Self-Reliance And The Few Who Lead the Many

“Love is in fact an experience of absolute self-sufficiency. It is the Self recognizing the Self in another.”

Thom Knoles

Thom Knoles discusses the mechanics of Self-reliance, how it is embedded inside ourselves, how true Self-sufficiency is not about isolation but about being one of the few who lead the many, and how to take responsibility for our own experience instead of waiting for others to behave better. To live fully, we take possession of what we actually are – and what we are is the Universe living inside a human body.

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Episode Highlights


The Few Lead the Many



Self-sufficiency Is…



You Deserve the Best



Love is an Experience of Self-Sufficiency



There is No ‘Other’



The Hallmark of Greater Sophistication



Enlightenment – Coexisting With the Unbounded



The Fundamental Truth



Totality is Not Capable of Suffering



Enlightenment Denial



Choo Choo Gone



Sophistication – Simple, Elegant Complexity



The New Contagion


Jai Guru Deva


Self-Reliance And The Few Who Lead the Many

[00:48] The Few Lead the Many

There is a fundamental truth of the nature of the ever-evolving universe, both in its pure physics form, and where physics springs to life in biology, that the few lead the many. The few lead the many. 

In our brain, a tiny number of brain cells, neurons will begin to fire in a particular way, causing a cascade of effects. And all of the other tens of billions of neurons get behind a simple thought to reach out and take a glass of water. The few lead the many, it takes a tiny number of the population of a collective consciousness in the world to begin moving in a particular direction in order to cause the totality of a collective to start moving in that direction. 

And so our principle of the few lead the many asks us to zero in on what is the consistent nature of those few? Who are they? What are they? It turns out to be that the nature of the few has one common element that we’d like to spend some time examining today. And that element is the element of self-sufficiency. 

[02:21] Self-sufficiency Is…

Self-sufficiency is a very interesting concept and not to be taken out of context. Self-sufficiency is a broad concept. It’s a concept that requires a lot of diligent attention across all of its aspects, not simply quoted as a solution to everything. 

Self-sufficiency first of all needs to be analyzed for its meaning with regard to its first word, Self. What is the nature of the Self? What is the true Self? Our true Self, our deepest Self, is that inner simplest form of awareness, that one indivisible whole consciousness state, the state of Being that is at the source of thought. Every meditator in Vedic Meditation, settles down into a less-excited state, and we’ll touch upon that state of Being numerous times, during their career of practicing Vedic Meditation for 20 minutes twice a day. 

The Self by its nature, its inner nature is a field of infinite potentiality, infinite creativity. It is the source of all change but itself it is non-changing. The true Self, capital S, is that field of the witness of cosmic capability living inside of a human life in a human body. As we continue to practice Vedic Meditation twice every day, the mind keeps settling down into that one indivisible whole, unbounded nature of consciousness. 

What we discover there is a field of the fountainhead of creative intelligence, the field of complete capability. That field of complete capability has within it, all resources, infinite staying power, infinite creativity, infinite intelligence. Embedded inside the inner self is the field of response to any demand in an interactive fashion. Being able to meet all demands for evolution interactively. That field is incapable of being, feeling overwhelmed by anything in The Relative because it is the source of all relativity. It is the source of all that is changing. It is the cause of the progression from less sophisticated to more sophisticated that we see in the realms of change in the world around us. that which we refer to as evolution. 

As we continue to practice our meditation technique we start to experience greater and greater reliance on that inner field as our sense of, “Well, I don’t have to have fight-flight reaction, every time a change of expectation comes.” Fight-flight reaction by the way is the scientific name for the stress reaction. “I can actually stay in play. I can interact, I’ll meet these demands interactively. I will find the gift inside of the demand to change my expectation, finding the gift in it.” And finding the gift in it requires a greater capacity of comprehension, the ability to, while honoring preferences, nonetheless not to become rigidly attached to specific timings and specific outcomes, trusting that in the larger picture, only evolution is happening. Being able to detect the pattern of evolution, being able to allow oneself to become right in the middle of the stream of that evolutionary flow. 

