Fear and Fearlessness – The Pinnacle of the Development of Human Consciousness

“There is one standard by which we can go when we’re talking about a life lived to its greatest human significance, and that is that pinnacle of fearlessness.”

Thom Knoles

Episode Summary

Thom Knoles discusses the state of fearlessness, how all fear is based on something unreal and how to learn to transcend fear and yet be fully participating in life. Living a life in fear is worse than death. Fearlessness is the pinnacle of the development of human consciousness. Through the regular practice of Vedic Meditation, we achieve it spontaneously.

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Episode Highlights


The One Standard of a Life of Significance



Fear Isn’t Based on Reality



Fear Isn’t Based on Reality



On Death and Dying



Immortality Removes Fear



The Long Dream



Expanding Consciousness



The Death Cascade



Transcending the Story Through Vedic Meditation



Beginning an End to a Sense of Fear



(Don’t) Go Jump Off a Cliff!



Wisdom Hair



The Changing Face of Fear



Consciousness is the Source of the Body


Jai Guru Deva


The One Standard of a Life of Significance

Today I want to spend a little time talking about fear, or more appropriately, fearlessness. Because fearlessness really is the pinnacle of the development of human consciousness. 

There is one standard by which we can go when we’re talking about a life lived to its greatest human significance, and that is that pinnacle of fearlessness. Fearlessness is not a state of stupidity or ignoring dangers. Fearlessness is not recklessness. I want to make it clear that we’re not talking about a bravado. 

Fearlessness means a state of absolute and supreme certainty. It is the consequence of living a life according to the experience that comes from regular practice of Vedic Meditation, known as sat-chit-ananda. Sat means that which is Absolute, never changing. Chit means consciousness, and ananda means bliss. To be able to live in bliss in an absolute and steady way. Sat-chit-ananda. And this will yield fearlessness.

We don’t actually have a word in Sanskrit for fearlessness because the very use of the word fear, to try to deny fear, fearless, or dauntless, or courage and bravery could come close. ‘Coeur’ which is the word for heart in French, to awaken the quality of heart. Brave, but even these things tend to indicate a degree of fear. The closest we have in the ancient Vedic language is sat-chit-ananda, that is to say no reference to fear, a life lived in full bliss consciousness. 

[02:38] Fear Isn’t Based on Reality

There are two kinds of ways we can look at the whole subject of fear. As fear is, in fact, a state of gracelessness. It’s ungraceful to be afraid. The reason is that fear is based on something that is unreal. All fear stems from a fear of something that is unreal. 

What is that unreality? The unreality of death. Death is unreal. That is to say it has no reality. Death means cessation. And cessation is not something we’ve been able to discover either through rigorous conceptual delineation, intellectual analysis, nor through science. Where is cessation? What does cessation mean? When does a story end? Well, it ends when you decide that it ends. Just like a story beginning. When you decide where it’s beginning. 

All fear stems from fear of death. Something’s going to happen. Maybe I’m afraid of what’s going to happen if I get sick. Maybe I’m afraid of what’s going to happen if I don’t earn the amount of money I need to earn. Maybe I’m afraid of what’s going to happen to my children. Maybe I’m afraid of the idea of pain, or painful sensations

But what we’re actually afraid of is death. And what I mean by that is what we could refer to as a ‘dead line’. My sense of self is limited to, and limited by, how long I think my sense of self is going to be able to continue existing. 

[04:59] On Death and Dying

Imagine for a moment if in fact you had a sense that you could never die. Imagine that if you had a sense, and this is a hypothesis in order to make a point, I’m not speaking literally here, if you had a sense that, “My body was utterly invincible and could never die by any cause whatsoever, and that would mean not live 1,000 years, not live a million years, but live forever and ever, and ever, and ever”. Then, what would you be afraid of? Is it possible that you could be afraid of anything if you really thought, literally, that your body could never die? 

This points us to a very interesting fact. We are absolutely gravely convinced that we are only our bodies. The amount of time that we have to lead and enjoy a significant life is the amount of time afforded to us by the lifetime of the body. And so behind all fears is the idea that my body is only going to last for a certain amount of time. My body can’t last forever. And if my body can’t last forever, how many years, how many months, how many minutes do I have left to have lived some kind of an ideal? 

