Spirituality vs Money, Tradition of Vedic Meditation, Dharma and Self Expression.

“Let’s not base our lives on what we hear other people say. Let’s base our lives and what we do with our life on our own direct experience.”

Thom Knoles

Episode Summary

The spotlight in this Ask Me Anything episode is on spiritual life…

Is spiritual life compatible with earning money? (Spoiler alert: the answer is a resounding yes).

Is the tradition of Vedic Meditation truly ancient? (Also yes).

And what’s the relationship between Dharma and self expression? (No spoiler alert for this one).

The underlying message in all of Thom’s answers in this episode, is the importance of Self referral. 

Too often we’re influenced by the thinking of others, whether they be those closest to us, or in the broader community, and this reduces our ability to both give and receive the fullest expression of life. 

By accessing the big S Self, through our twice-daily practice of Vedic Meditation, we can transcend the rules, the expectations and experiences of others and live an authentic, abundant and inspired life.

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Episode Highlights


Q- How Can I Combine Spiritual Life with Earning Money?



An Obsolete Idea



The Risk of Invasion



The Monastic Tradition of Shukadeva



Householders as Rishis



Access to Maximum Creativity



A Life of 200%



Spirituality is Not Based on Suffering



Q- Does the Technique of Vedic Meditation Come From an Ancient Lineage?



The State of Consciousness of the Enquirer



One of the Greatest Masters That Ever Lived



Basing Our Lives on Direct Experience



Come to India and See for Yourself



Q- What is the Relationship Between Dharma and Self Expression?



Capital S, Self Expression



A Social Responsibility


Jai Guru Deva


Spirituality vs Money, Tradition of Vedic Meditation, Dharma and Self Expression

[00:00:45] Q- How Can I Combine Spiritual Life with Earning Money?

[00:00:45] Hello. I am Alex from Ukraine. I can’t combine spiritual life with earning money. What should I do? What is your advice?

[00:00:58] An Obsolete Idea

[00:00:58] See, the thing is that we have to have 200% of life. 100% of the inner depth of spirituality, that is to say, direct experience of that place deep inside of us that is beyond thought, the true Self, capital S, and we also have to dive into a life of abundance, a life of enjoying the affluence and flow of everything.

[00:01:32] The idea that these two things are somehow opposed to each other is now an obsolete idea. It comes basically from having watched over a few thousand years, and only a few, when most of the great icons of enlightenment were monastic people. And there’s a reason for that, particularly, in India.

[00:01:54] The great student of Vyasa, the son of Vyasa, Vyasa being one of the greatest known Rishis, the writer of Bhagavad Gita, and so on, and his son’s name was Shukadeva. Shukadeva, who was the son of Vyasa, Vyasa, who was the son of Parashara, Parashara was the son of Shakti, Shakti was the son of Vashistha, and so on. You can see there’s a lot of family members here.

[00:02:22] The Risk of Invasion

[00:02:22] Shukadeva, the first of those I mentioned, could foresee a time when India would be overrun by invaders.

[00:02:32] India had had a honeymoon period of a few thousand years, where there were no invasions because of the arc of the Himalayan massif that crosses the top of India, and then being bound on two sides by oceans. There wasn’t any very effective shipping in those days. And so, to ship soldiers across a sea to invade a place was not viable, and India couldn’t be got hurt by large armies from the north.

[00:03:03] And so it had this period of time where it could build civilization with relatively few invasions or incursions from the outside. And it made it into the cradle of civilization, which it became, the cradle of Vedic civilization.

[00:03:19] But Shukadeva could foresee that a time was coming when India was going to be assailed, and he was the one who created the monastic tradition, the tradition of people who are not householders. The word householder is a term of art and spiritual language to describe people who have property, who have relationships, who earn money and spend money, or earn kind and spend kind, that is to say, they have possessions.

[00:03:50] And the householder tradition then was the holder of the knowledge. But if invaders should come in, householders could be easily identified and eliminated because invaders very often want to supplant the existing culture in order to assert their own culture. And when a society has its householder, elders of knowledge, supplanted, then the knowledge tradition comes to an end.

[00:04:19] The Monastic Tradition of Shukadeva

[00:04:19] So Shukadeva created the monastic tradition. That tradition where people who were social misfits, they were a less than 1% of a population, who didn’t want to live near anybody, couldn’t imagine being with anyone, and really had no concern about possessions, had no familial concerns.

[00:04:41] These people could be gathered together, and trained, and taught how to maintain all of the deep aspects of the Vedic knowledge. And Shukadeva created that tradition as a backup, to back up the knowledge, and these people would live in communities, ashrams that were far afield, far away from major civilization centers, high in the mountains, or deep in the forests, places where invaders had no particular interest, because these people didn’t look like they were civilization builders.

[00:05:15] They were, in fact, camouflaged, but they were the maintainers of the knowledge. And indeed, the invasions commenced, and India had wave after wave of foreign invasions for the next several thousand years.

