Gratitude, Community, and Mixing Mantras

“There’s no luck, because luck means randomosity. Luck means there’s something other than the one, indivisible whole consciousness field.”

Maharishi Mahesh Yogi

Episode Summary

Our listeners are setting the agenda again in this episode, another of our regular “Ask Me Anything” series.

Thom starts with what you might find to be a surprising twist on gratitude. While gratitude is, of course, a good thing, sometimes our perspective can distort our level of gratitude, or even what we might be grateful for. Thom refers to one of our favorite teachings from Guru Dev, who told us, “You deserve the best…”

In answer to a question about the role of community in our self realization, Thom points out that our evolution actually removes our sense of separateness, making community the natural consideration in anything and everything that we do. He describes Cosmic Consciousness as ‘the ultimate social experience.’

And on the matter of ‘mixing mantras’, he points out that Vedic Meditation, while being compatible with, and complementary to, any other practice, it needs to be practiced specifically as it has been taught, without any ‘modifications’ by the practitioner. In doing so, each practice will have its intended benefit, and not be watered down, or even harmed by another.

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Episode Highlights


Q- Is There a Truth to Gratitude Being a Divine Emotion?



You Deserve the Best



You Have to Accept It



You Are Not Wretched



What Does Expecting the Best Do to Our Sense of Gratitude?



How Do We Show Our Gratitude?



Vineeta: Humble Pride



Too Much Gratitude



Q – How Can Community Play a Positive Role in Realizing the Higher Self?



The Funnel of Consciousness



Cosmic Consciousness – The Ultimate Social Experience



The True Meaning of Tribe



Unity and Empathy



Siddhi: An Extraordinary Human Capability



Expanding Our Capacity to Be a Relevant Member Of Any Social Group



Having and Developing Shared Experience



Q – Can I Use a Different Mantra to Practice Vedic Meditation?



All Roads Lead to Rome



An Appropriate Mantra



No Damage is Done



Vedic Meditation Will Only Bring Aid to Everything Life Supporting



Let Vedic Meditation Be Its Own Practice


Jai Guru Deva


Gratitude, Community, and Mixing Mantras

[00:00:45] Q- Is There a Truth to Gratitude Being a Divine Emotion?

[00:00:45] I once heard that gratitude and compassion are divine states of being. The immense amount of gratitude I have seems to supersede the amount of love. While love pulses through me, the gratitude is even greater. Is there a truth to gratitude being a divine emotion?

[00:01:01] You Deserve the Best

[00:01:01] Gratitude is a very tricky thing. And now I know I have your attention because, I can tell by the way you asked your question, that you’re fairly convinced that gratitude is everything.

[00:01:11] But gratitude can be very tricky, particularly when we examine one of the highest spiritual statements ever made by any master. This statement, made by Swami Brahmananda Saraswati, Guru Dev, we call him, for short, Maharishi’s master, and I’ll quote it to you.

[00:01:27] “You deserve the best. Never feel unworthy, or not justified in having the best. I tell you, this is your heritage, by the way, in parentheses. (that means your birthright.) But you have to accept it. You have to expect it. You have to claim it. And to do so is not demanding too much.”

[00:01:50] All right. Let’s analyze that statement, which is the highest level of expectation from a great guru to all students who are listening, and it might make us feel a little uncomfortable.

[00:02:03] “You deserve the best.” Very interesting. What’s the best?

[00:02:06] Well, the best is whatever your consciousness state currently can conceive of as the supreme status of whatever you’re experiencing. And would that change from day to day? Of course, it does.

[00:02:20] What you conceived of as the best as a five-year-old child might’ve been some toy, or some doll, or some bicycle or something, and that’s certainly not your idea of what the best is anymore.

[00:02:30] You Have to Accept It

[00:02:30] And so, as we begin to fulfill desires, our sense of what the best is, grows. So, “You deserve the best,” says Guru Dev, “Never feel unworthy or not justified in having the best.” That sense that I’m unworthy or not justified is not an enlightened experience. I’m unworthy or not justified.

