Vedic and Australian Aboriginal Connections. Evolution and Devolution

“If we take the long view, it is during very demanding times that the most pivotal evolutionary change occurs in the human structure if we survive the change. If we survive the change, we survive it on the basis of developing heightened consciousness states, the substrate of that being developing highly organized human brains.”

Thom Knoles

This Ask Thom Anything episode explores ancient cultures, the process of evolution and the possibility of devolution.

Thom shares an anecdote about a journey to outback Australia as an envoy for Maharishi Mahesh Yogi to seek the blessing of Aboriginal Elders, where he discovered an unexpected, though not surprising, connection between the ancient people of Australia and those of India.

And in answers to two totally separate questions, he explains the evolutionary leap that made us the ‘smartest’ species on the planet, though potentially too smart for our own good. 

It’s a salient reminder that we all need to be vigilant with our Vedic Meditation practice and to share the benefits widely if we want the human species to continue to be part of Nature’s evolutionary process.

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Episode Highlights


Q – What’s the Connection Between Australian Aboriginal and Vedic Culture



Indigenous People who Possessed Knowledge of Transcending



“You Want to Talk to the Old Fellas?”



Making Arrangements to See the Old Fellas



Clean Sheets and Some Good Tucker



Remarkable State of Contentedness



We’d Like to Teach All the Fellas



It’ll Be Alright



Q – What is the Truth About the Brain’s Evolution?



A – Darwinistic Evolution



Science Likes One Original Miracle



Bio-Friendly Universe



Timing was Perfect for a Consciousness Revolution



Evolutionary Pressures Caused Pivotal Evolutionary Change



Q – Can We Evolve Regressively?



A – Dumbing Down of Consciousness



Intelligent Enough. Not Intelligent Enough



A Little Knowledge is a Dangerous Thing



Critical Mass of People Meditating



The Few Lead the Many



Not Smart Enough to Prevent Our Own Self-extinction?


Jai Guru Deva


Vedic and Australian Aboriginal Connections. Evolution and Devolution

[00:45] Q – What’s the Connection Between Australian Aboriginal and Vedic Culture

Jai Guru Deva. I’m interested in the connection and relationship between ancient Vedic culture and Aboriginal culture of Australia. We know here in Australia now, that Aboriginal culture predates 60,000 years, and I’ve heard a story that has been passed down through many Initiators, but I would so adore to hear it directly from you, and that is your trip to Central Australia to seek permission to teach meditation on country here.

Thank you so much, Jai Guru Deva.

[01:29] Indigenous People who Possessed Knowledge of Transcending

Jai Guru Deva. Yes, in the 19, early 1980s, around 1980 itself, my teacher, Maharishi Mahesh Yogi surprised me by being in touch and suggesting that I should go find a tribe of Aboriginal elders, and find the elder of those elders who could give, with some authority, the blessing to us teachers of Maharshi’s meditation technique, to teach our technique of transcendence to the Australian people.

Even though we had been teaching here, here means in Australia, even though we’d been teaching in Australia. Maharishi first started teaching in Australia in 1962. He was aware that there were indigenous people in Australia who also possessed knowledge and techniques of transcending and who were really the elders of that traditional knowledge that comes up from the land, as it’s thought of in indigenous Australian culture.

[02:38] “You Want to Talk to the Old Fellas?”

And so I embarked on a tour. I didn’t go to Central Australia. I went to Northwest Australia, and I was greeted one day by an amazing synchronous coinciding as I went into the post office at Broome in Western Australia.

This was 1980, so it was a long time before the resorts were built in Broome. Broome in that time was still a very small, dusty pearling town with a lot of people of Indonesian and Malaysian descent living there, and pearling being the largest industry of the town.

As I went into the post office to collect my mail at Post Restante, you know, in those days you could have your mail, this is long before email and long before other electronic means of communication, we only had telephone and mail in those times.

You could instruct people to write to you, your address, your name, and your address being Post Restante at a particular post office. And then the post office would collect your mail for you and let it accumulate and then when you showed up, you’d pick up your mail.

And as I went into do so, this tiny little post office in Broome, I got my mail and turned around and there was an indigenous Australian man standing as it were behind the swinging open door. The door, which opened inward as if he was waiting for me. And he walked up to me with very knowing eyes and said, “You want to talk to the old fellas?”

[04:28] Making Arrangements to See the Old Fellas

There’d been no communication of anything about my trip. No communication about anything to do with my program that I was on there and I said, “Yes.” I had a little tiny suitcase with me that I was carrying, and he just tilted his head in the follow me kind of fashion.