Meditators worldwide who practice this technique regularly, begin to report that more and more they find themselves supported by nature. What does that mean? Nature, nature is one’s own nature. I look outside and I see trees and grass and fields and animals and birds and people. All of that nature is someone’s nature. It is one’s own nature. It’s ‘my’ nature. My nature means that inner consciousness field, that Unified Field consciousness, which is the source of all things, finds itself in my inner awareness but is also everywhere else in the universe. It is all other things. The unmanifest moves into manifestation and it is the cause and source of the whole of the relative universe. And “I am that’. 

This is the message given in the ancient Vedic wisdom, coming from old times in India, thousands and thousands of years ago. I am that, I am that and all of this is nothing but that. ‘That’ meaning that inner consciousness field that I touch upon when I dive deep into my meditation state. 

That being the case, I can draw upon my inner self to meet any demand interactively. Self-sufficiency begins to dawn, true self-sufficiency begins to dawn in a meditator. 

Self-sufficiency is not about isolation, it is about being one of the few who lead the many. To cause evolution and to lead a life in the world that is evolutionary for everyone, must be cooperative enterprise. That means to say that we all engage together and a movement from being less sophisticated as a population to being more sophisticated. From being more exclusive and less inclusive to being the opposite, more inclusive and less exclusive. But somebody has to start the process and that somebody is you. You have to start the process by rising into your personal sense of deserving. 

[08:56] You Deserve the Best

My master’s master, my master was Maharishi Mahesh Yogi and his master Swami Brahmananda Saraswati, had a fabulous saying, “You deserve the best, never feel unworthy or not justified in having the best. “I tell you,” he went on in his quote, “I tell you, this is your heritage.” That means 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.” Beautiful statement. 

Let’s analyze that for a moment, that, what is the true nature of your inner self, upon which you need to become sufficient. Self-sufficiency is all about self-reliance. I can rely on my inner capability, I can rely on that. What is that true nature? And as you develop it, it has the capability to recognize something more evolved, something more dignified, something more graceful, something with greater potential for all, in every situation. 

In fact, in the presentation of any situation in life, there’s always a greater possibility or a lesser possibility. That is to say, I can go into action with a set of lower more-exclusive, less-inclusive assumptions or I can move in the direction of that which is more inclusive and less exclusive. And we want as meditators to become in the habit of leaning towards that which is the higher value. There’s the lower value, there’s the higher value, toward what do I want to lean? This should become my habituation. I lean in the direction of that which is expressive of maximum creative intelligence and maximum self-sufficiency. 

What kind of situation might we find ourselves in even as meditators who are developing this inner sense of big Self as my own baseline, big Self full of creativity, big Self infinite inventiveness, big Self infinite innovator, the finder of new relationships, between all existing elements? That which can discriminate and differentiate between one thing and another thing that looks quite like it but in fact on close examination is different. 

This is intelligence, to be able to discriminate between two things, to tell the difference between things to be able to zero in on specificity. Creativity on its own is not sufficient, we have to have creative intelligence. We have to have intelligent growth, intelligent, and growth toward that which is sustainable, sustainable growth, creative intelligence. This is the nature of that inner quality of Self and that being so I’ll find that I can recognize, almost on a daily basis something better than what I’m experiencing now. 

What is the best? The best is something that is constantly changing. You deserve the best, that means you deserve whatever it is that you can recognize that has growth towards greater sophistication and growth towards greater self-reliance, capability. 

[12:42] Love is an Experience of Self-Sufficiency

What’s the alternative to this? Well, we’ll spend a few minutes reviewing it, not more than a few minutes because it’s all too familiar. I would be able to have, and this is in quotes, in hypothesis, “I’d be able to have a great experience if only, everyone else in the world behaved well. And so there’s nothing going on in me that needs change or growth. I’m perfectly okay except all of my experiences are being caused by other people. Other people are causing my experiences, someone made me fall in love with them and now they’ve taken my love away, should I trust or not trust?” 

Now, the whole fallacy of this is perhaps evident but I’d like to really just spend a few moments sorting through the mud of it and demonstrating how illegitimate all of that conceptualization is. When we have an experience of love, it is self-sufficient. We have somebody who behaves in a particular way and that acts for us as a pretext to let our consciousness rise into that all inclusive quality where I sense oneness of shared experience. 

