What Is Freedom?

“True freedom means the freedom to experience the Self.”

Thom Knoles

Episode Summary

All of us aspire to attain freedom in one form or another, but for most of us, we craft our idea of freedom based on an expected set of circumstances – time, money, power, environment, relationships, and more.

The trouble with this approach is that circumstances are subject to change and inevitably lead to disappointment.  Freedom through acquisition of circumstances can never truly deliver on its promise, at least not in any sustainable way.

In this episode, Thom sets you free from this paradigm and shows you that freedom is truly an “inside job.” You already have everything you need to experience freedom in its purest form.  

Beneath all our layers of unrealistic expectations is a sense of freedom that cannot be given to us, nor can it be taken away.  It’s our job to learn how to uncover the freedom that lies deep within all of us.

Listen in or read the transcript below to claim the true freedom that is your absolute birthright.

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Episode Highlights


Freedom. Nirvana. Liberation.



Nature’s Way



True Freedom



Dependence of the Individual Leads to Dependence On Government



Mistaken Identity



 Fear-Based Administration



Self Realization Inspires True Freedom



Spontaneous Right Action



A Matter of Practice – Vedic Meditation



Three Fields of Life



The Mantra – A Mental Vehicle to Effortless Being



Liberation From Outcome-Oriented Awareness



Meeting the Need of the Time



You Can’t Import Happiness



Regular Experience Makes the Difference



Established in Being, Perform Action



Dye Hard – How to Stop Happiness From Fading Away



Cosmic Consciousness – All-Inclusive Awareness


Jai Guru Deva


What Is Freedom?

[00:34] Freedom.  Nirvana.  Liberation.

The topic of today’s talk is freedom.  Freedom is a subject that is very confusing to most people.  The word itself, for most people, has to do with having the liberty to do things, the liberty to explore, the liberty to experiment, the liberty to do something, to be free to do.  

In the Vedic perspective, freedom has more to do with the Sanskrit word nirvana.  Nirvana is often mistranslated as some heavenly state or whatever, but in fact, nirvana means liberation.  Liberation.  Liberation from something.  Liberation of the freeing up of our full potential, the liberation from the bondage of identity with relativity.  Being bound to make your assessment about what you are and who you are based on things that are ever-changing.  And so being able to escape from that is nirvana, and being able to liberate your full potential is nirvana.

[01:59] Nature’s Way

If we look at freedom in terms of liberation, freedom has more to do with the emancipation from a tendency to live life not in alignment with the laws of nature.  In our lives, mostly, we have an idea about making ourselves happy.  Nobody behaves trying to make themselves unhappy.  Nonetheless, without consciously realizing it, we are constantly engaging and stimulating cascades of laws of nature, one going into the other like a domino effect, which may result in our own unhappiness.  

This is the unconscious design of our own unhappiness, when we behave in ways, knowingly or unknowingly, that resist the evolutionary process, perhaps taking even a tangent to that which is the most evolutionary for us, then we end up having to lose time in correction.  We have to move from that place of where we had freedom to create and design, probably not consciously in most cases, some unhappiness because we triggered certain laws of nature and put them into effect and ended up having an experience that in a different consciousness state, in a more elevated consciousness state, would have been very clear that happiness did not reside in that outcome.  Then we have to make our way back to that alignment with nature’s way of evolution.

Nature’s way of evolution means the way of evolution.  Evolution, as we’ve discussed in other sittings, is that process of moving from a less sophisticated, a lower repertoire, smaller repertoire, of capability to a higher repertoire of capability with greater and greater sophistication.  Sophistication gives us the ability to see the future in the making.  We can see what the cascades of effects of actions are, or the cascade of effect of non action.

[04:21] True Freedom

So true freedom from the Vedic perspective means freedom to be able to identify, firstly, our own true nature, that vast unbounded cosmic intelligence, that cosmic consciousness which is at the baseline of every human experience, deep inside of us, as it were, underneath the thoughts.  That is to say as the source of thought is that field of Being, pure consciousness.  Freedom to experience that, freedom to experience what is your true nature, what is your true identity.  And from there, freedom to be able to pick up the impulses of creative intelligence that drive the entire process of evolution.  

Not just one this little one blue ball that’s orbiting around a yellow sun somewhere off in the spiral arm of a galaxy, of which we now know there are tens of billions of galaxies, each of them with billions and trillions of stars in them.  Not just in one little blue ball, but the evolution of the entire Universe.

