Progressive Change, Perspective, and the Past

“If change is painful, it means that change is overdue. Overdue change means a lot of territory traveled in a relatively short period of time to correct a process that was being neglected.”

Thom Knoles

One of the biggest struggles people have is in coming to terms with apparent problems, whether they be current problems, or problems from the past.

While we might be able to grasp the concept of evolution or progressive change intellectually, when the experience becomes uncomfortable it becomes more difficult to rationalize.

In this episode, Thom answers questions from listeners seeking resolution to problems that seem too big to be solved, or that have gone beyond the time when something can be done.

It’s a reminder that perspective isn’t just an intellectual process, and that it’s a byproduct of consciousness.  

Subscribe to Vedic Worldview

Apple Podcast logo
Stitcher Podcast logo
Spotify Podcast logo
Google Podcast logo

Episode Highlights


Q – Why do Things Seem to be Getting Worse?



A – Battle of Bedtime and Entertainment



Evolution and Corrections



Meditation Broaden Our Awareness



Mother is at Home



Change is Not Optional



Embrace the Change



Q – How do we Handle Grief about the Changing Climate?



A – Human Adaptation Throughout History



Infrastructure and Global Warming



Be Active



Embrace Adaptation and Innovation



Q – Can it Be Useful to Revisit the Past?



A – Time Is a Contiguous Continuum



Have Proper Perspective



Embrace Future Perspective


Jai Guru Deva


Progressive Change, Perspective, and the Past

[00:45] Q – Why do Things Seem to be Getting Worse?

Does progressive change imply that all things are moving in a better direction? If so, why does it seem like things in the world are getting worse?

[00:55] A – Battle of Bedtime and Entertainment

Sometimes, it seems like things are getting worse when mommy comes and says, “All right, children. We have to turn off Peppa Pig on television. And now we have to sit at the table and have our dinner.”

And the child thinks, “Oh. But Peppa Pig, so much more entertaining than dinner. And I don’t want to.”

And Mommy says, “No, you have to.” Oh, crying and tears. But then, up to the table, there’s the delicious hot pasta made by the expert mama. Guzzling down of some dinner, and then, “Back to Peppa Pig now?”

“Well no, actually, time for us to get cleaned up. And change into our pajamas and get ready for bed.”

“Oh, but we don’t want to go to bed.”

“Yes, but it’s time to go to bed.”

“But in bed, you don’t get to experience Peppa Pig, or you don’t get to experience this or that. Things are just going from bad to worse.

“Let me tell you, life was bliss with Peppa Pig going, and then, it was dinner, and now it’s going to be brushing the teeth and going into the bed. It’s just one thing after the next, from bad to worse. Can’t understand it, but have to comply with it because I’m being forced.”

This is people thinking that things are going from bad to worse. There’s always a state of consciousness in which one looks at an evolutionary process and says, “Things are getting worse. Things are getting worse. Things aren’t any good.”

[02:40] Evolution and Corrections

And then there’s a state of consciousness, which is a bigger consciousness state, that parental consciousness state that can see that corrections are an important part of evolution. Corrections.

What are corrections? Where socially, society has gone through unsustainable behaviors for a period of time, making unsustainable assumptions about the good of a thing, and then has to experience some kind of a correction.

And when we have a correction, what we have is an adjustment being made from the unsustainable to the sustainable. Movement from that which is unsustainable in the direction of that which is sustainable is, in fact, what evolution is.

And when we experience change of expectation, if the change of expectation is a great change, because our expectation was greatly incorrect, greatly inaccurate expectations lead to a lot of change, a lot of movement from what was expected to what is reality, then the extent to which that movement occurs, the extent of the correction, moving from inaccurate expectation to accurate expectation, then, in certain consciousness states, we refer to that as suffering.

Oh, the suffering. The suffering being caused by things just going from bad to worse. And all of this is the reckoning of a consciousness state that cannot experience Totality.

[04:40] Meditation Broadens Our Awareness

When we practice Vedic Meditation, we broaden our awareness. And we embrace directly, by direct experience, the home of all the laws of Nature. That least-excited place that we touch on when we meditate is not just our own little private patch of Being.