And so love is a consciousness state. It’s a consciousness state that’s coming from within the Self. It is not that I opened myself to love and said something to somebody and then they poured from their treasure box of love, they poured love into me and that, if they changed their mind, they can take it all back and pull it back into themselves, along with the love that I had for them and run off with it. This whole thing about love transporting itself, love being able to be stolen, love being lent, love being borrowed, we’re not talking about cash commodities here. 

Love is in fact an experience of absolute self-sufficiency. It is the Self recognizing the Self in another. And in that moment of heightened consciousness when Self can recognize Self, then that expression of, “Let’s celebrate this,” turns into shared experience. And the desire for shared experience is the main motivation of allowing the experience of love to occur within the Self. 

But love is in fact, an absolutely self-sufficient phenomenon. Nobody has your love. Nobody can run off with your love. Your love is purely a possession of your own inner capability. Love is a consciousness state, it’s not a commodity that somebody can take from you or give to you. If you behave in a way that allows somebody else to have a shared experience of rising into their love state and then the two of you are having a love state, then you’re having a shared experience. But let’s make it very clear, that person is having his or her love state and you’re having your love state and you’re comparing notes and finding commonality. It’s a shared experience. 

[16:06] There is No ‘Other’

But where does it come from? Where does the love come from? It comes from the deep inner self. From the Vedic perspective, there is no such thing as quotes unquotes, “other.” There is only one indivisible whole ocean of consciousness and this one indivisible whole ocean of consciousness behaves as many. 

Just as in an ocean there are many waves, waves on one indivisible whole ocean of consciousness. These waves we could say an individual swell or a wave on the ocean, somebody might say that’s a wave and there’s another wave and these waves have a degree of consistency. And we can describe them in terms of their individual status and structure. But what are they actually? Somebody might go, “Aha, the waves are ‘connected’ to the ocean.” But in fact there’s no connection. A connection would require some connecting devices like tape or screws or glue. Are waves connected to the ocean? They’re not connected, they are ocean, waves are only ocean. A wave is a localized curvature and undulation of an underlying oceanic field. 

And individuality, ‘my mind’, ‘my mind’ with my body, is not an isolated wave and then there’s an unbounded field somewhere underneath it to which you’re connected. No, you are that field. You are that field having a human wave experience. Our individuality is an individual curvature of an underlying field. And there are other waves that are also emerging from the same one indivisible whole, oceanic consciousness field. Those are what we call other people or other things, other forms, other phenomena. 

But this whole ‘other’ thing is just a way of expressing that oneness which likes to appear as many. It likes to appear as many, it’s an appearance. It’s an appearance. So that which appears as many, we can use that word with some license as ‘other’. Who are these others? They’re actually extended Self. 

[18:38] The Hallmark of Greater Sophistication

Therefore self-sufficiency and the call for self-sufficiency, is not a call for isolation. It’s simply a call for rising as quickly as possible into being one of those forms and phenomena that lead the many in a particular direction of evolution, ever-growing sophistication, ever-growing capability. 

A larger repertoire of capability is the hallmark of greater sophistication. And so in other talks we’ve talked about how this rises into and yields the phenomenon of finding oneself to be sat-chit-ananda, absolute consciousness of bliss, bliss consciousness, that which is absolute non-changing that is non-negotiable. We can look at that as an expression of fearlessness. 

And so the idea that I’m an individual and all my life is structured by others, is an idea that is a concept, that is a product of a state of consciousness that is yet to grow. It’s a stage of development. “I’m an individual and my individuality is at the mercy of others. Somebody decides to behave in a particular way, then my individuality develops a particular experience. If they behave in a way that is nice to me, if they behave in a way that is inclusive to me, then that’s going to give me an advantage. And if they don’t behave in those ways to me, they behave to me by being ignorant or they behave towards me by being abusive or the behave towards me by being this, that or the other, then poor me, as caused by others, I’m going to end up having a lousy experience of life.” And this idea has some currency, in a lesser-consciousness state. 