What is cosmic intelligence up to? What is it doing? What is this moment’s exact path of evolution? In every given moment, the exact path of evolution is changing.  If there is an invitation into evolutionary action and we miss the cue, then it may be that one minute later, the evolutionary action now to be performed is utterly different to what it was one minute ago when we missed our cue.  Or if we were merrily going along our way with our own little idea about what was going to make us happy and we continue progressing in that, the mind not taking advantage of that freedom that we all have, it’s innate in the human condition to transcend, to step beyond thought, to experience our own least-excited state, which indeed is the state of cosmic intelligence itself.  That least-excited state that resides within each one of us is in fact the cosmic mind.  Our individuality has its roots in that cosmic mind.

When we practise Vedic Meditation twice a day, we sit for about 20 minutes and we allow the mind effortlessly to settle down to experience less and less excited states of thought, and as we do so, our mind is given and granted the freedom to move in the direction of greater and greater charm.  As we move into those subtler states of consciousness, the bliss increases and increases because the nature of the least excited state is supreme inner-contentedness.  And so we can look at freedom in that regard.  The freedom to effortlessly rediscover the value of the pull and the draw of that inner charm to bring us to our own true identity.  That’s one way of looking at freedom.

[07:41] Mistaken Identity

Another way of looking at freedom, the freedom from the bondage of identities that actually are inaccurate.  When we create an identity for ourselves that’s not accurate, we end up also with the idea that we are the author of all of our thoughts, we are the author of all of that that appears to be desirable.  “If I fulfill my desire that I’ve had, I’ve come up with a desire, and I want to fulfill my desire, all this I, me, mine thing that goes in our consciousness, then when that desire gets fulfilled, my desire gets fulfilled, I’ll be happy.  Perhaps I’ll even have permanent happiness.”

We place a lot of this just as a way of registering here a kind of archetype for the mistaken approaches to happiness.  “If I get into an absolutely ideal relationship, then as a result of that relationship, my relation to someone who really understands me, sharing experiences with someone who really is just the perfect partner for me, then I’m just going to be absolutely thrilled and happy 24 hours a day.  There may be challenges, but we’ll get over those easily because our love for each other is going to make us just swim in the ocean of happiness day and night.”

And this of course is an illusion that we create, because a relationship can never be a source of happiness.  A relationship can be a showcase of what our sense of identity is.  If two people are living life in attunement with the laws of nature, that is, aligned with the process of evolution, that means embracing progressive change enthusiastically, then their relationship will be a showcase for that kind of happiness that comes from living life in attunement with natural law.  

If on the other hand, there is a degree of abject suffering and misery, then a relationship simply becomes a showcase for that abject suffering and misery.  And so relationships cannot be the source of happiness, but they certainly can be a litmus test of the degree of happiness that each of the parties to the relationship has.

[10:11] Fear-Based Administration

And so the idea that, “I’m going to get happy by being free.  I’ll be free, and then I’ll be happy.” Freedom is something which has various meanings to various people, but there is one mistaken conviction that’s very popular in the world that if all we need is freedom.  If we have freedom, then we’ll all be just so much happier and we’ll have an ideal society, in fact doesn’t really ring true.  

It is the catch cry of almost every political organisation, whether that be something like Al Qaeda, or the Islamic State, or the American government, whichever of the types of government is running the show on a given day, or governments all over the world, the idea that all we really want is freedom.  “We just want freedom.” They’re all saying the same thing.  Freedom.  Freedom is our baseline desire.  We want to be free.  Well we have to ask the question, free to do what? Because in that context, freedom means freedom to do something.  Freedom to do whatever it is we imagine is going to make us fearless.

When we look at the idea of fearlessness, we’ve seen a terrible history, particularly most recently to us in the last century, the 20th century, in which, arguably, and it’s noncontroversial that at least 160 million people were killed with the idea that, “We’re going to be free of fear.  We’ll be free of fear.  Other people are making us frightened, and those people who are frightening to us, if we just eliminate as many of them as possible, eliminate selectively the leaders of those who frighten us and a certain baseline of those, kill our way to fearlessness, then by killing our way to fearlessness, in that fearlessness we’ll have freedom.  And when we have freedom, we’re going to be so, so happy.”

And that idea that killing our way to fearlessness, first of all, would be a functional method, didn’t work.  As we grew in greater and greater capability to kill at industrial scales of killing, where with triggering one weapon, 100,000, 200,000 people could be killed in an instant, in a flash.  What we became was more and more frightened, and we became more and more bound to the ideas of fear.  Because knowledge has this habit of leaking out.  Knowledge of how to destroy in large numbers is not knowledge that you can contain.  It’s knowledge of how to use the destructive power of nature to cause destruction on a mass scale, and you can’t contain it.

