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TEDxBratislava - Yossi Ghinsberg - 05/29/10

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I have a conspiracy theory My conspiracy theory is There is no conspiracy If there is no conspiracy, it's because of me It�s because of you There is nobody to blame So I take it to an extreme measure I say; the suffering in Burma is because of me The atrocities in Zimbabwe. I am responsible The Middle Eastern conflict, it is for me to solve You see, I don�t think I am separated from the world The world is not as it is. The world is as I am, as you are We are not separated from the world we make the world I�m responsible for anything that happens in the world because I can really do something about it Simply by being me What I�m am is what I give to the world That is what the world is made of You know, there is One more thing about this If you blame somebody, you give them the power If you take responsibility, you are empowered You can do something about it If you take responsibility, you cannot be a victim No matter the circumstances No matter how much adversity comes to you If you are responsible, you can do something about it. You don't have to be a victim of anything Victim is a choice A poet once said a line, that I can, a notion I can really identify with It was: "Only my story, I know how to tell. Narrow is my world, as the world of an ant". I can relate to that, but I say: "Only my story I know how to tell". "Wide is my world as the entire universe". So let me tell you a little bit about my story When I was 21, almost thirty years ago. I was lost in the Bolivian Amazon In the midst of the rainy season, I lost everything that I had I lost my three companions; I lost my raft with all the equipment I have nothing. No knife, no gun, no fire, not food, no experience. I was hundreds of miles away from civilization I was hundreds of miles away from civilization It was the worst rainy season in a decade And yet, despite that circumstances. I survived But not only I survived. I also found something, I didn't know I had. Because I think you sometimes need to be lost in order to find yourself The amount of adversities that came my way, is unimaginable Three weeks of hardship, in the midst of the forest You may know that the Amazon rainforest covers 4% of the planet, but 50% of all species live in the Amazon I know most of them, personally and intimately. Famine, injury, torrential rains, storms, floods, swamps. And predator attacks, snakes and leeches, teaks. You cannot imagine how much adversity came my way And yet, there were times I was praying not to be saved Because I never been so centered and balanced and strong in my life I was not desperate, I was not afraid How can it be? What I feel, I was activated. I didn't have a choice In circumstances like that, you must give all you have You fight for your life So fear is an obstacle and worry is taking energy. So all my faculties came together, to serve the purpose: preserve life That kind of balance was intoxicating I never thought of myself to be so powerful That power is innate, as so much wisdom that I found inside myself That wisdom is genetic nobody needs to learn how to survive. That�s why we are here. Because we know. I was saved, but the things I discovered in the forest, didn't allow me to go back to life. I found providence. I discovered faith and needed no religion for that. I felt I saw the face of God in the forest. Through nature itself Coming back to society, I just didn't fit anymore. That society prepared me for life. But everything was broken and nothing fell back into place. So I was lonely. I didn�t fit in my own home, in my own society. And after several attempts to adjust. I just left. And I went back to the roads and became a worldtraveller. A nomad. I call myself the eternal traveler. At home, where ever I am. But a foreigner, even in the country where I was born So as a nomad, I have a habit. I sleep in a tent. It doesn't matter where I live. I build myself a tent and that's my bedroom. I don't sleep in the house. I sleep in the tent. If there is an apartment building. I build a tent on the roof and I go and I sleep there. If it's a house I build a tent in the backyard. And I always sleep in the tent I love the tent. The tent is a symbol, of being transit. It is a symbol of being at home everywhere you are. You always belong. It is a symbol of leaving very light footsteps behind you on the earth. But more than that. It makes sense. You think about it. If you own a house. You need to protect it to the last. With mortgages, whatever it is, you need to protect that house. You are not free. You are not free. But when you have a tent, you own the entire world. The world is yours. What initiated my journey to the Bolivian Amazon, initially, was a dream. I am a dreamer. But I don�t say "I have a dream". I don�t say that. I say: "the dream has me". And I don�t dream when I go to sleep. I don�t go to sleep because the dream keeps me awake. I describe that condition, calling it the dreamerfool. Because the dreamer-intelligent, just keeps dreaming. The dreamerfool has no choice. He has to follow his dream. Now it is much better to be a dreamer-intelligent, because to follow your dream is a dangerous thing You have to leave everything behind and step into the unknown. You have to leave the comfort zone behind. I call that place, where most of us live in, I call it the box I want to describe live, in a box. You wake up in some boxy