When we settle down and step beyond thought, our individuality becomes one with the home of all the laws of Nature, the unmanifest Unified Field, out of which all the laws of Nature are issuing to create the process of evolution.

And each time, we practice our meditation technique— and we typically will do it each morning and each evening. This is the strategy, the system— our awareness gets adjusted to what it is that Nature is actually up to. What is Nature actually doing? The feeling level of the meditator is that Nature knows best how to organize.

As the more mature child at home, mommy knows best how to organize. Mommy says, “Turn off Peppa Pig.”

The child who suffers the least is the one that says, “Yes, mommy. I’ll turn off Peppa Pig. What’s next?”

Mommy says, “Yummy pasta is next.”

And the child who’s attuned with mommy says, “I’m going your way, mommy. Let’s get into the pasta. What’s next after pasta?”

And when mommy says, “Time for brushing teeth and getting into the jammies,” the child says, “I can’t wait. Let’s go with mommy’s consciousness because I’m identified with that.”

When mommy says, “It’s time to lie down and let the sleep state come and the dreams and then we’re going to wake up in the morning to a brighter day,” the child says, “Can’t wait. Let’s do that mommy. Good night. Thank you for making everything so frictionless for me.”

[06:59] Mother is at Home

This is the child who enjoys. The child who doesn’t enjoy is the child who doesn’t know how to identify with mother consciousness. The meditator, settling into that deep inner quiet state, has that sense mother is at home.

Mother is at home means, in analogy, that cosmic intelligence knows what it’s doing. And all I’m doing is watching for my cues. “What is it that is desirable for me to be doing? What is my maximum contribution to the phenomenology of evolution? Let me continue to make my contribution to the phenomenology of evolution.”

Now, it doesn’t take a genius to figure out that if the majority of the population were doing this, we would be living in an ideal society. And the idea of things having to be corrected, and there having to be change of expectation, and the pain that comes with making the discovery that what you expected was unsustainable and now you have to change your expectation, that would naturally just go away.

 And so, what is the solution to this point of view that things seem to be going from bad to worse? It is grow up into that consciousness state that can actually be informed about what cosmic intelligence is doing.

People who live a life of enlightenment are called into action to assist in relieving the suffering of those who do not have the same perspective as the enlightened one has.

[09:09] Change is Not Optional

An enlightened person can gain that perspective, that illuminated consciousness state of sensing when change is occurring. If change is painful, it means that change is overdue. Overdue change means a lot of territory traveled in a relatively short period of time to correct a process that was being neglected.

And what is that process? Evolution. Evolution is occurring at all times. What is not occurring is compliance with evolution.

Resistance of evolution. When we see resistance of evolution, then we see futility because it’s futile to resist evolution. The process of evolution is inexorable. It’s uncompromising.

Progressive change is a requirement. It’s not optional. There’s no option. Progressive change is a requirement. Whatever it is that is going to cause a greater, more efficient, more elegant, more sophisticated embrace of the whole phenomenology of life and living, this is progressive change.

The world is going to look radically different ten years from now to what it looked like ten years ago.

To what extent are we making ourselves suffer by having rigid attachment to the way things were or the way things we think should be, compared with what it is that divine intelligence is offering to us, which is evolution? Only ever evolution. When we can’t see it, then we make the assumption that times are tough and things are difficult.

Enlightened people, when they see others saying times are tough and life is difficult, what they think to themselves, smilingly, is, “A lot of evolution is happening in a short amount of time.” That means a lot of correction. A lot of correction is happening in a short amount of time. And correction, though noisy, always is good. Correction always is good.

[11:53] Embrace the Change

And so we need to learn to expand our awareness and embrace the process of evolution in whatever form it’s taking, whether it’s taking the form of frictionless flow, or if there’s resistance to the frictionless flow and correction is occurring.

And we see that there’ll be periods of correction followed by periods of frictionless flow, followed by correction, followed by periods of frictionless flow. It’s all evolution. All of this is evolution. It’s evolution to us when we can experience and see it.

When we become like the petulant child who resists mother’s insistence about turning off the television, eating dinner, brushing teeth, getting ready for bed, we make ourselves suffer. We make ourselves suffer.

So we have to find what is it that Nature is insisting upon us doing and what is it that Nature is insisting upon us letting go of?

