Vedic Meditation vs. Detached or Dissociative States

“The greatest masters of enlightenment were not experiencing or displaying signs of psychopathology. These were very capable people who, with one word, could completely create pivotal change in a social context, who could bring about change dramatically.”

Thom Knoles

Episode Summary

Humans have a natural tendency to try to explain phenomena outside of our experience from within a limited understanding of the ways in which the world works. We’ll theorize about an event or situation to reassure ourselves that we know what’s going on, when in fact we may not.

Vedic meditators sometimes find themselves on the receiving end of such behavior. Through regular practice of meditation, they don’t just transcend thinking, but they also transcend ‘normal’ responses to situations. They become less ‘reactive’ to situations that others might find stressful and are generally less affected by the ‘ups and downs’ of regular life.

A non-meditator might witness this and try to rationalize it by labelling the meditator as ‘detached’ or even ‘dissociative’ when in fact there is something much more desirable going on. Thom explains this in more detail in this episode.

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Episode Highlights


Q- Does Meditation Make People Detached or Dissociative?



Cosmic Consciousness – All-Inclusive Awareness



Non-Attached and Non-Involved



All I Am is a Body That’s Dying



The Externalized Locus of Control



Freedom Without Bliss is Dangerous



What Does Freedom Mean?



The Capability of Growth at Speed



Who Will Bring the Greatest Amount of Social Change?



A Tendency Towards Greater Acceptability



Meditators Are Creating True Revolution



Standard Procedure for People With Psychopathological Conditions



People Who Can Create Maximum Change With Least Action


Jai Guru Deva


The Vedic Meditation vs. Detached or Dissociative States

[00:00:45] Q- Does Meditation Make People Detached or Dissociative?

[00:00:45] Thom, why is it that some people claim that meditations which use mantras to trigger automatic self-transcendence can make people detached and, in some extreme cases, have dissociative effects outside meditation?

[00:01:02] Cosmic Consciousness – All-Inclusive Awareness

[00:01:02] This is a question that comes up regularly, which really is a misunderstanding of very positive, good happening, a great experience that people are beginning to develop, which we call Cosmic Consciousness.

[00:01:14] Cosmic Consciousness means all-inclusive awareness. In order to be all-inclusive, our awareness has to include the transcendent field of pure awareness that is unbounded. That field that is the source of thought, not just of my own thoughts, but the source of all thoughts, the one, indivisible, whole Unified Field of consciousness, that is the source of all forms and all phenomena.

[00:01:45] Cosmic Consciousness means consciousness that includes that, along with all of the details of daily life, all of those things that are worth acting upon.

[00:01:58] And so then, when somebody is growing in Cosmic Consciousness, one of the fundamental experiences that they begin to have is that there is a layer of me, which is a witness of all of these forms and phenomena.

[00:02:13] Non-Attached and Non-Involved

[00:02:13] There’s a layer of me, a layer, that is not attached. It’s non-attached. Non-attached does not mean detached. I don’t like the word detached when referring to this experience because detached means a specific action that one has taken not to associate with certain forms and phenomena or events.

[00:02:38] They’re detached. I don’t like the word detached. The actual word that is better for this, I’m creating, I’m coining this, which I learned from my master Maharishi, is non-attached. Non-attached means it describes that deepest layer of me, which is a witness of all of the cascades of behavior, of the laws of Nature, non-attached.

[00:03:04] And there is a layer of me, that deepest layer, that is non-involved. Non-involved, and non-attached, and yet fully capable of engaging in action dynamically.

[00:03:20] All I Am is a Body That’s Dying

[00:03:20] Now, what do we have which is the opposite of that? Individualized awareness, which is simply reactive.

[00:03:28] “All I am is a consciousness in a body, and if that’s all I am, then it’s very, I’m quick to conclude that this body is on its way to dying. I might be 15 years of age, I might be 30 years of age, I might be 60 years of age, I might be a hundred years of age, but whatever I am, all I am is a body that’s dying.”

[00:03:51] And a body that’s dying has a limited time during which to figure out what it’s about, to figure out what I am, to figure out what I, the individual only, in a body, what I’m most comfortable with, what’s my identity.

[00:04:08] This is a big buzzword these days, “I identify with this, identify with that.” But the question is, do you identify with that fundamental source of all things, which actually ultimately you are, the one, indivisible, whole consciousness field, the Unified Field?

[00:04:25] The Externalized Locus of Control

[00:04:25] So when we begin practicing this meditation, others who continue to identify merely with their bodies, “Oh, I’m a body. That’s all I am. And now the body that I am has received over the telephone, a signal from The Government, capital T, capital G, the big boogeyman, that I have to go into lockdown and wear a mask and to show my iPhone everywhere that I go, so I can be tracked.

