Questions on Spiritual Principles

“Inaccurate expectation is the perfect formula for disappointment in life.”

Thom Knoles

Spiritual principles can sometimes seem straightforward when we hear them, but when we put them into practice, we might find them difficult to uphold.

This is especially the case when the principles have been misunderstood or misinterpreted.

In this episode, Thom tackles some misconceptions about “charm,” wealth, and vegetarianism in answer to some listener questions.

These are important principles to understand correctly so we can transcend old ways of thinking and get closer to achieving the 200% of life that Thom often refers to.

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Episode Highlights


Q – Is it evolutionary to move towards greater suffering?



A – Dynamic Interaction



The Demands of Social Relevance



The Interactive Edge of Your Inner Potential



A Sustainable Lifestyle



Q – Is Wealth Compatible with Spiritual Principles?



A – False Assumptions



Desire and Fulfillment



It Would be Good to Have a Helicopter



The Universe Itself Desiring



The Formula – Transcend All of This



Transcending Transport



The Ultimate State to Be In



The Master of All You Survey



Q – Do you have to be vegetarian to be spiritual?



A – Follow Charm



Deer Hunters



State of Consciousness is Primary





Jai Guru Deva


Questions on Spiritual Principles

[00:45] Q – Is it evolutionary to move towards greater suffering?

Jai Guru Deva. This is Leonie from the UK. I learnt Vedic Meditation three years ago in Australia before moving back to the UK and it helped me put the wheels in motion to be able to move back to the UK.

So, yeah, being back with my family and in the UK, it’s very interesting, it’s definitely very different in terms of how people live, the hustle and bustle, and suffering in terms of material attachments and the pressure that that can provide

to people being a lot more pronounced in this culture. it’s definitely been a confronting experience and through this move, I’ve moved, I’m following the charm, but there’s a lot of fear around that as well.

and letting go of those fears.

And my question really is it evolutionary to move towards greater suffering and Is there something to be said around removing your need for something to benefit you as an individual? Obviously there’s always a balance and maintaining health and reducing stress through the practice of Vedic Meditation, but I mean, your own wants and desires and preferences in order to be in a space, where you can affect change that is maybe not as,beautiful and relaxing and abundant in certain aspects, as maybe where you came from.

Essentially, I’m confused with the following of the charm and maybe where it’s leading me and my own discernment. Trying to understand whether I am on the right track or not.

Jai Guru Deva. Thank you.

[02:57] A – Dynamic Interaction

Hi Leonie. Jai Guru Deva, and congratulations on summoning the courage to return to the United Kingdom, which was the source of your culture. That you had taken on an excursion to Australia and then returned back home and, to find that home is a much more dynamic place.

Remember what I say about following charm. Following charm doesn’t mean that necessarily we get to relax and just have lovely sweet relaxing experiences. Following charm may in fact engage us in dynamic interaction with the need of the time because to take our existence, our creative intelligence, and to make it relevant to the process of evolution.

Here we are with a 100 billion neuron brain and central nervous system. There are a hundred billion neurons, cell nerve cells, brain cells that make up our brain.We didn’t get the little squirrel brain, which is, two and a half million. We didn’t get the chimpanzee brain, which is half the neuronal capacity of the human, we got the big human brain, and on average people use about two percent of the brain’s potential computing power.

And don’t, let’s not, for other listeners, misquote me and say that Thom says we only use two percent of our brain. No. That’s not what I’m saying. We’re using 100 percent of the brain, but 98 percent of our usage of it is simply storing useless experiences and stress.

And there’s about two percent on average usage of its total potential as a mechanism for optimal creative intelligence. And so we need to bring that big brain of ours into interaction with the need of the time.

[05:26] The Demands of Social Relevance

And if charm has led you into a dynamic city environment, then you know it may well be that what’s expected of you is interaction with the need of the time and it could be very demanding.

But I don’t think that we should confuse “very demanding” with “suffering.” Suffering is a mistake. Engaging dynamically in interaction with the needs of the time, engaging dynamically with the demands of the world around us, if we find that charming to do, is, in fact, perhaps one of the ways in which we make this big nervous system of ours, the existence of the big brain, relevant.

And it’s very important for each of us to discover in what way our individual experience that is now as a meditator embracing that Unified Field consciousness, in which way this integrated personality that we’re developing., in what way is it relevant socially? Social relevance.