And embedded in all of this, there is something very virtuous. The idea of an ideal. I want to have a completely fulfilled life, and I only have a certain amount of time and time is going by every second inexorably, I only have a certain amount of time in order to arrange and organize for an ideal life. A life lived that is highly significant. A life lived where I have no question about, was it all worth it and all worthwhile? And there’s a deadline. The body seems to be dying, and if the body is dying, then I’m dying. 

Usually when we’re around four years of age, most child psychologists assert this, around four years of age, maybe five or six at the latest, we begin to realize that all bodies die. We hear about grandparents dying, we start to learn about great grandparents, we start to learn about ancestors, we start to learn about people who lived once and aren’t here anymore. And children are intelligent enough to arrive at a conclusion that evidently, everybody dies. Evidently, the death rate of human bodies on the Earth is 100%. And then the next thing that happens, self-referral. “Is it possible that that’s going to happen to me? I’m going to die.” And then children begin asking their parents all kinds of critical questions. And pivotal questions, crucial questions. “Will I die, too? Oh my gosh, mummy, daddy, brother, sister, everybody, they’re going to die. And this, how do I deal with this? What does that mean? Die?” 

And then of course, in families that have various kinds of theoretical constructs, we might call these religions, or we might call them philosophies, or we might call it an agnostic approach, meaning we don’t really know, but let’s see. Or we might have an atheistic approach, which would be, well, it will be cessation of experience. But then people will remember you. And then the first thing the child thinks, if it’s thinking atheistically is, “They’ll remember me, but then they’re going to die. So all memories will also die. Everything is going to die. Goodness me, absolutely everything is dying. Everything is in the process of dying. Every thing, every form, every phenomenon. What happened, where did the universe come from?” “Oh,” says the scientific parent or teacher, “it came from the Big Bang. Out from the singularity came the mushrooming expansion of the entire universe, manifested 50% of all of its space, time, and potential matter within the first 10,000 billionth of a second, and it’s continued to expand out.” “What will happen then?” asked the child. “Well, then either it will continue expanding until all the heat’s gone and the gravity is gone, or there may be enough gravity, if you’re in a different school of thought in astrophysics, that the universe will be able to pull back on itself and collapse again into a singularity.” “Oh”, thinks the child, “well, then what?” “Well, then it’ll expand out again.” “And then what?” “Well, then it’ll contract again.” “And then what?” “And what about after billions and billions of these expansions and contractions? Does anything ever end?” 

It turns out that when we look at things rationally, logically, and when we look at things scientifically, there’s no evidence for any ending or any beginning of anything. Our bodies are a construct physiologically, a construct of matter that is left over from the dust remaining from stars that have expired sometime between the Big Bang and the current time. Mostly carbon, add a little bit of water, a few amino acids, I’m taking shortcuts, but ultimately we end up with us sitting here with an iPhone in our hand. That’s the human condition. Not the iPhone part, but certainly sitting as a little squishy ball of material that has a sense of self. I have a sense of self. 

Children get pets. One of the advantages that child psychologists say about having pets is that there are very few pets that live longer than humans. And so children see the arc of the lifetime of biology and they learn how to grieve the natural death, or any kind of death of a pet. Maybe I have a dog and the dog’s going to live, what, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14 years? Maybe a little longer than that if I’m able to really keep its life going. But eventually it quotes, unquotes, “dies”. So then there is the question about not only who dies, which is, the answer to which is everyone and everything. Or the question, what dies? What is it that dies? 

And all of these things have not been dealt with for the first time by me. This has been a perennial set of questions going back tens of thousands of years. Ever since people began to be able to think, they’ve begun to, they’ve had the opportunities to wax lyrically or to simply ignore the whole question. What am I afraid of? 

Actually, what you’re afraid of is death. That’s what we’re afraid of, it’s the only thing we’re afraid of. What do we mean by death? Someone might say, “I’m not afraid of death. I’m just afraid of not being able to pay my bills.” Well, that’s actually fear of death. Because if you don’t pay your bills, then what happens? The debt collectors come after you. And then what happens? Well, then you end up perhaps becoming destitute. And then what happens? “Well, then I can’t afford to pay for medical bills and things, and food.” And then what happens? “Well, then I might get sick. And I’m going to get old.” And then what happens? “Then I’ll die.” 