And I followed him across some football fields and then eventually out to an enormous fig tree, under which was an enormous stack of beer cans, mostly flattened beer cans. And sitting around on a hill of these beer cans were some indigenous Australian people, including one woman who was very evidently a woman of high regard.

And I was introduced by, as it turned out, his name was Jackie. I was introduced by Jackie to this Elder Australian woman who said, “We’re going to make arrangements for you to meet the old fellas. but you have to go to Hedland.” Hedland was short for Port Hedland, which is further to the north from Broome.

I said, “Thank you very much.” Jackie said, “Let’s go back now.” And he said, “Come and see me at the hospital tonight.” And I said, “The hospital, Why the hospital?” He said, “You’ll see, I’ll be at the hospital.” And I went and took my motel room and meditated, and then went to the local Broome Hospital and asked for Jackie, the indigenous Aboriginal man, and they said, “Oh, he’s down there in room three.”

[06:17] Clean Sheets and Some Good Tucker

And there he was lying in a bed with a little plastic wrist band around his wrist. And I said to Jackie, “Why are you in the hospital? What’s going on?” He said, “Oh, I’m in here to have a good kip.” A good kip means a good nap. And he said, “They make good tucker here too.” Tucker is Aboriginal and Australian slang for dinner.

“They make good tucker here.” And he said, “They have a special rule that indigenous people can come here and have a checkup and spend the night.” He laughed and he said, “I’m getting a good shower, a good night on some clean sheets and some good tucker.” And he said, “Now tomorrow, you want to go to Hedland?” Port Hedland, he meant. And he said, “There’ll be some people who will meet you, my cousin.”

So I went to Port Hedland the next day, not knowing any names, not knowing anything. And when I arrived at the airport, I was met by 10 or 12 indigenous people who just walked straight up to me. They immediately knew which of the 20 or 30 passengers that got off the light aircraft, which one was me.

[07:32] Remarkable State of Contentedness

They walked straight up to me and said, “Come on, let’s go.” And we got into two utes. A ute is the Australian name for what Americans call a pickup truck, filled with people in the cargo hold and jammed in and I was in amongst, and we drove for, I want to say at least four hours to the northeast of Port Hedland into the backcountry.

And then we got out of the trucks. We walked up some red rocks, very red, and finally made our way to the top of a particular crowning hill in which there was a cave, not a very deep cave, but a cave. And there was sitting an Aboriginal man,who very clearly was the Elder of that tribe, and looked to me for all the world, just like an Indian Yogi, many of whom I’d seen in previous years.

And that Aboriginal man had a white beard, long white hair that came down to his elbows and a white beard that came all the way down to his waist. And he was sitting with his legs crossed in full lotus position, just like an Indian Yogi and wearing only a loincloth. Again, just like an Indian Yogi sitting with only his head in the shade, but his body in the sunshine.

And I noticed, you know, there are a lot of flies up in that area. I noticed that there were flies landing on him. He had his eyes closed and I watched as one fly climbed up one of his nostrils, went up through the bridge between nostrils, past the septum, and came out through the other nostril without him budging. A remarkable state of contentedness or self-restraint, one or the other. Self-restraint brought about by contentedness.

[09:41] We’d Like to Teach All the Fellas

And then he opened his eyes and shooed the flies away and they stayed away interestingly. And he asked me what I was there for and I told him, and I showed him a picture of my teacher, Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, and a picture of Maharishi’s teacher Swami Brahmananda Sarasvati, whom we call Guru Deva.

And as soon as he saw those pictures, he spoke in his tribal language, which was translated by Jackie’s cousin. He said, “Those are Aboriginal fellas.” When he saw the picture of Guru Deva and Maharishi, “Those are Aboriginal fellas.”

And I played, I had a cassette player and I played Sama Veda, some Vedic chanting to the old man. And he listened to that and looked very grateful, but didn’t show any recognition of it.

But I said to him, “You know, I’ve come here, my teacher has asked me to come and to ask the most elder person I can ask,if we have your permission to teach this knowledge?” And his translator said, “You wanna teach white fellas or you wanna teach black fellas?”

And I said, “Well, we’d like to teach all the fellas, anybody who would like to learn this.” And he thought about it for a while and he didn’t answer me right away. His immediate first response was, “Where did they come from?” Meaning my teachers. And I said, “From India.” And he said, “That’s where we come from too.”

[11:20] It’ll Be Alright

And I said, “Oh.” And I said, “When did you come?” And his answer was, “During the dream time, we came during the dream time.” And I said, “How, how did you get here?” I was just naturally innocently curious. “How did you get here?” I was thinking maybe they’d come from India by sea.