[00:05:30] As the householder traditions were forced by colonizers to desert the Vedic knowledge, the only people left who knew the Vedic knowledge were those monastic people who were the disciples, the descendants of Shukadeva.

[00:05:46] And therefore, right up until the 1950s, it was the truth that the only people you could find who had any kind of enlightenment were people who had learned to live a life without possessions, without family, without ties, without concerns, and so on.

[00:06:04] Householders as Rishis

[00:06:04] But it had not always been so. Many of the greatest Rishi’s of our tradition, going back thousands of years, were householders. They were people who knew how to earn money.

[00:06:14] In fact, many of them were what’s referred to as the Raj Guru. That is to say; they were the senior advisers to the Queens and Kings of India, senior advisors to the heads of state. And they were very well looked after.

[00:06:29] So with the advent of our masters master, my master Maharishi Mahesh Yogi had a master Swami Brahmananda Saraswati, whom we refer to by his nickname Guru Dev. Guru Dev himself expressed the desire multiple times during his career, that now that India had gained political independence, that he wished for the householders, once again, to become the great masters of Vedic knowledge.

[00:06:58] Not to get rid of the monastic order. Not by any means. That will always be there as a backup for the knowledge.

[00:07:06] But the primary holders of the knowledge should once again be householders, people who have relationships. And with relationships comes responsibility because, generally speaking, family also appears on the scene, and then there’s responsibility. So there has to be some means whereby people can make ends meet.

[00:07:25] Access to Maximum Creativity

[00:07:25] And we have no belief in our tradition that you have a special spiritual advantage if you’re impoverished. If you’re starving and impoverished, and can’t make ends meet, and struggling, this does not give you any special advantage.

[00:07:40] What gives you a special advantage is simply the knowledge of the techniques to have the direct experience, that which goes beyond thought, the transcendent field, the pure nature of the deep inner Self.

[00:07:53] So we practice Vedic Meditation, morning and evening, for about 20 minutes, and in that time, our individual mind is able to meet and become one with that cosmic mind, that field of Being, the source of all thought, which happens also to be the source of all creative intelligence. The creative intelligence that is inherent in all thoughts finds its source in that deep, Unified Field value of consciousness.

[00:08:24] Consequently, when a meditator comes out of their meditation, whether they are of a monastic bent, or whether they are people who are householders and who need to earn money in order to make ends meet and live a life that has dignity, they have access to maximum creativity, maximum intelligence, maximum stamina, maximum good health, because their body cannot any longer accumulate stress.

[00:08:53] A Life of 200%

[00:08:53] And so then the liberation of all of those potentials should make someone who, with the least amount of effort, with the least amount of struggling in the world, should be able to lead a life that is very dignified. So a dignified life from a material aspect, and a spiritual life, this is 100% of each of these things.

[00:09:17] And this is why my master was very fond of saying, “We live a life of 200%.” He himself was a monastic person, but he would say very frequently that householders had a greater advantage, because they could have a hundred percent of the material, and a hundred percent of the spiritual life. And this is what we aspire to.

[00:09:37] Spirituality is Not Based on Suffering

[00:09:37] And so we do not subscribe at all to the idea that poverty, starvation, and having difficulties in life equates with a great advantage spiritually. If it were so, this world of ours would be the most spiritual place ever because what we see everywhere in the world, two-thirds of the world’s population have no idea where their next meal is going to come from.

[00:10:01] So, we have a world which is in appalling suffering from an economic perspective, and yet, we don’t see great spirituality coming out of that. So, we need to lose that idea, just let go of it, it’s very easy, that somehow we have to suffer in order to have spirituality.

[00:10:19] Spirituality is not based in suffering. Suffering is a mistake. Suffering is based on a lack of spirituality. So, when we have direct experience of that deep inner Self, we awaken our human potential and our capability to live a life of affluence and joy, with a full spiritual life appended to it.

[00:10:41] Jai Guru Deva and welcome, and greetings to you there in Ukraine. Jai Guru Deva.

[00:10:47] Q- Does the Technique of Vedic Meditation Come From an Ancient Lineage?

[00:10:47] Hello, it’s Vijaya here from London. I have a question regarding the authenticity of the technique we’ve been taught. I’ve been doing some research on TM, and watching the documentary, ‘David Wants to Fly’, and, it’s just brought in big questions, and I’ve not been able to meditate since then because I’m questioning whether the technique is real. Does it really come from an ancient lineage, or was it just made up by some guy who happened to come from India to America, called Maharishi?

[00:11:20] The State of Consciousness of the Enquirer

[00:11:20] Thank you for your question. I also watched the movie David Wants to Fly, and I found the approach always of an inquirer yields information that is reflective of the state of consciousness of the inquirer.

[00:11:35] In other words,  if you’re looking through green glasses, all you’re ever going to see is green. If you’re looking through red glasses, all you ever see is red. White always looks red when you’re wearing red glasses. And sadly, I think that he had a series of run-ins with people who were not actually Maharishi.