So when we trace any fear, it’s actually a fear of death. “The person who loved me, and on whose love I depended, and the person who I want, or the person I want to love, and on whose love I will thrive, if I don’t get that arranged by a certain time in my life, then what? Well, I’ll be too old. And then what? And then I’ll die.” 

[13:48] Immortality Removes Fear

So this idea that I’m going to die one day, this is what, basically, everyone’s actually afraid of. Because in our initial hypothesis, what if we were to say, “You’ll never die. Never, ever, ever, ever. The universe may come and go, it might expand out for 25 billion years and then contract on itself and expand out again for another 25 billion years, but you will be able to sit and watch all of that happening. You’ll never die. Billions, and billions, and billions of years.” 

If a person actually thought that, there are two things that could happen. One would be, “Well, I’m not afraid of anything, then. What if an earthquake comes and this whole house falls down with me around it and kills everybody in it? It’ll be everybody except me. I emerge from the rubble like Superman, invincible. What if the whole Earth lost all of its capacity to ward off heat and climate change came and destroyed all life on Earth? Well, that’s okay. I’ll live. Because I’m invincible, I live forever.” So this mythological or fallacious idea in our hypothesis that you could have a body that never died, certainly that would deliver you from fear. You wouldn’t fear anything. 

Somebody ended up not actually being able to reflect back to you the love that you had for them, and there’s only a certain amount of time of life in which you can experience and enjoy the waves of love. Well, you’d be thinking, “Oh that’s all right, that’s only, some time in the next thousand years there’s bound to be somebody who can love me as much as I love them.” So you become very philosophical. 

But I think, also, you’d become very lazy. Because one of the advantages of having some kind of a sense of a deadline is it inspires us to get some stuff done. If we don’t have any limitation on time whatsoever, then we also don’t move very much. And so the illusion of death, and I’m going to call it an illusion, and I’ll verify and validate why I do that in a little while, the unreality of death, at least the buying into the concept of limited time actually could have, at least, this advantage. And that advantage is that we’ll actually get a move on and arrange some experiences. 

[16:29] The Long Dream

But now, let’s get beyond our hypothesis and start talking a little bit about the reality or unreality of death. And then, what can we do in order to acquire fearlessness, but live it within the boundaries? If we have unbounded time, then we have complacency. And if we become complacent, then really, nothing ever gets achieved or done. 

So there is an extent to which we need to borrow the sense of urgency of death. But at the same time, we need to be able to see through it. 

I want to use an analogy. You know when you go to the theater, and let’s take it out of the theater of active and live performance and take it into the theater of cinema. And there we are sitting in the cinema, watching a movie. Now, if the writers and the directors and the production people and the cinematography are all absolutely fabulous, and this is the kind of thing we want, absolutely fabulous, all of those, award-winning film making, it’s going to draw you into the story and make you believe what’s going on on that screen. 

When the cue comes with a little bit of help from a musical score, the cue comes for you to shed a tear, you shed a tear. When the cue comes for you to become thrilled and triumphant with the scene that you’re about to witness, then you feel thrilled and triumphant. When the cue comes, now feel sad, now feel happy, now feel angry, now feel trepidatious, you’ll feel all those things. 

If the skillfulness of the entire team of 1,500 people that it takes to make a major cinema production, if they’re skillful at what they do, then you’re going to believe it all within a certain context. You know that in fact you’re sitting in a chair, in a theater, watching a screen. You’re watching a screen and you’re allowing yourself to be drawn into the storyline. You know that, in fact, the story isn’t real. 

This is the difference between an adult watching a film and a child watching a film. Certain films may be so good at what they do that a child shouldn’t be invited in because a child wouldn’t know the difference between this is cinematic reality as projected, or this is a play, a screen play going on. We want the excellence of the cinematic experience, its entire full spectrum, story, and timing, and direction, and fabulous acting. But you’re watching a film, and there is some actor, maybe Brad Pitt or somebody who, only a few months ago you saw in a different movie, playing a different role. And yet, through all of the magic of the cinema, you can actually start to believe that this guy that I’m looking at in the thing is not the same Brad Pitt who I saw playing a cowboy in a previous movie. Now I’m really believing that he’s a detective, and I’m really into the story. We don’t really want to know quite how the story ends. If somebody’s sitting next to us who’s seen it before starts spoiling it by saying, “Oh watch this, this is going to happen, watch that, that’s going to happen.” You feel like you want to turn to that person and say, “Please be quiet.” “I want to see for myself what’s going to happen.” 

