This is a 3-part series from a recent retreat.

What does a really successful life look like? Well, it depends on what you define as ‘success’.

The dictionary defines success as “achieving the results wanted or hoped for; the achievement of something that you planned to do or attempted to do.”  But it is also possible to succeed at attaining a desired goal yet fail to achieve desired result/outcome.

Ideas of ‘success; are often not our own ideas but ideas planted in our minds by others. We are often sold (by advertising, social media, friends, family etc.,) that the attainment of material things, experiences, and relationships are desirable and will deliver happiness and fulfillment. But we experience that this is not true.

In the first talk, we took a brutally honest look at that reality. In this talk, we deeply examine the actual purpose of human life and how achieving that purpose makes one’s life truly successful.


So the topic that we were discussing was how to live a successful life—super important question. And yesterday we sort of explored what—how do you define success?

And one of the main points was sort of captured in a blog that I read of a woman who was, from her estimations, at least the standards that society imposes, she was very successful. She had a wonderful husband, a partner in life. She had a really good job that she liked, and it was well-paid. She had everything that she should have or society says is desirable, and yet she felt incredibly alone, incredibly disconnected. And she’s talking about lying there in bed, she can hear her husband breathing and the ticking of the clock on the wall, and she says she’s very grateful for everything that she has, but she’s not happy, and she feels terribly guilty for not being happy.

And of course, what this points to is that a person can set goals and actually succeed in acquiring and reaching those goals, acquiring what they seek to acquire, but if you ask them, “Are you therefore successful in life?” a person can at the same time answer, “No,” like this woman has. So it’s sort of like you succeeded in acquiring what you thought was going to deliver all the goods, but your experience once you arrive there was that there was something greatly lacking.

It’s really important for people not to think, “There’s something wrong with me if I have this experience.” In fact, if you’re having this experience there’s something very right with you. It means that you are somewhat, at least, tuned into your deeper self, your actual spiritual self. And even though all of these things you’ve accumulated and all the experiences that you’re having or had are related to satisfying the urges and the desires of the mind and the body, it actually doesn’t touch me in the core of my being.

Way back when, Rolling Stones, “I Can’t Get No Satisfaction, and I tried and I tried and I tried,”—three times. And these guys were multi-millionaires, savage hedonists. It was—this is the epitome of the sex, drugs and rock and roll. Everywhere you go there are just women, or if your preference is such, men, throwing themselves at you, every single night. Everybody’s adoring and worshiping you, and yet you can be so empty, not experiencing satisfaction.

So if we—It’s such a bummer that—of course it’s pervading New Zealand, but in America, it’s worse. I mean, in America the drug companies advertise products directly to consumers:

“If you are feeling this or that or that you may have this. Why don’t you ask your doctor about this, the solution?”

“Doc, I think I may have some kind of new exotically defined mental health crisis.”

It’s not a mental health crisis! You’re experiencing the reality that nothing in this world can fully satisfy you. That is not an illness. You are perfectly healthy. There is something wonderful going on in your life that you’re actually having that experience. But of course, their promotion is “Well, maybe you’re suffering from this or that, and therefore you need this kind of chemical.”

And it goes back to this fallacy that mental illnesses are the result of chemical imbalances. I mean even though that theory that was pushed in medicine for many decades has been utterly debunked, there are still vestiges of it everywhere. It’s still being pushed in society. And of course, people aren’t interested in your well-being. They want to make money from you, and so they’re just trying to push something that will “make you feel better,” and just cover it up.

Sorry! I don’t like these guys, and I don’t like what they’re doing to the human population of the world. Well, not only the human population. My God! The use of psychotropic drugs is so massive in the developed world that when they sample fish in the ocean, they contain all the stuff that people are taking and pissing out into the sewer that goes out in the ocean. It’s kind of like, whoa! these really heavy chemicals are found in your aquatic population, and they’re not even depressed. They didn’t even need it. They didn’t ask for it. It came to them uninvited.

So before we get going, I just want to, in advance, apologize to anybody I may upset for talking in a very straightforward way. My intention is not to upset anybody, it’s to try and help them. But I will savagely question the point of view that many people have adopted, which is not self-created but is being fed to us by primarily commercial interests through advertising and everything and then social media.