After all, what is it about being a person who meditates twice a day that makes you better? It’s not that you get to relax more, or that you get more beach time, or that you are relieved of duties. I mean, maybe some of those things will happen as well, but, hanging about and having lovely experiences, typically is not what happens to people who have fully awakened creative intelligence. Typically what happens is they find themselves engaging at quite dynamic levels with the need of the time. And so if that’s what you’re finding yourself doing, let’s not refer to it as, “suffering,” unless, of course, indeed it is suffering. If it’s suffering, then we’re up against that element which is the opposite of charm, which is aversion.

[07:47] The Interactive Edge of Your Inner Potential

It’s proper that we move away from aversion and discover whatever it is that’s in the opposite direction of the aversion, which is the charm. Charm is where the dynamic, functional, being an agent of progressive change can be found, where you are at the interactive edge of taking your inner potential, making your inner potential relevant socially, bringing it into interaction with what is needed around you.

And if we’re doing that, and even if the body at the end of a day is ready for the horizontal experience for the night. then we’re fully into it. We’re fully into it. Otherwise, someone could think, I lived 130 years, but I never really made myself relevant socially.I had a good time with a lot of beach time where a lot of hanging about looking at things.

Now I know, Leonie, that’s not the direction you’re suggesting that you’re going or want to go, but I’m trying to help you reinterpret dynamic engagement as just that, rather than interpret it as suffering.

[09:12] A Sustainable Lifestyle

If indeed it is suffering, Leonie, then you need to ask some serious sustainable lifestyle questions.

Is this a sustainable lifestyle? If it is, then although it’s dynamic and edgy and interactive, you’re going to feel satisfaction at the end of every given day. But if at the end of every given day you contemplate what the day has been and contemplate what the day that’s coming is bringing, and all you feel is a kind of dread in the body, or deep fatigue and tiredness with no light at the end of the tunnel, then we’re not leading a sustainable lifestyle.

And we need to ask some pivotal questions about how sustainable that lifestyle is. So there’s a few ways of looking at your experience, Leonie, but you, you summoned the courage to return to the United Kingdom and now let’s see if in fact, and this is our way of assessing it, to what extent you’re becoming more relevant socially than you were before when you were in the colonies of Australia.

All right. Jai Guru Deva.

[10:42] Q – Is Wealth Compatible with Spiritual Principles?

How do you live a spiritual life and accumulate a lot of financial wealth without lowering one’s spirituality to the small self? I was debating with a friend who really wants to live a life connected to the Unified Field, but he believes there is a conflict because he needs to operate in a Western world, which demands him to step down spiritually to make a lot of money to support his wife and children.

And to make this money brings out pride and ego, which goes against unified consciousness and spiritual principles. I found it hard to provide logical and scientific evidence to prove that this is possible.

[11:20] A – False Assumptions

Jai Guru Deva and thank you for your question and what we need to do is step out of these relatively encrusted assumptions that we’re making about how first of all you need to have a lot of money— and you use the word financial success, etc., but I’m just going to call it money because that’s what we’re actually talking about— that if you got a lot of money, that you’re going to have, great security and comfort.

On the opposite side, in order to get lots of money, you’re going to have to sacrifice principles that are spiritual so you can’t have money and be spiritual or in order to be happy, you have to have lots of money. All of these are false assumptions. Everything that I just mentioned is a false assumption.

What we need is to stop being needy. We need to allow our awareness to stop being that desperado who’s trying to figure out how to get sustainable happiness within the relative world by a variety of formulaic mindsets.

“If I set my mind into a particular formula,that I do this and I get that, then we are bound up in formulaic thinking and we’re setting ourselves up for a disappointment. I’m reminded smilingly right now about my teacher Maharishi Mahesh Yogi saying that in order to have a disappointment you have to have an appointment.

In other words, you have to have a false expectation, an inaccurate expectation, in order to be dis-appointed. So disappointment is not something where you had a natural, accurate expectation and then that expectation was not fulfilled. That’s not a disappointment. What that is is, you having had inaccurate expectation. Inaccurate expectation is the perfect formula for disappointment in life.

[13:44] Desire and Fulfillment

And so what is it that is going to guarantee in you, my dear questioner, and also in your friend, to whom you can’t provide any formulaic and scientifically sound answer, with the experience of a fulfilled life? It’s going to be different for every experiencer of it.

The most powerful, most fulfilled people I’ve ever met in my long, long life were people who had absolutely no evidence of any bank accounts or financial success or all of the status symbols that people consider to be those things that you need in order to lead a frictionless life.

They were yogis, and anything they wanted, happened. Anything they wanted happened. No pockets, no bank accounts, no checkbooks, no Venmo, no PayPal, no nothing.

But what they had, whatever bubbled up in their awareness as a desire, the gap between the rising of a desire and the fulfillment of that desire was minimal. In fact, frequently they would report that before they even could bother desiring, the thing that they would have desired, had they bothered desiring, already had appeared.