And the idea that, “Oh, if the good governments have that weapon, then the bad governments won’t have it,” who’s good and who’s bad? Some people think that somebody is good and somebody else is bad.  The bad guys think that the other side is always the bad guys and that they’re the good guys.  Nobody ever thinks, “I’m going to prosecute a massive killing campaign in the world because I’m a bad guy.  I’m always the good guy.” Everybody thinks that they’re the good ones who are going to bring about some kind of ideal society, either through killing or limiting people, or structuring things in such a way that people are forced to comply with something.

And this fear-based administration that is applied is a universal tactic of every kind of government, of every kind of political philosophy.  All of them operate on the same one principle, and that is, inspire fear.  If you inspire fear of noncompliance, fear of the consequences of noncompliance, then you’ll be able to assert the authority of government on a population, and eventually they’ll all thank you for it.  They’ll all be so happy that you did it.  And this kind of idea, which has been extremely popular over the last few centuries, is a failure.  Fear-based administration is not the way to bring about an ideal society, and simply granting every freedom, anarchy, “Let’s everybody just be free to do whatever we want.  As long as we try not to hurt anybody, let’s just be free to do what we want,” is also a formula for disaster.

[14:59] Self Realization Inspires True Freedom

What really works is allowing the individual mind of the human to settle down into that least-excited state.  And in that least-excited state, what happens is not dullness.  It’s not sleep.  The mind consciously attunes itself to the evolutionary process, to the source of that process.  True freedom means the freedom to experience the Self.  Self here must be spelled with a capital S.  The Self, the big Self.  The big Self is that one indivisible, whole consciousness field that permeates the Universe, and which is the source of everything, and especially the source of evolution.  When our mind regularly goes to that layer of its own inner structure, that layer of that bliss, that identification with Being, then our being becomes, it learns how to identify with, that entire evolutionary force.

The life of someone who is a realized person – realized in this instance means someone who has consciously realized and identified with their own least-excited state, which it turns out is the cosmic state – that person becomes not only harmless, to say the very least, can’t bring harm to anyone, their behavior cannot cut across the interests, the evolutionary interests of anyone else, but they also become a force of progressive change, and mostly by example.  Simply the example of their living.  They don’t bring about evolutionary change by frightening people, by people feeling threatened.  They end up using a type of attraction which is spontaneously loyalty based.  People see the life of an enlightened person, and they want to see if somehow they can become something like that in their own lives.  An inspiration, an exemplar.  The use of a word that I’m trying to re-popularize, which has become almost fallen out of use in the English language, a preceptor.

[17:17] Spontaneous Right Action

A preceptor is someone who teaches by precept.  That means an exemplar.  Someone whose life itself is the teaching.  Rather than them being doctrinaire and having a dogma that people should follow, they live their lives in every given moment by behaving in a way which is evolutionary for that moment.  In some moments of time, the exact right formula of action may be no action at all, including no thought whatsoever.  Not even thought.  Sometimes when presented with negativity, we could try to stoop down to the level of the negativity and fight it on its own level, or we could try to ignore it and pretend that it doesn’t exist, but perhaps in a given moment, utter indifference to it might in fact be the very best and most evolutionary response.  No response whatsoever, meaning not even a thought.

On another occasion, it may be that the most evolutionary moment, the most evolutionary thing to be doing, is to dive into action dynamically.  In another moment, it may be that we bring discipline to something which is a violation of laws of nature which is underway.  So for example, someone may be nailing a sign onto an ancient old tree.  A sign that says something like, “Please keep off the grass.” And in the process of driving nails into the ancient old tree in aid of people staying off of the grassy lawn, they’re causing the tree’s longevity to be endangered.  And it might be that an enlightened, responsible citizen could just quietly approach whoever is nailing that sign into that tree and point out, “This is actually an old tree, and these nails that you’re putting in the tree are harming it.  You may not have known that.  There are other ways of helping to keep people off the grass.”

So like that bringing discipline to a situation, not in a fear-based way, but in a knowledge-based way.  Expanding the knowledge of people, and in a way that is non threatening.  In a way that invites compliance.  It invites compliance because it’s pleasant for people to comply with somebody who knows how, spontaneously, from inside themself, to be an attractant of the loyalty of another.  You feel like you want to go along with what they’re saying because there’s some deep sense in which your own deep inner self, that is the deep inner self of the one who’s listening to the enlightened one, is resonating with the enlightenment of the enlightened one.  It’s as if the Self is speaking to the Self.  The intellect here is not the arbiter of what is right and what is wrong.

