Navigating the lunar surface can be used as an analogy for navigating the mind. One needs to carefully plot a course that avoids the dangers and pitfalls and takes advantage of smooth terrain.
The opposite to this approach is like being swept away in raging flood waters filled with dangerous debris, where one has no control. Our choice is to either take control of the content of our mind, or to hand that job over to someone else.
“They have literally rewired our brains so that we are detached from reality and immersed in tribalism.” – Tim Kendall, former director of Facebook.
Our job is to infuse our minds with goodness. Living a “good life” commonly means having the facility to consume the best that money can buy. But this is not being good, to ourselves, others and the planet. Living a good life should mean to be good to all others and to the planet.
But what about those who would do me harm? Why should I be good to them? The answer is “for my own sake.”
Aum Namo Bhagavate Vasudevaya.
So, tonight I’m going to talk about Moon Craters and Rescue Dogs. Seriously!
When I was reading some of the reports of the moon landing and the enormous challenges and difficulties in trying to find a place to put down that’s not filled with boulders and rubble and moon craters and all kinds of things that are going to cause a disaster—in a lot of ways that sort of can be an analogy for us and our mind. When they set forth with the moon rover, they have to plot a course that’s hopefully mostly on flat clear land and avoid the pitfalls of the moon craters and the big boulders and obstructions all over the place. This is kind of like what we also need to be doing in terms of how we utilize our mind.
The alternative to not being the one utilizing and directing the mind is kind of like you know, you see the big floods that they had here, and you see all around the world when there’s these big floods and things are getting swept away, particularly when it’s really a wide area and there’s houses and cars and all kinds of things in the water. And if you were caught up in that, you would be probably spending as much time trying to avoid the trees and logs and debris and broken parts of houses and things as you would trying to swim. It’s like you’d be just totally preoccupied with trying to stay afloat and avoid getting smashed.
This is also an analogy of what it’s like when we really don’t exercise control of the mind, and we don’t attempt to utilize this wonderful ability that we have to actually step back from your mind, to not only step back, it’s kind of like what they do with the moon rover before proceeding, you need to sort of plot the course, “Okay, how do we get around this, and how do we avoid that, and how do we arrive at our destination?”
Unfortunately, we live in a time where for the past 100 years, you’re seeing this massive manipulation of population. It’s called consumerism, where people have literally ceded the sovereignty of your own mind to advertisers, to, of all things, influencers. It’s like, oh my gods, you’re joking, an influencer!? It’s ridiculous. I mean, it’d be something if the influencer was a heroic character, of great virtue and who is really guiding people in a really extraordinary way and encouraging people and uplifting. But mostly, the so-called influencers are just teaching envy and greed and endless consumption and shittiness, and all this gossip stuff, and talking crap about others. And it’s just like, oh, this is what we’ve come to?
There is a one of the–a former director of Facebook, he bailed on Facebook relatively early, and he stated that, “They have literally rewired our brains so that we are detached from reality and immersed in tribalism.” Okay, this is somebody that was behind setting up the business model, behind setting up all the technology, and his conclusion about what it’s doing to people is that it’s catastrophically bad.
Of course, if you’re not a thoughtful person, you are an ideal consumer. You can be easily manipulated and guided and pushed into making choices and decisions about what you’re going to do with your life, and what you’re going to value. You become someone that just can be easily exploited.
In all the paths of yoga the idea of controlling your mind, being in control of your mind, was central—and being in control of your mind doesn’t mean staring at a candle for 20 minutes or 15 minutes. It’s not like that. Being in control of your mind actually means that you determine what the content is going to be, and you exercise this ability to step back.
When a person has been swept away in a flood, somebody got too close to the edge of the road where the water was running, or they tried to save someone or something, and then they get swept away, you have lost control. You are now just fighting for your life, trying to avoid all obstacles that are raging in the water. You’re not even thinking about where you’re going. It’s just trying to keep head above water and hoping that somewhere there’s going to be an opportunity to get out of the situation.
When we surrender our independence and sovereignty to simply all of the desires that are actually often been just planted in our mind, then that’s what’s going on. We’re like in the raging torrent, and we’re just there trying to tread water and look around and hope that there’s going to be some sort of brilliant outcome here. Whereas in reality, we should be doing more like what they’re doing with the moon rover. We plot a course, we seek to avoid things that are going to cause our pain and suffering, our downfall in different ways.
But people are not trained to do this. They’re not trained to do it because it goes against the whole idea of consumerism. They want you to be empty, easily manipulated, and subject to just impulse, acting on impulse. Whereas if you want to live a better life, acting on impulse is not a good way to try and live. The outcomes invariably are going to be bad. And then we wonder why I’m so unhappy. We don’t even recognize the role that we’re playing in our own unhappiness through the bad choices that we make.
Our job is actually to infuse our mind with goodness. You want a good life, then you have to infuse your mind with goodness. And I’m not talking about this in a shallow or Mickey Mouse kind of way. This is like a really big job; and it’s really important. Part of our problem is, because of all these influencers we don’t even know what good means. When people talk about living the good life, what are they thinking of? They’re thinking of a consumption monster, somebody that’s got the means to just consume and use. That’s what they call living the good life. But that’s not good. It’s not good for you, it’s not good for others, it’s not good for the planet, so why do you call it the good life? It’s not good. But it’s a symptom of how much we’ve become brainwashed, and how language is losing its precision to communicate clear ideas.