[00:02:51] Very often, when we look at the phenomenon of gratitude, we see people being extremely grateful on the basis of they’re feeling unworthy or not justified.

[00:03:04] It’s expressed very much in the Christian hymn, “Amazing grace, how sweet, the sound that saved a wretch like me.” So grateful for being saved from hell. “I’m just a wretch. I don’t deserve it. And yet, I’m being saved by the divine grace, even though I don’t deserve it.”

[00:03:20] Guru Dev says the opposite. “Never feel unworthy or not justified in having the best. I tell you, this is your heritage, your birthright.” This is what you’re born to experience, the best. Whatever the best may be.

[00:03:32] But, and here come the caveats. You have to accept it. What is this acceptance? Give the gift of acceptance to whom? To cosmic intelligence. Who is that cosmic intelligence? What is that big Self that has brought you so much? It’s you. The big Self is you. The big consciousness is not other than you.

[00:03:57] You Are Not Wretched

[00:03:57] The Vedic Worldview doesn’t tolerate the idea that there is a big consciousness of the Universe, and then there’s little wretched you, and you have to be grateful to the big, because the big and you, the twain, shall never meet.

[00:04:10] The Vedic Worldview is that individuality, in fact, is cosmic, and we need to awaken from our delusion that there’s a big thing that’s very, very worthy, and then there’s, “Little old me,” who just needs to be grateful all the time. “That the big, worthy, highly capable, omniscient, omnipresent, omnipotent consciousness has granted me some benefits that I didn’t deserve.” So we have to get rid of this idea of being unworthy or not justified.

[00:04:38] And let’s see what happens to gratitude then. Having the best, not worthy, not justified in having the best, Guru Dev says, let go of that. You have to accept that you deserve the best, right? You have to expect it. You have to expect the best. And so if we expect it, is it a surprise to us when the best comes?

[00:04:59] What Does Expecting the Best Do to Our Sense of Gratitude?

[00:04:59] Very often, our gratitude is based on, “I didn’t expect something as great as this.” That’s because we had a fairly low value of self worth. And so, what does expecting the best do to our sense of gratitude? I’m analyzing this, and we’re going to keep going for a moment.

[00:05:16] “Expect it.” “Claim it.” Claim it. That means to say you own it. “This is me. This is all about me.”

[00:05:24] My teacher Maharishi [Mahesh Yogi] frequently, when people would say they were lucky or they had good luck, he’d say, “There’s no luck, because luck means randomosity. Luck means there’s something other than the one, indivisible whole consciousness field.”

[00:05:35] The Veda teaches us, you are the one, indivisible whole consciousness field. You need to awaken to that and gain your enlightenment.

[00:05:42] And so then, what does luck mean? Randomosity. “By some random phenomenon, I lucked out, and, I ended up in a place that I didn’t really deserve.” And Guru Dev’s statements take us right out of that realm of what you deserve.

[00:05:55] So Maharishi would say, “No luck.” He would say, “Well-deserved, self-created, good fortune.” Well-deserved, self-created, good fortune.

[00:06:05] It means you said yes to the right things at the right times. You structured a reality in which individuality grew to its cosmic status, and understanding, and self-realization.

[00:06:16] How Do We Show Our Gratitude?

[00:06:16] So then, we have, “To expect the best is not demanding too much.” And so then, expecting the best, not demanding too much. We want to be in that position of accepting, expecting, claiming, and it’s not demanding too much.

[00:06:33] Now, are we grateful that we got into a body of knowledge where our individuality began to realize its cosmic status? Yes, of course, gratitude is there. What happens to us when we’re grateful? We take credit away from our individuality, but we assign that credit to the big Self.

[00:06:53] But let’s be clear about one thing. The big Self is not the Universe , capital T, capital U, something other than you. The big Self is you. “Naturally, I am grateful to my higher Self that my lower self let go of its long dream that my higher Self was separate.” We’re grateful about this.

[00:07:15] How do we show our gratitude? We let go of self-aggrandizement of the small self to cling on to an idea, “I’m only the small self, and I’m so grateful that the big Self has somehow granted me all of this wondrous stuff,” is not a Vedic idea at all.