I mean advertising, they really perfected the art of manipulating using psychology and triggers and recognition that every single person feels some emptiness within. This is a fundamental recognition in advertising, and what you need to do is associate a product or an experience with something that will fill up that empty space. And then what are the words that we need to use?  What is the music? What are the visuals? What are the people that they’re going to have in the ad? This is all carefully chosen to psychologically manipulate people, where people don’t even recognize they’re being manipulated.

And social media has taken this over and moved it to—it’s like on steroids, the way that they have set it up so that they are constantly monitoring your reactions to everything. You look at your phone and you think, “Oh it’s just a phone.” No, it’s not. You’ve got to realize that when you look at that screen, on the other side of it you have the most amazing array of vast mega computing power that’s watching everything, every touch of the phone; and analysing how you respond to videos or things that it has fed you, how you’re reacting to it. Everything has been measured and calculated. They build psychological profiles of you every time you use an app, and even when you’re not using an app they’re still grabbing all the information, where you go, what you do, everything. It’s all being grabbed. And it all goes into this massive profile to manipulate the crap out of you and to try and exploit you for money. It’s not about power. It’s not lizard people or anything. It’s just gross exploitation for money. That’s all they’re doing it for. And of course, we become victimized in that we don’t learn how to think critically, and we have very few resources.

I mean, I was having a chat with somebody yesterday, Alejandro (Alejandro? Yeah, and—just making sure I got the name right) and we were talking about, so many people write books, and they put forward opinions and everything. I’ll tell you something: in the Vedic system, in the yoga tradition, they taught—from children they taught them, before you listen to somebody you need to question, “Who is this person?” (like an author of a book, or somebody doing a YouTube video), “Who is this person? What is their source of so-called knowledge? And more importantly, what is their character? What’s motivating them?” Before I listen to what they’re going to have to say I should know what’s motivating them, and I should know whether they’re attached to—like in the yoga system they highly value these spiritual traditions, where self-realized spiritual teachers in a lineage have passed down this ancient knowledge and a perspective. That is only done, not to take anything from you, but out of interest for your highest well-being.

The other week, a week ago, I was down the South Island. We were doing a retreat down there, and I did it on the part of a massive spiritual text called the Bhagavat Purana, and it talked about an assembly of sages who assembled, and this was like 4,000 plus years ago. They assembled at the dawning of this current age, which is considered, as I mentioned yesterday, not a good time. This is called Kali Yuga, and it’s epitomized by chaos, quarrel, and confusion. Not good! Sorry if I’m a bummer. Am I the bummer guy or what? So, it’s good to know what you’re up against.

And they had gathered together in a forest, in a holy place, and they were living in these little temporary huts that they built, and they sleep on the floor, and they eat very simple food. And they had gathered to consider, “What can we do for the people in this coming age to help them to fulfill their greatest needs and to find spiritual happiness and perfection?” And they were undertaking these enormous personal austerities for you and me.

It’s kind of like, well, when’s the last time I undertook a massive austerity, considering what’s the best thing I could do for my neighbor? I don’t even care about the person that lives next door or across the street, what to speak about everybody in New Zealand or everybody in the world. It’s just so—it’s coming from a different place. I just want to lay that one out there.

So the foundation—I’ll just do a little caveat here. The deepest and most spiritual yogic teachings are not fanatical, nor are they considered a massive imposition. There was always this understanding: “Okay, well this is the highest goal to attain, but if you think you can’t do that, then you should at least go for this, and if this is too difficult, that’s okay. Don’t worry. Don’t worry. Everything’s going to be okay. Let’s try this. And if this is even too difficult for you, it’s all right. Don’t worry. Let’s just start here. We’ll do this. Just make focus on this.” So they had this very compassionate—and wasn’t about judging higher or lower. It was about meeting you where you are and helping you to begin a journey, that it doesn’t matter where you go in that journey in this lifetime, it’s always going to contribute something incredibly positive to your life. So that’s kind of the foundation of what it is that we’re kind of presenting here.

The most critical piece of knowledge that you need, and beyond knowledge, to actually experience, that is going to set you on a pathway towards true and revolutionary happiness, radical joyfulness, and to bring you to the doorstep of the experience, of the awakening of the most incredible spiritual love, the foundation for that is the understanding that you are not this body. This physical body is absolutely not me. This is something I am currently inhabiting, that I am an eternal spiritual being. Nor are my mental faculties me. This is a subtle covering of the soul itself, the spirit soul.

The material condition means to be utterly absorbed in the foundational and wrong idea that the body is who I am, and with that the mind, this is who I am. This is my identity. And the great yogis taught that this is actually the foundation of all, not some or most, all unhappiness and all suffering arise from that false assumption.