When they start giving double meanings to words, then it’s sort of, it’s really going to cloud the conversation and make it really hard for people to proceed nicely in life. What is good? Being not greedy to consume things, not being envious of what others have and looking at it and desiring, “Oh, I wish I had that too.” Being kind; not having this tribalist mentality, “I belong to a particular tribe or group, and anybody else in another group, I have to hate them. Whatever they have to say, I have to reject it, because they’re in a different tribe, a different group.”
It’s kind of like whoa, what happened to humanity? The idea of—this wonderful idea of humanity. I mean humanity was a wonderful word, because it didn’t just speak about like the human race, but humanity meant to show compassion, to show empathy, to show kindness—these were characteristics of humanity. And it’s kind of like, wow, where’s that one all gone?
The need for us to begin to—it’s not isolating yourself, but it’s actually exercising your intelligence. You decide what you’re going to let in and what you’re going to keep out. You’re going to decide what it is that is of true value, lasting value, and think about how I need to actually begin to, not just take on board, but embody these principles.
If you do this, your life will be good, and you will act in a way that is good for you, good for others and good for the planet. “Yeah, but nobody else is doing it.” It’s like—so what? Do you want to be happy? You need to get on board. You need to think about this. You need to embrace this.
And somebody may raise the suggestion that, “Well, can I truly be kind to everyone? What about those who are mean and harmful and hurtful to me?” Well, there’s this old principle. It’s not just promoted in Christianity, but this principle of “to love thy enemy.” And it’s kind of like, whoa, what’s that one? Because that’s directly against all the tribalism that’s going on, where everybody’s hating each other because you have adopted a political or particular social issue that you’re either embracing or rejecting, and so, the idea that I can hate you because of that is just like—I don’t know what to say. It’s absolutely heartbreaking.
This is the view of the transcendentalist: If I was to go to an animal shelter, and I find there a dog, and anybody tries to go near it starts barking and showing its teeth and all its hair standing up on end, and you can see it’s emaciated, and it’s scarred and injured; and it’s sort of like a lot of people would look at that and go, “Yeah, no, let’s…” they call it “putting it down.” Right? “Let’s just kill it, because it’s not kind enough.” But there are people that see things in a deeper sort of way. They look to the reality that that poor animal has been treated so badly, has been kept starved and tortured and beaten, it’s been treated so badly, that is why it is reacting this way. And I know that if I take it, and I know it’s going to take some time, if I take it and begin to feed it and take care of it and actually show that not all human beings are vicious and mean and cruel, there will be a change. And that dog will become kind and grateful for the mercy, for the compassion that was shown. And almost everybody instinctively knows that that is true. It’s not just possible, this happens somewhat regularly with animals rescued from shelters and things.
My question is, why are we prepared to do that with an animal, but we’re not prepared to behave that way with other humans? Why do we assume that somebody that wants to growl at me and attack me, that that’s actually what they’re like, and that they haven’t been like the dog, treated badly or conditioned in certain ways and taken on certain ideas.
Those that were great transcendentalists, they knew that all people have an inherent spiritual nature that is part of the reality of who we are. But if we become conditioned by a certain environment, we begin to behave in predictable ways; and when somebody is behaving—just like when that dog is reacting to me, barking at me and is fearful and freaked out and angry, I know that that’s not its real nature. All I have to do is show kindness and take care of it, and it will learn to trust people again, and it will become appreciative.
In a similar way, those with actual spiritual vision, when they engage with the world and people in the world, they have that understanding. They have that understanding. And so they don’t take such great offense at people’s bad behavior. It’s kind of like, you feel sorry for them, and you wish them well, even if they declare themselves your enemy. You are their well-wisher. You don’t seek to crush them and destroy them, because that doesn’t help them, doesn’t help you.
So, the need to actually consider, what is the meaning of being good? What is the meaning of goodness? How do I Infuse my life, my thinking, my actions, my desires, how do I infuse it with goodness, so that I can truly live a good life, that my life will actually count for something? This is our job. This is what we should aspire for.
This process that we’re engaged in of meditation using these spiritual sounds, it’s meant to produce this kind of outcome. Because when we engage in this process of chanting these spiritual sounds, it dissipates the fog that is covering us. It makes it so we can see things with increasing clarity. The main thing that we’re going to see is that I am an eternal spiritual being. This body is something temporary that I’m inhabiting. I can’t make this body, and everything connected with it, the focus of my life. That’s a massive mistake, because that thing is coming to an end. But I should seek something more important, something more significant.
And so, when we engage in this process as a daily practice (really encourage people to engage as a daily practice), it is truly transformative.
So now we will chant. I might use the Mahamantra, since nobody’s done that yet this evening, and just close your eyes and take the time to rest your heart, to rest your mind, in these spiritual sounds, like you’re immersing yourself in an ocean. Just—you don’t have to overly like concentrate and stuff. Just let go of everything and become absorbed in these sounds, and they will change your life.