He said, “We flew, we flew here and not with the airplane. We flew here, in dream time.” And then he switched the subject right away and through the translator said, “You can teach your knowledge to anyone, white fellas or black fellas. It’ll be all right for you to teach in this country, in Australia.” And that was, pretty much the end of it. I pressed my palms together and bowed to him.

He had another way of showing his respect just by, he kind of whipped his finger through the air a little bit, making a bit of a snapping sound in my direction. And after that it was time to go and we piled back into the utes and drove four hours back to Hedland. And I had my answer for Maharishi that, as far as I could tell, he was an Aboriginal man, teacher, Guru, if you like, to use our Sanskrit language, of very high regard.

And I said to Maharishi, “There may be others over on the east coast or in Central Australia that we need to speak to.” And Maharishi said, “That man will communicate with all of them and if there’s any more needed, any more communication needed, we’ll hear from them. You’ve done what you needed to do any further communication, they’re in complete infinite communication all the time anyway,” he said, those were his words. So, job well done. That was it. Jai Guru Deva. That’s my story.

[13:22] Q – What is the Truth About the Brain’s Evolution?

You have said in the past that the front lobe of the human brain increased in size and populations in various locations around the world at the same time, enabling specialization in different fields. What is the explanation for this physically unconnected increase in brain size? What is the truth about evolution?

[13:44] A – Darwinistic Evolution

It’s a very good question, and ultimately the truth about evolution is that it is fundamental and that it is embedded in the physics of the UUniverse. Evolution, we often think of as being something that we only see in the biosphere and I’m going to challenge that assumption in a moment.

Biosphere means in the world of living things, we can see evolution occurring and evolution from a Darwinistic point of view, it is a candidate for being the most accurate theory about evolution, though that does have some holes in it. Essentially goes like this, that natural changes occur in the reproduction process that cause certain aberrations in one member of a species to happen.

And if that aberration actually turns out to be an evolutionary advantage, meaning that it gives that particular member of the species a greater capability to arrive at the reproductive stage of its life. That then becomes a reproductive advantage and it ends up being passed along to the offspring of that member of the species, and they then pass it along and so on.

And then as these aberrations occur, you know, it might be a slightly larger ear, or it might be a tendency to have a pinky, a certain size and so on.

Then as these things happen by supposedly randomicity, and I say supposedly because I’m a member of that group of the science community that takes the view that evolution itself is not a random process.

The way that it’s taught in schools is that it’s completely random. But then we have to ask the question, why does evolution work the way that it does? Because there’s no particular reason why it should work in the way that it does. And ultimately, we go back to the way that molecules or atoms make a jump from being non-sentient chemical processes and make a jump into being living things that can reproduce. The story of the genesis of life.

[16:23] Science Likes One Original Miracle

If we subscribe to the idea of Darwinistic evolution, and I do by the way, it seems to be the most valid way of describing observations over a long period of time, then we have to ask the question, if you go back and back and back and back in any species, you’re going to arrive at a point where some microbe or other microscopic living thing emerged out of purely molecular and atomic structures.

Those structures one second, were not alive and the next second they were alive and evolving. And then we say evolution begins.

So, you know, this is the way of science. Science very much likes to say, “Well, there’s nothing, there’s no intelligence.” I don’t say science says this, but a lot of people in science say, “There’s no intelligence, there’s nothing miraculous going on.” But science does seem to like to have one original miracle.

So what’s the original miracle here? That molecules that are non-living made a jump into living things. Everything else after that we can describe scientifically, but how molecules make a jump from being non-alive to being alive. This is the one, if we want to call it a miracle, the one miracle that science relies upon. Like, “Give us one free miracle and we can explain all the rest that happens after that.”

[18:05] Bio-Friendly Universe

There’s another way we could look at this, which is the Big Bang, you know, give us one free miracle… And that free miracle in this case is that all space and all time and all laws of Nature, emerge from a singularity in one 10,000 billionth of a second. So give us that miracle and we can explain all the rest that came after that.

So I’m a member of the Consciousness Revolution in science. A group of scientists who have a fundamental understanding that the Universe itself has embedded in it a property. And that property is best described in the words bio-friendly. We live in a Universe that evidently is opportunistic about creating life out of non-life.

Life appears, and the mechanism of it appearing, crossing the line, the threshold between non-life and life.

So given that there is evolution, biological evolution is a fact, in my opinion, then the species that was due to have a prefrontal cortex explosion, which is what happened about, arguably about 120,000 years ago.

Although it didn’t happen instantly and overnight, it happened over several reproductive generations. But evidently it happened right across the homo sapiens sapiens, that’s us, population. There were four or five other hominids, upright bi-pedal, meaning walking on two feet, neuro centric arthropods.