The more a person can cultivate this awareness that “This is not me, this is not who I am, this is a temporary identity, this is a vehicle that I am using.” They use this term yantra in the Bhagavadgita, yantra, in describing the body. It means like a machine; the person is seated like on a machine. But the problem is we identify so much with it.

I run some programs in prisons, and there was a guy that I met, an Islander guy—he’s quite aged, and he’s been in prison for about 40-something years. So he’s done some pretty bad shit. And he started attending just because it’s, I guess, it was just something else to do. Imagine staring at the wall for 40-something years. It’s not very exhilarating. And he got involved, and because we use musical meditation and spiritual sound, they love that, and they just really go for it.

I mean some of the best kirtans I’ve had have been in prisons. I mean that’s just really—they just love it. And it’s like the—we were in this bleak place—I mean it’s bleak! Every door has got a lock, and the guard has to come and open it. And you’re in this place with all this, it’s just like an ocean of testosterone. And everybody’s, “Raaarggh,” just really agro, and everybody’s just, “Yuh, yuh, yuh.” And so you come in there, and you do this chanting, and it’s just like the room lights up. It’s like an ocean of light in there. And everybody’s just like really going for it, and then time to finish, and open the door, and “Yaaauh,” it’s like just stepping out into an ocean of darkness.

One of the things the guys would respond, when I asked them, “So why do you keep coming back?” (Because we would offer these 10-week courses.) “Why do you keep coming back?” And one of the things that they all say is, “Because it works.” In sharing the understanding that you’re not the physical body, you’re a spiritual being, you don’t have to go with every single emotion and feeling that comes over your mind—that’s not you. You have a choice. You can go with it, or you can kind of push that off to the side and become focused on something more important.

One of the key things I’d tell them is, when we become—when we’re in a highly emotional state, and a highly emotional state can happen, Bam! like that. People can go from zero to one hundred in half a second, just like grrr, grrr, whoa!, not even ramping up. But the idea, and it’s part of mindfulness exercises, when you are in a heightened state of emotions, do not speak, do not make a decision, and do not act. Go the f*** away and calm the f*** down. And when you are on a very even keel, then you start thinking, “Okay, how should I react to this? What’s really in my best interest, and what’s in that person’s best interest? How should I deal with this thing to move the needle in a more positive direction?” And based on that, then you make a conscious choice of how you are going to interact with people.

So this guy was just kind of like, they would try this stuff, out in the prison yard and everything, and it was just like mind-blowing, that they learned that they can actually become the masters of their existence, of their life. They don’t have to be enslaved by inflamed emotions and mental states and fears and all the stuff that goes on up there.

But this guy, he really became deeply absorbed in contemplating how the body wasn’t him. And a friend of mine from Hawaii, we were doing a documentary on Criminal Justice Reform, and so we got to interview some of these guys after doing it. So we asked him, “So what’s—” (the guy that was interviewing) “What’s the main thing that you feel has benefited you from this practice?” And he kind of cleared his throat, and he kind of got all serious, and he goes, “You know, this body, this body, it’s like a car, and you, you are the driver. You’re the driver of the car. The car shouldn’t be driving you. You should be driving the car. And one day this car is going to get old and broken, and you’re going to open the door and get out of the car and leave it.” And that for him was just like, Boom!, that was amazing, because that really shaped his relationships, and how he was dealing with others and family and everything, and how he looked at the time that he had left in this body and what he was going to consider should be his purpose, what he should be doing. And he was just like—it was so simple, but it was so profound. It was transforming his decision-making process and how he was living.

This is the purpose of meditation. The purpose of meditation is limitless happiness, and the foundation for that experience is the growing awareness of our individual spiritual identity, who we actually are; and then to begin to live a life that is aligned with our true inner identity, not the temporary. Man, if you focus your life on the physical covering, this temporary identity, and all the desires and the wants and everything, oh good luck! That one ain’t gonna work out well for you. Yeah, you’re probably going to seek counseling and medication.

We just have this… the growth in these problems is phenomenal, and the massive and terrible consequence, where people contemplate suicide and commit suicide, thinking that there’s no way out of the suffering. And what’s happening in many, not all necessarily, but many of these cases are people have sold themself, or been sold on, a false bill of goods. They have been told, “Your life can be perfect. Your physical appearance (meaning the shape and size of your body, the quality of the skin and the hair, and what you drape the body in), defines who you are and defines your value and worth, and defines whether you are lovable or not lovable.”

