Most children in America never have to think about human trafficking, being beaten, tortured, brainwashed, starved or sexualized. Jabali Smith was thrown into the middle of all of it in the 1970’s when, at the age of only 6, he and his slightly older sister were given by their mother to a ruthless doomsday cult leader who was also a sexual predator. Into a childhood of slavery, from the streets of Berkeley, California, to the heart of Mexico where he spent a good part of his childhood years confined in dark closets, statistically, Jabali Smith should be on drugs, dead or at the very least in jail today.
In 1999, his girlfriend told him she’d found this course called the Forum that was really powerful and she loved it. She felt he could really get a lot out of it. At the time he resisted since he was anti-course, anti-cult, anti-“anybody in front of me telling me what is so”. He paused, though, and realized she was someone he trusted and that she was using a broader language than she had before, so he was intrigued by who she was being. Jabali says despite his past, in his spirit he’d always been curious about the world and interested in developing himself and discovering what else might be out there, while simultaneously retreating away from any kind of authority.
The deal breaker was when Jabali’s girlfriend told him the cost was three hundred something dollars. His reply was to start laughing and say “Aw hell no.” Having been on the streets most of his life as a street hustler and survivor, he’d learned early on never to give someone money for them to tell you something, only suckers did that – but his girlfriend said to him “Look. If you go, I’ll pay for you. If you get something out of it, you pay for somebody else somewhere along the way.” He thought “Okay. That’s fair, so I’ll do it.”
He then prepared himself to be very open. No matter what he was hearing he was determined to walk way with something new and something different. He says he doesn’t remember what his Forum Leader’s name was, but he suggested to the participants that they treat their Forum like a game and just try it on. Jabali said that was part of his very nature so the concept appealed to him, and he played full out. Out of those three days, he claims his entire life transformed. Everything. He says he got his whole life back.
“For instance”, Jabali says, “The distinction that the past is in the past – it being simply an event that took place that I had attached meaning to. I got really clear I had decided that I was not worthy, unlovable, and discardable” (since his mother had in fact discarded him) “and through Landmark I got that all of those things were untrue! I was loveable. In addition, I could create a future that I wanted and that I could overcome and be a powerful human being just who I was.”
His life completely changed. He wrote a book, he earned more money than ever before, he purchased a home and he had a son. He walked out of Landmark a new human being. He had a completely different relationship with women. He claims to have been “a lying, conniving, misogynistic bastard before that who, in the Forum, got really clear on the value of his word as well as who, what, how, when and where I was going to be this new me – that was always me.” He now had access to all of it.
After completing the Forum, Jabali says he went back and cleaned up his life. He cleaned up his relationships to people, and in the Advanced Course he created the possibility of being loving and compassionate, and subsequently found forgiveness with many he never dreamed of being able to forgive. He has built his life on those foundations ever since.
He also found the courage to face his greatest fears. He found and faced down the cult leader that had so horrifically abused him. He knew he was eventually going to write a book from the time he was 14 years old but he could never seem to put the pen to paper. After the Landmark Forum and Advanced Course, he began writing his book. He says all these things (and a “gajillion others) were born out of his participation at Landmark.
Since being at Landmark, he found himself opening up, and sought other self-help entrepreneurs, and discovered a deep love for cultivating an inner love and strength, courage and commitment to impacting the world in a positive way. “Like anything,” Jabali says, “you might get it in participating and acting but then it goes away. You get out of the conversation, you stop practicing the things that got you to where you are, and it falls apart.”
Because of this, for the last 16 years Jabali recommits every day to being an unstoppable human being who makes a powerful impact on the world. Daily he has to deal with his act, which is “you don’t care about me, I don’t care about you, F___ you.” But daily his commitment wins out. He thinks of himself as a survivor yet wonders what his life would have been life had he stayed with his mother. His brother did, and has led a life of anger. Despite the horrors he encountered as a child, he says he also learned quite a lot. For instance, He had spent a lot of his youth in isolation where he learned to meditate in a way most people can’t. shutting off his mind.
He says his future is bright and sunny. Right now he is in the process of promoting his book with book tours. The game he is playing is to sell a million copies in the next five years, have his book on the New York Times Best Sellers List, and that his newly founded Well Child Foundation will be a nationwide organization that helps children who have been abused and traumatized to heal. His goal is for his foundation to have them discover their inner strength and self-love which will allow them to process and access jpw they deal with life in a more positive powerful way.
He says “If my book and/or Foundation can help change the life of just one person, I’ll feel like I’ve done my job. You never know who that one person can become….perhaps the one that changes the lives of many, many other”
Jabali’s book is entitled “Slave” and is marketed as “A human trafficking survivor finds life.”
His nonprofit foundation can be found at www.wellchildfoundation.com.