And we know the story has a beginning and an ending. There’s a sweet spot. If the storytelling is so well done that it draws me in and I emote on cue, fear, sadness, happiness, danger, whatever, then I’ll leave that movie and say, that was a great experience. If it’s too great, if I’m a child and the reality of it is so convincing, so believable, then I could come out of the picture crying and say, “I don’t ever want to experience that again. It was too much.” A child actually believes that this is a real thing. 

Okay, let’s take this out of analogy and apply it to our life. What are we living? We’re living a long story. One of the great masters of our tradition, Rishi Vashishtha, Maharishi Vashishtha, who is supposed to have lived somewhere around 10,000 years ago. And let’s not get too stuck on the historicity potential of this in the mythos of the Indian legendary storytelling. Let’s say approximately 10,000 years ago. Rishi Vashishtha referred to waking into quote, unquote, “enlightenment” as ‘waking from the long dream’. The long dream. 

It’s the end of the movie. A movie ends and you go off and you live the rest of your life. “Oh, that was a fabulous movie, what are we doing next? Let’s go to a restaurant, let’s have dinner. Let’s go to a party. That movie’s over.” But during that movie, if it was a really well-done movie, you were just totally drawn into it. Totally drawn in. 

This is, in fact, from the enlightened perspective what a body life is all about. A body life is a life that generates a fabulous long dream. And we want the long dream to be an absolutely amazing story. An amazing story that draws us in. But we don’t want to be like the child who believes in it too much. Believes in the reality of it too much as in this is the only thing that is real. Why? Because that movie has a beginning and an end. There is a birth, a body birth and there is a body death. Life is the continuum that permeates all experience. Body birth and body death are not the polarities, they are the polar opposites, body birth and body death. Life and death are not the polar opposites. Life is a continuum, it doesn’t end, body birth and body death are the beginnings and endings. 

And so now we have a context in which we have to find an amazing story. There’s an amazing story going on, like a movie. When the movie begins, my life hasn’t begun, I’ve just started watching a movie. And as the story goes on, it needs to have some ups and downs. It needs to have some elevational theater, a plateau. And then the plateau drops, status quo changes. There’s a fall from the status quo and they rise into greater knowledge, and the elevation occurs. And then a new elevated plateau. And if we want to make an epic story, we have a plateau, a fall from the status quo, a rise into greater knowledge, another status quo, another fall from that one, a rise into even greater knowledge, and like that we have a continuum sawtoothing it’s way through time. And if we were to average out the curve, it would be all elevational. It would be an upward-rising curve. 

[24:54] Expanding Consciousness

And so being able to see our life in this way, that there is an elevational theme. There was a time when I knew less. There was a time when I began to accrue knowledge about what’s actually going on. And then there was a time where I had gained supreme knowledge. I now know what this is all about. It’s all about continuous elevation, expansion. 

An expansion of what? Consciousness. Consciousness means that of which I can be aware. 

Now our sweet spot, back in our hypothesis or our analogy of sitting in a cinema, I know that I’m safe here. I’m sitting in a chair, perhaps I have a little popcorn in a bag in front of me just to kind of keep things relative here. I may have someone sitting on my right and someone sitting on my left. They may be people I know. We’ve all agreed that we’re going to participate in the storytelling phenomenon. We want to give ourselves over to the director. We want to give ourselves over to the cinematographer. We want to give ourselves over to the actors and to the production. We’re open to it. And then, on comes the initial scene of the movie. And we’re just so excited and ready to see, is this really going to be the fabulous experience I was hoping for? And we give ourselves over to it and surrender almost completely, but we’re still aware that we’re sitting in a chair. We’re still aware there’s someone on our left, and someone on our right, and we might be even putting little bits of popcorn in the mouth or gobbling it down a little bit while we’re watching. Just to keep some little bit of a reminder that I’m actually in a theater, and this is a story that’s being played out here. It’s a screenplay. 

But I want the screenplay to be convincing. Yes. It should be very, very convincing. It should have all the ups and downs. I should identify with it. But not 100%. If I identify with it 100%, I forget utterly that I’m in a theater, then like a child, I could be crying at every scene. I could be overwhelmed by every experience I see. This is the only reality. I’m filled with fear. How’s all this going to end? 