It’s just like, oh my gods! How can you do anything worse for the glorious spiritual beings than to cover them in such false ideas? And then when somebody’s not up to the standard of—[Sighs] Yesterday, I was just, in exasperation, thought, the most ridiculous people on the planet are influencers, and yet you’ve got all these young people aspiring to become an internet influencer, a social media influencer. Just like, oh my God! How shallow and how sad your life is. Even if you’re not experiencing the sadness now, the result of this chosen course of false ideas is going to send you to a deep dark place that will be incredibly unhappy.

The great yoga teachers since ancient times, said there was one distinction between human life, and when I say human life, let me just—(Well, let me finish that first. Sorry. You can’t imagine all the stuff that’s going on up here! There’s so much to share, and it’s just kind of like, okay, I need to calm down a little bit.)

The distinction between a human being and an animal is, in human life, you can ask, “Who am I? Why am I here? What is life for? Is there any higher or transcendent spiritual reality or truth?” An animal cannot ask that question. “How do you know?!” [Laughs] Well, because the ancient teachers since time immemorial have proclaimed this reality, understanding the nature of the gross physical body and the subtle physical body. Animals and human beings are not different in their essence. They are all spiritual beings.

Anything that is showing the symptom of life means that there is a spiritual being present. Matter, material energy, never is alive. It never manifests life or consciousness. This is a separate category of energy. It is called the tatastha sakti, or the jiva sakti, the life energy. And when that life energy is present in any material covering, that material covering becomes influenced by it and begins to show symptoms of life. But it’s not coming from the body, it is actually radiating from the spiritual being, the spirit soul itself.

In lower life forms it is stated that one does not have this faculty to question. Amongst all the varieties of bodies, the human form alone has this faculty to ask these questions. And so it is considered that when a person actually seeks answers to these questions, their life is becoming, or we could even say, even if it’s in the beginning to ask the question, has become successful; because that is connected to our purpose. The purpose of our existence in human life is self-realization and God realization.

If you don’t do that, then they understand that you will be perpetually entangled in the cycle of birth and death called samsara, moving through different species of life, driven simply by the desire to satisfy one or more urges or desires that arise from the body and mind.

Is that too heavy or what? We’re okay with that? Nobody was going to throw a chair at me? Or, “You’re wrecking my day!” I’m sorry.

The spiritual perspective of these great spiritual teachers , they’re not here to, as they say, piss on your parade, right? That it’s—No. It’s kind of like, it’s not their fault if people have adopted false expectations, to expect this world can become my home. No. All it takes is a savage earthquake, a monumental deluge, like 10 times what’s happened already, and that happens sometimes. All it takes is the death of a loved one, somebody that you really care about, and for them to be removed by this event called death. It doesn’t take very much to make us suddenly realize, “Wow, this is not eternal, and I do not, I cannot, take full shelter in this world. At any moment things will be removed.” Things may go on really wonderfully for a long period of time but eventually, we end up with one of these types of experiences.

And so yesterday, in speaking about, I had a verse I was going to read, and I refrained from doing it yesterday, because it may be perceived as being too negative. But I’ll read it now. All right? You look like a rather mature audience, and quite resilient and capable of—

“Materialistic activities…”

And can I—let’s just—I’m sorry. I find there’s always a need to explain things, because that was my experience. I needed to have things explained, and it was a real bit of a journey to begin to see a shift in the way I saw things. Materialism is the philosophy that nothing exists apart from the material energy, and by virtue of the laws of nature, the material energy produces life and the mind and all these complicated things—which we know to be absolutely not true. And in spite of all the savage attempts of materialistic scientists to propose this, it’s absolutely not a fact.

To be spiritual, the foundation for spiritual life, is to accept that I am an eternal spiritual being. It’s not about going out in nature or walking along the beach. That’s all the material energy. That’s not spiritual. And as I mentioned yesterday, there are three operative modes within the material nature, one being the mode of goodness, where when you expose yourself to certain things they instill a certain peacefulness, a calmness, an attraction towards something which is higher. That alone is not spiritual. It’s called the mode of goodness and makes it easy for a person now to go deeper into that which is truly spiritual.

The foundation of all spirituality is the recognition, and my living in the understanding, that I am an eternal spiritual being. All materialism is founded upon the false notion that the body is the self, that the material energy is all there is, and my highest purpose in life is to try and satisfy all of the desires and wants that arise through the material senses and the mind. This is materialism.