[20:15] A Matter of Practice – Vedic Meditation

So we have a sense of, now we’re developing a sense of what freedom really means from the perspective of the Vedic worldview.  The liberating of full potential, the freeing up of our creative intelligence, the freeing up of our stamina, our energy, our relatedness to the evolutionary process, the liberty to design consciously experiences that continue to yield ever-greater happiness for yourself and for all those who surround you who are concerned with your daily life.  Freedom.  This kind of freedom is the freedom that Vedic Meditation brings about when practiced diligently, regularly, twice every day.

And that’s not a harsh discipline.  For those of you who have not yet learned Vedic Meditation, anyone who has learned it will tell you that you know that the time is coming when you’re going to do your morning session of meditation, typically done sometime before taking food in the day, or your evening session of meditation, sometime late afternoon or early evening when it’s time for you to go and sit and have that experience.  It’s not a chore.  You’re not thinking to yourself, “Oh gosh, I have to meditate.  Okay.  It’s a discipline.” No.  If anything, you can’t wait to get to that chair, because the experience is nothing but pure, supreme delight.  You feel that time coming and you’re looking for opportunities to find a place to sit anywhere.  Vedic Meditation can be done in any kind of environment where you can safely close your eyes for 20 minutes.  It doesn’t require any special setting.  It does not require a sanctuary.  It can be done on a park bench surrounded by a marketplace of a cacophony of sound.  It can be done sitting in a sanctuary.  It can be done sitting at the head of your own bed.  Vedic Meditation is very freeing in that regard, and it’s a delight to practice.

So when our mind, through that practice, regularly touches down on that Absolute state, that beautiful inner quiet state.  That inner quiet state, that state of Being, that supreme inner delight of the thought-free condition where the mind steps beyond the subtlest state of thought and experiences no thought, just a quiet condition of Beingness, knowingness, where consciousness knows itself.  That state is a state that’s easily accessible by anyone through learning, in a few steps, a brilliant technique that’s been passed down for thousands of years.

[23:07] Three Fields of Life

Thus, freedom, it needs to be emphasized, is not always simply freedom from a thing or freedom to do a thing.  Freedom itself actually is the state of Being.  Being, Being.  There are three fields of life.  Being, thinking, and action.  Being is the unmanifest field of pure, creative intelligence.  Unmanifest field means though it has all of the potentiality for relativity, all the potentiality to burst forth into change, time, objects, manifestations and so on, all of those belong to that field of Being, but it itself is beyond all of that.  Being is the witness not only of itself, but it is the witness of that which is issuing forth from it.  Being.

Being is an experience that is readily available and ridiculously simply to experience with the right technique.  To make the mind become less and less active is not to force the mind to become less active.  

Consider this.  If someone can run and run fast, then the action of running less fast requires less activity.  And so if I want to run more slowly, it doesn’t require effort to run more slowly.  I simply decrease the degree of effort that I use.  Someone who can run slowly, contained within that capacity is the ability to walk, perhaps fast.  Someone who can walk fast, contained within that ability is the ability to walk slowly.  Contained within the ability to walk slowly is the ability to stand still and not walk at all.  Not walking at all, standing still, requires less effort than walking slowly, walking fast, running slowly, running fast.  All of those activities that come out of that capability of simply standing still require more energy, more effort, more discipline than simply standing still.

The mind, akin to this analogy, requires more effort to think about what you’re doing next, to engage, to speak, to think.  Contained within the ability to think and act is the ability simply to Be.  Being, pure consciousness, silent, still awareness, is not a state that requires more effort than thinking and action.  People sometimes say to me when they haven’t yet learned Vedic Meditation, “I don’t know if I have the discipline to silence my mind.” And I always chuckle, because the fact is the mind arriving at the state of silence is the use of less effort than it takes to think thoughts, but people haven’t yet experienced this, and so they think that they have to try not to think.  Trying not to think is a complete contradiction.  You cannot achieve a thought-free state by trying to achieve a thought-free state.

[26:39] The Mantra – A Mental Vehicle to Effortless Being

In our technique, we make use of a particular type of mental vehicle.  We refer to these collectively as Bija, B-I-J-A Mantras.  A mantra in this regard is a man, mind, tra, vehicle.  Mantra.  Bija means a seed.  There are many, many hundreds of thousands of mantras described in the Vedic tradition.  There are mantras that a cook can sing to herself while cooking in order to become a cheerful cook.  There are mantras that a mother can whisper into the ear of a crying baby to quieten the baby and help the baby to get some rest.  There are mantras that can make a soldier feel more courageous in battle.  There are mantras of every character and every type.