Using Vashishtha’s concept of awakening into enlightenment is awakening from a long dream. A long but beautiful dream. A very, very beautiful dream, awakening into it. Awakening from it into life. The reality that has no beginning and has no end. How do we live a life where we can confidently enjoy the storyline? How do we learn to transcend, which means to step beyond fear? How do we learn to step beyond fear, and yet be fully participating? 

We have to create a new baseline of experience. If my baseline of my reality is that I live in a body that is certain to die, because I look around and I see that nobody really knows what’s going to happen when your body dies, and therefore, since nobody really knows, nobody’s been able to come back and report, “This is what happened when my body died,” then we are left with this kind of shoddy guesswork about what happens when the body dies. Therefore, it’s better to just behave as if this body is all there is. This is the real story. 

[28:49] The Death Cascade

You’re born with a body with varying degrees of health and from the moment that the sperm meets the egg, we call that, in science, the zygote, when the sperm meets the egg and the first single cell begins, then already there’s a death cascade embedded in that. From the moment that, prior to even becoming an embryo in utero in the mother’s womb, already a death cascade has begun. The death cascade begins with the very conception of life itself in a human body. The embryo is already dying, slowly. Then it becomes a fetus. It’s already dying, slowly. Then, after birth we refer to it as a neonate. Neo means new and nate means birth, a newborn. A neonate, already dying. Then a baby, already dying. A chubby little cherub running around, talking and making everybody laugh by making its classic little baby mistakes that are so lovable , already dying. A teenager, already dying. In their 20s, already dying. 30s, already dying. 40s, already dying, meaning the cascade has started. It started from conception. And what is this? 

This is the death of the storyline of one particular way of telling a story. It’s not the death of life, it’s the death of a storyline. And what’s happening inside that storyline is not so relevant to this conversation. It is, “What is the nature of the witness of all of this? Who is watching? Are you sitting in the theater watching the movie, or have you become the movie?” To the extent that you have become the movie, that is to say you’ve become the story line of body death, because that’s what a human body is, it’s a story line of body death. From conception, zygote, embryo, fetus, neonate, toddler, school, teenage life, early 20s, midlife, later life, and then someone who’s very, very old, might be 100 years old, but they’re definitely going to die some day. Nobody’s immortal, no body is immortal. Nobody means no body. No body is immortal. 

[31:39] Transcending the Story Through Vedic Meditation

What is there, then, that is the saving grace in all of this which allows us to stand outside of all the ups and downs, that gets us back into, as it were, the experience that I’m a witness in a theater, watching the story line go on? What is it that is the saving grace? We have to transcend the story. 

When we practice Vedic Meditation, we learn how to take our mind beyond all the changing relativities. The ever-changing world. And for a few moments, as we meditate, our mind goes into the vast unboundedness and we are experiencing that baseline, that state of The Absolute. 

The Absolute is that which never changes. That which never changes is the witness of that which is always changing. In the very beginning days of meditation, a few moments of transcendence in every meditation there’s at least a moment where all thought stops, and then it might start again, but there’s that moment of deep inner silence, and as we ground ourselves in that state of Being, again, and again, and again, it begins to stick with us. That sense that I have two natures. I have an Absolute nature inside that never changes, and I have a Relative nature, which is the relativities of the story line of a human body. 

There’s a story line of a human body and there’s a witness of that story line. That’s also me. That witness is the me, the Self, the capital S Self that is larger than the relativities and the ever-changing body. 

And so then, who is the quote, unquote, “I”? Who am I, the witness? Am I only the body, the storyline, the movie, the dream, the long dream? Or am I also that which cannot be, it’s not a product of the body, that state of Being, it is not body-dependent. We know that because we go deep in meditation we almost stop breathing. Not intentionally, it just happens spontaneously, and yet we’re still alive. Our brainwaves show a style of functioning that is hyper coherent, but also very, very low voltage. And so then, in our mind, in our brain we have gone, when we touch on that Absolute state, we’ve gone into suspended animation with the emphasis on the word suspended. And our whole body is absolutely still. 