As we grow in our consciousness state, when we grow in our consciousness state, we begin to realize that waiting for others to start behaving better in order for me to have a better experience, or railing against others, or shouting at others, or finger pointing and blaming others for causing me to have this experience that I’m having, is in fact, not a functional and effective way of living life. To live life fully we have to take possession of what we actually are. And what we actually are is not just a big bag of hurts and wounds and things that have happened in the past, along with a few advantages that we might have, that then defines what I am. 

[21:44] Enlightenment – Coexisting With the Unbounded

What you really are is the big Self. You have that infinite potential as your own innermost nature. Your inner most nature. Going into that inner quiet place on a regular basis, letting our individual consciousness, like a wave settling down in the ocean, the wave spreads out and then drops into that oceanic status. “I am the ocean, I am the source of all the waves,” and then coming back into that wave structure with that unbounded inner awareness that I am ocean and I am wave at the same time, ocean and wave simultaneously. 

This first dawns on a meditator after years of practice of Vedic Meditation, in the meditation state itself. “I seem to be very very deep, very very deep, deeper than ever I’ve been and yet I find myself capable of thinking.” Once upon a time thinking overshadowed the sense of being deep. Now thinking is able to be sustained and depth sustained as well. “I’m in my meditation, I’m in my deepest state and I’m thinking and yet I’m unbounded. It used to be, I could go to that unboundedness but thought had to disappear first.” Now with a little practice six months, seven months, one year, two years, one starts to experience, “I am the unboundedness, vast expanded awareness and I am thinking while I’m unbounded, they’re coexisting.” 

With a little bit more practice morning and evening what happens is that that unbounded status stabilizes. It starts to become the defining element of my sense of myself inside. Not just “Who am I but what am I? I am the one indivisible, whole consciousness field having thoughts. I’m the one indivisible whole conscious field, in every meditation session that I have.” 

Then a day comes, a very glorious day, where you start to notice this reality spills over outside of meditation. You’re able to open your eyes, move around, speak, text people, talk on the phone, move around in society, go to the market, and there’s this unboundedness that is going on an excursion care of the human body that it’s occupying. That’s one’s own body. “I have a body, I have a mind and yet I am the unboundedness.” The unboundedness is thinking through the individual mind. The unboundedness is moving around care of the localized body. “I am that. I am that. Is it possible that others also are that but just haven’t realized it?” This starts to become answered in the affirmative. 

Everyone is that, there are simply degrees of realization of it. Enlightenment is what this is. What we’re describing is not an achievement. Enlightenment is the recognition, the revelation of that which always has been true but only recently has been established and re-cognized as being my inner definition, my reality. It’s always been true. To what extent was I aware of it? To what extent was able to embody it to varying extents? As we grow and grow and grow in our state of consciousness we begin to realize more and more that universality lives inside of individuality. 

The individual actually is cosmic, the wave actually is ocean. Wave actually is ocean. So when we are living that life, what are the practical suggestions, whereby we can take possession of all of this and say, “What do you do about it?” And what we do about it is we allow it first of all to be so and we take responsibility for our own experience. 

[26:11] The Fundamental Truth

There’s a fundamental truth that is repeated again and again in the Vedic worldview. And that’s the truth that you cannot stop someone from behaving according to that person’s level of consciousness. Someone’s state of consciousness absolutely dictates, whatever they’re experiencing. They might seem to be experiencing this or experiencing that, actually what they’re experiencing is a consciousness state. 

In other talks I’ve referred to the word “problem,” quotes unquotes as a consciousness state. Consciousness state. Problem is not a set of circumstances. Problem is not a situation, problem is a consciousness state. If we are in a problematic consciousness state where we’re lacking self-sufficiency, if we’re in a consciousness state where my sense of self is, “I’m limited and limited and therefore, I can only experience within a great function, whatever it is that somebody else does for me.” 