So, “Materialistic activities…” meaning activities that are solely focused on the mind and the body and everything with that,

“Materialistic activities are always mixed with three kinds of [sorry folks] miserable conditions.”

And they categorize them, adhyātmika, adhidaivika, adhibhautika.  Adhyātmika means suffering that comes from my own body and mind. So that’s a common thing. Everybody experiences that. Adhibhautika means suffering and anxiety that comes from other living beings, people that cause you suffering. And adidaivika means those calamities that come from natural occurrences and causes. So even when a person is on the pathway of wanting to achieve material success, they will have to constantly encounter different difficulties and different types of suffering, and it will come from one of these three places.

“Therefore even if one achieves some success by performing such activities, what is the true benefit in this success?”

I always remember—Movie stars and fabulously rich people have these experiences. I had a strange job one time. I used to decorate palaces in semi-precious stone mosaics and precious metals, and so I got to meet a lot of unimaginably wealthy people, like just you can’t even begin to comprehend. But you will see that even at the highest pinnacle of success

And I’d—Madonna getting ready to do her new tour, with her new face and everything, [laughs] It is like, I remember when she went through this massive depression, in Paris, I think it was. She was on a world tour, and she just suddenly locked herself in her room one day, and she wouldn’t come out. She didn’t come out for a week. The blinds were drawn. She didn’t eat anything. She was just in this desolate dark place. Anybody that’s suffered from some form of quite serious depression know what I’m talking about. And the reason people can have that experience is not because there’s something wrong with them, or their mind has become broken. It’s the hard truth that all of this stuff actually does nothing for me in my heart of hearts. People can be chanting my name, throwing money at me, worshiping me, millions of people, and I can have fabulous wealth and be doing all the things I want to do.

Something that I learned in my life, one of the big distinctions between incredibly wealthy people and people that have lesser means, an incredibly wealthy person has the opportunity to actually do anything they want. Every desire they have, they can immediately go, “Yeah, let’s do that.” And of course, with that comes the experience like, “Here I am lying in bed at night,” and it’s kind of like, “Well, that didn’t do anything for me.” Whereas people with lesser means, they hold on to ideas, “Oh, if only I could do this, it’d be so wonderful. If only I could have that. If only I could be with this person. If only I could do this, I would be so happy.” And it’s not true.

So even while—

“Therefore even if one achieves some success by performing these material activities, such activities, what is the benefit of this success?”

That’s not passing judgment. It’s not being critical. It’s asking really serious question: so what exactly is the benefit?

“One is still subjected to birth, old age, disease, and death, and to the reactions or the karmic results, of all one’s fruitive activities.”

Every single action that you take has a consequence. In the prison environment—and it’s actually really relevant to everybody—where you find yourself at this moment is directly the result of decisions that you’ve made and actions that you’ve taken. If your life is not fulfilling, if there is unhappiness, if, whatever you’re experiencing in your life, it’s not caused by someone else. It is directly the result of one’s own choices and actions.

And so we are encouraged to become the masters of our life, to make brilliant choices, to take really good actions that result in fantastic outcomes. And the great outcome is the realization of my identity as an eternal spiritual being.

I was planning to do a more mellow version, but we went for the full monty!

Having said that, and going back to something I mentioned in the early part, don’t stress out. Don’t worry. Don’t—just take it easy. If you begin to cultivate a personal practice where you add—and specifically this form of meditation upon transcendent sounds, spiritual sound, if you make this the central focus of practice, even if it’s like a little bit every day, your life will become infinitely better. You will automatically—I mean, back to the prison thing again, in the beginning when we started doing stuff, some of the prison psychologists were thinking like, you know, bit of an eye roll, and they knew how to help people, and how they’re going to fix everybody.