Both these things are very, very important. Where am I to be letting go? And where am I to be engaging in dynamic action? To answer all of this, we can’t just merely intellectualize.

We have to take our awareness to that simplest form of awareness twice every day in Vedic Meditation. Allow our consciousness to identify with the one indivisible, whole unboundedness, the home of all the laws of Nature, which is bringing about the entire phenomenon of evolution.

We have to adjust our thinking to the thinking of the cosmos. This is the answer to all of this.

Jai Guru Deva.

[13:51] Q – How do we Handle Grief about the Changing Climate?

How do we handle grief about the changing climate? Activism may be part of the answer, but I just read today from a respected scientist that even massive change right now won’t show an effect for decades.

[14:06] A – Human Adaptation Throughout History

One of the things that we need to get real about with regard to the changing climate is the capability of human beings to be adaptive.

In less than 10,000 years, we human beings have adapted to massive climatic change. The climate that our ancestors were in 10,000 years ago, prior to the advent of agriculture, when our tribal populations were still hunters and gatherers in the Neolithic phase of our development as a population, we adapted to, having been for 10,000 years, let me repeat that, 10,000 years, ten millennia, living on ice.

The whole tribal population of the world were ice-living people, and they made the transition to what was then massive global warming, and then adapted and created something utterly new that nobody had thought of before.

Instead of following the seasons and following the fruits, following the seasons and following the ground-grown crops, instead of following the animals and prey and hunting according to the movements of animals, agriculture, and husbandry began.

“What would happen if we just stayed put and grew our own trees and grew our own vegetables and raised our own animals in the way we wish to do these things? What would happen?”

[15:48] Infrastructure and Global Warming

A completely novel idea that evidently nobody had thought of ever before. And with that, we made the transition from the last era of glaciation, popularly known as the Ice Age of 10,000 years, into the global warmed age, the age of the continuous warming, which, as it turns out, has accelerated dramatically in the last few decades.

When we look at it scientifically, we’ve known about the impact, the coming impact of global warming for decades. What we’re not yet doing, because the challenge on us is not great enough, is moving infrastructurally. This is something that will come up with ever greater frequency in the years to come.

For example, a vast majority of all of the airports on Earth are built at nearly sea level, right next to a bay, a harbor, or right on the edge of the ocean. And we know that oceans are rising. And we know that international air travel, , even if we find less polluting ways of doing it, will still be a reality.

And yet, we don’t hear about anybody moving infrastructure. The movement of infrastructure is going to be a very important aspect of activism, which just means getting active about getting the various governing bodies of the world to agree that something has to be done to acknowledge the coming reality.

[17:33] Be Active

The reality is that even if we make the massive changes to attempt to reverse temperature increase in the world, as you put it, we’re not going to see the product of that for a long time, and in the meantime, the water is rising.

The water is rising, and the climate is changing. Areas that are currently verdant are threatened with being drought-stricken, but we also have to pay attention to the fact that drought-stricken areas are also having their climate change, and we’re seeing an increase of rainfall. We’re seeing torrential rainfall happening in certain places that ordinarily wouldn’t happen.

And torrential snowfall for which we are ill-prepared. Over the last winter, more snow fell in the Sierra Nevada mountains of drought-stricken California than had ever fallen in recorded history before, yielding a vast amount of frozen water, which, if we’d been prepared for it infrastructurally, we could have harvested that water and made it last throughout a long, hot, dry summer. But everyone was caught off guard because they expected drought. What they got was instead oceans of water falling from the sky in the form of snow that now is just going to run off, destroy some crops, destroy some towns, flood places, and end up in the ocean. And we’ll be wondering whatever happened to all the water during drought-stricken California years.

So, how do we deal with the grief? Stop wasting time on grief. Get active in the areas that are really productive. We can either sit and grieve, or we can be active. Challenge the assumptions you’re making. When we don’t know what to do, generally, it’s because we have yet to perform a very purifying activity.

[19:41] Embrace Adaptation and Innovation

And that’s the activity of challenging our assumptions. We need to come out of our torpor of thinking, “Well, nobody’s going to listen, and decrease the amount of carbon output, and decrease the amount of other temperature-increasing activities soon enough to avert global massive change. We need to start thinking adaptively.”

