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Leaving the Cave: The Path of Transformation

Cultivating a Utopian Mind

I’m going to open up and get vulnerable with you towards the end of this letter because, personally, I find it helpful when I can relate to a true story and not just a metaphor.

But first, let’s build context.

There are two primary metaphors we’ll use to help guide you in this process of cultivating a Utopian Mind (today we will speak of only one).

These are meant to radically simplify the process of self-transformation and help you gain conscious access to the underlying biology that makes this process possible.

The first and most important metaphor is Plato’s allegory of the cave.

This metaphor has been retold by so many people, never realizing this was the origin story of self-transformation. (The Matrix is the most recent and well-known example).

Here is a simplified version 👇

Plato’s Allegory of The Cave

Deep within a cave absent of all-natural light, there is a group of people chained together by their necks.

They’re in a fixed state, unable to turn around, staring at a blank cave wall.

Behind them is another wall with fire and puppeteers that put on a show for them every day.

For the people chained, this is the only world they know, and the shadows they see are their “reality.”  

One day, a prisoner finds a way out of his chains and turns around for the first time.

He’s surprised to see a path out of the cave and sets out to discover where it leads. As he gets closer to the exit, he’s blinded by the intensity of the natural light.

With each step, the light becomes more brilliant, causing him to pause and step back to adjust to the light. 

Finally, after much effort, he transcends the cave and enters the “real” world.

He’s blown away by its beauty, vibrance, and magnitude.

He’s overwhelmed and overstimulated, but as he adjusts, he realizes his entire life has been a shadow, a hollow representation of what “reality” truly is.

He’s so moved by all of what he sees that he feels compelled to let the other prisoners know what lies beyond the confines of the cave.

But when he returns and tells the prisoners about what he saw and experienced, they immediately reject his claim.

It’s so far beyond their comprehension that they think he’s gone mad. In fact, they’re so disturbed they become angry and aim to harm him.

Determined to save the people he cares for, he reapplies the chains he once broke free from and commits the rest of his life to try and convince the others to leave the cave.

This is the entire process of self-transformation in one beautiful metaphor.

Here are the real-world equivalents:

  • The Prisoners → Individuals

  • The Cave → Ignorance

  • The Shadow → A life of inner conflict and self-deception

  • The Light → Education, learning, and wisdom

  • The Real World → A life of inner peace and self-knowledge

This story illustrates that we are prisoners within our own minds, shrouded in the cave-like darkness of ignorance.

Our own inner conflict and self-deception keep us in a world of shadow, a world of powerlessness, isolation, and confusion. 

As we grow and develop by following the light of education, learning, and wisdom, we transform ourselves and begin to see reality more clearly.

The learning process isn't finished when you acquire knowledge. It's complete when you consistently apply that knowledge. Many people accumulate information. Far fewer use it to evolve and improve. The ultimate test of growth is closing the gap between awareness and action. ~Adam Grant~

We trade:

  • Powerlessness for competence

  • Isolation for connection

  • Confusion for clarity 

You can see parallels to all the periods of time in human cognitive development.

  • The shaman would “die” and enter the spirit world.

  • The prophet would “die” and be reborn or resurrected.

  • The philosopher would leave the cave.

  • The psychologist would “kill” the ego.

  • The neuroscientist would “replace” old neural connections with new ones.

Again and again, it’s a cycle of transforming yourself into someone more enlightened or reborn.

It’s the process of cultivating a Utopian Mind. 

I Once Was Lost

Within the past decade, I’ve experienced the allegory of the cave twice.

But Nadeem, you left the cave why did you go back?

If you recall, in the allegory, the man that broke free returned determined to save the people he cares for but they think he’s gone mad and become angry with him and wish harm upon him.

And that’s what happened.

I was being gaslit….manipulated, being told my ideas were stupid and the work I was doing was a “massive failure” over and over.

Gaslighting is a colloquialism loosely defined as manipulating someone to make them question their own reality.

But the reality is…I allowed myself to be manipulated.

I had the inner voice, what the Greek would call your “Daemon,” speaking so clearly to me.