[00:11:53] Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, my master, with whom I trained for 25 years and more, was somebody who, if you met him, his fundamental integrity would never be questioned at all by you. But you have to take that from my state of consciousness.

[00:12:08] The boy David, who made the documentary, I met on several occasions, and I found his approach to gaining knowledge, one that was fear based and, really, a little bit exploitative.

[00:12:23] One of the Greatest Masters That Ever Lived

[00:12:23] Let me assure you that when you come to India with me, which I highly recommend, I have a retreat there almost every year. When the pandemic finally calms down, we’ll be going back.

[00:12:33] You can come with me and meet the current day master of the Shankaracharya Tradition, the 2,600-year-old tradition, which then at 2,600 years ago had drawn on another tradition that was 5,000 years old, and you can hear it from that master himself, Swami Kailashanand Giri, who is currently the supreme authority, recognized by everyone of the Vedic tradition in India.

[00:12:59] He considers Maharishi Mahesh Yogi to have been one of the greatest masters who ever walked the earth. The techniques that I teach in Vedic Meditation, which are derived from the teachings of Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, I teach exactly what Maharishi trained me to teach, come exactly from this tradition. And this is something that’s very easy to verify by your own experience.

[00:13:20] Basing Our Lives on Direct Experience

[00:13:20] As regards you seeing a television show that then stopped you from meditating, I think you need to take a more serious approach to your practice. Let’s not base our lives on what we hear other people say. Let’s base our lives and what we do with our life on our own direct experience.

[00:13:39] If, after all, we’re just going by hearsay, “I heard this, I heard that. Somebody said this, somebody said that,” and there are all kinds of aspirants to great knowledge who attach themselves to every master, and this is without exception.

[00:13:53] If you try to judge the system of a master, or the system of teaching, based on simply those who practiced it, and who are trying to help out, based on their experiences, you judge whether or not you should be practicing it, then this is also a mistake.

[00:14:07] Come to India and See for Yourself

[00:14:07] So let’s go by our own experience, and when you meditate regularly twice every day, and you get results, then please don’t take those results, and hold them up, and say that, based on something you saw on TV, “I can’t continue to have this experience.”

[00:14:23] It’s better, if you have doubts, come with me, and I’ll introduce you to the preeminent, non-controversially, the preeminent master of all the masters in India, who is universally recognized as such, and you can ask him your question directly.

[00:14:38] I can tell you in advance the answer that you’ll get, but it seems as though you’re very persuaded by information that comes from other people, but I’d like you to become more persuaded by information that comes from your own experience.

[00:14:51] So let’s go by our own experience. Please come back to your meditation, practice it every day. And perhaps one day, if you’re in London and you can make your way over to a place where I’m teaching, let’s meet in person, and I’ll let you judge for yourself, the state of consciousness from which all of this knowledge comes.

[00:15:09] Q- What is the Relationship Between Dharma and Self Expression?

[00:15:09] What is the relationship between Dharma and self expression? It seems as though when we hide our authentic self, we prevent ourselves from moving forward in accordance to Dharma. I would love your thoughts on this.

[00:15:23] Capital S, Self Expression

[00:15:23] Thank you. Yes, you’re absolutely right, Dharma, and self-expression cannot be separated. It is our duty, our Dharma, to be self-expressive. We have found ourselves a beautiful flower in the garden of creation. Our individuality is celebrated by our universality, and our universality relies upon our individual status and structure to find universal outlet through that individual status and structure.

[00:15:54] So, there’s a certain sense in which it is incumbent on us, from that point of view, to allow universal intelligence, to find expression through all of the flourishes of our individuality. Self-expression is not just individual, small self expression, it’s also capital S, Self expression.

[00:16:14] A Social Responsibility

[00:16:14] And so we find this to be a responsibility, and you’re absolutely right about that. We mustn’t suppress anything. There’s a basic idea in Vedic Psychology, that whatever you resist will persist. In other words, Nature is going to end up having its way anyway.

[00:16:30] And our resistance only postpones things and makes the inevitable come to pass with greater force, so might as well enjoy the flow of it through us.

[00:16:41] There’s one more element to this. On another side of us, if we think of on one side of us, we have that cosmic impetus to blossom and to flourish and to let our creativity come into manifestation.

[00:16:57] On the other side, we also have a social responsibility. It’s our social responsibility to make what we’re experiencing relevant to others, as an inspiration to allow others to enjoy the full expression of creative intelligence in an evolving person.

[00:17:16] And, so this can be a great inspiration to others to also find out a little bit more about what are the mechanisms by which you began to have this unleashing of full expression. That may also inspire them to take a similar path, or indeed to make inquiries about how they can learn to meditate, and awaken all of this inner potential.

[00:17:39] So you’re absolutely right. The answer is yes, to your question. I gave you the elaborate answer to the yes.

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