In the Vedic tradition, mantras are sounds.  Some of them with intended meaning, but there is a class of mantras with no intended meaning.  Their entire effect is sonic.  It is the phonics and the sonic effect of the mantra that works to de-excite the mind.  These are the Bija Mantras, the seed mantras, which have no intended meaning.  Unlike a mantra that one might learn, say for example, Om Namah Shivaya, which somebody might learn in a yoga class.  It has a very specific meaning, and the whole idea is that you contemplate the meaning while chanting it.

In Vedic Meditation, we use our mantras utterly silently.  The mind effortlessly experiences the mantra, and the mantra has no intended meaning, and so the intellect is not becoming entangled in the intellectual intent of the meaning of the sound.  It doesn’t work on the level of meaning.  

The mantra repeats in the mind effortlessly as a sound.  And as that sound becomes subtler, fainter, and quieter spontaneously, which it has a tendency to do, it is the nature of the mantra to become softer, quieter, and subtler in the mind with each repetition of it silently from inside with eyes closed when one is meditating.  And as the mantra becomes subtler and softer, quieter, the mantra also becomes spontaneously more charming.  

The mind is liberated to follow the charm by the instruction of the teacher of the student.  The student is instructed, “If you find the mantra becoming subtler and quieter, don’t try to amplify it.  Don’t try to make it noisy in the mind.  Don’t try to figure out what it means.  Just let the charm of the sound, the lilting charm of that sound draw you inward.” And this is exactly what it does.

The mantra becomes subtler, and those subtler strata, a stratum is a layer, those subtler layers or strata of the thinking process, intrinsically become more and more charming as we approach the least-excited state.  It’s not the content of thought during meditation, which as content becomes more charming, content, no, it’s the phenomenology of thinking irrespective of the content.  The mind enjoys the phenomenon of thinking at those very subtle levels.  The mantra tends to come and go.  As the mantra fades away, the student is instructed, “Don’t hold on.  Let it go.” The mind may ramble a little bit in the charm of the phenomenology of thinking at a very subtle level.  And again, this is not a content-driven discussion.  This is the mind experiencing the charming phenomenology of thinking anything in those subtler layers closer to the field of Being.

As the mind moves closer and closer, the mantra may come and go, but it’s consistently pulling the mind gently inward until there’s a point reached where the mantra becomes so subtle that it is almost imperceptible, but intrinsically just rivetingly charming, and then the mantra itself disappears.  And when it disappears, the mind is left for a moment with no mantra and no thought to replace it.  

This is a state of effortless Being.  A state of supreme inner delight where the mind simply is enjoying, consciousness is enjoying being consciousness.  And no thought is there.  It’s not like, “Oh wow, this is a wonderful state of consciousness enjoying being conscious.” That’s a thought.  Only in retrospect, having come out of that transcendent state.  Transcendent means that which is beyond.  Coming out of that transcendent state, one might say, “It was just pure knowingness.  Pure Beingness experiencing itself with pure delight.” This is true freedom.  That state is true freedom.  Freedom simply to enjoy Being.

[31:55] Liberation From Outcome-Oriented Awareness

This is what freedom really means, and this is perhaps one of the ways in which The Buddha, Siddhartha Gautama, who was later known as The Buddha in his lifetime, the historic Buddha, meant when he used the word nirvana.  Nirvana.  Liberation.  Liberation from what? Liberation from the idea that I have to have something happening to make me happy.  I have to be stimulated.  There has to be a process going on.  A process that ends up in a charming outcome.  “If I’m on my way to a desirable outcome, then I feel happy because I can feel myself making progress to an outcome, and that outcome-oriented life is always very disappointing.” 

You arrive at the outcome and the process is over with, and you think to yourself, “To what end? Here I have what it was I thought I wanted, the object, the relationship, the position, the mandate to exercise power, whatever it may be, and yet I feel somehow unhappy.  I don’t really feel like this is doing it for me.  What’s next?” And then one has to think up what’s next.  “What’s next? Something that will make me even happier.  Something bigger, something more bold, something that will give me even greater extension of my territory of influence.  Let me process that and push my happiness into that outcome-oriented awareness.  I won’t be happy until…  this thing happens.”

In that state of pure Being, the mind doesn’t require an outcome.  It is an eternal process.  Being is not an outcome.  It’s not an achievement.  It’s an eternal process.  Beingness.  Beingness.  Beingness.  Beingness.  The process is the outcome.  The process is the outcome.  So Being is that baseline.  Then once we have established ourselves in Being, we begin to notice that having done that quantitatively and qualitatively affects thinking.  Thinking begins to become and adopt all of those elements of being evolutionary.