I didn’t have the development, the tools, or the courage to stand up for my inner knowing and transcend the illusion of the reality I was living in.

When someone close to you tells you your ideas are stupid, your work is lackluster, or it will never work without giving context or negative specific feedback it can be belittling and destructive to one’s psyche (soul).

It’s as if the words become parasitic in your mind, stuck on replay, and repeatedly you hear {insert person} telling you why you should do this instead of that, etc.…

You begin to project this false reality unto all things you do.

  • your work

  • your passions

  • your relationships

And eventually, it kills your life force. Your imagination.

It sucks the joy out of waking up each day.

You put on a public facade to mask the internal despair.

You end up spiraling into a state of internal darkness and inner conflict.

And this is where most people break, and The Monster takes over.

But Now I’m Found

With a Christian mother and a Muslim father. I went to church on Sundays and Mosque on Saturdays (more church than Mosques.)

Seeing both ends of the spectrum and realizing the likeness of the two at a very young age I realized the teachings are not far off from one another (maybe I’ll write about this later, let me know if you’d like that in the comments below)

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Fast forward to college, I took a world religions class and was introduced to eastern philosophies.

The rest is history.

Then I had what many might call a “spiritual awakening.”

But it wasn’t an awakening…

I have been a spiritual person for as long as I can recall.

It was a remembrance…I was re-membered with my soul.

This is the meaning behind “I once was lost, but now I’m found.”

To be reunited. TO LEAVE THE CAVE.

So what was it that caused the remembrance?

It was the pursuit of never settling. The knowing in something greater than me.

The willingness to put down my armor, to set aside my ego and ask questions…questions like:

Surely, I am not the only person who has gone through this? (hence me stumbling upon the teachings of Plato).

Searching for tools to reduce the inner conflict, such as writing and plant medicines (there are alternatives I suggest before delving into plant medicines, such as breathwork).

As I studied and practiced the gambit of resources out there, I realized this thing called life; this human experience is like a Russian doll.

You exit one cave, and then there is another…and then another…and you guessed it…another.

What this taught me is that you don’t escape the cave.

But you develop the tools to navigate the darkness, even when the batteries to your flashlight die.

This is the essent of faith.

The purpose of life is to live.

And the way we enjoy this life is to reduce our ignorance…to seek wisdom.

Ignorance; lack of knowledge or information.

The more I learn, the clearer I become.

The clearer I become, the more I can see (go figure).

The more I can see, the better my decisions.

The better my decisions, the easier I can navigate.

The easier I can navigate, the more prosperity enters into my life.

It became clear who was in my way.

It was me all along. I had to make a move.

So I did. I left the cave.

I tried to save the other prisoners once before, but they condemned me.

You can hold compassion for others, but it doesn’t mean you stay with them if they are not ready to leave the cave.

Other people’s emotions are not your responsibility.

You have to develop the skills to determine when enough is enough.

To see clearly when you are sacrificing your soul.

This is your one and only chance to pursue what you came here to do.

So do it.

Final Thoughts

Do not sacrifice your soul for another person.

You have once chance (as far as I’m aware) to reach your fullest potential.

Do the thing that does…

Do what makes YOU happy.

When did you last dream?

When did you last dance?

When did you last sing?

Why did you stop?

Nadeem Al-Hasan

It would mean the world to me if you would send this to someone you feel could use a lift of inspiration. This is my service to the world.

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Whenever you're ready, there are 3 ways I can help you:

  1.  Build 1 Thing Community -If you're looking for traction in your personal brand or business, I'd recommend joining the Build 1 Thing community. It’s free to get in and loaded with resources.

  2. → Utopian Mind- Understand yourself on every level of existence. Break maladaptively hardwired and conditioned mental models. Construct a mind that allows you to navigate any obstacle in your way. Begins January 5th, 2023.

  3. Somatic Breathwork - Using the breath, you will engage your innate ability to heal and sweep out any defenses, blockages, restrictions, or pains that hold you back from who you are and how you want to show up in this world.

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