Somebody looking at you from the outside might notice hardly any breathing. Heart rate has dropped to its absolute minimum. In a sense, while we’re meditating, we are, not to be taken too literally, but we are practicing dying. We’re letting the body go into its suspended animation. And consciousness stands alone and witnesses a body that has become perfectly still. Hardly breathing, heart hardly beating, body in a deep, deep state of rest. All kinds of benefits are accruing from that, release of stress and so on and so forth, but at that actual time, the actual moment of transcendence, we are in a state of suspended animation. 

And the Self, the witness, the Knower is that which stands out. I am the Knower. I’m not merely this body. I am the Knower, capital K, Knower, and I have a body. I’m the Knower that has a body. I am sitting in the theater of immortality witnessing a body storyline. And I can have a great impact on that body storyline. If I use my knowledge of all the laws of nature and I begin to operate the storyline, then the story begins to play to me. Me meaning that Absolute witness, that big Self. 

As we grow, and grow, and grow with our regular daily practice of meditation twice a day, then we begin to establish ourselves more and more as ‘I am the state of Being’. This is what defines me. And that which is my playground is the playground of the body storyline. The body storyline is not the thing that defines me. The body storyline is a wonderful dream in which I’m actively and willingly participating. I’m invited into it, but who is the I? The I appears to be this vast unbounded consciousness to which I go every time I meditate. And I establish myself in it. And then it lives its life, the body lives its life spontaneously, and the individual personality that inhabits the body and all of the story that came into that, the people who influenced it, the people I’d like to influence it and so on. 

[37:06] Beginning an End to a Sense of Fear

But what starts to be removed from all of this is that sense of fear that ‘I’ am going to end. Yes, the body is going to end. No question about that. The body manifested and it will return to the unmanifest. That’s what bodies do. What am I going to do, the I, who am I, what am I going to allow this dream to be in the meantime? 

Meantime, we need to have a temperament in which we culture fearlessness. Fearlessness because of what? Not because your body’s not going to die, it is going to die, but because you are not only that. That’s the movie, that’s the long dream, that’s the lovely storytelling. 

In the Vedic worldview, there are many stories, one after the other. You get invited back to movie, after movie, after movie. Without getting too tangled up in all the issues of the concept of reincarnation, we just look at it this way, that one lifetime is not the beginning of life, or one body lifetime is not the beginning of life or the end of life when that lifetime, that body lifetime ends. There’s a continuum. I am the continuum. This is the experience that comes from regular practice of meditation. 

Meanwhile, inside our story line, we’ll be invited into fear. Oh, there’s a virus going around. This has been an old story, this is nothing new. Don’t think for a moment that our neolithic ancestors didn’t hear the story about a virus going around. Bubonic plagues, and the 1918 Spanish flu pandemic, and all of these things that bring bodies to an end. Do we really think this body’s going to last forever? Of course it’s not. 

What’s your personal role in the story line? What is being brought into our individual story line? If I am the big Self and I am the witness of this body, then the body itself is simply participating in a story. 

It’s interesting that when we practice Vedic Meditation, because of this infusion of big Self, that is, infusion of immortality, infusion of that which cannot die because it’s never born. It’s not born, therefore it cannot die. That unbounded awareness. Infusion of that into the storyline, into the storyline of what this body actually is inhabited by. The body is not inhabited by a consciousness that is mortal and changeable. The body, as we continue practicing meditation, is inhabited by a consciousness that finds itself to be immortal. It was never born, it can never die. As it’s stated in the “Bhagavad Gita”, one of the ancient texts of India, “Water cannot wet it, weapons cannot cleave it, fire cannot burn it”. It is not capable of responding to these relativities because it was never born and it never dies. It is the witness of all things.

To the extent that we can infuse this into our life through regular practice of mediation we shall become spontaneously fearless, dauntless. That doesn’t mean that we have to start behaving like fools. We want the movie to be a good movie. We don’t take a multi-billion dollar bio computer and dangle it off the edge of a cliff on dental floss just to demonstrate that we’re fearless. 

[41:13] (Don’t) Go Jump Off a Cliff!

I once sat in a cafe at a famous beach in Sydney and on a day when very large waves were coming in. I was, once upon a time, an adept surfer. And still, today, I love going out and body surfing in big waves with my flippers on. And there is a certain skill that you acquire that allows you to be fearless. You suddenly realize that with knowledge, something that appears dangerous to other people is your playground. 