[00:07:31] Vineeta: Humble Pride

[00:07:31] The Vedic idea is you’ll have natural humility and pride simultaneously. We call this state, which yields an ability to be obedient, small self being obedient to high Self, the word is in Sanskrit, there’s no English word that matches it, Vineeta, V-I-N-E-E-T-A, Vineeta. Vineeta means humble pride that creates a status of a surrender of small self to its true nature, the big Self.

[00:08:03] Humble pride that creates a status that gives my small self the ability to surrender to its truth, which is, “I’m actually the big Self, and I’ve always been this way, except I didn’t see it.

[00:08:17] “So to whom am I grateful? Whatever it is, the mistakes, the problems, the mean people, the happy people, the wise people, whoever and whatever it is that guided me out of the illusion that I’m only really a small self whose experiences are controlled by others, to I’m actually the big Self, and I am the knower.

[00:08:41] “I’m the knower of consciousness. I’m the knower of that which is the organizing power of all things. I’m grateful to whatever it is that woke me up into this consciousness state.”

[00:08:52] But we don’t want to start drowning in gratitude because gratitude is an attempt to hold onto our small status.

[00:08:59] Too Much Gratitude

[00:08:59] Too much gratitude. “I’m grateful, grateful, grateful, grateful. Humble, humble, humble, humble. I’m not worthy. I’m not worthy. I’m not worthy, but I’m getting it anyway. And I’m so grateful.” There’s the implication of that. “I’m grateful, yes.” Let’s move on now.

[00:09:13] “I’m grateful that actually, I’m awakening from the long dream, perhaps it was even a nightmare that all I was was a little individual without much deserving power.”

[00:09:21] So we want to transcend our gratitude and replace it with humble pride. Humility mixed perfectly with pride.

[00:09:29] “I’m proud,” means, “I have responsibility to maintain this knowledge and to keep it in its purest state and radiate it in its purest state to all others. I’m humbled by the fact that I’ve ended up with this occupation. I have the occupation of bringing all this about for others and living the exemplary form of self-realization. I’m humbled by it. I’m also grateful. I’m also worthy.

[00:09:56] ” I’m also the creator of it. I’m also the benefactor who has brought the benefit to my individuality. And I’m the individuality receiving from myself, my own, well-deserved, self-created, good fortune.”

[00:10:10] Jai Guru Deva.

[00:10:11] Q – How Can Community Play a Positive Role in Realizing the Higher Self?

[00:10:11] Hi, Thom. This is Kirk from Glendale, California. My question for you regards the role of community, social gatherings, and groups in the Vedic worldview. In our listenings to you, my partner and I have felt a lot of focus on the individual practice of meditation and cosmic universal consciousness.

[00:10:34] We would love to hear your thoughts on how community, social gatherings and groups, as well as any of the uses of the word tribe, can play or have played a positive role in realizing the higher self, or perhaps can hold a robust container for that individual process. Thank you. Jai Guru Deva.

[00:10:56] The Funnel of Consciousness

[00:10:56] Jai Guru Deva. And what a beautifully phrased question, you’ll be very happy, when you take my course Exploring the Veda. And when you get to Veda Five, the fifth installment of Exploring the Veda, I spend about 18 hours on the subject of the awakening of the tribal consciousness, the communal awareness that is absolutely pivotal to the human experience.

[00:11:26] Of course, our individuality is the narrow end of our imaginary funnel. We use a funnel as a kind of analogy that, you know, the pointy end of the funnel goes right down to individuation, “My individual body, my individual mind, my individual intellect, my individual emotions. Me, me, I, I,” and all of that stuff.

[00:11:44] And this is what most people think they are. As we meditate and regularly go beyond thought, we start to explore, through direct experience, the wide end of the funnel. This is the catchment end of the funnel. At its widest point, the funnel of consciousness, is in fact, cosmic.