Other humanlike creatures, notably among those, the Neanderthal, which people talk about a lot and which went into extinction shortly after cross-breeding with humans. Probably the human race as we know it today, Homo sapien sapiens probably assimilated Neanderthal rather than exterminating them entirely, although a lot of extermination did occur.

[20:32] Timing was Perfect for a Consciousness Revolution

So why the consciousness revolution? The prefrontal cortex revolution? Why did it happen at exactly the time it happened? Well, because the time was perfect. The level of demand was just at the right level.

It occurred probably 10 to 20,000 years prior to the last glacial period. It’s fortunate that that happened because then there was 10,000 years minimum depending on where people lived, of life on glaciers, where there was no potential for eating, or very little potential for eating anything that grew up out of the ground, and humankind had to continue to advance on the basis of hunting and gathering alone, mostly hunting.

So there it came, boom. Why did it happen then? We could ask another question, why did the Big Bang happen when the Big Bang happened, X number of billions of years ago? There are arguments of it having occurred anywhere from 14 billion years ago to maximum 20 billion years ago.

[21:45] Evolutionary Pressures Caused Pivotal Evolutionary Change

Why did the Big Bang happen when it happened? Well, it wasn’t really kind of scheduled in any sort of way like that, but certain critical-mass phenomena, certain tipping point of the level of demand being made on a species, this is the prefrontal-cortex revolution.

The level of demand being made on a species and the ripeness of that species’ brain to suddenly make the jump into creating an entire new frontal area of the brain that allowed styles of thinking, which are those styles of thinking which we still use today.

By the shape of the skull you can tell something about the brain. Most of the evidence is that the brains that we have today are pretty much the same as the brains of our paleolithic ancestors.

Paleo means old, lithic means stone. So the old Stone Age, about 10,000 years ago, began to evolve into the new Stone Age, the Neolithic, Neolithic Age of humankind where agriculture began to appear and exclusive hunting and gathering practices dropped away.

So we’re really faced with having to look at this and say, “Well, it happened because the conditions were ideal.” And ideal conditions, interestingly, do not mean a Garden of Eden kind of setting. The ideal conditions may well be extreme demand from the outside world causing evolutionary pressures that created powerful evolutionary pivotal change.

There’s an entire treatise that can be read on this subject that evolution is sped up by the increase of pivotal events, by times being difficult, times being very demanding. So the next time you think, “Wow, we live in a very demanding time.” If we take the long view, it is during very demanding times that the most pivotal evolutionary change occurs in the human structure if we survive the change.

If we survive the change, we survive it on the basis of developing heightened consciousness states, the substrate of that being developing highly organized human brains. That’s pretty much that story.

[24:30] Q – Can We Evolve Regressively?

Hello Thom, this is Jamie from Philadelphia. My question is related to evolution and brain development. The prefrontal cortex is the newest part of the brain to develop in humans. Assuming that the saying holds true, use it or lose it. How would you forecast the evolution of the human brain and the prefrontal cortex given trends in the general population and the material, statistically-significant downward trend in critical thinking proficiency that requires the prefrontal cortex, that is specifically evident in adult US testing for critical thinking. Yes, there is always evolution however, is it possible for humans to evolve in a regressive way?

[25:23] A – Dumbing Down of Consciousness

Thank you for your question Jamie, and beautifully put thank you. And provocatively put, particularly for our generation.

Most neuroscientists don’t think that there will be such a thing as degradation of the human brain. That is to say somehow devolving, going backwards in evolution and losing neuronal mass inside the brain. If you don’t use it, you lose it. There’s a certain truth in that, but probably the way that it would be lost would be through the dumbing down of the consciousness, not using the entire brain.

And I’ll come back to this point in just a moment, that there are certain scientists who believe that there are pathological symptoms that indicate that the human brain may be up for grabs as regards,is it going to be able to continue or not?

[26:18] Intelligent Enough. Not Intelligent Enough

But the usual thinking about this is more the extinction-of-the-species thinking. That a species that gets to a certain level of intelligence whereby, for example, we can create nuclear fusion and cause millions to die with the press of a button where we exterminate each other en masse through thermonuclear war.

So, intelligent enough to figure out how to manipulate atoms, but not intelligent enough to not use the weapons that come from that and we end up exterminating ourselves.

Intelligent enough to create internal combustion engines. Not intelligent enough to see where the limits are on the use of fossil fuels and pumping fossil fuel detritus, carbon, into the atmosphere.

