I won’t describe what happened with the SVB bank over the last 3 days as I would be surprised you haven’t read or written about it by yourself. It seems to be resolved now but it inspires me some thoughts about fear and trust in this world I would like to share.
The support of the tech community has been incredible despite the level of fear.
SVB has always supported me throughout my career. I know many current and previous SVB employees who are all great people and feel for the situation they’re going through. I reached out to some. Many of my Silicon Valley friends had momentarily lost some or all their company or personal assets. I was an SVB customer in the past (with all my startup cash in it) and many founders and funds I am friends with or I invested in were impacted, sometimes in a terrible way.
“EVERYBODY banks with SVB in SV”.
Most startups and funds in Silicon Valley were impacted, some startups had all their funds at this bank and weren’t going to be able to pay their employees or survive if it lasted.
Some founders also had their personal accounts at SVB, here is one who shared openly on Twitter:
Instantly being cut of your company and personal bank accounts, in other words losing everything material in a few hours can only lead to one of the highest level of fear one can experience.
What would be a worse fear level than that? Your own death or even more for most people, the death of your children or family.
As we all did through life, I have been myself exposed to such fears losing my sister and my father and I obviously went through financial ups and downs as well as entrepreneurial challenges.
I have also been doing a lot of spiritual work in the past years so the whole SVB crash and the constant fear on Twitter made me think:
“what are the best teachings to remind myself of as this unfolds”? Here are a few.
Man’s Search for Meaning by Viktor E. Frankl
Going through many fears isolated almost by myself in the Amazon forest for three months last year, I read Man’s search for meaning. There is no better book I know for getting a higher perspective on worries, fear and how precious life is when everything is lost or when challenges become real. Not that what I went through compared in any way to what Frankl lived, but when things really go hard it’s helpful to read how someone can continue to live going through the absolute worst, and why. I highly recommend reading or re-reading it for perspective.
I was writing last week as I just got back from the Sundance which is an experience of approaching physical death through exhaustion with no food and no water. Going through this enough times taught me to manage my fears and dissociate my physical body, my mind and my soul (or some people would say “my spirit”).
It is a school of life. Life isn’t easy and we all go through challenges constantly. It seems the state of the world is going to be more and more challenging to us and we need to get used to fast spreading events such as COVID, SVB or the crypto crash last year.
Life is a long marathon. You don’t simply go run a marathon, you train for it. Similarly “the danse” and going through intense and hard experiences makes life’s challenges easier by controlling the mind. The real work of the “red road” starts after the Sundance ends. 25 men and women joined to “vision quest” this year and I will be inviting more again next year, always last week of February.
Taking a step back from my ego, everything is perfect
I highly encourage you to watch this video with Ram Dass, a PAUA Community member, Elena, posted on our what’sapp:
“Can’t you see that everything is perfect” told his monk teacher to Ram Dass arguing that nothing was perfect and talking to him about wars or people dying from malnutrition in the world, etc.
Ram Dass says “it’s difficult to say it but I will say it anyway” or something like this.
It is difficult to say that everything that happens is perfect no matter what happens, especially when the suffering gets really intense and few solutions appear, as it happened this past week-end.
It is difficult for me to say this as I am healthy and can provide support to my family and myself. Sure, many people suffer much more than I do I am aware of that, this isn’t the point here and if you feel this way can you just put this feeling aside for a minute?
Don’t you see that everything is perfect? Such a powerful thing to hear when the shit hits the fan, right?
“Can’t you step back for a moment from your humanity to see the way of things? Can’t you see the way it’s all lawfully unfolding? Do you have the courage to see what you are seeing or does it seem to take away your humanity? If you come down to your human heart the pain is unbearable because there is so much suffering everywhere.”
One thing that people do is they close their hearts down to protect themselves from the immense amount of suffering.
I have seen the worst and the best on Twitter over the last days. Some people cracking jokes at the situation or making fun of those affected or even of the whole technology industry that would “deserve it”.
I know several large investors who lost a lot very fast in crypto last year (as in the Terra LUNA/UST debacle) and it also impacted me. They learned a lesson and at the first rumor of what was going on at SVB they pulled all their funds out.
SVB made mistakes but their assets were good (which is why the situation resolved so fast without the US tax payers having to pay for it) unlike FTX and that Sam Bankman-Fried thief and his teenagers crew running a company without accounting. No comparison except the speed at which it all happened.
My friend Martin Varsavsky makes a good point saying “this is all our own fault creating a bank run on SVB from fear and panicking”.
Top founders and investors from Silicon Valley panicking, that isn’t so usual, the top tech people are reliable and strong. So did SVB. The fear caught us all by storm regardless.
Back to Ram Dass. How do you keep your heart open in hell?
“There is nowhere to stand. If you stand only in your humanity, it’s unbearable.”
Ram Dass adds “if you stand in the everything is perfect, it’s impersonal”.
In other words it’s an ego removal, this isn’t about me, I am those who are suffering, I am one with the universe. Separation is an illusion.
“You do everything you can do to help the people you love but at the same time it is all as it must be”.
Accept everything as it is. Once you accepted it be the best version of yourself that you can be.
Empathize with those suffering (including yourself if suffer, especially your inner child) but at the same time look at the universe, look at the stars and understand that anything tough thrown at you is new “work for our soul”.
It is “just” another experience we get to experience.
Shadow work also really helps even though it’s hard and we’d all prefer doing something else (my highest unsubscribe rate ever on this newsletter). People just don’t want to hear about it and prefer ignoring it.
I wrote about “Who am I” that you can read in less than an hour and I keep reading it and thinking more about it. It teaches that we are not who we think we are. There is no correct answer to the question. We are the consciousness that wonders about “who I am I” and gets to experience life and its challenges.
When you take a step back from “you” and think of you as a part of the universe…
“You begin to see the world as a place that is here to help you grow, to help you awaken, to help you become more of who you truly are. And in doing that, you begin to live in a way that is more open-hearted, more compassionate, more loving, more kind.” Believing in reincarnation helps of course, then this life is just another opportunity to experience and grow, death isn’t about going anywhere it is just about letting go of this body and take another to continue the growth differently.
Easy to say difficult to do? Yes, but…
There are many ways to work on this ego dissolution that eventually removes any fear at all.
The easier to access is meditation.
Plant medicine and psychedelics can help “seeing the whole” and leaving his or her own body. “The dance” through fasting is another (Sundance for men, Moondance for women, see here a rare video of one of the “Abuelas”). Add your own, there are many ways to practice and train yourself to see that you might be seeing the world in from a single point of view while there are many.
Beyond fears, the question of trust comes next.
SVB was trusted and disappeared in two days. It happened really fast and if the US government had not intervened to make everyone “whole” it would have likely spread really fast to the entire economy, as it did to crypto “depeging” USDC. Everything is more connected than ever. Two crypto banks died too, leaving close to no banking solutions to crypto startups.
What do COVID, the crypto crash, FTX and the SVB crash have in common even though they’re completely different events?
Trust and how we’re starting to trust less and less. This will be my next post.
We’re talking about all these topics, technology, ancient wisdom and spiritual growth at my upcoming conference PAUA in Paris May 12-13. We started it last year precisely to help us learn how to better deal with ourselves and a more and more challenging world, I hope you will join us, early tickets here. Any ticket sale helps us get more spiritual leaders share their wisdom.
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