And so I have to behave in ways that inspire others to do things for me because I can’t get anywhere unless other people behave, in some kind of inspiring way first. And how do I inspire them? Well, all of the options are odious. Perhaps I can behave in some way that is subservient and cause somebody therefore to behave toward me in a way that’s helpful to me, but subservient behavior is odious. Perhaps I can behave in a way that’s threatening and give them a sense that unless they behave toward me in a way that’s elevating, then there’ll be consequences that they won’t like. And so perhaps I’ll engage in fear-based administration and demand my right for them to act toward me with greater dignity. But then fear-based administration is also odious. We are becoming that which we saw others being and using fear as a motivator is never going to be a sustainable approach. If I feel I’m the victim of fear-based administration, if I feel as though I’ve been the victim of it, then for me to take that same approach to having others behave better to me by making them afraid of me, this is, again, an odious approach. 

[28:54] Totality is Not Capable of Suffering

What is the correct approach? Realize and act accordingly, realize your intrinsic self-sufficiency and act accordingly. If I’m experiencing ‘problem’, I’m experiencing a consciousness state that has internal limitations. If I’m experiencing unhappiness and suffering, I’m really experiencing a case of mistaken identity. What is my true identity? I am Totality. And if I forget that inner truth which has been presented to me by my own personal experience and meditation, I am Totality, to the extent that I forget that, then to that extent alone I can start suffering. 

Totality is not capable of suffering, it’s the foundation and basis of all changing forms and phenomena. It’s not capable of suffering. It’s only capable of interacting with that which itself it creates. Totality, the unboundedness that is our inner baseline state, creates the entire Relative universe. Everything in the Relative universe is nothing but a creation of a manifestation of that, that came out of the unmanifest. 

The unmanifest is thereby the source and the course and the goal of all Relative forms and all Relative phenomena. And so the idea that Relativity that comes out of me, is capable of making me suffer, becomes a folly, it becomes an idea that is not sustainable in the enlightened state. 

[25:49] Enlightenment Denial

So when we talk about and advocate self-sufficiency, we’re not saying stay small, keep the s on the self part, a lowercase s, self-sufficiency, that would require a tremendous degree of arrogance and isolation. We’re talking about, allow yourself to go from small to big, allow yourself to first of all experience it, and then, a very important lesson for every meditator, don’t get into enlightenment denial. 

Enlightenment denial is a thing that comes out of the habits of our indoctrinated past. I’m indoctrinated to think that I’m really just a little individual, “All I am is a body, a little squishy body of cells with blood flowing around it and things and you’re filled with all these kinds of potential pathogens, able to be destroyed because the body is all I am and if my body dies then I die and as my body is so am I. And if my body has a particular shape, people will like me, if it doesn’t have the same shape people won’t like me. And I’m going to have advantages or disadvantages based on body shape. I’m going to have advantages or disadvantages based on skin color. I’m going to have advantages or disadvantages based on some kind of history of where the body has been. Did it go to Yale? Did it go to Harvard? Did it go to Riverside Community College? Where was the body born? To whom was it born? What are the genetics of the body?” All of these ways of attempting to identify and define the true nature of the Self, they’re completely fallacious. 

The non-fallacy, the truth, is you are the one indivisible whole consciousness field. And when you’ve experienced that many times in meditation, there may be old habits that make us want to deny what it is that we’re experiencing directly. And this is not a new thing. Transition and change always is a challenge to our intellect. Our intellect may not like even to accept that I am big problem solved. Even when a problem is solved by arising into a greater degree of awareness, I can be aware of more things. Sometimes we don’t like to admit that the problem’s solved. 

[33:30] Choo Choo Gone

I love to use the example of my beautiful little son Henry who one day might listen to this when he’s 25 or 30 or 40, so I apologize Henry, but right now he’s only two. And the other day Henry was missing his Choo Choo. Choo Choo is a little particular train that Henry loves. And he was sad, “Choo Choo gone, Choo Choo gone, no Choo Choo, gone,” crying. From where I was sitting I could see Choo Choo, sitting right over there on the windowsill. And I said, “Henry, Choo Choo is here.” “No, no, no, no, no,” he said. “Choo Choo not here, Choo Choo gone.” I said, “Come with me over here.” He didn’t want to come with me over here. He wanted to collapse in a heap on the floor, put his head down on the floor, get in fetal position and have a good cry about Choo Choo gone. Choo Choo gone was a consciousness state, not a reality. So I quietly walked to the other end of the room and I called out his name and I said, “Look, here’s Choo Choo.” He saw me picking it up from the windowsill and I brought it to him and I handed it to him. “Here’s Choo Choo.” And he took the Choo Choo and with a very reserved look on his face like, “Do I really want to admit that there wasn’t a Choo Choo problem? I’ve just invested a lot of time and energy in there being a missing Choo Choo problem. And I was curled up in a ball a moment ago, crying about Choo Choo problem and now Choo Choo is in my hands. How do I make the transition? How do I make the transition to there was no Choo Choo problem in the first place? I’ve invested in Choo Choo problem.” 