[00:12:04] Cosmic Consciousness – The Ultimate Social Experience

[00:12:04] Cosmic means all-inclusive. It doesn’t just mean large. It means all-inclusive. So the narrow end of the funnel and the wide end of the funnel of consciousness both are the funnel. They are both the self. Smaller-self, individuated-self, is the expressed value and is the outlet for the cosmic.

[00:12:25] The cosmic is really super social. That is to say; it goes way beyond our normal ideas of what it is that comprises a community or a communal experience. In between the two, in between the individuation and the widest cosmic value, we have social structures. We have family structures.

[00:12:49] We have the extra-familial structure, friends. We have societies, organized groups that come together to meet. We have city consciousness. We have state consciousness, provincial consciousness.

[00:13:05] We have national consciousness, which is a fairly large collective. Then we have world consciousness, but this is just the consciousness of one world, the earth. When we have Cosmic Consciousness, we have all of the consciousnesses of the Universe together in one consideration experienceable as one status.

[00:13:26] So Cosmic Consciousness is the ultimate social experience. It is super social in the sense that it goes beyond our usual concepts of groups of people and individuals. So in between these two, we’re going to have an area of great enrichment.

[00:13:45] The True Meaning of Tribe

[00:13:45] And, tribal very often is looked down upon by some modern thinkers of social structure where, in order to have an ideal society, we need to let go of tribalism and all of that. I think I can understand where they’re coming from with that. We’re simply using the word with different semantics.

[00:14:03] The fact is that we have embedded in the very nature of our brain the great desire to be tribal. And tribal does not simply mean people of the same genetic family. Tribes have always existed. And they’ve always included people from outside the usual mainstream of that tribe.

[00:14:25] In a tribe no member gets left behind. In a tribe there is all-inclusivity, there’s room for the quirkiest of behaviors, and a way of understanding them and including them, and drawing from those who are away from the mainstream of what’s generally considered, ordinary, or “normal.”

[00:14:48] And then there’s the core group, the core part of the tribe, but the tribe sees itself as benefiting from all of its members, every member of the warp and weft of a weaving of human beings.

[00:15:02] Every member plays his, or her, or its, or their, role in the entire communal consciousness. As we continue being regular practitioners of Vedic Meditation, our awareness begins to expand naturally through a phenomenon of the increase of the power of unity.

[00:15:22] Unity and Empathy

[00:15:22] Unity means a direct experience, that deep, inner Self, that deep inner transcendent place upon which I touch every time when I go deep in meditation. It allows me to begin experiencing the true extent of my consciousness.

[00:15:38] Instead of, “My consciousness merely being the size of my body, or my head, from my feet to my hands to my head, and then that’s me, that’s my consciousness,” this is the very limited way of the concept of self definition, but it’s about all most people have.

[00:15:54] When we go deep in meditation, our consciousness is discovered to have an extent far greater than what the body can explain. The body no longer, as an entity, can explain the size of this consciousness. We start to experience that expanded awareness.

[00:16:10] When we come out of our meditation practice, we find that, spontaneously, we begin to have empathy. Empathy is a mostly understood concept in today’s philosophical thinking. It has nothing to do with sympathy, which is a conceptual leaning in the direction of somebody and trying to understand what they’re experiencing.

[00:16:32] Empathy literally means to experience from within another, and the empathy doesn’t limit itself to human beings. As our consciousness grows, and grows we start to be able to experience all forms and all phenomena as extensions of the deep inner Self.

[00:16:49] Siddhi: An Extraordinary Human Capability

[00:16:49] That deep inner Self, in fact, is in all places. It is omnipresent. And as our consciousness begins to grow and adopt that omnipresent mentality, we start to be able to experience from within other forms, so-called other, within forms and phenomena that are extended from our body as, “These are an extension of me.”

[00:17:10] So that means that, “I’m beginning to really feel from within others what it’s like to be them. I start being able to experience what it’s like to be them.” And when I can have that talent, that skill, we call it a Siddhi, an extraordinary human capability.

[00:17:27] When we start to develop and culture that capability, then we also culture another thing, the ability to act with perfect, ideal, right action.

