In a very recent news article I read, the headline stated: “Nearly half of Americans think they’re a better person than EVERYONE they know!”
I personally think this is shocking and sad because it is so spiritually damaging. I feel that it is due in large part to the influence of big tech and the way in which they affect society by eroding the finer values needed to help us live a more peaceful and happier life. The ex-Google employee and Big Tech critic Tristan Harris, recently testified before the US Congress and said the business model of big social media companies “is to create a society that is addicted, outraged, polarized, performative and disinformed. That’s just the fundamentals of how it works.”
We explore how this erosion of the quality of humility in people contributes to their unhappiness.
Aum Namo Bhagavate Vasudevaya
So, a few days ago I saw a news article, and the headline of the news article was “Nearly Half Of Americans Think They’re A Better Person Than Everyone That They Know.” One more time? In case it didn’t sink in with anybody! “Nearly Half Of Americans Think They’re A Better Person Than Everyone They Know.” Hence my question, is this the death of humility?
Humility is a quality that is absolutely required if you want to succeed in a spiritual journey. It’s not required to be a materialist, to be egotistical, to be lost to yourself, it’s not required at all. In fact it’s bad news. But if your desire is for self-realization or some deeper spiritual understanding, then humility is absolutely essential, absolutely essential.
We have this rather unfortunate tendency in the materially entangled state. If I get five friends together, people that really know each other, and I give each one of them a piece of paper and a pen, and then we choose person number one, amongst the five, and I ask everybody there, “That one doesn’t have to do anything, just sit there. Everyone else please list down all their bad qualities.” It’s like instant, “Yeah okay. Yeah, yeah, yeah. Yeah, yeah, yeah.” [mimes thinking and writing list] It’s just like you’re going for it. You can create a pretty big list. “Okay, now we move to person two, and you can just sit there for a bit, everybody else, can you kindly list all of their bad qualities.” It’s like… [mimes thinking and writing] and you’ve got these long lists.
Then after doing that you give them a fresh piece of paper, and you ask them, “Can you please list down all of your own bad qualities.” [Mimes a blank look] All of a sudden the list has become really short, and now I’m kind of fudging it. “I better put some more stuff down there. Yeah maybe…” It’s just astonishing the capacity that we have to see the faults in others and to be almost blind to our own faults.
And this is due to the influence of what is termed in the yoga philosophy, as the ahankara. Ahankara means the false conception of the self. It literally means I am, the I am thing, or the I am consciousness, I am. And it starts with the idea that the body is the self, which is the monumental illusion that almost everyone is entirely trapped in, that the body is the self. And if that’s going to be your thinking, ah good luck! That’s going to turn into a complete (excuse me) crap out. It just does not get much better, beyond 30 years of age it’s downhill all the way.
I can remember reading an interview that somebody did with Elizabeth Taylor who was, in her day, categorized as the most beautiful woman in the world. And as she aged, even in spite of all the plastic surgery and augmentation—I mean talk about creating a false self—cosmetic surgery is the epitome of creating a false self. She refused to go out into public because she couldn’t stand the idea that the general public saw her as this beautiful icon, and the idea of going out and showing this body as it’s deteriorating, how that’s going to be—that’s just going to blow her whole life apart. You can’t be in a more suffering condition than that. That’s like the ultimate suffering condition, almost.
So the false concept of self, beginning from the idea of the body is me therefore I’ve got to make it look a certain way so that I will be attractive to others, I will find happiness this way, I will find love this way—Anybody that loves you for your body, that’s not love. It’s absolutely not love.
I mean I—it blew my mind when I was a kid I—there were certain things that happened in my life growing up in Te Aroha, and when we used to—the big scene where the hoons—it was rugby and beer, and there was a Friday night (was it? or Saturday night?) dance, and it used to rotate between Te Aroha, Paroa, Morrinsville, Matamata, you know, it would be—and the guys would just go out there with a bunch of beer to get totally drunk out of their minds. Their second item on the list was to find a girl that you could hopefully have sex with, and so you sort of ask somebody to dance, asking somebody to dance is a prelude to what’s meant to come later, and then of course the third item on the list was to find somebody to have a punch up with. You step on somebody’s toe or elbow somebody and, “Yeah, I’ll see you later!” “Yeah, I’ll see you later!” [miming two guys facing off to each other] And so there’s a big punch up afterwards, all these different people punching each other out in different parts of that locale. And then you get your girl in the car and off you go, and totally drunk out of your minds and try to have sex. And it’s just like, oh my God, what the hell is this? This is a meaningless existence. And this was like front and centre when I was a kid. This was like, this is what you did. This was LIFE.