A little like a baby who, if he could say, “Mommy, I need blanket,” Mommy would certainly bring blanket quickly. Or, if he could say, “Mommy, I need milk,” Mommy would bring milk, and quickly. But this baby doesn’t even need to have the desire, blanket or milk. Blanket arrives prior to the desire coming. Milk arrives prior to the desire coming.

This is the ultimate, to be able to have fulfillment. prior to even engaging in the desiring mechanism is the ultimate state. And the people I know who lived in that status, the women and men who lived in that status in my lifetime, who I had the great good fortune of spending time with and learning from, were the most phenomenal organizers.

[16:27] It Would be Good to Have a Helicopter

And in case you think that I mean that, all they wanted was a carrot and a carrot appeared… my master, Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, in the 1970s, had the desire to leave India and to set himself up in a neutral country in Switzerland where there was access to larger accommodations than he could provide in his little Himalayan town of Rishikesh in India.

Larger accommodations that could, accommodate potentially thousands of people at a time. Hotels and resorts that in their off season provided economic accommodation for meditators to come and spend time learning from him. And it was deemed, and it turned out, Switzerland was the ideal midpoint between India and America, and very convenient for Europeans, of course.

And this was a period of particular large growth of Maharishi’s, worldwide movement of bringing meditation to the masses and so having arrived there without giving it lots of thought because he wasn’t in the habit of thinking— that’s what he used to say, “i’m not in the habit of thinking,” he just responded spontaneously to charm.

Having found himself in Switzerland, and most of you realize that Switzerland is filled with enormous mountains, the Swiss Alps, and the roads that you can travel by land over are restricted largely to valleys or occasionally over a mountain pass, but someplace that might be in a straight line on a map, only 50 kilometers from another place could take three or four or five hours to travel between A and B because the roads have to be very windy to accommodate the topology of the geographic conditions.

And so one day having ridden around in cars on the roads of Switzerland from one large accommodations facility to the next where meditators had gathered in their hundreds if not thousands to learn from him, he just said, “It would be good to have a helicopter.”

Now, here’s somebody who has no bank account, who has a worldwide following of people who listen to and hang on every word that he speaks. But, he just said it would be good to have a helicopter. And the activity in which the world around him engaged in order to make that happen was phenomenal.

[19:36] The Universe Itself Desiring

A flurry of activity started up. By the next afternoon, he was being presented with three different kinds of helicopter from which to choose for hopping over the mountains and instead of it taking an hour and a half, it taking 20 minutes, or even less, 10 minutes to get from A to B in Switzerland.

And, I remember somebody saying to Maharishi, “Maharishi, helicopters are an expensive thing. Where’s the money going to come from?” And he said, “It’s going to come from where it is.” You know, money’s going to come from wherever it is now.

If he had to ask himself, “How did this helicopter appear?” which, by the way, he never did have to ask himself. The helicopter simply appeared. Some wealthy donor or some group of people who had connections or access or whatever and not only a helicopter but a very brilliant pilot of the helicopter.

So then, how do you get a helicopter to appear? Well, you can take one of a couple of ways. One is, you earn a lot of money, you work really hard, you build a big bank account, you build lots of influence, you create the kind of demand for having such a thing and then, through careful selection and lots of examination and maybe months and weeks or perhaps even years of work, eventually there’s a whirlybird sitting there in your front yard.

Or you can be Maharishi Mahesh Yogi. The Unified Field having a human experience. When Unified Field, Universe, is having the human experience of being a great master who has ultimate social relevance, is an agent of progressive change… when a desire bubbles up in that consciousness, it’s The Universe itself desiring.

This is a very important thing to understand. It wasn’t Maharishi, one little Indian man, five feet tall, who was thinking it would be really cool to have a helicopter. It was Universal Consciousness wanting to know how most efficiently to move its Maharishi Mahesh Yogi body around Switzerland. And when Universal Consciousness wants to know something, then the answer comes instantaneously.

[22:29] The Formula – Transcend All of This

So this is what we have to adjust our thinking to. What’s the formula? Is it get rich and still be spiritual? Or is it, be spiritual but don’t get rich because you’re going to sacrifice your values in the crucible of dirty money, where you have to manipulate people to give you money and so you can’t be spiritual. Or is the formula, be spiritual and have lots of money and you know there’s no conflict.

What’s the formula? Well, the formula is transcend all of this. Stop thinking about it. Let your awareness spontaneously settle down twice every day for 20 minutes in Vedic Meditation and become the Unified Field itself. Become the field. Become That, capital T, That. Become that which is the home of all the laws of Nature. Become that which is the home of all knowledge and that home of all knowledge has infinite organizing power.