bedroom, in a boxy house or a boxy apartment. You get in your boxy car and drive to a boxy office. Where you sit in front of a boxy monitor. That describes about half of the life. Then you drive your boxy car, or your boxy train car, back to your home If it is a train car then you have a little box in your hand, to keep you busy between boxes. And when you get home, you sit in your boxy living room, in front of another box. And that is the other half of your life. Now, the box tells you everything. The box tells you who you are. And where you are. And what you should think, and who you should hate, and who you should kill. And who should lead you, and what you should wear. It tells you How you should look. What you need, what you want. Everything comes from the box. And there is a city of boxes. And the light of that city just swallows the light of the luminous universe. In that environment, one associates with the box. Position, possession, religions, ideologies, ideas, belief systems, education. The box tells us everything about our life. And then, finally We die And they put us in a box How can you get out of the box? Nature, if you remember that we are nature ourselves, our lives become much bigger. There is nothing box in the universe. One of the toughest moments when I was lost in that environment, was on the 17th day of my solitude And an airplane, passed in the sky. After 17 days of struggle, When that airplane passed up in the cloud, a surge of hope went through me. I started running and screaming, but I was under the canopy and the airplane was up in the sky. It disappeared, oblivious of my misery. At that moment, I collapsed. And I felt something snapped inside my chest. I cried And as I was crying, my face was inside the mud. I gave up on life. I wanted to die. Death was much sweeter than life. At least in death I could rest. So, I was praying from the bottom of my heart. Please, please allow me die. I gave up on life. It is so amazing, that life didn't give up on me At that moment, suddenly, I heard somebody else crying. A young woman, sobbing next to me. This was so impossible. And yet I heard it So for a second I raised my head and as I raised my head I saw her right next to me. And the minute I saw here I jumped up my feet and I started screaming at the top of my lungs: "get up! Get up right now!" "The airplane might still come back, we still have a chance. There is no time to cry". I jumped on her and I grabbed her and I pulled her out of the mud and I started running towards the river. until we find an open shore by the river I build you a camp; I�ll bring food for you. don�t give up; we have to make it to the river. There is still a chance. For two days, I took care of her. On the second night with her, I made a place big enough for two people to cover. I cut more palm tree leaves to cover us. I told her: "get closer to me so we can absorb each other's warmth". Then I realized that I was hugging thin air There was nobody there I thought I lost my sanity And yet, by appearing for me that day. She saved my life. Now I don�t know how to explain it. Some people said it may be some sort of guardian angel But I don�t think so. I personally think, it was just imagination She was nothing but imagination However, what I really truly don't know is Whose imagination was she? When I was lying in the mud, crying and praying to die I didn�t make up plans. I didn't say let's pretend that somebody is here and play a game. I didn't make it up. So who did? I don�t know the answer to this question But more importantly She changed my life Because, not only she saved my life. She changed my life. It was through her that I realized something that is unbelievable. How did she save my life? It wasn�t somebody big and strong that helped me. No, it was somebody weak that needed me. That's how she saved my life. She needed me. I couldn't take care of myself anymore, but the moment somebody needed me, I could take care of her and myself easily. Our true power is revealed, when we give it to others It is tenfold more powerful, even a hundredfold more powerful. When we are not only self-serving, but when we are serving the greater good That is when we reveal our true power. Along my travels, I went back to the same place. And I returned to the Amazon. It was ten years after all this ordeal. And I went to the people in the village the only tribal people that live by that river. That was involved in saving my life. And they told me: "Yossi, we are dying, the entire village is dying, because the youth is leaving. And never coming back They said "help us". I said: �what can I do?� they said: �we have a dream: we want to build a resort here in the middle of the forest�. we want to build a resort here in the middle of the forest�. �And tourists from all over the world are going to come to the resort" "The youth are going to come back to be guides and cooks and motormen� �and they take pride in their culture because they talk about it to the visitors and that is how we are going to save the village�. I thought this is the worst idea possible. I mean, this is two days up the river in a small dug-out canoe, in an isolated forest. No flights, no transportation But I didn�t have a better idea So I told them, this is a great idea. And let's make it happen. Since I am the dreamerfool, this became my dream. And when I have a dream, I don't have a life. I live for the dream So this was not a project, this was my life. I moved to the village and lived with them I stayed there