Anyway, I had just come in out of the surf, I had my flippers with me. I was sitting at a table outside having a little roast in the sunshine. And along came some young men. I think the elder of them was probably about 25, and he was the leader of a little group of bullies. And he approached me and he said, “Aren’t you the meditation guy?” I said, “Yes.” He said, “I heard that the other night you gave a lecture about fearlessness. Would you say that you’re fearless?” I said, “Yes.” He said, “Well, if you’re so fearless, why don’t you go out to that cliff over there and let us watch you while you jump into these 20-foot waves that are crashing into the shore and see how fearless you really are. I challenge you to go jump off that cliff into those waves if you’re really fearless.” And then he looked back and forth to his mates. And everybody guffawed a little bit. 

And I said to him, “Because if I did that, it would demonstrate that I’m afraid of your opinion. And actually, I don’t care about your opinion. But why don’t you sit down here, I’ll buy you a cup of coffee, and we can have a longer discussion about what fearlessness really means.”

[42:58] Wisdom Hair

And so when we’re actually fearless, we don’t have to try to prove it. We simply enjoy life and all the delights of life in a way that is sustainable. A sustainable lifestyle where we extend as much as possible the longevity of the body is a very, very good approach because we get wiser as we get older. People begin to respect our opinion more. 

When you get a little bit of silver hair in your beard, or if you don’t have a beard, in your hair, then these are, the word for, there’s no word for silver hair or white hair in Sanskrit in the Vedic language, the word is ‘wisdom’ hair. When your hair begins to go a little white or silver, then that’s considered to be your signs of wisdom appearing. This is somebody who’s been around for a while and who has had a lot of experiences, and you can rely upon the more sustainable approach of how they witness life and what techniques they’ve learned and strategies they’ve learned to live a life more gracefully. 

So longevity is important because we need to have elders who are the elder wise ones and you need to become one of those elders. To become an elder wise one in a world that is in desperate search of anybody who has any wisdom, that’s a very important thing for you to become. So behave sensibly. 

[44:42] The Changing Face of Fear

In times of things like, right now, and people who listen to this podcast and video in decades to come, this is 2020 now, the year 2020, will look back at this and find this a very, an historic snapshot. When I was in my 20s the big thing was, what appeared to be the definite potential of global thermonuclear war. When I was in my 20s was the time during which the Soviet Union and the United States mutually had large intercontinental ballistic missiles pointed at each other. And my father was a general in the United States Air Force. And one of his jobs was readiness command. For the United States to be ready to engage in mutual-assured destruction with the Soviet Union, which would have brought about the bombing of every major population center on Earth, because all countries were aligned with one side or the other. The destruction of the whole civilization would have taken about an hour and a half, it was estimated. And that was the big fear. Everyone was afraid of that. Living a life in fear is living a life, it’s worse than death, living a life in fear.

These days, right now in 2020, there’s a virus going around called the coronavirus, the COVID-19, which will become an historic thing, and people will look back and say, “Hmm, that was interesting. Everybody seemed to be very terrified of that.” I’m sure that during neolithic times there were other things going around. Maybe there was a big grizzly bear that was going around eating tribes people and people were always afraid that the grizzly was going to show up. And all kinds of mythos was built around that. 

Actually, we need to be sensible. We don’t expose ourselves to unnecessary risks. During times of viruses moving around I always say, it’s about time we abandon the rather old-fashioned and out-of-date method of, “Hello, how are you?” Shake hands. Shake hands like this. This is me and this is you. Now my hands are going to shake as my inner self bows to your inner self. “Namaskar.” Instead of, ah, let’s get our arms around each other and share everything that we carried from the subway, and breathe it all over each other even though we’re not too sure what we’ve touched because it’s all invisible. 

Lead a sensible life, be wise. Wash your hands a lot. Make sure that you don’t over engage in intimacy with people who you don’t know where they’ve been just now. And then you’ll be around for a long time.

[47:50] Consciousness is the Source of the Body

And meditate twice a day, keep your meditations going, enhance your immune status, and live a life of wisdom, but with the goal that we want to transcend the notion that a body is the source of my consciousness. 

Consciousness is the source of the body. It’s not the other way around. Consciousness conceives the body. Consciousness constructs the body. Consciousness governs the body. Consciousness prints out as a body with a storyline. Enjoy the storyline. Live the baseline of immortality and enjoy the storyline of the ever-changing story, the long dream of the human body, make it a great story. 

Jai Guru Deva

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