What are the adaptations in which we’re engaging? What are the tactics and the strategies in which we’re engaging to bring about very real infrastructural change? What are we moving to get out of the way of the water? What features are we building to capture water where it falls unexpectedly and to make it a bounty for us rather than a hazard for us?

So there’s still a lot of creative intelligence into which we could tap that we’re not tapping. And this will really give you something to do.

I’d like you to challenge the assumptions you’re making about, “The only thing we can do is try to decrease temperature,” and jump into, “You can create infrastructural change that will actually turn certain aspects of the warming trend into a bounty for human beings, if only we know how to capture it.”

Let’s remember that all of us come from two members of tribes who lived more than 10,000 years ago, when there were only about 12,000 people on the Earth. We’re related to two of those people who made the transition from 10,000 years of glaciation into the current globally-warm era.

We, as human beings, have the capacity to be ultra-adaptive. We just need to start using our full brain and stop grieving.

Jai Guru Deva.

[21:43] Q – Can it Be Useful to Revisit the Past?

Can it be useful to revisit an experience in the past in order to get a sense of perspective and meaningfulness in the present? For example, looking back at some formative times in one’s life and seeking to understand a trajectory from there to here in order to make peace with the past rather than turning away from it and avoiding it.

Thank you and Jai Guru Deva.

[22:07] A – Time Is a Contiguous Continuum

This is exactly the practice that we learn to do and advocate, coming from the third installment of my course, Exploring the Veda, in which time I spent about 18 hours talking about the fact that time is a contiguous continuum. That all time is alive. The past is not the past unless we make it so. It’s ongoing and happening right now.

The future is not the future unless we make it so. It’s contiguous with us in the present, and it’s happening right now. We can take our consciousness from present-moment awareness and expand our definition of present-moment awareness to where the so-called past is also inside the present.

I can take my awareness to my past, so-called past, and make it part of my present. Present-moment awareness includes it because the now of present-moment awareness, which typically for most people is one second at a time.

There’s now, there’s now, there’s now, there’s now… each of those nows is an update on the previous now. This is very limited now consciousness. The big now consciousness is the consciousness of Totality.

Totality consciousness considers the entire history of the universe, what we humans would call past, present, and future. The entire universe is the now. This is all now. Now includes everything that happened from the commencement of the Big Bang all the way through to the end history events of our universe. That’s all the now. And we can go anywhere in the now right now.

[24:16] Have Proper Perspective

All problems are problems of a lack of perspective. If you don’t have proper perspective, you’ve got problems.

When I say to my little children, who are 3 and 5 currently, it’s time to turn off the television, and they all begin crying. They don’t have the perspective that tomorrow, we can turn the television back on again, and the next day, and the next day, and the next day, and that there are so many other delights that are going to come into life.

[24:46] Embrace Future Perspective

All they can think is, “I was watching Peppa Pig. And now I can’t watch Peppa Pig anymore. And I have to do that boring thing of lying down on the platform while Dad plays music to us and makes us fall asleep,” which they do in about 10 seconds, once I start lying down with them, and they seem to really love falling asleep.

But they don’t have the perspective, and so they make themselves suffer because to them, it’s just, “I can’t watch Peppa Pig anymore.”

Now, if we take this example of the amusing behavior, childlike behavior of children, and apply it to ourselves, we can say, and we can see, “Yes, there was a phase of my life where, compared with today, childlike, I was making myself suffer over something which, if I’d had today’s perspective, couldn’t possibly have made me suffer.”

Now, this also gives us a lesson about today. Because, right now, I may be suffering over something. If I am, we can apply the same inviolate principle to this suffering. It’s because of you, right now, not having the perspective that you are going to have five years from now, or ten years from now, or twenty years from now.

Why wait? Why not go into your subtlest consciousness state and invite the future you, the more-evolved version of you, to come to the you of the present and bring about perspective? This is all about Vedanta.

Vedanta means there’s only one indivisible, whole thing, and you are it. You are the one indivisible, whole consciousness field, and you have within the now of that consciousness field all past, present, and future.

Why not start using it? This is the Vedic question for you. It’s a rhetorical question. The answer is start using it.

Jai Guru Deva.

Read more