[00:04:59] “And now I’m going to be told that it’s mandated that I get this body that I am, this is all I am, vaccinated, which, I don’t even know what that is. Maybe it’s poison.” And so then we have this offended state, easily offended because, “All I am as a body, and there are forces out there that govern what it is that I’m experiencing.”

[00:05:23] In psychology, in Vedic psychology, we call this an externalized locus of control, L-O-C-U-S, locus of control means the place from which my experiences come. “When my experiences come only from the outside world, then I sense that others are in charge of what I’m experiencing, I am not.

[00:05:46] “I am open to being happy if others will simply behave well and make me happy. I am open to experiencing waves of happiness, but there seem to be all these ‘others,’ because I have an externalized locus of control, there are all these others who are determining what my experience is, who I am, what I am. Who I am, what I am, and degrees of freedom that I have, and I want freedom.”

[00:06:16] Freedom Without Bliss is Dangerous

[00:06:16] Everybody wants freedom. Al-Qaeda, number one thing it decided it wanted was freedom. ISIS, number one thing it decided it wanted was freedom. United States of America’s great declaration to the world, “We’re the people who only want freedom. Nobody else wants us to have freedom. We want freedom.”

[00:06:35] Freedom to do what? Freedom to do what? Freedom without bliss is dangerous. Freedom without bliss is dangerous, because having the concept that all I am is a body, and all I want is freedom to express the thoughts that I’ve assembled in a body life about what freedom means. Freedom to make others behave in ways that suit me.

[00:07:05] Maybe I have freedom to bomb someplace. Maybe I have freedom to require women to wear burkas. Maybe I have the freedom to live a life the way that I see it, all the cascades of thoughts that I’ve had in an individual lifetime because all I am is a body.

[00:07:26] What Does Freedom Mean?

[00:07:26] Freedom. What does freedom mean actually? In fact, it’s meaningless, unless we have that inner state of absolute, supreme, inner contentedness included in our sense of what we are.

[00:07:41] All-inclusive awareness means, “I’m cosmic. I’ve all possibilities. The possibilities are infinite.”

[00:07:49] And those possibilities are all those experiences that can evolve from a cascade of evolutionary ever-growing sophisticated, ever-growing expansive awareness, ever-growing elegant awareness, my relationship with all the laws of Nature and what those laws of Nature are up to, as they are going into these ever-growing cascades.

[00:08:16] The Capability of Growth at Speed

[00:08:16] Now, someone who is watching a Vedic meditator from a distance and who doesn’t participate in this practice, might look at that meditator and say, “Well, this was a person who was out in the streets with me, shouting, hating, carrying on, holding up signs about those others and how everything is so unjust, and everything so cruel, and everything’s so horrible. And we hate the people who hate. We reject the people who reject, and we’re ready for war.”

[00:08:43] “We’re going to turn all these people into its, and we hope it doesn’t come to it. We hope that somehow the elected leaders,” who are really only the victims of the collective consciousness, in my opinion, “the elected leaders who are subject to whatever the collective consciousness in general, and most forcibly tells them to do, that they’re going to create laws that will bring an end to the freedoms of all the haters and the rejectors.

[00:09:14] “So we hate the haters. We reject the rejectors. And then this person who was out there with us doing all this has suddenly started this practice of meditation. And they don’t look like they’re hating anymore. And they don’t look like they’re rejecting anymore. And they don’t look like they’re shouting anymore.

[00:09:30] “They look as though, they seem to be accepting.”

[00:09:35] Perhaps what’s really going on is, what we’re seeing is, the meditator is beginning to find deep inside themselves, that all-inclusivity, and they’re looking for opportunities to build bridges to all of those states of consciousness that previously didn’t seem to have the capability of growth at such a speed as a meditator has.

[00:10:02] Who Will Bring the Greatest Amount of Social Change?

[00:10:02] Meditators’ speed of growth into that all-inclusive state may look like, from the point of view of someone who’s not having this experience, as though they’re now becoming something other than ‘what I need them to be.’

[00:10:17] And I experienced this once when I used to give lectures at universities in my youth. In my twenties, I found most of my students for this practice to come from the universities. I would go there and give tutorials and lectures on the subject of this practice, and people would come in by the hundreds and learn to meditate with me.

[00:10:42] And I did get, coming to those meetings, sometimes my introductory talks, somebody would come along who considered themself to be a revolutionary, and I consider myself to be an evolutionary. And they would come, and they would say, “You’re trying to silence the young lions of the revolution with your meditation technique, but people need to be out in the streets and turning the whole society topsy-turvy and making everything change.”