Intelligent enough to be able to use language as a means of communing. Com, with. Union is union. To commune. Language is a candidate for communication, but not intelligent enough to resist the temptation to use language as a divider where communing isn’t happening with language.

If language is a candidate for communication, but it is misused, then language is used to create division. So if you have enough intelligence to have language, and I’m just using these few things as examples, there are many others we can add to it.

[28:08] A Little Knowledge is a Dangerous Thing

Enough intelligence to manipulate the nuclei of atoms and create amongst other things, unbelievable weaponry, which is possessed by double digit numbers of countries in the world. At least the ones that own up to owning them, to having them, and a willingness to use them by virtue of owning them.

Enough intelligence to create machinery and an industrial revolution, but also to carbonize our atmosphere and create an impossible climate in which even plants won’t grow and humans are required to move to and change their habitation in ways that are drastic and extremely demanding on the population, and could possibly reduce the population drastically in ways that we are not even fully aware of yet.

This is the old saying, you know, a little knowledge is a dangerous thing or a little learning is a dangerous thing. That you learn a certain amount, but you can’t go much further than that. Without use of the brain’s fullest potential, it’s likely that we will create mass extinction.

[29:27] Critical Mass of People Meditating

Now this is not a doomsday prophecy coming from me. I don’t actually think that’s going to happen. I think that when the need is the greatest, we have, historically, as a species, managed to figure out how to avert our own self-extinction. I think we still have ample opportunity to do so.

And I do believe, obviously, that meditation is going to play a pivotal role in a certain percentage of the population. I am not naive enough to think that everyone on Earth is going to take up Vedic Meditation. Even if they wanted to, we couldn’t possibly provide to the numbers, but a certain critical mass of people likely will take it up.

And if that critical mass of people, and we talk about approximately 1%, one out of a hundred people, who know that it exists, or even if they don’t know it exists, but one out of a hundred people learns to meditate, that this will create a turning of the tide that will allow humanity to come to its senses about a whole lot of other things and allow us to continue using our magnificent brain, but using it to ever-greater capability.

[30:55] The Few Lead the Many

It’s also a biological fact that the few lead the many. This is one of the fundamental tenets of bio-evolutionary theory; that a few members of a species lead the many and if sufficient numbers of meditating people become exemplars and begin behaving in ways that are admirable, let’s even say enviable, and are having experiences that are enviable, this may well inspire a large enough segment of the population to do something about their own lack of use of full brain power.

 The problem is not the geographic or topological use of neurons of the brain. All the neurons of the brain are being used all the time. We can demonstrate that. It’s the fact that what they’re being used for. These billions and billions of neurons being used largely for managing and coping with accumulation, daily accumulation of stress.

When we release stress, we release enormous portions of the brain from the responsibility of holding onto irrelevant distorted memories in the cells that keep us in fight/flight reactivity for longer than is functional and evolutionary.

So, is our brain gonna go backwards and are we gonna start getting smaller and smaller heads and make it easier on the mothers to give birth because we end up with pinheads? You could make an argument that the amount of brain that the average person actively uses in order to get most things done these days is a chunk of the brain about as big as the human thumb, as opposed to the true size of the brain, which people often ask, “How big is the brain?”

[33:01] Not Smart Enough to Prevent Our Own Self-extinction?

You can tell how big your brain is by putting the four fingers of one hand, the fingertips together onto the thumb. Now you have, if that’s your left hand, you have the left cerebral cortex size, and then do the same with your right hand. Put all the four fingertips onto the thumb and those two groups of fingers together, this is not a tightened fist, are approximately the same size as the brain that’s sitting inside your cranium.

And you know, the brain weighs about a little more than three pounds in US or imperial measurements, which is about 1.5 kilograms. That’s the intercranial brain, which is possessed of about a hundred billion neurons, If we count going down the spinal cord and going into the entire central nervous system, which is all neuronal material.

Supported by, out of the 70 trillion cells that make up our body. 70 trillion is a large number, but we’re starting to think in those terms with government spending 70 trillion. 70,000 billion cells and about 1,000 billion of those, about 1 trillion cells of the human body provide the structure in which the neurons can sit to allow the brain to be functional.

Now, is all that going to get smaller? No, it’s just going to get less busy if more meditation is taken up. What if more meditation isn’t taken up? Is it going to get smaller and we’re going to devolve as a species and get tiny little heads? It’s a very entertaining idea for a movie perhaps.

But, what is more likely to happen is just that we wipe each other out. Smart enough to create amazing weapons and machines and all kinds of things, not smart enough to know how to prevent our own self-extinction. That’s the general thinking about this. Thank you, Jamie.

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