[34:35] Meeting the Need of the Time

You see, Being is a state of complete freedom.  Freedom to enjoy the Self.  And that is complete fulfillment.  True fulfillment in Being gives you that fulfilled status.  “I am the fulfillment.  I do not require anything to come to me to make me fulfilled.  I’m not an importer of happiness where I mistakenly think happiness sits outside of me.  Let me take whatever that is and import it into my consciousness.  Then I’ll be happy.” No.  This is, “I am the fulfillment state.  I am that.  I am the state of fulfillment, and now I desire to take my fulfillment on an excursion.  I want to take my fulfillment into action.”

And then thinking begins to change.  “Where is need? Where is the need of world? I am not the needy one.  I’m not a big bag of neediness that has to import into itself all kinds of stuff in order to try to fill it up.  No.  I am the fulfillment state.  I’m not seeking fulfillment.  I am fulfillment, and my mind spontaneously wants to move in the direction of, ‘Where is need? Where is creative intelligence needed? Where is staying power needed? Where is energy need? Where is intelligence needed?’ There, I will move.  I’ll move to that place.  I’m taking my fulfillment on an excursion.” Thought then moves into action.  Being, thinking, action.

This is true freedom.  This is true freedom.  The freedom to having identified one’s true nature.  The freedom to move in the direction of need.  Let’s move in the direction of the need of the time.  What is the need of the time? In what way can my enlightened individuality bring itself to the need of the time? What is needed? And what is needed might be simply your presence, or perhaps the need of the time will illicit from you thinking your best thoughts.  Perhaps writings.  Perhaps actions.  Perhaps speech.

And funnily enough, as you continue to grow and develop in this enlightened consciousness state, you don’t need to plan it.  What you find is whether you are best simply at being present, or thinking, or writing, or speaking, or acting, the need of the moment will draw out of you that which it needs.  It will select from you that which is needed that’s going to be the most effective use of your Being, of your knowingness.  That will draw out of you what is needed in the moment.  The need of the time selects and draws from your state of Being that which is needed.  Is that simply your presence? Is it something that you have to write? Your thinking? Is it your action? It could be extremely dynamic action, or simply subtle action.  It might be nothing more than a look, or the lifting of an eyebrow, or it could be dynamic activity on every level of human capability.

[38:25] You Can’t Import Happiness

And so to have this kind of freedom, freedom to be, the expression of evolutionary process itself, for this we have to practice meditation.  There’s no other way.  Simply thinking about this and thinking, “Oh, this is a jolly good idea.  I’ll be the fulfillment field, and the need of the time will draw from me whatever it needs, and I’ll just be happy now.” We can’t make a conscious decision simply, “I’m going to be the happiness field now.” If that was an easy thing to do, if that was the way that this worked, everyone would have done it already.  You wouldn’t have to be listening to any of this.  It would have already been happening.

The fact is we are habit-bound creatures, and we need to learn to have freedom from some of these habits.  The habit that we have that is the most damaging to us in terms of not getting most efficient use of our longevity – longevity means how long is the body going to last? – if during that time, time is wasted, and not being really all that useful to the need of the time, we’re going to miss out on that joy, that freedom, then we want to be alert to this.  The habit, the egregious habit, is that happiness is out there.  “When this thing happens, I’ll be happy.  When I have this relationship, when I have this degree of control, when I receive this mandate that gives me power, when I have this amount of money, when I have this amount of pleasure, when I have these sets of physical sensations, then I’ll be happy.” And then we have to ask the question, which you know the answer to already, “For how long will you be happy? Are you going to be happy for very long, or are you going to be happy only for as long as that distracts you?” Because if we don’t have happiness as our baseline, without baseline happiness, we’re not free.

Freedom in this respect then means freedom from that need constantly to be an importer of happiness.  “Let me import it from here, let me import it from there.  Physical sensations will make me happy.  People admiring me will make me happy.  People verifying and validating my best sense of identity which I’ve projected onto them through my Instagram or whatever, that will make me happy.  The construction of an artificial life on Facebook, where I’ve tried to compete with the entire world and shown them just how content and happy I am compared with them.  Or maybe I am a wild malcontent, and a wild person who’s just ranting and railing against the injustices of everything.  Competing on that level.  I’m even more discontent in all kinds of subtle and intellectually sound ways than anyone else, and here’s my latest manifesto of unhappiness.” Even unhappiness seems to be in desperation, a way that people try to make themselves happy.  They try to make themselves happy through being highly competent in unhappiness and being competitive in the unhappiness world.  All of these things really, they amount to nothing but a waste of time when compared with, and this is the key point, when compared with pure Being.