All of us have a little bit of that quality of Henry at two going on in us. The idea that, “But it was other people who structured my experience. It was their fault that I’m like the way I am, it’s the fault of all these people. And the world in which I was raised and the assumptions of the collective created my experience. I am not responsible for what I’m experiencing.” It’s a Choo Choo problem. You had all the time, the capability to transcend the problem, to step beyond it, to be self-sufficient and to rise into the acquisition of that and those tools that are going to drive your capability to move with speed towards greater and greater sophistication in life. 

[36:11] Sophistication – Simple, Elegant Complexity

By sophistication, I want to make it clear, I’m using the word sophisticated in its scientific context. A sophisticated thing is a thing that embodies great complexity but is simple and elegant in its expression. 

A very simple example of this would be a wristwatch. 453, I happen to know, moving parts inside the wristwatch and they all move together in a perfectly sophisticated way. And they make, each part makes this individual contribution to the group effort of displaying where the hands are that tells me where the sun is. Where is the sun? This is my little localized machinery, my sundial that tells me where the sun is. Is the sun about to rise? Is it in the middle of the day? Is it toward the end of the day? Is it the middle of the night? My little sundial can tell me everything, it’s sophisticated. 

So that integrated complexity, we take complexity and we have that complexity delineated in such a way that it is highly integrated and then it performs a function. And so sophistication has to do with integrated complexity. Highly integrated functional complexity, sophistication. And so our capability from inside is to take all the parts of life and engineer them through our consciousness, into a sophisticated interaction with the demands and needs of the time. 

And then there’s another scientific word which has been hijacked by the world of society, which is the word ‘elegant’. Elegance is a scientific term. It means the expression, the highest level for the moment of a sophisticated set of functions, elegance. The fact is, you live in an elegant universe. To what extent are you able to realize it, activate it and live it? It is dependent on you, we cannot wait for others. 

One of the gravest mistakes people make is to wait for governments to create change that will cause them to become a more productive citizen. I’ll become a more productive citizen when governments either make laws or stop making laws, undo certain laws or governments create funds or they stop funding other things. When government stop doing this or, government start doing that, governments. 

What’s a government? A government is nothing but the average level of consciousness of the collective thrown into a position of power. That’s a government. Governments are no more capable, than the collective that invents them. A collective invents a government. If the collective is lacking self-sufficiency as an average, the government will also display their complete lack of capability. 

The few lead the many, don’t wait for anyone. Rise into your inner realization of self, self-realization and then self-actualization. Self-realization followed by self-actualization. Take that realization of inner self, bring it into actualization and then become an activist. That is to say, become an agent of evolutionary change based on you being highly capable inside and then spread this idea of self-sufficiency and the experience of it to as many people as possible. 

[40:25] The New Contagion

Self-sufficiency is contagious, the few lead the many but it doesn’t mean the many have to not be part of the whole experience. A few neurons fire first and then the entire billions of neurons of the brain get behind the thought. But it doesn’t mean that those billions of neurons are not experiencing the thought, they are experiencing the thought but one or two neurons start the process. So we need to be one of those people who starts the process of the spread of self-sufficiency. 

Self-sufficiency needs to become the new contagion. The thing that is contagious in the world. Rather than being afraid of contagious things we need to have something that is absolutely fabulous that we want to become contagious. First of all self-realization, second step self-actualization. Only a world filled with activists, self-actualized, self-realized, self-sufficient people, will be able to become an ideal civilization. 

Jai Guru Deva

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