And in that part that journey I can remember hearing a girl, she was kind of like, she was on with a friend of mine, the girlfriend boyfriend thing. And I remember her bitterly saying one time to him, “You don’t really love me. You don’t care about me. You’re just into my body,” and it was just like… In retrospect as I grew in my spiritual training, I remembered that one day, and I thought, oh my God that was an opportunity for her for actual self-realization, because what you just said was amazing, amazing. But then of course, she’s living her life, using the body as the front to the world and to attract others, and doing all the things to try and make it look beautiful and attractive, in the hope that you can reel some love in on that one, that’s the lure. If you’re reeling somebody in on that one, they’re interested in the lure, they’re not interested in you. And as soon as that starts changing, then so much for that one.
So this ahankara, this false conception of the self, actually runs really, really deep, and it pervades the consciousness in so many ways. And the big enemy of this is, as I said, humility, because humility requires that I step aside from all these images, self-images I have created myself, or others are giving me with their so-called affirmations and everything. I mean affirmations that affirm a false idea are bad. They’re really bad, because it just puts you further into that state of consciousness, and makes it increasingly difficult to find real deeper meaning and purpose and real happiness and peacefulness and the ultimate of real spiritual love.
So, this thing that I read, I don’t know how shocking that is for you guys, especially younger people, but for people that were a little—been around a bit, and for thousands of years, this idea is mind-blowing. How could you think that, that you are a better person than everyone else that you know? I mean, really? Really?
And what is the source of this? Where is this all coming from?
Well, we’ve got two things. One is just the natural conditioning of material life and the material consciousness that’s been here since time immemorial. It’s been the constant battle. But now we live in an age where there are far bigger and more powerful influences than my stupid friends, all the crazy ideas that we had when we were kids; and I’m talking specifically about social media and big tech, and the effect and influence that it’s having on people’s lives.
The reason you have this vast number, almost 50 percent of the people (and this is not just because they’re Americans, this is because of the lifestyle that has become so prevalent)…
There was a guy, his name was Tristan Harris. I don’t know if you know this name. He used to formerly work with Google, and he was featured in this documentary, The Social Dilemma. If you have not seen this, or it’s been a while since you’ve seen it, I really encourage you to look at it, or look at it again, because it’s really powerful, and it really rips the blinders off. There is this effort to keep people dumb and stupid, docile and controlled. He, when he gave testimony before the U.S. Congress, he described what the business model was of big tech.
Okay, this is the business model. I mean everybody that’s into whatever, your Instagram and your Twitter and Facebook, and all my friends—and we just think it’s all benevolent, and that’s part of the attraction of it; but he described that the business model (and this is his words) of—And this guy was a design ethicist, he was meant to be concerned with the ethics of how they’re designing logarithms and the use of big tech, and he resigned from Google because he thought it was so unscrupulous, and it was so hazardous to people’s mental health and their peace and well-being—So he described the business model is [and his words] “to create a society that is addicted, outraged, polarized, performative and disinformed. This is just the fundamentals of how it works,” he said.
So the guys in the back room, this is their model, this is what type of society that they are trying to create by using the tools and all the advancement that’s been made in the last, particularly, 50 years, in psychology: how to get inside people’s heads and their hearts and bend them this way and that.
So their design, and the way that they deliver things, and the way they design their apps, and the way they design functionality is, it has to be addictive. And they actually study, they’ve got all these people that study addiction. They study addiction, addictive personalities, and they look, what is it that makes somebody a gambling addict, and they use all these devices that kind of flip these switches and make it so people lose control of their life and keep going back, keep going back, keep going back to do the same things over and over. So they study this, and this is inherent, and it is built in to the things that we use.
They want to create outrage; and one of the ways that they create outrage is to give you a sense of false importance, like your opinion really matters. “Why don’t you let us know what you feel about this?” I mean I just feel like throwing something at the TV when I see somebody delivering the news and [they say], “We’d like to hear some feedback of what you think about this.” They don’t give a sh—(can I say it?) They don’t give a shit about your feedback. They want you to hit that button and do something, because then they know that I’ve triggered that person, and the more people I can trigger the more I’m engaging.
I mean, even news is no longer just the delivery of facts, it’s all about click bait. They want you to be outraged by what is presented. They want you to react, because when that happens you will spend more time on the devices. That’s the only reason. So, they want you to be outraged, polarized. There’s no middle ground anymore. There’s no human decency. Everybody is just so—their own opinion is so important. There’s no humility.
I mean it was, like 20 years ago the big word was inclusivity, that you need to include everybody, and stop being bad to minority groups. Now it’s different. It’s all about polarization. People that you don’t agree with, you should hate them. They’re terrible people. You hate on them. You tell your friends about them. You gang up on them. You cancel them. It’s just like, whoa what happened to civility? What happened to inclusiveness? What happened to a diversity of opinion?