[00:17:37] That means if that situation in my extended self, that is, normally that would be called another person, my extended self seems to need some little bit of more discipline, then the accurate amount of discipline, order, and awareness of how the laws of Nature between two people work, will start to be transferred as a body of knowledge, partly in speech and partly through your actions.

[00:18:04] If the other simply needs to be listened to, and heard, without there being any action, then that capacity to listen and to hear and to allow the flow to come in toward the core of oneself is spontaneous, natural. One doesn’t feel as though one has constantly to interrupt and try to “solve problems.”

[00:18:22] Expanding Our Capacity to Be a Relevant Member Of Any Social Group

[00:18:22] If the need is for my individuality to be put into action, to bring about change in order to prevent destruction of the extended self, to help another, to heal another, then spontaneously, one will find oneself moving in that direction. And so in our movement, from that individuated narrow into-the-funnel style of self, going to the more expensive version of Self.

[00:18:49] More expanded version, it means the I inside here is now adopting all other forms and phenomena around it. And this is the ultimate ideal of the development of social relationship. To create an ideal society, we have to have the capacity to experience from within all others. When we can experience from within them, then we can understand all of the forces that sculpted them and styled their state of consciousness.

[00:19:22] Someone’s state of consciousness is the only area of which they can experience. Nothing can be known except one’s own consciousness state. So then, when we expand into Unity Consciousness, we can feel the consciousness state of another, and we can feel what exactly is needed, in what measure, at what particular moment in time.

[00:19:43] Having and Developing Shared Experience

[00:19:43] And in this way, we expand our capacity to be the most relevant members of any social group of any tribe. And that tribal awareness brings us great joy. Our joy always is expanded if we can have shared experience. In fact, shared experience is the purpose of the whole process of the manifest creation, to have shared experience.

[00:20:08] To experience something just on one’s own is never very satisfying.

[00:20:12] You see some waterfall when you broke away from a group, and you’re on a hike together, and you broke away and got ahead of everyone and saw some beautiful waterfall. You can’t stand it.

[00:20:21] You have to turn around right away and run back and tell everybody, “Wait till you see what’s around the corner. Come and look. Come!” And then when everyone else sees what you’ve seen before them, your joy goes way, way up.

[00:20:34] And so we are designed, we are purpose-built machines for having, and expanding, and developing shared experience. This is the whole purpose of our universe in which we live. And this is the direction in which Unity Consciousness takes us.

[00:20:53] That comes from regular twice-a-day practice of Vedic Meditation. Jai Guru Deva.

[00:20:59] Q – Can I Use a Different Mantra to Practice Vedic Meditation?

[00:20:59] Namaskar, Thom. My name is Anna, and I’m from Norfolk in England.

[00:21:04] I like to ask a question about following a certain path. I have Guru Dev Dadu, which I call Guru Dev Dadu from my childhood. He gave me a mantra in my teens. And I also follow a path of yoga from another guru, who is currently, from five years ago, to do my yoga practice, [Samay Sadhana].

[00:21:29] Please, can I ask, can I also add Vedic Meditation to this, but using the original mantra given by my guru of my childhood? Am I wrong in doing this? Is this a way of too many paths? But, please clarify and show me a way of tackling this problem I have at the moment. Thank you. Jai Guru Deva.

[00:21:56] All Roads Lead to Rome

[00:21:56] Jai Guru Deva. Very good question. And you’re going to love the answer too.

[00:22:02] All these divergent paths end up leading to one path. There’s a certain sense of, all roads lead to Rome. There was a time once when every road in Europe and Asia actually ended up leading to Rome, which was the center of civilization for several hundred years.

[00:22:20] And so, if we look at it that way, something that you learned from a guru from your childhood was a contributor to the impetus that it gave you, and the practice it gave you, to move you along through that particular phase of your life.

[00:22:36] An Appropriate Mantra

[00:22:36] And then learning particular asanas, physical asanas means the way that we move our body to bring about some important physiological changes, broadly known as Hatha Yoga. Hatha Yoga, the yoga of physical asana, physical postures, and movements, also a very helpful thing to be learning.