I would tell the guys, “Well the problem is they have a two-dimensional paradigm. They’re working only with the body and the mind, whereas we come with a three-dimensional paradigm. We recognize the existence of a spiritual being, and then there is, yes, a body, and there is a mind that is covering that spiritual being. And to come to understand this becomes really empowering because you realize I don’t have to be simply swept away always by my mind and the desires that arise in the mind and the body. I can actually choose what’s in my best interest and begin doing that.” And the result was, from, just from the practice of the meditation, for almost all the guys I talked to, it’s kind of like the penny drops; and the psychological advice that they’ve been given, they kind of now see it, “Oh yeah, okay yeah, I understand how that can benefit me.” But it’s based on this understanding that I’m a spiritual being, that I’m different than my mind. I can try to control—

You guys ever try to control your mind, don’t think about this, or try to focus on that? The fact that you can try to control your mind is a clear demonstration that the mind is not you. But in our daily life mostly we’re just walking along in this—it’s like being on an acid trip or something. Your mind is just going for it. It’s just thinking all the stuff, and it’s regurgitating things, and it’s planning, and it just—and you’re just like, “Yeh, yeh, yeh,” just following along. So the psychologists in the prison, they’re starting to see all this massive transformation. And the guards are going, “What’s happening to these guys?” because the behavior in the yard when they’re together is kind of different, even when we’re only dealing with like 10 percent of the population.

And so they ended up designating a pretty big area for us, and actually advising all the people that they were counseling, “Um, maybe you should try the meditation class that these guys are doing. It might really help you.” So that was a positive thing.

In your life, even if you are not philosophically inclined, you’re a simple person (sometimes being a simple person is the way to go), if you just add a little bit of this process to your life every day, you will find that there will be moments of inspiration where you will just suddenly have this idea, “Oh, maybe I should deal with this situation or this person in this way.” You will actually begin to have realizations and appreciations and understanding.

So even if your goal is not spiritual liberation or some high attainment, it’s okay, okay. Don’t worry about it. But do this. I promise it will make your life better. It will not only make your life better, but it will also make your life successful, and with that, I will end.

Anybody have question?

Was that okay?

[someone raising a hand for a question]

Yeah, sure.

Before you ask the question, I’ll just let you know: we’re going to do another couple of Q&A sessions. Today it’s at 2:30. It’s been advertised on the thing at 2, but it’s going to be 2:30. And it’s just kind of like hangout time. Let’s not be overly serious—although I’m a very serious dude. And anything’s on. You want to ask anything, don’t be shy. No question is a dumb question. If you have questions, it’s important, because it’ll often help to potentially clear things, and help you move forward in life. So don’t be shy about asking questions, and there are no such things as dumb questions.

Okay. [to questioner in audience]

Question: [indistinct voice from the audience on asking question]

Acd: I’m sorry, I’m having trou—I got a fan here. No, it’s all right, don’t worry about the fan.

Question: [repeated but still indistinct]

Acd: Always. The spiritual deficit lies at the heart of all social ills and personal ills. It’s just like when people begin to experience the purposelessness of my existence, “I don’t see any way out of where I am,” or whatever and you try P, it’s unlike anything that came before. It immediately gives you this unbelievable dopamine rush, and it’s just like people experience that, and they become obsessively fixated with that experience and the idea that this is actually happiness. And then they go back for it because it was so amazing, but every time you take it you begin to step back from that initial experience, but it’s become increasingly addictive, physically and psychologically. And so what happens is people find themselves in this absolute hell, and they think that the next puff or a blast is going to get them out of that hell.

My first experience with it—I used to be a raging hippie believe it or not. Probably don’t look like it anymore. When I left New Zealand, I was 18, and I went to Australia. We meet a couple on the boat. And their trip was—we were into hallucinogenic, they were into heroin. And then they had an address where they were going to stay, and they invited us around So, a couple of days later, we went to Sydney, and we moved into the Salvation Army, until we could find out where all the hippies were staying, what part of the city it was. And so we went around and visited them, and the girl let us in, and she was like just completely a mess, like a major mess. And the guy was out, he was trying to score. They hadn’t scored anything for two days, since they arrived, and so the big withdrawals were going on, and so they were hitting the heavy liquor trying to take the edge off it.  And then—so I’m kind of like—she’s just like blubbering and losing the plot.

So I was kind of wanting to leave, looking at my friend, and then the guy arrives, and he’s just like elated because he made, he scored. They had a little pack. And it was kind of like—and then comes the ritual. It’s kind of like some religious ritual. Out comes the spoon and the fire and the syringe and the little bit of cotton wool on the spoon, and they’re cooking it up, and load that needle, and then they’ll look at it, and just [mimes getting air out of needle] don’t want to waste any, but get the air out. Okay, all good.