[42:01] Regular Experience Makes the Difference

To have that state of pure Being, you have to experience it.  One of the great masters of our tradition, about 2500 years ago, was named Adi Shankara.  Shankara, who also enjoyed the name Shankaracharya, was a revolutionary thinker and teacher, and one of the masters of the tradition that has brought Vedic Meditation to the current day.  Shankara’s statement in one of his best writings is that, “You can think about Being, you can have all kinds of subtle arguments for the state of Being, but unless you have the direct experience of Being, all of this is nothing but flowery words.” Nothing but flowery words.  

So Being has to be a direct experience.  And not just experiencing it once.  “Oh, there’s Being.  Oh, that was so wonderful.  15 years ago I had a state of Being when I was trying ayahuasca, or when I got in a car crash and ended up upside down in a ditch and I had a moment where I was nearly leaving my body and I had a state of Being, and it revolutionized my life.” Okay.  Not discounting those things, but to have Being twice a day every day as a regular, direct, systematic experience, as part of the daily strategy, it establishes you in Being.  The direct experience of it regularly establishes you in that state.

[43:33] Established in Being, Perform Action

When you become established in being and then you perform thinking and action, then you are a tool of the evolutionary phenomenon.  Evolution adopts you.  You become adopted by the laws of nature that govern evolution.  Evolution uses the agent of progressive change.  Evolution uses our individuality to bring about progressive change.  

So this is another way of looking at freedom.  Do I have freedom to live life to its fullest potential? Happiness inside seeks the need of the time outside.  That model, rather than the previous model.  The neediness inside is seeking happiness, which I project to be those things outside of me.  The opinions of others.  “Oh, if I only had the opinions of others favoring me, then I would be happy.  I’m dependent on others and their thinking to structure my sense of identity.  Oh, if only I had these objects, that object and that object and that object and that object.  Oh, if only I had this perfect person in my life who just admired me and accepted all my foibles and just thought that all of my imperfections were just perfect for her or for him, then I would be really happy.”

The fact is no you wouldn’t, and no you’re not.  None of these things actually provide us with anything like perfect happiness.  They’re like little evaporating drops of water for a person who is desperately thirsty.  You have to find where the lake, the ocean of the fountainhead of pure happiness is, and it’s deep inside you, and that you experience through the regular practice of Vedic Meditation.

[45:29] Dye Hard – How to Stop Happiness From Fading Away

Very often, I’ve been asked by people who practice Vedic Meditation, “I get what you’re saying, Thom.  I have this experience every day, twice a day, but the challenge for me,” they’ll say, “Is that I come out and I meet the world of those who are not yet experiencing this.” And most people of the world aren’t really going to take this practice up.  We have to be very honest about that.  It’s going to be always a small percentage of people in the world who actually practice meditation, especially twice a day.  And so then the eroding effect that this has.  And this brought to me a fabulous memory.

My teacher, Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, when I was learning with him, came up with a great analogy, and it’s one that is in fact in the Upanishads, which is one of the sacred texts of ancient India.  So you take a cloth, like a linen cloth, and even today in India, you can see this process being used in the rural areas for dyeing a cloth.  You want to take the linen cloth and dye it a deep saffron color, supposing that’s the color which is your target color.  So you have the white cloth, and you have the saffron vegetable dye, a boiling vat of dye that’s made from saffron, and you dip the cloth into the dye and saturate it.  And when you bring it out, it’s dripping wet and a very satisfactory deep reddish-yellow color.

And then the cloth dyer does something very surprising.  They take the wet cloth, usually quite a large size of it that they’re going to use later for tailoring or for making the wardrobe for a yogi, the masters of India often wear these saffron colored robes, and they stretch it out in the brightest and hottest spot of sunshine that they can find.  And they let the hot Indian sun beat down on the cloth.  And when the sun is beating down on the cloth, someone who’s watching innocently from a distance may wonder, “What on earth are they doing? Of course the sun is going to fade away the color.  It’s going to erode the color.” And by the end of the day of being out in the sunshine, sure enough, the cloth has faded back to a kind of a dingy yellow.