I tell the story quite frequently but Maharishi’s best friend was a massive man nearly seven feet tall with hair that had grown over a period of more than a hundred years, cascading down his front and his back in dreadlocks all the way on to the ground and then dragging on the ground several feet behind him when he walked. Can you imagine how long it would take to grow hair like that?

And who wore hardly anything. Only when there was company around, he would wear a loincloth to cover up his private parts. Other than that, if there was no company around, he wore absolutely nothing. And where did he live? In a cave. And what did he eat? Just a variety of very simple roots and tubers and turnips and things like that, that grew in the ground all around him after he rinsed them off in a river.

[24:55] Transcending Transport

And here was somebody who evidently was more than a hundred years old. Most people in the region attributed him to being 130. They can remember him being the guru to their great grandfather and said he always looked the same. He’d never aged. Tat Wale Baba is his name.

And here was someone who, when we waved goodbye to him, standing near his cave at the ashram of Maharishi, hopping into three jeeps and making our way overland from Rishikesh all the way to Kashmir. In far North India, having to go over a high Himalayan pass in order to get there because there was no air travel allowed into Kashmir because at that time there was war going on between Pakistan and India.

And so if you wanted to arrive into the suspended, beautiful environment of the city of Srinagar in Kashmir, you had to arrive by road. We watched Tat Wale Baba, becoming ever smaller in the distance as he stood there virtually naked and barefooted, waving to us.

And when we arrived many days later in Srinagar, in Kashmir, the first thing we saw as we pulled up to the place where we were going to be staying was Tat Wale Baba lying on his side relaxedly, lying on the snow in the shade of a tree. How did he get from A to B? Well, Unified Field consciousness does whatever it wants to do whenever it wants to do it. I can assure you no helicopter was involved.

[26:51] The Ultimate State to Be In

So what is the ultimate state to be in? The ultimate state to be in is to have your individuality available to be the means, the agent of the progressive changes being brought about by your big Self, which is you. Big Self is not other than you. Be the Unified Field and let Unified Field express itself through your brain and your physiology.

Perhaps it will be by virtue of you having a lot of dollars in a bank account. Or it may be that you’re like Tat Wale Baba and you’re sitting in a cave with a bunch of turnips sitting around you, naked and able to move from A to B without any physical or mechanical means.I ask you the obvious question, who has it better? And you can contemplate that and come up with an answer yourself.

So what’s the formula? The formula is nistrai gunya bhava. That means go beyond all of this relativity and Be. And then Yogastha Kuru Karmani, established as Being, established in Being means that you are Being itself, being capital B, you are The Universe then perform action and do this on a daily basis.

Meditate every morning, meditate every evening. Stop worrying about is being rich a violation of natural laws, or is being poor a violation of natural laws. Get over this rich poor thing. You are The Universe having a human experience. You may be massively rich one minute, you might be absolutely poor the next minute if all we’re talking about is dollars. But dollars don’t mean anything.

[28:45] The Master of All You Survey

Recently, I was sitting in the company of a billionaire, a multi-billionaire, who was sitting nearby me when I was conversing with people who didn’t yet have the advantage of practicing Vedic Meditation. And one of them said to me, “What is your net worth?”

And I said, “I wouldn’t have a clue,” which I really don’t, by the way, “but I find that I have everything I need and, perhaps relative to some, I’m relatively well off, but relative to others, I’m not as well off as they are. There are many who are better off than me and I’m better off than most.” That’s the way I put it.

And the person said, “But you’re an ancient old man,” which is something I agree with, by the way. I love being ancient. “And where are your assets after a lifetime?” And all I did was point my index finger at my head. “This is my asset.”

And he said, “But what if you had, if you needed something?” And in the presence of my multi-billionaire student, I said, “I don’t need to have all of that. If I needed two billion dollars for a worthy project, two billion dollars would come from wherever it is. And this billionaire person nodded their head and said, “He’s right by the way.” Indicating that person would be one of the sources if I ever indicated that there was a need for a couple of billion, a measly couple of billion.

And so what kind of organizing power does your consciousness have? Do you need personally to be the bank itself or are you the master of all you survey? I recommend the latter. 

Jai Guru Deva.

[30:51] Q – Do you have to be vegetarian to be spiritual?

Hi Thom, this is Maya from Sydney. I wanted to ask about Vedic Meditation and vegetarianism. I understand that in Vedic philosophy, it’s important to practice vegetarianism to do no harm. However, is it a requirement and does being vegetarian help to enhance the practice or enhance the spiritual journey?