[00:22:56] And then, you now have become aware of Vedic Meditation. In Vedic Meditation, we need to receive a mantra or sound that is appropriate to our life stage, appropriate to our specific bundle of vibrations, and appropriate to our stage of evolution.

[00:23:16] And the knowledge of that which has been passed down through millennia of tradition, to the qualified teachers of Vedic Meditation, whom I’ve trained in the world today, and who are there in England, in large numbers, available to teach you the next stage of your practice.

[00:23:36] And so then we don’t have, in any way, to abandon or eschew the practices of our youth, our childhood, or the practice of some Hatha Yoga. When you learn Vedic Meditation, the learning of this, the learning of the mantra that will be recommended for really making Vedic Meditation, Vedic Meditation.

[00:23:57] In order for it to be that, we have to have, not just the technique of Vedic Meditation, the effortless method of using a mantra to bring the mind to that least excited state with great reliability and in a very systematic way, but we also have to have the correct mantra, the one that is going to allow the mechanism of Vedic Meditation to work.

[00:24:18] No Damage is Done

[00:24:18] Think of a car that’s sitting there, and it has all of its capability in it, maybe a modern vehicle, but if you don’t have the right key to place in the ignition to turn on that car, none of the characteristics that could come to you from that car are really going to arrive.

[00:24:36] And so we can take some key from another car, or a key from something that we had as a child, “Now I had a little toy car or something, it was very good for that car. Why can’t I use it on this new car?”

[00:24:47] Using mantra from a previous initiation, we treasure that mantra. We treasure even the practice of it, but if we want to awaken the characteristics of the vehicle of Vedic Meditation, we need to have the appropriate key that’s going to switch on all those characteristics, and that will be the mantra or sound that a teacher, who is qualified to teach you, can do.

[00:25:10] Now, once we’re practicing our Vedic Meditation, twice each day, and we practice for about 20 minutes twice each day, this practice cannot bring damage to anything else that we’ve learned and that we’d like to continue practicing, and it can’t be damaged by anything else that we’ve learned.

[00:25:26] It’s just that we want to practice our Vedic Meditation in a way that’s dedicated to, it’s that dedicated 20 minutes, to that specific practice.

[00:25:36] Vedic Meditation Will Only Bring Aid to Everything Life Supporting

[00:25:36] Vedic Meditation can only bring aid to anything else that you’re practicing, or it may naturally succeed something else that you’re practicing, and that would be a choice that you’d make.

[00:25:46] If you found that what you were getting from your Vedic Meditation, with a proper Vedic Meditation mantra, achieved for you what it was that previous practices aspired to, then you’d make your own mind up about how much time you spent on any previous practices, if indeed, any time at all.

[00:26:04] But there are people who like to continue practicing this also from that guru, and this also from this tradition, and this also from that tradition, as long as you practice your Vedic Meditation in a pure way, with the Vedic Meditation mantra, and following the instructions given by a qualified teacher, then this can’t bring damage to anything, and it can’t be damaged by anything.

[00:26:27] It can only bring aid to everything in life that is life-supporting.

[00:26:31] Let Vedic Meditation Be Its Own Practice

[00:26:31] And anything that you might be doing in the spiritual context, which is not any longer helpful to you or doesn’t, at this stage of your life, fit your evolutionary curve, then, as you practice Vedic Meditation, your interest in those things will just drop away. But if they continue to be valuable to you, then your practice of Vedic Meditation will enrich the experience of those other things.

[00:26:56] It’s just that we don’t want to blend those things into our 20 minutes twice-a-day practice of Vedic Meditation. So we let Vedic Meditation be its own practice in its purity, and anything else we wish to do, we can continue doing. There’s no harm in any of that. So I hope that that’s brought some clarification and it needn’t be a problem.

[00:27:16] I think you can just consult your nearest teacher of Vedic Meditation. And if you don’t know where that is, my team can easily put you in touch with someone who is a teacher in good standing with me.

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