for three years Walking with the shaman, I learned about the forest and I realized something quite amazing Nature has the answer. The forest is an ecosystem And that ecosystem thrives as a whole. Because an ecosystem, is interconnected, interrelated and interdependent. So you cannot extract something, without hurting everything else. So the only way is to keep the forest as a whole and use it as a whole. This knowledge on how to do that was there all the time, because that is how indigenous people lived through millennia. So based on that idea, of an ecosystem, I started researching and reading. It is quite amazing You see, In an ecosystem, no specie disappears or dies. Everybody thrives How can it be? It is so dense; you would think so much competition over resources And yet, no species goes hungry. Everybody thrives in the ecosystem, how can that be? The idea of competition is based on the wrong ascertation That resources are not enough If we do not have enough, than it can better be mine, not yours That is competition And because there is not enough and competition is the highest value we have, then we have attitudes such as 'kill the competition'. And this attitude we are very good at because we killed so many competitors. We destroyed and eradicated hundreds and thousands of species. Based on the idea that there is not enough It's the wrong idea. In nature there is enough Think about it, if there is enough, there is no need for competition. Because there is enough. Different strategies emerges Corporation that is based on specialization. Niche, relative advantage and cooperation; everybody serves everybody Based on that idea, I wrote a three pager and flew to Washington DC, to raise money for the resorts we were about to build In Washington DC, luckily, I was extremely well connected, because I had access to the yellow pages So from a phone booth, with quarters, I made calls. And after about twenty calls, one organization finally said, okay, come we will meet you. And I went to see them. The Inter-American Development Bank, it was my first and only meeting in Washington. As I do the presentation, I don't know anything, I'm a novice. I'm not an ecologist. I'm just a dreamer, a naive dreamer. They stopped my presentation and said: "Mister Ghinsberg, we want to ask you two things". "The first is, please; promise us, that you will not talk to anybody else in this town". They needed the idea When an idea is timely, it cannot be stopped The second thing they told me was "Mister Ghinsberg, we are sorry but the amount of money that you are asking, we cannot give you". I was asking a grant of 250.000 dollar. We cannot give you, because we are the small loan department. And the minimum we can give is a million and a half. I said "I'll take it". I took it, and we built that resort And this resort, to this very day, is an inspiration for the entire Amazon I want to end, by telling you about my father. My father died last year. He had a tough life, my father. Eastern European Jew, went to the Second World War he was taken by the Germans into work camps. After the war he migrated to Israel, started everything from new. After the war he migrated to Israel, started everything from new. He worked hard all his life and was not too happy. He was a bit bitter. He considered himself not really lucky He considered himself not really lucky He had a hard life But then, towards the end of his life. He contracted liver cancer. He was diagnosed with liver cancer. To the surprise of all of us, my father refused chemotherapy. He said no, he found an alternative medicine. It is a medicine made out of grain, all natural. It's called vodka. My father treated himself with vodka. A transformation like that, I had never seen in my life Living in the shadow of death my father became very alive. My father was outrageous, he couldn't walk anymore, because with every step he made a dance move. He was dancing all day he made a dance move. He was dancing all day He wasn't speaking, because he was reciting poetry and telling jokes and singing from morning to evening. My father died a happy man. And I reckon, that is the greatest virtue of all. To die happy Because The last impression is the winning one. What did it care if he had a tough life? He was happy now! When you are happy now, it colors everything happy So the last impression takes it all. If you are miserable when you die, you don't care that you were happy. If you miserable it colors everything miserable The last impression takes it all the greatest thing, the most important thing Is to die happy But how can you die happy, because no one knows when we die. So the only way to die happy is to live happy. It is the only way Thank you very much Thank you Thank you very much

Video Details

Duration: 27 minutes and 8 seconds
Country: Slovakia
Language: English
Genre: None
Views: 161
Posted by: dejna123 on Sep 8, 2010

Adventurer, humanitarian, author from Israel.

After a tragic accident, Yossi fought three weeks to survive alone without any food and weapons in the Amazon rainforest. Discovery Channel made film of his story. After recovering he returned to the Amazon and lived with the indigenous people for three years. He has founded several centers for the treatment of opium addiction in different parts of the world. In 2001, at the height of the intifada, he organized a music festival in Israel to promote Israeli-Palestinian reconciliation. Author of two best-sellers.

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