[00:11:11] And my reaction is, “Let’s see, after a period of 20 years, each going their own way. Meditators practicing their meditation technique, and people who just want to maintain the rage, out there shouting and carrying on… Who is it that actually brings about the greatest amount of social change?”

[00:11:31] A Tendency Towards Greater Acceptability

[00:11:31] Studies on the collective effect of meditation, from many different angles, have shown, beyond any reasonable doubt, that when we increase the number of people practicing meditation in a community, violence decreases, crime rates decreases, war deaths decrease, if meditation is practiced in a greater and more concentrated way in any social setting. This has been shown sociologically many times over the last 30, 40, 50 years of the popularity of meditation in the Western world.

[00:12:08] And so meditators are actually bringing about collective change because, when their consciousness splashes down onto that one, indivisible, whole, unbounded field and includes that into their package of awareness, the meditators are beginning to radiate through the Unified Field itself, a tendency towards greater acceptability, less rejection.

[00:12:33] Through the field itself, out of which all experiences come, an experience of greater, not only acceptability but, dare we say it, love. The ability to love, the ability to spontaneously experience relatability with others. This is coming out of that deep, inner experience of a meditator.

[00:12:56] Meditators Are Creating True Revolution

[00:12:56] And so it’s a classic description by people who don’t experience the results of practicing Vedic Meditation, to refer to those who are meditating as “becoming detached” or becoming non-involved, un-involved in the true concerns of the world, when in fact, the Vedic meditators are creating the only true revolution, which is the evolution of the collective consciousness into ever-growing higher states.

[00:13:29] The capability to have one foot, as it were, in the absolute unbounded field, non-involved non-attached, and have the other foot very dynamically inside the field of progressive change and allowing oneself to be, in a very quiet way, the instigator of progressive change, the agent of progressive change.

[00:13:53] True progressive change is not destructive. True progressive change does not require shouting and violence. True progressive change does not require building walls or referring to other people as ‘Its’. True progressive change is inclusive. Inclusive and creating all-inclusivity.

[00:14:17] This is the great need of the time, and that is being answered by the Vedic meditators.

[00:14:24] So, far from them being detached or dissociated and all of that, they may be detached from ineffective action. They may be dissociating from ineffective behavior that demands change inside of a state of consciousness that itself can’t yet change.

[00:14:42] And they may be dissociated from stress-ful behaviors. They may be dissociated from those behaviors that instigate stress in oneself or in others. But in fact, at the finest and most productive level of social change, they’re really the people who are bringing about the most powerful sociological change in the world.

[00:15:08] Standard Procedure for People With Psychopathological Conditions

[00:15:08] It is important for us to make a distinction between the kind of dissociation or states of dissociative fugue, and so on, which are psychopathological conditions, which, in fact, meditation has been known to reverse, and not increase, but decrease.

[00:15:28] When people talk about dissociative states, they talk about dissociative fugues, they talk about states of being completely detached from reality, these are psychopathological conditions which need to be treated by registered medical practitioners, and they are not the areas of life that we see commonly as a result of Vedic Meditation.

[00:15:53] And in fact, as Vedic Meditation teachers, we do all agree that when somebody is displaying any kind of psychopathology, that our standard procedure is to insist that, whether they have learned Vedic Meditation with us, or whether they are simply people we’ve come across, who’ve asked us what we think they should do, that they should be in contact with their medical practitioner.

[00:16:17] However, this kind of dissociation is not the same state that, when meditators go deep in their practice, they find that deep, inner, contented state, and from that perspective, from that point of view, they may be able to witness the world moving in the way that the world moves, and only come into action when action is invited.

[00:16:43] People Who Can Create Maximum Change With Least Action

[00:16:43] That is to say, when there is something which, doing, one can bring about change, one can bring about a collective change and collective advancement, and finding that it’s not necessary to act unless action is invited on the basis of it being life-supporting, life-supporting, and life-enhancing.

[00:17:08] This kind of growth in that non-involved, non-attached condition that meditators might describe having, as they’re growing into Cosmic Consciousness, is not psychopathology. It’s not something which any psychiatrists would agree is a disease state.

[00:17:28] Disease states need to be treated by doctors, but this is not a disease state. The symptoms of growth into Cosmic Consciousness, where there is a natural non-attachment to the field of action unless invited into it, into the field of action, this is not a pathological state. It’s one of the symptoms of growing enlightenment.

[00:17:51] The greatest masters of enlightenment that we have heard of historically, were not experiencing or displaying signs of psychopathology. These were very capable people who, with one word, could completely create pivotal change in a social context, who could bring about change dramatically.

[00:18:15] Doing less, they accomplish more. Doing least, they accomplish most. These are people who have the capability of least action creating maximum, dynamic change in a positive way in all social contexts.

[00:18:33] Jai Guru Deva.

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