Just because somebody’s got a different opinion and you may think they’re wrong, it doesn’t entitle you to become like Stalin, or Mao Tse Tung, or Tito from Yugoslavia, and just lock people up, and smash them and kill them, or cancel them, because you don’t approve of what they’re thinking.
This polarization that is taking place is directly a result of how society has been engineered, and of course, okay, “performative and disinformed,” critical parts of the formula. But what it’s doing is inflating people’s self-importance.
But this is not the true self. This is not me, the eternal spiritual being. It’s the false concept of self. It’s the material conceptions. And when we anchor our life there, for sure we’re going to become less humble, for sure we’re going to think we’ve got it together. We know what’s going on. We’ve—we know stuff. Those other guys are idiots, and we’re going to hate them.
And it’s just like, oh we’re in such a terrible state.
This is not enlightenment. This is not an enlightened time. This is a time of increasing ignorance. This period that we live in, it is known as the Kali Yuga, which means the age of quarrel, chaos and confusion. Thousands of years ago the great sages and rishis wrote about this time period that was coming and described its characteristic, and those were the three principal things. There’s lots more, but the chaos, quarrel and confusion, a complete lack of real clarity on stuff.
And so what’s the result?
In that same news source where I read that article about people feeling that they are better than everyone else they know, and it was 47 per cent, almost 50 percent of the population said that, so it doesn’t mean everybody else is okay. There’s just different degrees of that condition, but in that same news source there was another article that said suicide attempts amongst adolescents between 12 and 17, and particularly girls, had risen by more than 50 percent during the pandemic. Well, what do you expect?
One of the great foundations of knowledge is going to be humility. Humility is important in so many ways, and to practice it, and to try and come to live a life—you know, humility doesn’t mean you’re weak. You can be incredibly strong and principled and really stand up for that which is right and to protect the weak and the disadvantaged and to speak for them, to help uplift others, but still be incredibly humble.
We’re not talking about a fake kind of…[mimes cowed appearance]. People equate humility with the idea of beating up on yourself. No, that’s not what humility is.
So, I was alarmed when I read this, and I thought I should say something about it. These are the canaries in the coal mine. You know—you’ve heard this term? In the old days when they would go down to work in coal mines, they would take a canary in a cage, because if there were, particularly methane, and carbon monoxide or dioxide, excessive amounts of it, you can’t smell it. It doesn’t—you don’t notice it. And suddenly you start becoming a little bit disoriented, and you just keep working and doing things, then all of a sudden you just black out, and then you will die from carbon monoxide poisoning or methane poisoning. So they used to bring a canary, because the canary was super sensitive, and if the canary started freaking out, and worse, if it died, everybody knew, run! It’s time to get out of there really quick.
So because our lifestyles have altered so much—and this is a little bit connected to the series that we’ve finished with. (And if you weren’t here for those you can check them out online. The series called A Compass For Life.) It’s so critically important for you yourself to establish a list of qualities that are going to guide you in your life, that you are going to embrace, and work to develop and cultivate. And if you do this you will become a much better person and it opens the door for actual self-realization. It opens the door for you to become actually happy and peaceful, and to find real deeper meaning and purpose in life.
But if you are trapped in all the stuff that’s going on in your head, if you’re living in the world of your emotions and mind, it’s kind of like whoa! that’s not going to work out very well for you. Sorry, it’s just not. And part of having clarity is to be humble. Don’t be overwhelmed with ideas of self-importance, or that you are in great knowledge.
When the—in the ancient spiritual systems everybody knew something, there were kind of basic stuff everybody knew. One of them was that all human beings suffer from four defects, at least prior to being self-realized, I mean completely self-realized. These four defects are, that I cannot entirely trust my senses and the knowledge absorbed through them. They are limited in nature. Every single person can be put into some form of illusion. That’s what magic is about, illusionists. We can be subject to illusion. We have a propensity to cheat, meaning not to be honest even with ourselves etc. I mean there are these fundamental things that are there.
And so the transcendentalists were always wary of what their mind cooked up. They went to sources of knowledge, they directed their life, they adopted principles to live by that actually result in profound realization and understanding. And humility is really important. If you lose that one you’re going to have a big struggle in your life.
Okay. That’s it folks. Was that okay or what? Really, I’m sorry too if I’m a little bit of a bummer every week. I’m the bummer guy. Can’t we just have the unicorns and the rainbows? Yeah, if you’re on acid all the time, but you still have to come down from that one and face the reality of a degenerating body and a crappy life. Oh, I want you so much to become happy and to become strong and independent, and that will only happen if you grow spiritually. Thank you very much.
So we’ll chant Aum Hari Aum.