Thank you.

[31:12] A – Follow Charm

Jai Guru Deva. Hello Maya, thank you for your question, and it’s a very good one. In the Vedic worldview, we do not see vegetarianism as a prerequisite to developing higher consciousness states. Rather, we see it the other way around.

We see that as people enter into higher consciousness states, their tastes become more refined, and they may well find that their taste for fleshy materials, meats and other kinds of dead animal treats begins to decrease.

And so then, rather, vegetarianism is an outcome or a product of developing higher consciousness states.

Now having said that, I want to very quickly add that, what we say, and this is from my own teacher Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, what we say to meditators is practice your meditation twice a day and eat what you cherish.

That means follow charm. If it turns out that you have a change of taste, then pay attention to that and go with it, to whatever extent it’s possible for you to do so in the circumstances in which you find yourself.

[32:38] Deer Hunters

It’s also a matter of great interest to me that in the iconic stories, the mythos of ancient India, very notably two texts, the older one which is known as Ramayana, the story of Rama and one of his brothers going into exile into the forests for more than a decade with Rama’s wife Sita with him.

And then, in another story, the Mahabharata, the Pandava, the five who were married to one woman, who is known as Draupadi are also exiled into a forest. You can see there’s a motif here and have to spend more than a decade in that forest in exile, wandering in the forest.

And in each of these stories, we see an interesting theme, and that is the theme of, and this is not to be taken literally, I think this is on the level of connotative, expressive archetypal mythos, but these people who are icons of the Vedic literature, icons of pure consciousness embodied are deer hunters.

And they hunt and bring down deer and eat venison. Venison is deer meat and the cooks in the family, notably in this particular instance, this is the women, become experts in herbalizing the deer meat, the venison, and cooking it in a way that makes the venison Ayurvedic, that’s to say it makes it very palatable.

And so we have these instances of people who are when you hear a person chanting Hare Krishna, Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare. Well, Krishna wasn’t known to kill deer. Hare Rama. Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare. Rama, was, in fact, a deer hunter for more than a decade of his life and a venison eater, but he was supposed to be an embodiment of God.

[34:55] State of Consciousness is Primary

Now what do we learn from all of this? The fundamental Vedic idea is that it is not so important what you eat. It is important what you can do with what you eat. There’s an important Ayurvedic, Ayurveda is one of the branches of Vedic knowledge, of the Vedic approach to self health care. In Ayurveda, there’s a saying that someone who is stressed, a non meditating stressed person could eat pure nectar, presumably pure vegetarian nectar., and yet their body will turn that pure nectar into toxins. They don’t use the word toxin, they use the word poison, which is a little bit more pointed.

On the other hand, someone whose consciousness is enlightened, and has a body that is a printout of that, could eat poison, toxic food, and their body will turn that into nectar.

So nectar can become poison if we’re stressed. And, almost indigestible products, if taken by someone who’s not stressed, can be metabolized, broken down, and turned into nectar.

This is an extreme way of simply stating a point, and that is, state of consciousness is primary. State of consciousness is primary, not physiology.

Physiology is a product of consciousness state. So consciousness conceives the body. Consciousness constructs the body. Consciousness governs the body. Consciousness prints out a body.

Now, if we are in anger consciousness, then we conceive and construct and govern and become the body of anger. If we’re in sadness consciousness, we conceive and construct and govern and become the body of sadness.

If we are in fear consciousness, then we conceive and construct and govern and become the body of fear. If we’re in bliss consciousness, then we conceive bliss, we construct bliss, we govern the bliss body, we print out a body of bliss.

[37:39] Transcend

And so the most important thing is the regular practice of transcendence.

It does not require vegetarianism in order to transcend. However, for vegetarianism or any other kind of diet to provide us with all that we need to meditate so that we can get rid of stress, and by getting rid of stress, we’re going to give ourselves maximum advantage in being able to break down and metabolize whatever food we take in and to turn it into nectar.

Now, it’s another thing which I’ll say is that there does seem to be, and I don’t believe any kind of scientific measuring of this has happened or any polling of meditators has happened, nothing I’ve ever seen indicates that. 

However, anecdotally, having myself taught more than 40,000 people Vedic Meditation over the last 50 years, 50 plus, there, there is a trend in the direction of, cherishing meat less.That people tend to move in that direction spontaneously, that either they don’t require it or they don’t need it or it doesn’t really fit in to what their consciousness is now dictating. But this is consciousness first, and diet as an ancillary thing of the consciousness state.

Jai Guru Deva.

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