And so the cloth dyer wraps up his arrangement for the day, and the next day, dips the cloth back in the dye again first thing in the morning, and then stretches it out once again on a wall or some other place where full sunshine can get on it.  And then at the end of the second day, it has faded.  But it has faded a little less than it did the first day.  Day three, same thing.  Dip into the dye, come back to the sun.  And you begin to realize, there’s a method.  The method is that the sun, though it does fade the color, in fact it strengthens and infuses the color into the fibers of the cloth.  The cloth dyer is intentionally exposing the cloth on the one hand to the deepest color available from the saturating with dye, and on the other hand intentionally placing the cloth in the place which is the enemy of the color, the bright hot sunshine that fades it.  And with each successive day, the cloth becomes more and more colorfast until a time is reached where dipping and putting in the sun all day, the cloth doesn’t fade one iota.

Now analyzing this, what is it that has caused the colorfastness, where the cloth no longer can have its color eroded by the hot, midday sun? It is two things.  On the one hand, dipping in, and on the other hand, intentionally fading it away.  Intentionally.  You see, a cloth dyer who is inexperienced might take the cloth, dip it into the dye, and then hide it in the shade all day, or perhaps put it up for sale, but only in a shady spot.  And then they’ll have lots of returns because people will come back and say, “This cloth faded.  It’s not dyed anymore.  It wasn’t colorfast.  The first time I washed it, or the first time I put it in the sunshine, it lost its color.” The experienced cloth dyer intentionally fades the cloth over and over again.

Our analogy is we dive into the state of Being.  We saturate ourselves in that state during Vedic Meditation.  And then we come out and we intentionally engage with people, engage in action.  This is the sun eroding the color.  It erodes the effect of the establishment in Being that we got in our meditation.  Then we go back to our meditation again, dip the cloth back in the dye, saturate in that state, and then again intentionally come out and engage and engage and engage.  And yes, it does fade the effect of your meditation to engage in that way, but it’s also strengthening that state of Being, making it less fragile, making it less capable of being in any way dented or damaged by the impact of relativities of other consciousness states that are not infused in being and so on.

So by dipping into the state and coming out and engaging, and dipping in again and coming out and engaging, the engagement part is just as important as the dipping part.  If we dip into that deep inner silence and sit in a cave for the next 20 years and don’t ever come out and don’t ever expose it, it would be the same as a cloth dyer dipping their cloth into some rich dye and then hiding it in the shade for the next 20 years.  The moment any sunshine gets on that cloth, it’s going to completely lose all of its colorfastness.  So just like that, if we have a state of consciousness that is protected by diving into the state of Being and meditation every day, and then I don’t come out and engage with anybody because I don’t want to lose my peace, in fact what we’re creating is a very fragile state of peace.

So to create a strong state of peace, we have to alternate.  We have to have systematic alternation.  On the one hand, diving into the deep, inner, quiet state of consciousness and doing that frequently enough, and then coming out into activity and really engaging at every level.  If we try to hide our peace, hide our peaceful, bliss-infused state of Beingess and become a reclusive and don’t at all let anybody affect us, the first time anybody does affect us, we lose it all.  And so to strengthen it, to make it invincible, alternation is very, very critical.  It’s pivotal to our stabilizing of that state.  And when that state is stabilized, just as with the colorfast cloth, no amount of engagement with others can possibly fade it.  Then we have perpetual freedom.  The freedom of Being to persist as that deep inner reality.  In the midst of all thinking, all action, dynamic activity, we never lose it.

[53:16] Cosmic Consciousness – All-Inclusive Awareness

And that state in which we never lose it has a name, all-inclusive awareness.  That all-inclusive awareness, sometimes called Cosmic Consciousness, where meditation no longer is the only place where we identify the state of Being.  In that state of cosmic consciousness, one has one’s eyes open, engaging in activity 24 hours a day, and whatever little bit of time needed for some restfulness in the night, lying down, getting horizontal for a while, still the mind engaged deeply in that state of Being and embracing that inner knowingness even while sleeping is going on.  And then resting for a few hours in the night, then getting up and dealing with the need of the time effectively, most effectively by virtue of having established ourselves and alternating back and forth between meditation and action, meditation and action, until eventually even action is not able to overshadow that underlying field of Being.

And so in this regard, the demands of activity are freeing for us, just as the bright sunshine, supposedly the enemy of the cloth dyer, is used and is the ally of the cloth dyer.  The person dyeing the cloth uses the fading effect of the sun to infuse color into the cloth and make it permanent.  We use the fading effect, the eroding effect of engaging with all others and bringing our creative intelligence to the need of the time.  We’re not worried about the effect of it eroding us because that stabilizes that state in us.  It’s a huge advantage that we have.  And this again is another way of looking at true freedom.  

Jai Guru Deva.

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