not a speck, is separate. All roles are God– “We’ll let you guys prophesy/ we all gon’ see a future first” sort of thing.
Frank Ocean is illusory. God alone is real. God is Frank Ocean. Get it?
Q: Well, my friend and I were talking yesterday and he said, after this video, he believes that Frank Ocean is a messenger from God.
MR-B: The video is genius but think about it, in a sense, we’re all messengers from God (as God) living a process that reveals ourselves to our Self via a continuous string of changing messages that arrive to us in a variety of forms. The media, the post office, couriers, airlines, cargo ships, even Uber– all messengers transporting consciousness where it wants to go.
But let’s take a closer look. What is a messenger?
A messenger is an individual entity who carries something from one person to another. A middle man connecting two separate individuals or groups.
How would we interpret this from a place of non-separation?
The person delivering the message and the person receiving the message– are they separate? Is the movement between them real? Or are the divisions that we perceive something merely created by the mind? Can either the messenger, the message, or the receiver exist without the others being present? It’s the same point I made earlier– nothing is separate, God is the world. The message and the messenger are arising in and as a single unified consciousness.
But both the messenger and the receiver are usually still attached to the feeling of “I am,” the foundation of maya, suffering, and separation. What happens when attachment to this “I am” drops?
“I am” is the canvas for the ego’s story. Source is the canvas for “I am.” Most people believe they are their ego-story. Fewer believe they are the foundational story of “I am.” But a very select few at this point understand who they really are after the “I am” is seen through.
Q: That sounds overly religious.
MR-B: I didn’t even get into the religious connection.
In many religious texts, there are stories of divine messengers bringing back inspired messages from a God that is outside of them. Moses bringing back messages on stone tablets, Mohammed’s divine words in the Quran are two examples that immediately come to mind.
But this is a dumbed down interpretation from oral and written traditions that have their foundations in the assumption of separation.
What the interpreters didn’t realize was that Moses and Mohammed were talking about going internal and finding the God within. What they brought back was not outside of themselves, it wasn’t outside of any of us. They were God– and the messaging of this was not separate from the messenger. Very few could understand this back then. And not many more can today.
Contemporary messengers, artists like Alejandro Jodorowsky, Yasiin Bey, Hopsin, use various software, mobile phones, the internet as the medium for their messages. But it amounts to exactly the same thing as Moses and Mohammed. They’re delivering consciousness to consciousness.
Q: What do you mean “consciousness to consciousness?”
MR-B: How do you imagine your exchanges with the people around you? It probably goes a little like this:
You are an independent body, separated in a separate world. You are the autonomous thinker of your thoughts, and based on these thoughts, you have constructed a story that guides the decisions that you make as you effortfully transport your body around the earth. There are also other separate entities operating just like you, whose minds and bodies you relate with.
But I have a question. Are you inside of consciousness or is it inside of you? Take a look at this right now. What is the experience?
Q: I don’t know.
MR-B: Okay, then. Let’s look at our little exchange right here.
Who or what is aware of both the words being spoken and the body that you are speaking to? Hold fast in the inquiry “Who am I?” while in conversation with me and see what you find.
In a flash, if you see what I’m pointing to, you’ll notice that right here, right now, it’s consciousness talking to itself. That’s what I mean by delivering consciousness to consciousness. But even this statement is misleading because consciousness is singular– consciousness is all there is.