And now he’s going to be the perfect gentleman. He’s going to take care of the woman first. So they start trying to tie her arms and her legs, and they can’t find any veins because they’re such heavy users, all the veins have receded, now down on the feet looking for it, and they’re all over. And then he’s going into a panic because it’s like right there, my release, my freedom, it’s right there, and I’m having to hassle with you. And so he suddenly says, “Oh, don’t worry about it. Just have a drink,” hands her some whiskey, and “We’ll take care of it later,” and then wraps something around his arm and shoots himself up, and then just falls over on the bed. And she’s there in a total mess.

And I’m going like, I’m looking at my friend, and I just had this massive realization, that you think your freedom and your happiness lies in this. You think that life is a total bummer and filled with suffering, and this is your release from all the suffering. But for me, I had another view. I’m going like, “Oh my God, this is not the release! This is imprisonment. You have been enslaved. This is the tragedy, that you think the cure for the poison is this stuff, but this is actually the poison.” And I walked away from that just absolutely mind-blown because it was like so clear to me.

I was helping a friend in another country, and I’ve known them for quite some time—husband and wife, three kids. And the woman just gradually went on this horrible pathway where she got involved with business and became successful in making money, and sort of began to drift away from the husband and kids, and she was just like full-on into it. And then the people she was hanging out with were users of different kind of stuff. And she hadn’t been doing anything. She’d been doing the meditation. She was a wonderful person. And now she just started going on this path, and she ends up on the street with a massive meth habit.

And when I would see her, and I would talk to her from time to time, it was just the physical transformation was scary. And her husband was so patient. His name was Michael (and he also has a spiritual name, Mathuradhama) but this woman’s family would call him Saint Michael because he was so patient with her. It was terrible for him. It was like pulling him apart, but he was taking care of the kids, he was holding the family together. When she would resurface, he would try to help her and talk her through things. Then, she’s gone, after a day, back on the street, being raped and physically abused and beaten and robbed, and still she’s going back. And it’s just because you’ve become so utterly controlled by the substance and the addiction mechanism.

But for her, I would talk to her from time to time, and she would cry, and she knew what I was saying was true but she couldn’t get there. But gradually, with the help of other people and our sometimes talking, she started transforming. She went into a detox and rehab. It was like the third time. She’d go in and come out, and back to the streets. But this time there’s something sort of clicked, and she got back into really taking shelter in this meditation process and everything.

And her transformation was so radical. She was in the rehab for a month and then a week after being out, or two weeks after being out, she went back to—because she’d been giving some meditation classes to the people that she met in there who’s really appreciated it—they were shocked at how she looked just in that two-week period. There’d been a complete physical transformation. And her life—it’s not there weren’t big struggles, there were still a lot of challenges. She’s doing fine for a year now, and she’s quite solid, but it’s sort of like, yeah, it’s a spiritual illness.

And when people are not exposed to those kinds of chemical substances and the effect that they have on the brain and therefore our mind and the body, you can sort of like wander through life. A lot of people hang out at the RSA every day. Everybody’s using some sort of psychotropic substance, massive amounts of it in society, just to try and maintain, but everybody’s pretty much suffering from the same ailment, which is a spiritual ailment. And when you become exposed, and you have a certain physical or genetic characteristic which can make you more susceptible to the effect and influence, then yeah, it’s tough.

But it’s hard helping people, because they have to want it, and sometimes it means they have to crash and burn. They have to be in the gutter and realize, “What am I doing!?” to have that sort of deep—it’s not always that way, but unfortunately, it’s often that way.

Sorry, that was a long answer, but it’s really important—

Q: [indistinct]

Acd: Yeah. No, the main thing to understand, there has to be this really consequential thinking. I’m going to choose something, and it may have an immediate effect that I find desirable, but it also is going to have a longer-term effect, and it’s, well, do I want that? Because when I do this, this is coming with it. Everybody likes to fantasize, “If I can just do this, we’re all going to be happy, and it’s going to be fantastic,” and we don’t think about the longer-term consequences. And for that reason many people, as they age, have many regrets in their life, because we made some really crappy choices that led to longer-term harm for ourself and for people that we care about and society in general.

So it’s necessary to find that resilience and to be more engaged in consequential thinking, and to come to have this trust, that specifically with these spiritual activities, if I do it, it will produce this result, because I can see it in people that I know. And so this is also like what people in the West think of faith, in Sanskrit sraddha, which is often translated as faith, actually has more to do with trust, and that trust comes from practical experience.

Is that okay? Thank you so much for the question. So if anybody wants to hang out 2:30 we’re doing something.

So I’ll chant just for a few minutes the mahamantra.